Sweden passes law to become carbon neutral by 2045

June 22, 2017 by  
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Sweden just took a huge step towards becoming even greener than they already are. A new law passed by the country’s parliament will slash carbon emissions all the way down to zero by 2045. The move makes Sweden the first country to upgrade its carbon goals since the 2015 Paris Agreement . A cross-party committee prepared the law, which then passed with an overwhelming majority, bringing the goal to become carbon neutral from 2050 down to 2045, and puting in place an independent Climate Policy Council. The law calls for an action plan that will be updated every four years. Related: Norway moves up zero emissions target to 2030 According to New Scientist, Sweden already obtains 83 percent of its electricity from hydropower and nuclear energy . They met a goal to obtain 50 percent of energy from renewables eight years before their target. They’ll work to meet this new carbon neutral objective in part by focusing on transportation , such as through increasing use of vehicles powered by electricity or biofuels . Sweden aims to slash domestic emissions by a minimum of 85 percent. And they’ll offset any other emissions by planting trees or investing in sustainable projects in other countries. Femke de Jong, European Union Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch , said Sweden has a high chance of success, and other countries in Europe could follow suit. “With the Trump decision to get out of the Paris Agreement, Europe is more united than ever and wants to show leadership to the world,” de Jong said. Public resistance can be an obstacle to cutting emissions, but according to New Scientist in Sweden there’s an unusually high amount of support for environmentally friendly policies. But de Jong warned the country must also show leadership in forests, not simply emissions. They were recently accused along with France, Finland, and Austria of attempting to weaken rules to obscure emissions from burning wood and deforestation . Via New Scientist Images via Håkan Dahlström on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Sweden passes law to become carbon neutral by 2045

132-year-old lobster returned to ocean after living in tank for 20 years

June 22, 2017 by  
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Did you know it’s National Lobster Month? Residents in Hempstead, New York are celebrating the occasion by releasing a captive lobster back into the ocean . Louie the Lobster is 132 years old, but he has spent the last couple of decades living at Peter’s Clam Bar in Long Island . Louie, who could’ve fetched a fair sum at 22 pounds, will get to live out the rest of his life in the wild. Louie lived in a tank at Peter’s Clam Bar for around 20 years. Owner Butch Yamali obtained the lobster when he bought the restaurant four years ago. He says a customer recently tried to purchase Louie for $1,000 for a Father’s Day dinner, but Yamali couldn’t take the money, saying Louie has become like a pet to him. Related: 95-year-old lobster saved from the supermarket gets to live out his days in an aquarium And apparently he’s happy to see Louie find a new home in the sea. Hempstead held a pardoning ceremony for the lobster as he was lowered into his new home in the Atlantic Ocean . In a ceremony for Louie, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said, “Today I’m announcing an official pardon for Louie the Lobster. Louie may have faced a buttery fate on a seafood lover’s plate, but today we are here to return Louie to a life that is better down where it’s wetter.” While sending animals to the wild from captivity right away isn’t always the best idea, Louie did live in the ocean for over 100 years before he was caught. Lobster Institute executive director Robert Bayer said, “He’ll be just fine. There aren’t many predators who want to eat a big old lobster like that. Hopefully, he finds a mate – and lives happily ever after.” Around a year ago Larry, another incredibly old lobster who’d been living at Peter’s Clam Bar, also found a new home in the ocean. Via TreeHugger and Fox 5 New York Images via Peter’s Clam Bar Facebook

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132-year-old lobster returned to ocean after living in tank for 20 years

UN releases inconceivable new estimate of Earth’s 2050 population

June 22, 2017 by  
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Right now there are 7.5 billion people on Earth and counting. But the world in 2050 will be even more packed, according to new United Nations (UN) projections. The new World Population Prospects: 2017 Revision report estimates that there could be nearly 10 billion people on the planet in a little over 30 years. By 2030, the global population could be 8.6 billion, according to the UN. 9.8 billion people might reside on Earth in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100. As around 83 million people are born every single year, the organization expects the total population to rise even if fertility levels go down. And while China currently has the most people of any country, the UN estimates India will surpass China in around seven years. Related: Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people Of the world’s 10 largest countries, Nigeria is growing the fastest. The country is currently the world’s seventh largest but the UN estimates they will surpass the United States to become the world’s third largest country just before 2050. And between now and 2050, around half of all the population growth on Earth will be centered in only nine countries: Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the United States. The new report doesn’t just cover the amount of people in the world. It addresses fertility, life expectancy, and refugee movement. For example, fertility has fallen in almost all the areas of the world, even in Africa. One exception is Europe. A reduction in fertility has led to an aging population. Meanwhile life expectancy has risen globally from 65 to 69 years for men and 69 to 73 years for women, although the UN noted large disparities between countries in those figures. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division put out the June 21 report. The organization says the statistics could help agencies better work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Via the United Nations Images via Guillaume on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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UN releases inconceivable new estimate of Earth’s 2050 population

