March for Science: What You Need to Know

April 21, 2017 by  
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2017 is shaping up to be the Year of the March, and Earth Day will get an inaugural march to add to its festivities: the March for Science. Millions of people are expected to join in, from places as far apart as Anchorage, Alaska, to Wangdue,…

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March for Science: What You Need to Know

Scientists will attempt to be the first to drill into Earth’s mantle

April 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists want to plumb the Earth for one of its last secrets. An international group of researchers led by  Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology say they plan to be the first to successfully drill into the mantle, that is, the region sandwiched between the planet’s outer crust and its inner core. Although the mantel makes up about 80 percent of the Earth’s mass, much of it remains a geological enigma. “We don’t know the exact [composition] of the mantle yet,” researcher Natsue Abe told CNN . To access the mantel, JAMSTEC will deploy the Chikyu, one of its biggest and most sophisticated drilling vessels, to penetrate 2.5 miles of ocean, then another 3.7 miles of sea floor (a.k.a the crust). The Japanese government is backing the expedition in the hopes that the data gleaned will help scientists better predict earthquakes. Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight “In Japan we have some volcanoes, earthquakes and such kind of natural hazards,” Abe said. “People [want to create] some monitoring or analysis equipment but we don’t know … what kind of factor to use. So we need to know the natural system more clearly or precisely … we have to observe the Earth more precisely.” All three drilling sites currently under consideration are located in the Pacific Ocean. The first is off Hawaii, the second off Costa Rica, and the third is off Mexico. “We already drilled and have taken some samples from the ocean floor but [only] from the top,” Abe said. “[We want] to dig from the ocean floor to the deep pristine mantle.” Via CNN Earth image via Wikimedia  and Flickr

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Scientists will attempt to be the first to drill into Earth’s mantle

Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

April 21, 2017 by  
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You probably haven’t thought about the bird flu in a couple of years, unless you’re a virologist, but a new strain that resurfaced in China has the potential to be pandemic. The H7N9 virus only caused mild illness in poultry until recently, but a genetic change means the new strain is deadly for birds . Now, H7N9 has led to more human deaths this season than any other season since it was detected in people four years ago. Between September and March 1, 162 people perished from H7N9. Human cases have increased since December, with reports from eight different provinces in China. Hong Kong University research lab director Guan Yi told NPR, “We’re trying our best, but we still can’t control this virus. It’s too late for us to eradicate it.” Related: U.S. avian flu outbreak drives up the price of eggs as supplies are threatened The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for increased surveillance. FAO animal health officer Sophie Von Dobschuetz said China has started intensified observation while the FAO Beijing office has been providing recommendations for the country’s ministry of agriculture . As with past avian flu strains, patients said they were exposed to infected birds or went to live bird markets. Guan is concerned with how rapidly the H7N9 strain is evolving. He said ten years ago chickens were barely affected by the strain, but his lab’s research revealed the new strain can kill every chicken in his lab in 24 hours. There isn’t evidence the new strain will be deadlier in people, but when people do catch the virus from birds over one third of them perish. Guan said China’s government is already investigating vaccinating chickens. “Today, science is more advanced, we have vaccines and it’s easy to diagnose. On the other hand, it now takes hours to spread new viruses all over the world,” Guan told NPR. “I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years.” Via SciDev.net and NPR Images via CDC Global on Flickr and M M on Flickr

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Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

This insane giant traffic roundabout in England will make your head spin

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Europe’s many traffic roundabouts are complicated enough – but this head-spinning, multi-directional traffic intersection in the UK is enough to make you walk to your destination. Located in Swindon, the famed Magic Roundabout is actually five mini roundabouts placed around a larger central, counterclockwise roundabout. Designed by engineer Frank Blackmore of the British Transport and Road Research Laboratory, the intersection was built in 1972 as an innovative attempt at controlling traffic flow in the area . When the complicated layout was unveiled, the mini roundabouts weren’t even marked in order to leave room for reconfiguration after further studies were conducted. At the time, a police officer was stationed at each circle to direct traffic. Related: LA’s most dangerous intersection made safer with innovative crosswalk “scramble” Today, although locals surely have a handle on its complicated rules, driving the 7-circle roundabout still requires nerves of steel. Once inside the vehicular labyrinth , traffic flows counterclockwise around the outer roundabout, while interior traffic flows in a clockwise manner around the five mini roundabouts, which all lead to various exists located on the outer loop. Forty-five years after its inauguration, the intersection has become more and more famous, or infamous. In 2007, BBC News published a survey that named the Magic Roundabout as one of the “ 10 Scariest Junctions in the United Kingdom “. However, despite its harrowing appearance, the roundabout has an excellent safety record, mainly due to the slow traffic pace required once inside the crazy intersection. Via Boing Boing Images via Wikipedia and Wired

