Episode 145: A ballad to Oakland during VERGE 18, clearing the air on carbon removal

October 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Plus, two unique examples of corporate innovation in renewable electricity procurement.

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Episode 145: A ballad to Oakland during VERGE 18, clearing the air on carbon removal

What the circular economy’s early days look like for Amazon and Nike

October 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Billions upon billions of products and consumers served.

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What the circular economy’s early days look like for Amazon and Nike

Moving the needle: toward a more holistic and ethical fashion industry

October 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

A Q&A with Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator founder, Debera Johnson, on accelerating sustainable and digital technology in apparel production.

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Moving the needle: toward a more holistic and ethical fashion industry

3 takeaways from Google’s search for ‘carbon-free’ energy

October 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

There’s incidentally some irony in corporate renewable energy procurement.

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3 takeaways from Google’s search for ‘carbon-free’ energy

Organic farming with gene editing: an oxymoron or a tool for sustainable agriculture?

October 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Many farmers cultivating organic crops believe that genetically modified crops pose threats to human health. It’s not that simple.

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Organic farming with gene editing: an oxymoron or a tool for sustainable agriculture?

Winter ticks are responsible for New England’s moose massacres

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The changing climate felt in recent years has proven deadly for moose populations in the northeastern United States. Longer fall seasons and warmer winters have caused winter tick populations to thrive at the expense of their majestic hosts. Experts, who have been alarmed by the unfolding ravaging on New England moose, warn “we’re sitting on a powder keg” as calf survival has fallen to an all-time low of 30 percent while blighted adults — barely recognizable from the onslaught — are now referred to as “ghost moose.” The recent pestilence and its chilling physical effects have been studied by scientists at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) who  published a report on the findings in the Canadian Journal of Zoology. Professor Pete Pekins, wildlife ecology specialist at UNH and study co-author, explained the importance of this “powder keg” by saying, “The iconic moose is rapidly becoming the new poster child for climate change in parts of the Northeast.” Related: Video footage of rare all-white moose in Sweden The researchers monitored tick infestations, which have been prominent in areas of northern New Hampshire and western Maine, over the course of three winters. Between 2014 and 2016, 179 radio-marked moose calves were screened for parasites and monitored for changing physical conditions. Among these, a total of 125 had died by the end of the third winter. “Normally anything over a 50 percent death rate would concern us, but at 70 percent, we are looking at a real problem in the moose population,” Pekins said. While adult populations did not face a similar wreckage in numbers, those who survived the winters were severely mangled, coat-less and devitalized. “Most adult moose survived but were still severely compromised. They were thin and anemic from losing so much blood,” the university reported. “The ticks appear to be harming reproductive health , so there is also less breeding.” Since winter tick epidemics commonly last only one to two years, researchers are blaming climate change for the pest spikes, which have subsisted throughout five of the last 10 years. “The changing environmental conditions associated with climate change are increasing and are favorable for winter ticks, specifically later-starting winters that lengthen the autumnal questing period for ticks,” Pekins explained. But just how favorable are these warmer periods for questing? An average of 47,371 ticks were found on each of the exterminated calves. The calves perished from extreme metabolic imbalances and emaciation caused by blood loss. This razing is more fitted to a vampire novel than a natural symbiosis; the images better attributed to a trip into Chernobyl than the New England-Acadian forests. While many might be inclined to call the “ghost moose” a haunting reminder of climate change disasters, they still live. Not fully a casualty, they are the disfigured innocents on the sidelines of an ongoing environmental war. + University of New Hampshire Via TreeHugger Image via Dan Bergeron, N.H. Fish and Game Dept.

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Winter ticks are responsible for New England’s moose massacres

Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

According to a new study that observed sea, rock and lake salts, 90 percent of the table salt brands sold around the world contain microplastics. Several years ago, researchers discovered that microplastics were in sea salt, but no one was certain just how extensive the problem was until now. National Geographic reported that researchers in South Korea and at Greenpeace East Asia tested 39 salt brands, and 36 of them contained microplastics. This study — published in this month’s journal of Environmental Science & Technology — is the first of its kind to look at the correlation between microplastics in table salt and where we find plastic pollution in the environment. Related: Study suggests the average person consumes 70,000 microplastic bits every year “The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea. The salt samples came from 21 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The three brands that did not contain microplastics were refined sea salt from Taiwan, refined rock salt from China and unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation in France. The density of microplastics in salt varied among the different brands. The study found that the tested Asian brands of salt contained the highest amounts, especially in the salt sold in Indonesia. An unrelated 2015 study found that Indonesia suffered from the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. Researchers found that  microplastic levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and rock salt. This latest study estimates that the average adult consumes about 2,000 microplastics each year through salt. But how harmful that is remains a mystery. Because of knowledge gaps and a mismatch of data in more than 300 microplastic studies, there is limited evidence to suggest that microplastics have a significant negative impact. Microplastics could be detrimental to our health and the planet, or the focus on microplastic could be diverting attention from worse environmental problems. + Environmental Science & Technology Via National Geographic Image via Bruno