3 Lessons I Learned Managing Earth911’s Recycling Database

June 22, 2017 by  
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The Earth911 recycling database consists of more than 130,000 listings, and I used to be in charge of it. These listings are made up of city and county locations, retailers with drop-off bins, and curbside and mail-in programs. It’s a huge,…

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3 Lessons I Learned Managing Earth911’s Recycling Database

INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Eric Lundgren, the founder and CEO of e-waste recycling company ITAP , recently beat the electric vehicle driving range of a Tesla with a car made from trash and powered by repurposed Nintendo batteries. (Well, technically not just Nintendo batteries but Lenovo laptop and Time Warner cable box batteries too.) But how did he accomplish the seemingly impossible? Read on for our exclusive interview. “It’s not magic. We just put a larger battery in a lighter frame. It’s that simple,” Lundgren explained in a recent interview with Inhabitat. “We basically put a 130 kilowatt hours battery pack in a car that weighs a little bit less than a Tesla.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars Lundgren is a pioneer in hybrid recycling — reusing the components in broken electronics or outdated electronics so that they don’t end up in toxic landfills. His trash car — the Phoenix — broke the world record for longest EV range last month, outlasting a Tesla Model S P100D on a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego. His team had already set the EV range record but Guinness didn’t accept the results because of missing film footage of the event so they gave it another go with cameras on for the entire race. They built the Phoenix in 35 days at a cost of $13,000 using 88 percent consumer waste. The $150,000 Tesla died at 318 miles while the trash car set the new world record — 382.3 miles on a single charge. Related: Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year In our interview (edited for clarity), Lundgren talks about how despite his success with electric vehicle range, his passion lies in making hybrid recycling widely accepted in society. Inhabitat: What motivated you to build the Phoenix and beat the EV world range record? Eric Lundgren: I’m all about hybrid recycling. The Phoenix was a way to demonstrate hybrid recycling. That was the purpose. I don’t want to become a car manufacturer. I want to do hybrid recycling and the Phoenix was a great demonstration. Inhabitat: What materials did you use to build the Phoenix? Lundgren: It is the most environmental car ever built with the lowest carbon footprint. The chassis of the car came from a scrap yard. It was about to get crushed and we dragged it out of the scrap yard. It didn’t even have wheels on it. We put wheels on it. We took out everything. Converted it to an EV. And we put used batteries – basically trash batteries – in it. The controller came off of a forklift. The blinker came off of a bicycle. The car itself is two 1997 BMW 528is that we frankensteined together to make one car. Inhabitat: What is the connection to hybrid recycling? Lundgren: We used garbage. We used all garbage, all old technology. All things that our consumer world said were trash and have zero value. And we built something that is the most valuable because it just beat a world record. So we’re demonstrating the value in garbage and trying to educate the public and corporations to start practicing hybrid recycling, which is a way of saving that value rather than destroying it. Inhabitat: It is amazing how badly you beat the Tesla. Lundgren: We took 35 days to build it. Tesla took a year-and-a-half to build their car. Tesla’s research and development cost was $1.4 billion. Our R&D cost: I paid my engineers in Keystone Light beer. Our car has one-tenth the carbon footprint ratio of a Tesla. Inhabitat: The number one issue with EVs is range anxiety. You would think that Tesla would want to increase their range. Lundgren: If Tesla increased their range, are you willing to pay an extra $30,000 for an extra hundred miles? My guess is they did some sort of marketing survey and realized that at 300 miles people are not willing to pay more money for longer range so they stopped there and the world says ‘oh, they must have stopped there because that’s the best that a car can do.’ Well I just proved that that’s not true. I just proved that cars can do more. Inhabitat: What are your objectives regarding the EV industry and hybrid recycling? Lundgren: My goal is to push the EV industry to produce cars that people want to buy so that we can get off of fossil fuel. My other goal is to demonstrate hybrid recycling so that companies like Tesla send dead battery packs to a hybrid recycler that can actually salvage the good parts out of them to build something new – rather than what they currently do, which is send them to a company in Canada, which smelts the battery pack for its commodity value. That’s bringing all the value in a pack down to its lowest common denominator. Inhabitat: What are you working on next? Lundgren: We’re going to build the largest repurposed battery pack for my facilities. All the power from my recycling is going to come from solar panels that go to a giant solar power array that runs my entire factory that produces batteries from trash. So in other words, my processing facility is going to be run from the sun to garbage batteries. That’s what is going to power my entire processing facility within the next six weeks. Inhabitat: You are building an electric semi truck to compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla Semi? Lundgren: In September Elon Musk releases his electric semi . In November, I’m releasing an electric semi that costs a fraction of the price of his, goes 55 miles further and is built from basically consumer waste. I don’t know what his semi is going to cost. My guess is it is going to cost around $300,000 or $400,000. My semi is going to cost $60,000 – and it will go farther than his. Inhabitat: Any thoughts on the era of affordable electric vehicles about to begin with the upcoming release of the Tesla Model 3 ? Lundgren: I truly believe that the world is going to go EV . I truly believe that the world is going to utilize lithium to get away from burning coal and to get away from all of these other primitive ways that we produce and use power, and transport ourselves today. We need to evolve as a society – and electric vehicles are a way to do that – but the recycling of those vehicles is just as important as the manufacturing. It doesn’t get enough attention. People don’t realize what happens to things when they just discard them. We need to start worrying about efficiency on the back end so we can become more efficient on the front end. Inhabitat: And where do you see hybrid recycling going? Lundgren: In the future, electronics of any type – whether it be an electric car or a laptop or tablet or cell phone or server router, you name it – all of that product is going to be reused very similar to how a chop shop in the auto industry works. If your car has a flat tire, you don’t throw away your car. And if you do, then they salvage every other working part. Let’s say you blow an engine — the chop shop salvages the catalytic converter and the exhaust and the windshield and the transmission and all the other parts. But in electronics today we throw it all away. We’re at a point where hybrid recycling is going to kick off. It’s going to become huge. Nobody understands it, so this car [the Phoenix] is a great demonstration for it. + ITAP Images via Jehu Garcia [Editor’s note: Lundgren was sentenced after we completed this interview to serve 15 months in federal prison for distributing free software (computer restore Freeware) in order to divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their property. He is currently appealing the sentence.]