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This insane giant traffic roundabout in England will make your head spin

This gorgeous greenhouse-like home in the Netherlands soaks up daylight

April 21, 2017 by  
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From beneath this traditional thatched roof in the Netherlands emerges a stunning glass greenhouse. Lochem-based Maas Architecten conceived the Modern Countryside Villa as two contrasting volumes: an opaque, timber-clad space, and a transparent glass structure that lets the outside in. The Modern Countryside Villa, located on the edge of the town of Berlicum in North Brabant, has an H-shaped plan with contrasting wings that house different amenities. The timber-clad volume accommodates a garage and storage space , while a greenhouse-like structure protruding out from underneath the thatched roof functions as a studio space. The second wing houses the main living areas. The wooden volume in front of the living area houses a kitchen, pantry and toilet, while the master bedroom has direct access to the sheltered courtyard with a swimming pool and terrace. Related: DAPstockholm’s Energy-Efficient Villa Midgard is Nestled Into the Swedish Countryside The transparent parts of the house are sheltered by a grove of trees that lines the plot towards the nearby road. Large glazed surfaces provide an abundance of natural light and expansive views of the picturesque surroundings. + Maas Architecten Via Dezeen Photos by Edith Verhoeven Save

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This gorgeous greenhouse-like home in the Netherlands soaks up daylight

New plastic garbage patch discovered in Arctic Ocean

April 20, 2017 by  
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the only place where plastic pollution is gathering in the world’s oceans . An international team of scientists from 12 institutions in eight countries recently discovered a new garbage patch in the Greenland and Barents seas north of Norway. Between 100 and 1,200 tons of plastic have concentrated there, threatening wildlife already grappling with climate change . The Tara Expeditions Foundation dragged for plastic in the Arctic Ocean to find the new Arctic garbage patch. They visited 42 sites, and found over a third of the locations didn’t have any plastic. But then they found plastic amassing in Arctic waters above Norway. The garbage patch is smaller than the Pacific or Mediterranean garbage patches, but researchers hadn’t anticipated finding so much trash in that part of the Arctic, previously considered to be quite pristine. Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain told The Verge, “We did not expect to find high concentrations of plastic there, so far from the populated regions and the large sources of plastic pollution.” He’s the lead author on a study published online yesterday in the journal Science Advances . So where’s all the trash coming from? Europe and America’s East Coast are likely at fault. Study co-author Erik van Sebille, who during the research was with Imperial College London and now works for the Netherlands’ Utrecht University , told The Verge, “If a plastic bottle or a plastic bag gets into the Atlantic from Europe or the East Coast of the U.S., that has a very good chance of ending up in the Arctic. The problem with plastic specifically being in the Arctic is that it’s going to get into the food chain of animals that are very much under threat already, that are struggling to survive in a changing climate.” Via The Verge Images © Anna Deniaud/Tara Expeditions Foundation

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New plastic garbage patch discovered in Arctic Ocean

