Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

August 19, 2020 by  
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While the news often mentions the terrible things in the sea, such as gyres of plastic and other trash, the oceans also hold an extremely valuable resource: seaweed. This renewable and easily harvestable organism is used for everything from food to spa treatments to a possible  COVID-19 medicine. This eco-friendly ingredient also features in many common products, including paint, toothpaste, ice cream and beer. Farming seaweed People collect seaweed both wild and cultivated from seaweed  farms . Wild picking involves either wading into the seawater to gather the slippery crop or picking it up off the shoreline. Especially abundant harvests usually come post-storm when seaweed washes onshore. For centuries, people gathered seaweed using this traditional method. Nowadays, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 96% of global seaweed production comes from farms instead of wild gathering. Depending on the type of seaweed grown, farming may involve attaching the seaweed to rope lines suspended in the sea just off the coast, or growing the seaweed in nets. Seaweed farming in Japan started in the 1600s, and the practice may date back to the 15th century in Korea. Other parts of Asia, including  China , Indonesia and the Philippines, also produce seaweed for food and other products. In the Philippines alone, about 40,000 people made their living from seaweed production in the late 90s. When it’s time to harvest seaweed, people in most seaweed-growing countries use boats and machinery like rakes or trawlers. While easier than hand collection, harvesting with these tools can adversely affect habitats and wreck sea animals’ homes. To combat this, farmers in Norway devised a rake method that only removes the floating top canopy of seaweed, this avoiding seabed disruption. Seaweed helping the environment Farming seaweed might even improve the sea’s health, according to findings from Chinese researchers in a 2019 issue of  Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment . Research found that seaweed aquaculture can help combat eutrophication, the process whereby water becomes so overly enriched with nutrients that it causes excessive algae growth and oxygen depletion. The study discovered that seaweed aquaculture removed more than 75,000 metric tons of nitrogen and more than 9,500 metric tons of phosphate from coastal waters. Seaweed aquaculture also sequestered and absorbed a large amount of CO2 and released more than a million metric tons of oxygen. As a natural filter, seaweed helps remove pollutants from the environment; this does mean people should eat seaweed in moderation, though, as it can contain high levels of metals and iodine. In addition to keeping oceans healthy, seaweed also helps terrestrial farmers. When used as fertilizer, seaweed helps farmers avoid using nearly 30,000 tons of chemical fertilizers. Summarizing these benefits, the seaweed study’s authors wrote, “These results demonstrate that Chinese seaweed aquaculture has turned the  pollutants  that cause eutrophication into nutrients, which generates considerable environmental benefits as well as socio-economic values.” Seaweed in cosmetics and medicine Diverse parts of the world use seaweed in  cosmetics , too. Many Tanzanian women farm seaweed for export to China, Korea, Vietnam and other countries that use it as an ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products.  Even Ireland has harvested seaweed for hundreds of years. A 12th-century poem recounts how monks distributed edible seaweed to hungry poor people. In the early 20th century, the Irish coast housed nearly 300 seaweed bathhouses. You can still find some places in County Sligo to take a traditional seaweed bath. “This is our traditional spa treatment,” said Neil Walton, owner of Voya Seaweed Baths in the town of Strandhill. Scientists continue searching for more health benefits from  seaweed . The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has even explored using seaweed extract to treat COVID-19. This extract contains variations of heparin, a common anticoagulant. Though heparin usually comes from animal tissue, this seaweed alternative may become popular. If so, this could lower costs for seaweed as a biofuel resource. Seaweed as biofuel Seaweed aquaculture may also increase the use of biomass as  renewable energy . In 2015, biomass-derived energy accounted for about 5% of U.S. energy use . Biomass energy encompasses plant and animal-derived energy, such as food crop waste, animal farming, human sewage, wood or forest residue and horticultural byproducts. So far, seaweed as biofuel has garnered little commercial interest, and the market remains mostly unexplored. But the industry holds great potential. According to Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a United States government agency that funds and promotes research and development of energy technologies, U.S. seaweed cultivation could reach 500 million tons and provide more energy than 23 billion gallons of gasoline. Seaweed farming paired with other industries Seaweed farming can also work with other industries, such as fish farming. Some environmental experts worry that open-sea fisheries negatively impact ecosystems due to the excess fish feed and fish feces floating in the water. Integrating seaweed production into fish farms could help reduce nitrogen  emissions  and break down other pollutants. A seaweed farm could also pair well with an offshore  wind farm . The first such operation is being built by Belgian-Dutch consortium Wier & Wind this year. The company plans to grow patches of seaweed for biofuel between large turbines 23 km off Zeebrugge in Belgium. This combination may lead to a genius symbiotic relationship. Seaweed production would make use of large open spaces between turbines, and the turbines would prevent ships from running over floating seaweed. Images via Pixabay,  Rich Brooks ,  Ronald Tagra  and  Gregg Gorman