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INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

SCAD students save a piece of American history with vintage train car restoration

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)’s award-winning tradition of historic preservation hit another home run for Preservation Month. SCAD students salvaged a piece of American history that would have otherwise disappeared when they restored of a rare 1911 wooden passenger train car. The students turned the railroad preservation project into an educational opportunity and intentionally left parts of the train car in its found state to teach visitors about the preservation process. Owned by the nonprofit Coastal Heritage Society , the decrepit rare train car was originally brought to the Georgia State Railroad Museum from the city of Augusta. As part of a spring student project, three graduate and eight undergraduate SCAD students carefully restored the 1911 train car to complement the SCAD Museum of Art, an adaptive reuse project that turned an 1853 antebellum railroad depot into a modern museum. The train car is currently displayed alongside the museum. Related: SCAD Students Transform an Atlanta Parking Garage into Ecologically Responsible Micro-Housing Community “SCAD knows well the stories of Georgia’s railways—our award-winning SCAD Museum of Art rises proudly from the ruins of the nation’s oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot,” said SCAD President and Founder, Paula Wallace. “Now, the nation’s premier preservation design program helps narrate another tale for the appreciation of railfans for generations to come.” Students’ preservation work included replacing the train car’s exterior wood siding, refinishing woodwork, and stripping the original mahogany panels of layers of paint and shellac. + Savannah College of Art and Design Images by Dylan Wilson

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SCAD students save a piece of American history with vintage train car restoration