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Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics

Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

New York-based NH Architecture and Seattle architectural practice Olson Kundig placed first and second respectively in the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition in Melbourne, Australia. Sponsored by the State of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan with clean energy targets of 25 percent by 2020, the international competition sought large-scale works of public art that generate renewable energy in visible ways for St. Kilda Triangle in the City of Port Phillip. NH Architecture’s winning proposal, named ‘Light Up,’ harnesses solar, wind and microbial fuel cell technologies to produce 2,200 MWh of energy annually — enough to power nearly 500 homes. NH Architecture’s winning Light Up proposal consists of a lightweight tensile shade structure topped with 8,600 efficient, flexible solar photovoltaic panels envisioned over Jacka Boulevard. Designed with the aim of “maximizing the public realm” without compromising views, the design makes use of tested components available on the market. The clean energy power plant was also designed to harness wind energy and uses microbial fuel cells to tap into energy from plant roots. Olson Kundig’s second-place submission ‘Night & Day’ also taps into the power of solar with 5,400 square meters of solar panels. The solar system is combined with two Pelton turbines and a hydro battery to operate 24 hours a day and produce 1,000 MWh annually. As an ideas competition, LAGI 2018 has no plans of realizing the winning submissions. The Light Up team will receive $16,000 in prize money while the runners-up will receive $5,000. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy “LAGI 2018 is a window into a world that has moved beyond fossil fuels — a world that celebrates living in harmony with nature by creating engaging public places that integrate renewable energy and energy storage artfully within the urban landscape,” said LAGI co-founders Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry. “Light Up and Night & Day are power plants where you can take your family for a picnic. They both show how beauty and clean energy can come together to create the sustainable and resilient infrastructure of the future city. These artworks are cultural landmarks for the great energy transition that will be visited by generations in the future to remember this important time in human history.” + LAGI Images via LAGI

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Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