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Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

August 19, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration’s environmental protection rollbacks seem to now come daily. Today’s bad news? A plan to allow  oil  and gas companies to drill in Alaska’s so-far pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2017, a Republican tax bill opened part of the refuge to gas and oil leasing. Monday’s development pushed the plan further, aiming to sell the first drilling leases by the end of 2020. Many Republicans back the plan, despite opposition from environmental groups and Alaska’s Indigenous communities. Related: EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions The over 19 million-acre refuge has long remained off-limits to development. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, most of the refuge is true wilderness, free from roads, trails and facilities, and open to the public for exploration. The few travelers who visit access the refuge by private planes and air taxis. Visitors may witness the Polar and grizzly bears , wolves, wolverines, caribou, beluga whales, musk oxen and walruses that call this area home. Though wildlife outnumbers people here, both the Gwich’in and Iñupiat people reside on and live off resources from the land.  Sometimes calling themselves “caribou people,” the Gwich’in have based their culture around these reindeer for centuries. The Gwich’in live in 15 villages across northeast  Alaska  and northwest Canada and have actively fought against gas and oil leasing. David Smith, a Gwich’in leader in Arctic Village, worries that the industries will harm caribou and change his nation’s way of life. “I would say this is like no other place on earth, so we shouldn’t be treated like any other place on earth,” Smith said in an interview with  Alaska Public Media . “I can drive in any direction and  hunt  freely. I can drive in any direction and go trapping.” Despite the recent news, the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues. Still, environmental groups say that once companies buy drilling rights, it will be harder for future presidents to stop  Arctic  drilling. “The Trump administration never stops pushing to drill in the Arctic Refuge — and we will never stop suing them,” said Gina McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “America has safeguarded the refuge for decades, and we will not allow the administration to strip that protection away now.” Via Thomson Reuters Foundation Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

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Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

California’s new truck rule: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s controversial

July 1, 2020 by  
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California’s new truck rule: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s controversial Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/01/2020 – 00:30  California’s epic clean truck rule has arrived. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s controversial.  After months of discussion, last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved the Advanced Clean Truck rule, which says that more than half of the trucks sold in California have to be zero-emission by 2035. By 2045, all new commercial trucks sold in California must be zero-emission.  The truck rule follows another California law ( passed in 2018 ) that says all new public transit buses sold must be zero-emission starting in 2029. The combination of these policies makes California one of the most aggressive regions in the world pushing electric trucks and buses.  Environmentalists hailed the decision , calling it a win that will help clean up the air for disadvantaged communities that live in areas with a large amount of trucks. For example, in the Inland Empire in Southern California, where there’s an Amazon distribution hub, growth in e-commerce has led to tens of thousands of trucks per day on the roads. CARB estimates that 2 million diesel trucks cause 70 percent of the smog-causing pollution in the state. Transportation emissions represent 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and without taking aggressive steps the state will not be able to meet its climate goals.  The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge.   The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge. Adoption has been delayed partly because of costly and short-range batteries, and hesitancy from many traditional commercial automakers. But in the past year, truck makers such as Daimler and Volvo Trucks have started to take electric trucks much more seriously.  Nonprofit CALSTART predicts that 169 medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle models   will be available by the end of 2020, growing 78 percent from the end of 2019. All-electric truck companies such as BYD, Rivian and Tesla are set to capitalize on the trend.    So who’s not so enamored with the rule? Some traditional truck and auto parts makers:  The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association  has been pushing against more stringent regulations in the face of COVID-19, citing concerns over added costs.  Some oil industry and low-carbon fuel companies:  The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, has opposed the rule , saying it would eliminate promising efficiency and low-carbon fuel technologies.  Smaller truck fleet operators: Many are worried about the higher upfront costs to buy zero-emission trucks and new fueling infrastructure. It’ll be a challenge no doubt. And potentially might be challenged itself.  But I’ll leave you with a quote from CARB’s Mary Nichols  about the rule (from The New York Times). This might be Nichols’ last major regulation before she retires later this year:  This is exactly the right time for this rule. … We certainly know that the economy is in a rough shape right now, and there aren’t a lot of new vehicles of any kind. But when they are able to buy vehicles again, we think it’s important that they be investing in the cleanest kinds of vehicles. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Zero Emissions Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Trucks – CC license by Flickr user Andrew Atzert