This giant nest for humans lets you curl up and get away from it all

June 21, 2017 by  
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Lounging around in a giant nest might sound like something out of a fairy tale, but thanks to this eclectic design by Italian artist  Gianni Ruffi , it can be reality. Italy-based  Gufram  just released this surreal, human-size nest called  La Cova . Complete with two “egg” pillows, it isn’t just a piece of furniture, but a piece of art that lets you get away from it all. La Cova comes with two eggs, like any good nest should, that act as pillows. The nest is made of polyurethane foam and finished with 100% cotton. It measures 2 meters in diameter and weighs about 80 kg (176 lb). The original piece was created back in 1972 by Gianni Ruffi , who was part of the Radical Design movement in Italy. It was auctioned for the record price of 100,000 Euros. The iconic La Cova design has been re-invented with newer materials that combine craftsmanship know-how and newer industrial processes. The construction has also been updated with stretchable and extremely durable materials, the density of which provide excellent mechanical properties – especially in terms of elastic resilience. Related: Porky Hefer’s Cozy Human Nests Hang From the Treetops! Each version of the organic love nests are unique, thanks to the creation process – each one finished with thousands of pieces of cloth, all sewn by hand. La Cova appeared at the  La Triennale di Milano for  Milan Design Week 2017 . + Gufram Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat and Gufram

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This giant nest for humans lets you curl up and get away from it all

EPA to eliminate 1,228 employees by August – including dozens of scientists

June 21, 2017 by  
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Although 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is a real threat, the Trump administration maintains that global warming is a “hoax” – and it’s gutting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) . Under administrator Scott Pruitt the EPA has scrubbed climate science from its website, and now it’s eliminating thousands of employees — including dozens of scientists — by failing to renew their contracts in August. The Washington Post reports that members of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) were alerted via email that their terms will not be renewed in August. While they do have the opportunity to re-apply by September, the news came as a shock to many – on average, scientists serve three terms and are re-elected to a fourth if they are willing to serve. Peter Meyer, an economist with the E.P. Systems Group, resigned from the board’s sustainable and healthy communities subcommittee as a form of protest. Meyer said: “We were told quite explicitly by the leadership of the sustainable and healthy communities group … that our assignment was a four-to-five-year assignment. That was what we were told at our first meeting. That produces an assumption that you’re going to get reappointed so that you can complete the job.” Deborah Swackhamer, chair of the board’s executive committee and professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Minnesota, added, “It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment.” Related: EPA dismisses 5 members of major scientific review board Because this is the second time this year the agency failed to renew scientists’ terms, some claim the Trump administration is politicizing the agency, which exists to benefit wildlife and preserve the environment. In response, EPA officials stated that the cuts provide a new opportunity to reach out to a broad array of applicants and draw on their expertise. “ EPA is grateful for the service of all BOSC members, past and present, and has encouraged those with expiring terms to reapply,” said agency spokeswoman Amy Graham. “We are taking an inclusive approach to filling future BOSC appointments and welcome all applicants from all relevant scientific and technical fields.” The BOSC advises the agency’s Office of Research and Development on whether its research can adequately address important scientific questions. Due to cuts, only five scientists remain on the executive committee. The ultimate fear is that the EPA could eliminate members that hold different opinions than the Trump administration , and fill those positions with people who are more favorable to the communities being regulated by the agency. Reportedly, the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) will also be changed in the near future. “This gives me a great deal of concern about the erosion of science in this administration,” said Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and associate professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability . “It’s hard to understand the rationale behind a decision like this. I understand they might simply want to repopulate [the board] with people of their own choosing. However, this could also be a way of just weakening advisory boards, of diminishing their role by not replacing members.” Via Washington Post Images via EPA , PBS

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EPA to eliminate 1,228 employees by August – including dozens of scientists

The Tesla of solar electric yachts launches in New Zealand

June 21, 2017 by  
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The future of boating is electric – and silent. That’s what Dutch company Soel Yachts says, and they’re bringing electric travel to the seas with their SoelCat 12. Inhabitat covered the boat’s design last year , and now the company is launching their sustainably-powered yacht in New Zealand . The yacht is kind to the environment not simply in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions , but in the reduction of noise pollution as well. The SoelCat 12, which was built in New Zealand, is powered by the sun. Soel Yachts describes the boat as the ‘ Tesla on the water,’ noting while cars are transitioning over to being powered by electricity , the same movement largely hasn’t occurred in boating. They want to revolutionize the boating industry, and are debuting the SoelCat 12, designed in partnership with Naval DC , in Auckland, New Zealand this week. Related: Solar-powered yacht sails silently for a cleaner, greener eco-tourism experience The company says it wasn’t enough to just stick an electric motor on a boat. They kept electric propulsion in mind as they designed the SoelCat 12, evidenced for example in the highly efficient lines of the hull. Traveling at a speed of eight knots, the yacht can run simply on battery power for six hours. Reducing the speed to six knots, the boat can travel for 24 hours – even at night when the yacht’s solar panels aren’t harvesting energy. The boat’s systems can be monitored on a phone or tablet, allowing boaters to see their energy use as in a Tesla, according to Soel Yachts. Soel Yachts co-founder Joep Koster said in a statement the SoelCat 12 “reduces all disturbing sound and CO2 emissions in our harbors, lagoons, and oceans .” The solar electric yacht quietly glides through waves, minimizing disturbance in the form of noise pollution to marine life. And the yacht is still useful even when it’s not in use. Soel Yachts says the boat can become a mobile power station, offering energy for as much as five homes, even in remote locations. + Soel Yachts + Naval DC Images courtesy of Soel Yachts