When you cook at home, there is nothing better than using fresh, seasonal produce as ingredients in your recipes. But it can be difficult to remember what is in season near you throughout the year. Luckily, there is an app for that, thanks to GRACE Communications Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to boost awareness and support for sustainable food initiatives. Last year, the foundation launched its Seasonal Food Guide app (available for Android and iOS) just before National Farmers Market Week (in August each year). When you download it, the app will update you on the seasonality of everything from apples to zucchini in your own state. The guide is free, and it uses data from the Natural Resources Defense Council as well as the USDA and state departments of agriculture. When using the app (or the website), you can search for what is in season at any time of the year in every state. It is billed as the “most comprehensive database of seasonal food available in the U.S.” Related: Everything you need to know about online farmers markets “Today, people want to know where their produce is coming from, how long it will be in season and available at their local farmers market or grocery store, and what’s in season at other times of the year or in other neighboring states,” said Urvashi Rangan, GRACE’s chief science adviser. “We built the Seasonal Food Guide app to put those answers right at your fingertips.” This app will help you in your efforts to eat as much local produce as possible, which not only helps you increase your fruit and veggie consumption, but it also helps local growers and the local economy. The money you spend on local produce stays in your community, and it is reinvested with other local businesses. Why should you eat seasonally? If you haven’t had a lot of experience with eating fresh produce, it is definitely worth a try — it is ripe and flavorful and less bruised and handled, because it is transported locally. You can often taste it before you make a purchase, so you know what to expect. During peak harvest times, there is usually an abundance of fresh produce, and that means lower prices. You can also get “seconds,” which are slightly blemished fruits and veggies, for a major discount, and you can eat them right away or preserve them for a later time when they aren’t in season. This is an extremely frugal way to help you eat healthy all year long. Related: 5 mouthwatering plant-based fall recipes When you purchase seasonal food, you get a fresher, tastier and more nutritious product compared to the foods you would buy in the store. The best time to eat produce is shortly after harvest, and the only way to do that is to buy your produce from a local grower. Plus, when purchasing your produce from local farmers , you can talk to them about how they grew the food and the practices they used to raise and harvest their crops. Another benefit of eating seasonally is that it tends to lead you to cook at home more often, which is a great thing to do for your health. Taking control over what you put in your body — from what oil you cook with to how much sugar you add — helps you to consciously make better choices. Cooking is also a great way to bond, and it is a fun activity to do with your family and friends. Eating seasonally will also challenge you to be creative and come up with new ways to use your local produce. Buying local food is a benefit for the environment, because it helps to maintain local farmland and open space in your community. Direct-to-consumer produce is also less likely to have pesticides or herbicides. Eating seasonally can be intimidating. What is at its peak this month? How do you use that strange-looking vegetable you spied at the market? How do you store your abundance of fruits and vegetables so they do not go bad before you use them? This is when the Seasonal Food Guide comes to the rescue. Recipes, storage tips and more If you need some help with what to do with your local produce, the Seasonal Food Guide has a “ Real Food Right Now ” series to give you tips on cooking with food from your local grower. There are ideas for everything from asparagus to okra, and there are also tips for which seasonings and oils will complement your produce. The Seasonal Food Guide also explains the history of each item, giving you a chance to learn more about the food you are enjoying. Each fruit, vegetable, nut and legume is also broken down into its nutritional value and its environmental impact, meaning you can see how your produce is affecting the land. The guide also aims to curb food waste by teaching users how to properly store produce and how long it typically remains edible before it needs composted. The comprehensive app teaches users a wealth of information about the foods they eat, while also making it easy to experiment with new, unknown produce items. Get the Seasonal Food Guide app Check out the Seasonal Food Guide on your phone or computer, and get the best information about what is available in your state this month. You’ll find information and tips for about 140+ veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes. You can also set a reminder for your favorites, so you don’t miss them when they are available. Because the app provides photos of each item, you can also quickly identify that strange fruit or vegetable you passed at the market and learn more about it. This guide makes it incredibly simple to eat local, seasonal foods you love as well as find new favorites to experiment with in the kitchen. To see the web version click here , or download the iOS or Android apps here . + Seasonal Food Guide Images via Seasonal Food Guide , Caroline Attwood and  Maarten van den Heuvel ; screenshots via Inhabitat

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The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce

Hurricane Michael leaves uncertainty for loggerhead sea turtles in Florida

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

The full extent of damage from Hurricane Michael is still not known. But when the storm hit the Florida Panhandle, it did more than destroy property and accumulate a human death toll that is still on the rise. Part of the hurricane’s devastation included sweeping away the nests of threatened baby loggerhead sea turtles that were hatching on Florida beaches after damage from previous storms. From May through October, the Gulfside Beaches in Florida’s Franklin County are dotted with sea turtle nests. But Hurricane Michael has replaced the dunes with scalloped sand in the town of Alligator Point, which was one of the most prolific areas for sea turtle nests in the state. Loggerheads are a federally-protected species and the most common type of sea turtle in Florida. Sea turtles lay eggs many times throughout the season, which results in hundreds of nests across the Panhandle that each hold anywhere between 50 to 150 eggs. Protecting those nests is a 24/7 job, and volunteers and city staff both work to make sure the hatchlings can make it to the ocean safely. At St. George Island in Franklin County, there were only seven nests left after the hurricane, but volunteers said if they haven’t already hatched, it is likely that none survived. According to Reuters , the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute started monitoring the beaches of Franklin County for sea turtle nesting activity back in 1979. In the 1990s, there was a huge increase in the number of turtles hatching and crawling to the ocean. Since then, there has been a significant drop-off. “The downward trend seen with hatch success began as a result of beach conditions and has continued due to tropical storms, high tides and erosion,” said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website. However, during the last year, Franklin County had more than 1,1100 loggerhead nests — the most the state had seen in four years. Hurricane Michael came late in the nesting season, and that might be the only reason that this year’s turtle population wasn’t totally wiped out. Florida master naturalist Lesley Cox said that they had a lot of nests this year and no storms until Michael, so there is a good chance that a lot of hatchlings made it. Now, the question remains whether or not the beach erosion from the storm will keep the area from being a sufficient habitat for nesting next year. Via Reuters Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ( 1 , 2 )

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Hurricane Michael leaves uncertainty for loggerhead sea turtles in Florida

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