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California’s new truck rule: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s controversial

This clothing tech company is 3D-printing garments to help reduce waste

June 8, 2020 by  
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Did you know that 85% of textiles ends up in landfills? While plenty of environmental data exists to focus on what happens to clothing at the end of its life, Copenhagen-based Son of a Tailor wants to bring awareness to the fact that textile waste is abundant at the manufacturing stage, too. At the manufacturing level, a large amount of usable material is wasted due to fabric cut-offs during production and mass-produced clothing that often goes unsold. Now, a fashion-meets-tech company is doing its part to end that unsustainable cycle. Son of a Tailor has been around since 2014, already known for creating custom, made-to-order T-shirts, and now it is aiming to eliminate waste even further with the world’s first 3D-knitted pullover sweater. Related: The sustainable wardrobe — it’s more accessible than you think Customers input individual measurements, such as height and weight, and a custom size is created through an algorithm on the website. For the T-shirts and polos, each individual garment pattern is fitted like puzzle pieces to minimize waste, then cut with a laser and sewn together. Unlike most mass-produced clothing, each Son of a Tailor shirt is constructed by the same person from start to finish. Going a step further, the new pullovers are created using an advanced, 3D-knitting machine. Each pullover is constructed in one whole piece, reducing the amount of cut-off waste from 20% to less than 1%. Son of a Tailor exclusively uses 100% extra-long staple cotton grown in California and superfine Merino wool from Australia. Both materials are tested for allergens and harmful substances and are knitted in Europe. There is no warehouse or store full of unsold clothing. Garments are only made if they are needed, meaning the company goes against the norm of fast fashion . Nothing ends up in the trash if it is unsold or goes out of style. A T-shirt will cost between $48-$64, and a pullover is between $117-$156, depending on the custom fit. The long cotton fibers and high-quality, durable wool make the products less prone to wear and tear, so the fabric stays soft and bright even after multiple washes. The company also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and will remake an item for customers who are unhappy with the garment fit. + Son of a Tailor Images via Son of a Tailor

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This clothing tech company is 3D-printing garments to help reduce waste

Wildfires in Siberia are emitting enough carbon to harm the entire planet

May 16, 2018 by  
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Wildfires are raging in Russia and Siberia , and they could have drastic consequences for the entire planet. Blazes burning in the Amur region since the start of 2018 have damaged an area around six times bigger than during the same time period in 2017, according to Greenpeace — and they have released nearly twice the annual carbon emissions of Moscow in a single month. This spring, dry, warm conditions in Siberia have readied the area for wildfires, according to Earther — and in May, the fires have picked up in a big way. Local farmers sometimes light fires in Siberia to replenish soil nutrients or clear land, but winds can cause the fires to blaze out of control. And more of the #AmurOblast wildfires? #Russia ?? 09 May 2018 #Copernicus #Sentinel -2B?? Album with even more and full-size images here: https://t.co/j0NIs2BNuS #wildfire #????????????????? pic.twitter.com/ddvP1jdKTE — Pierre Markuse (@Pierre_Markuse) May 12, 2018 Related: NASA map shows how climate change has set the world on fire Following a winter with little snow and strong winds, areas in Siberia that were forests just a few decades ago have succumbed to intense wildfires. And these out-of-control fires aren’t just bad news for locals, but for people all over the Earth: experts estimate that the Amur fire has released around 110 megatons of carbon dioxide . According to Greenpeace, “Each wildfire heats up the planet. At the scale we’re seeing in Amur, that’s a large amount of CO2, and a major setback in efforts to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals.” Soot from the wildfires also doesn’t bode well for the planet. Wind can carry black carbon to Arctic ice and snow, impairing their reflective properties, which “increases the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the surface” and “accelerates the melting of snow and ice,” Greenpeace said. Humans are responsible for as much as 90 percent of wildfires — but this means they can also prevent them, by taking steps like completely extinguishing cigarettes or bonfires and never leaving fires unattended. Via Greenpeace and Earther Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Florida coral reefs plagued with mysterious disease