Scotland’s latest wind farm will help fund 500 new affordable homes

April 20, 2017 by  
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Scotland’s Berwickshire Housing Association wants to capture the wind to boost their mission. By launching a new wind farm in the Scottish Borders, and selling the power to the National Grid, the charitable organization hopes to generate enough revenue to build 500 affordable homes over the next 25 years. Dubbed Fishermen Three, the 7.5-megawatt project at Hoprigshiels in Cockburnspath is a joint effort between BHA and the equally philanthropic Community Energy Scotland . The latter’s share of the revenue will enable it to help communities across Scotland leverage their own renewable energy initiatives. “The idea for the wind farm came when BHA realized that we had to be innovative in order to solve the dilemma of how to keep building new homes for social rental, which are so badly needed in this area, at a time when funding for new housing through traditional channels was in decline,” Helen Forsyth, chief executive of BHA, said in a statement. “The wind farm will provide BHA with a reliable, predictable, low-maintenance source of income that will allow us to build a steady stream of new affordable homes at a time when services are all too often being cut.” Related: 6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trump’s blessing Nicholas Gubbins, chief executive of CES, said that the United Kingdom’s energy system is shifting, but with changes come fresh opportunities. “We want to make sure that communities are at the forefront of the opportunities that this will create for new low-carbon energy developments,” he added. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, agrees that renewables are the way of the future. He said, “Locally owned renewables in areas such as the Borders have the potential to help drive social, economic and environmental change at a local level.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash

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Scotland’s latest wind farm will help fund 500 new affordable homes

Unique Earth Day Traditions to Start as a Family

April 20, 2017 by  
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When it comes to celebrating Earth Day on April 22, there is no shortage of ways environmentally conscious people choose to honor this day. (Check out the coolest 2017 events around the country here.) When you’re trying to raise young…

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Unique Earth Day Traditions to Start as a Family

Huge "light cannons" funnel daylight deep within this ultra green eco city in China

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Giant “light cannons” funnel natural light deep within this new high-tech “eco city” in China. NBBJ designed the Nanjing Eco-Tech Island Exhibition Center as an incubator for innovative technology and environmental companies. To strengthen the project’s sustainability, the design team included green roofs , water retention systems, natural ventilation , responsive facades and geothermal conditioning. The Nanjing Eco-Tech Park includes an exhibition hall, research offices and residential buildings. The Exhibition Center welcomes visitors a they approach the island from downtown Nanjing. The peaks on the building’s roof each have an oculus that funnels natural light inside the structure. The complex consists of eight, pentagon-shaped office buildings with large interior courtyards. Related: Amazon’s biosphere domes are slowly taking shape in Seattle The architects conducted light studies to come up with optimal daylighting and shading strategies for different times of the day and year. Light gets diffused by the cone geometry of the light cannons, while the overhangs function as passive solar shading devices. Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré unveils 2017 Serpentine Pavilion with rain-gathering roof The Exhibition Center is the first structure to be built on the island, and it has received the MIPIM Asia Best Chinese Futura Project Bronze Award. + NBBJ Via World Architecture News Lead photo by Paul Dingman

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Huge "light cannons" funnel daylight deep within this ultra green eco city in China

Conservation group names America’s most endangered river

April 20, 2017 by  
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The Lower Colorado River is one of the United States’ most vital waterways. Besides providing drinking water to 30 million Americans in cities such as San Diego, Las Vegas, and Tucson, the river also irrigates about 90 percent of the country’s winter-vegetable supply. But it’s in danger of being tapped out, according to American Rivers , an environmental group named it the most “most endangered” river in the nation. The reason is a simple case of demand outpacing supply. Coupled with the trend of intensifying droughts, the Lower Colorado is being depleted faster than it can replenish itself. “The Lower Colorado is the lifeblood of the region and grows food for Americans nationwide, but the river is at a breaking point,” said Matt Rice, Colorado Basin director for American Rivers. “It is critical that the Trump administration and Congress support and fund innovative water management solutions.” Related: The EPA just spilled 1 million gallons of mustard-colored mine waste into a Colorado river Proposed federal cuts , plus Trump’s determination to roll back environmental regulations set by his predecessor, offer no recourse. “Americans must speak up and let their elected officials know that healthy rivers are essential to our families, our communities and our future,” Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers, said. “We must take care of the rivers that take care of us” Other rivers under similar duress include California’s Bear River, Washington’s South Fork Skykomish River, and Alabama’s Mobile Bay Basin. Via U.S.A. Today Photos by Denny Armstrong and Sharon Mollerus

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Conservation group names America’s most endangered river

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