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The Tesla of solar electric yachts launches in New Zealand

This Louisiana craft beer pioneer ‘went green’ long before it was cool

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Abita Brewing Company has been a tastemaker since 1986, both in terms of craft beer – you’ve probably sipped their Purple Haze – and in sustainability . Before Heinekin opened a carbon neutral brewery or Sierra Nevada installed a Tesla Powerpack system , Abita invested in clean tech because they felt it was the right thing to do. Inhabitat visited brewery headquarters in Abita Springs, Louisiana and spoke with President David Blossman and Director of Brewing Operations Jaime Jurado about the decision to go green well before other breweries in the United States. Abita was the first brewery in North America to put in an energy-efficient Merlin Brewhouse – or the vessels in which beer is brewed – back in 2001. Craft beer wasn’t as big back then – Blossman said business was “sideways at best” but Abita took a chance and installed the expensive brewhouse because they figured craft beer would eventually take off. Related: San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater Jurado said, “Dave made decisions on renewable tech long before anyone else did.” One such decision was the installation of a rooftop solar array atop their bottling facility. Every year the solar panels generate around 116,180 kilowatt-hours (kWh), avoiding around 81.3 tons of carbon dioxide. 25 percent of the bottling plant’s roof is covered in the photovoltaics, which provide around five to seven percent of all the electricity Abita consumes. A wastewater treatment plant behind the brewery provides more power. The plant treats all the brewery wastewater, and bacteria anaerobically produce biogas , which comprises 17 percent of the natural gas the brewery uses. Although the Merlin brewhouse was forward-thinking when Abita first installed it, they recently put in the Krones EquiTherm brewhouse, which is even more energy- and water-efficient. It was the first one installed in the United States, and also allows for more flexibility in the types of beer Abita can brew. Heat from the brewhouse is recovered and reused; Jurado said, “We use a lot of heat but we recover a majority of the heat so we net out saving energy .” Breweries also use carbon dioxide (CO2) in their process, and it has to be heated to stay in a gas state. Meanwhile, warm water used in the packaging process needs to be cooled, so Abita came up with a system to accomplish both tasks and reduce electricity costs by around $6,000 a year. With the energy recovery system, they can use CO2 in a non-contact way to turn it into gas and cool the water. Even beyond the brewing process, Abita considers the environment . Jurado said, “Our bottle is not the industry standard bottle, which is called the long neck. You see them in Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Shiner products. Dave uses the heritage bottle which uses 11 percent less glass and 11 percent less energy.” The squatter bottle isn’t as noticeable on the shelf, but as Jurado said, “11 percent spoke a language.” The recyclable bottle requires less paper for labels and is still the standard 12 ounces. Plus more cases of beer inside heritage bottles fit on trucks. But the most sustainable packaging is stainless steel kegs, according to Jurado, which can be refilled over and over. Larger breweries only have around nine percent of sales in kegs, but they comprise 30 percent of Abita’s sales. Blossman told Inhabitat, “If you’re going to do something, you want to use less natural resources whether that be in natural gas or grain or water – they’re all important.” As many breweries do, Abita gives their spent grain – or the grain leftover after the brewing process – to farmers for feed. But the brewery is located close to dairy farmers so their spent grain doesn’t even have to travel that far. Abita Brewing Company fits right in to the town of Abita Springs, Louisiana, which recently became the first in the state and 24th American city to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. In St. Tammany Parish, where Abita is located, there are currently only three electric vehicle charging stations, but Abita Springs will soon have the fourth, sponsored by the brewery. The brewery has also given back in the form of charity beers, such as the Save Our Shore pilsner they brewed following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. They raised over $600,000 that went towards restoring coastal wetland habitats and helping struggling fishermen and their families. If you want to find out more about green brewing at Abita, check out their website . + Abita Brewing Company Images courtesy Abita Brewing Company and via Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat

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