May 16, 2018 by  
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With coral reefs under threat worldwide, researchers in Florida are racing to understand and treat a mysterious disease that threatens to decimate the third-largest coral reef on Earth. Over the past four years, the as-yet unidentified, potentially bacterial disease has already had a significant impact on Florida’s coral species, half of which are fatally vulnerable to the disease. “When they’re affected by this, the tissue sloughs off the skeleton,” Erinn Muller, science director at Mote Marine Lab’s Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration in the Florida Keys, explained to NPR . “And we see that once a coral is infected, it usually kills the entire coral, sometimes within weeks. And it doesn’t seem to stop.” After being hired by the State of Florida to study the health of coral reefs near Miami , scientist William Precht first observed the disease moving from coral to coral, with particularly devastating effects on star and brain coral. “This is essentially equivalent to a local extinction , an ecological extirpation of these species locally,” Precht told NPR . “And when you go out and swim on the reefs of Miami-Dade County today, it would be a very rare chance encounter that you’d see some of these three or four species.” Related: Scientists made a liquid ‘umbrella’ to protect coral reefs from sun damage Researchers at Mote Marine Lab are hard at work to determine how to protect coral from the mysterious disease . “Anything from… looking at chlorine-laced epoxy as an antiseptic, and even looking at how antibiotics interact with the disease,” Muller said. “Because if it is bacterial, then antibiotics would be a way to stop it.” Mote Marine Lab is also serving as a nursery for baby coral, which are released into the wild when they are ready. At this moment, the reefs under siege will need all the help they can get. “We’re really at a critical juncture right now, where we have corals left on the reef,” said Muller. “Before we lose more corals, now is the time to start making a change.” Via NPR Images via  NOAA National Ocean Service   (1)

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Florida coral reefs plagued with mysterious disease

Timber "Eaves House" in Japan boasts an oversized mono-pitched roof

September 8, 2016 by  
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The presence of the mono-pitched roof made it possible for the architects to create a large waffle-shaped vertical space, leaving the rest of the interior free from partitioning. Large skylights provide a large amount of natural light , while the steep, oblique roof surface protects the residents from outside views. Related: Ant House hides an innovative wood interior behind a metal-clad cube in Japan Alternating open and closed spaces create a strong dynamic and are suitable for different uses throughout the year. Installed along the perimeter of the layout, glass surfaces visually connect the garden with the interior and blur the line between the inside and the outside. + mA-style architects Photos by Kai Nakamura

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Timber "Eaves House" in Japan boasts an oversized mono-pitched roof

The Holonic Streetlamp is an Off-Grid Streetlight that’s Powered by the Sun and Wind

June 14, 2012 by  
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Streetlights are fixture of cities and towns across the world — they literally guide us through the night. But even new LED streetlights require a large amount of energy, because they run all night long, 365 days per year. To deal with that problem, the University of Seville in Spain has developed a streetlamp that is powered not only by the sun, but that also harnesses wind energy. <a href="http://www.gizmag.com/holonic-streetlamp-solar-wind-power/22922/"The Holonic Streetlamp , a completely off-grid streetlight that is powered by photovoltaic solar panels and a small, vertical-axis wind turbine. Read the rest of The Holonic Streetlamp is an Off-Grid Streetlight that’s Powered by the Sun and Wind Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “wind power” , green lighting , holonic streetlamp , LED lighting , María Jesús Ávilais , off-grid , off-grid streetlight , renewable energy , solar streetlight , street light , university of seville

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The Holonic Streetlamp is an Off-Grid Streetlight that’s Powered by the Sun and Wind

Guy Laramee Creates Incredible Topographic Carvings on Books

June 14, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Guy Laramee Creates Incredible Topographic Carvings on Books Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , book carvings , Guan Yin , Guy Laramee , mountains , recycled books , Recycled Materials , topographic

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Guy Laramee Creates Incredible Topographic Carvings on Books

Vertical Shafts Pump Light into the Industrial Laneway House in Toronto

June 14, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Vertical Shafts Pump Light into the Industrial Laneway House in Toronto Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: canada , courtyard , eco design , green design , green renovation , Laneway House , rooftop garden , rooftop terrance , skylights , Superkül Inc , sustainable design , toronto , vertical light shaft

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Vertical Shafts Pump Light into the Industrial Laneway House in Toronto

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