Ovie’s ‘Smarterware’ smart food storage aims to help reduce food waste

May 22, 2018 by  
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Around 40 percent of food goes to waste in America yearly, which costs the average family of four about $2,000 a year. Luckily, Chicago startup Ovie has an answer to this problem: Smarterware. Ovie’s Smart Tags, which keep track of food items’ freshness, can be clipped on food, placed on six-cup containers, or attached to bottles or take-out boxes. According to the company, their system essentially transforms any regular refrigerator into a smart fridge, but without the steep price tag — and they’re crowdfunding on Kickstarter right now. Ovie’s Smarterware aims to change how people eat by helping them keep track of their food’s freshness level. Rings around their Smart Tags light up as green, yellow or red to let people know if food is safe, about to spoil, or has gone bad. Using the technology is simple: you just press the button on a Smart Tag, and your food is tagged via Amazon Echo or an app. Related: New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste The app aims to help users really take advantage of what’s in their fridge, letting them see items they’ve tagged or even search for recipes that will use the tagged ingredients. The app notifies users when the light ring hits yellow and offers recipe suggestions. Ovie also plans to send a personalized recap every month to let users know how they’ve been doing and provide tips based on their consumption trends. Ovie CEO and co-founder Ty Thompson said in a statement, “People don’t want to waste all of this food — it just happens. We’re busy, we invest time and resources to make a great meal, and then we end up throwing away a large amount of food simply because we forget about it. We wanted to help solve this problem by creating a product that would be simple to use and bring a more mindful approach to food storage .” You can snag early bird discounts on Ovie’s Kickstarter , which ends June 21. The company plans to start shipping in early 2019. + Ovie + Ovie Smarterware Kickstarter Images courtesy of Ovie

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Ovie’s ‘Smarterware’ smart food storage aims to help reduce food waste

Newly discovered Amazon structures change what we know about ancient civilization

March 28, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered 81 earthworks known as geoglpyhs across 1,200 miles of Amazon Rainforest in Brazil . This evidence, outlined in the journal Nature Communications , indicates that the dense, difficult-to-navigate region was once home to up to ten million people prior to European colonization. “There is a common misconception that the Amazon is an untouched landscape, home to scattered, nomadic communities. This is not the case,” said study researcher Jonas Gregorio de Souza in a statement . “We have found that some populations away from the major rivers are much larger than previously thought, and these people had an impact on the environment which we can still find today.” Although scientists are not sure exactly what purpose the geoglyphs served, they believe that they may have been used for ceremonial purposes. Many of them were discovered in close proximity to the remains of villages, which were consistently inhabited by large groups of people between 1250 AD and 1500 AD. These population centers would also have been populated with a wide variety of ethnic groups speaking different languages across the 1,200 mile range. “Our research shows we need to re-evaluate the history of the Amazon,” explained study researcher Jose Irirte in a statement . “It certainly wasn’t an area populated only near the banks of large rivers , and the people who lived there did change the landscape. “The area we surveyed had a population of at least tens of thousands.” Related: Scientists uncover hidden Mayan city of 10M people in Guatemala Scientists believe that they have discovered only one-third of the geoglyphs and man-made structures within the Amazon, while 95% of the Amazon river valley region remains unexplored. By understanding how the Amazon was settled in the past, we may gain a better sense of how to approach sustainability policy today. “The Amazon is crucial to regulating the Earth’s climate and knowing more about its history will help everyone make informed decisions about how it should be cared for in the future,” said de Souza. + University of Exeter Via IFLScience Images via University of Exeter

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Newly discovered Amazon structures change what we know about ancient civilization

Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist and they can be observed today

March 28, 2018 by  
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Is Earth staring down a mass extinction ? Recent research from an international team of scientists reveals warning signs for the biggest mass extinction in our planet’s history were apparent far earlier than experts had thought — and we can glimpse such indicators now. Around 250 million years ago, the Permian-Triassic mass extinction saw about 90 percent of animal species eradicated, according to the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, which led the research team. Huge volcanic eruptions and resulting greenhouse gas emissions wiped out scores of creatures. And for decades, scientists thought this so-called mother of all disasters occurred without warning “when seen on a geological time-scale,” the university said. This new research challenges that opinion. Related: Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic Fossils in Iran hint that the first indicators of the mass extinction appeared as early as 700,000 years before the event itself. Multiple species of ammonoids, an  extinct group of marine animals, died off and surviving ones “became increasingly smaller in size and less complex” as time marched towards the mass extinction event, according to the university. Factors that led to the event are reminiscent of conditions today, according to professor and lead author Wolfgang Kiessling, who said in the statement, “There is much evidence of severe global warming, ocean acidification , and a lack of oxygen. What separates us from the events of the past is the extent of these phenomena. For example, today’s increase in temperature is significantly lower than 250 million years ago.” Even so, warning signs that were present near the Permian Period’s end can be seen in modern times, according to the university. Kiessling said, “The increased rate of extinction in all habitats we are currently observing is attributable to the direct influence of humans, such as destruction of habitat, over-fishing, and pollution. However, the dwarfing of animal species in the oceans in particular can be quite clearly attributed to climate change . We should take these signs very seriously.” Geology published the work earlier this year; scientists from institutions in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iran contributed. + University of Erlangen-Nürnberg + Geology Images via Dieter Korn

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Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist and they can be observed today

China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

March 28, 2018 by  
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Xie Zhenhua, China ‘s top climate official, has reported that the country has met its 2020 carbon intensity target three years earlier than expected. China’s carbon intensity, as measured by the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of economic growth, has decreased by 46 percent since 2005. Such changes in China’s energy economy bode well for a global community that is struggling to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement . If China, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels, can continue its progress towards a carbon-free economy, the nation of nearly 1.5 billion may be well-positioned to support other countries in their efforts to stop catastrophic climate change. In 2009, China set its goal of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent of its 2005 carbon levels. This initial concession towards a less carbon -intense economy helped to set the stage for the successful negotiations of the Paris Agreement. At the time, China also made a commitment to set up a national cap-and-trade system by which emissions would be reduced through market forces. Thus far, it has been unable to establish a functional emissions market. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough The cap-and-trade system has also been hindered by technical difficulties and a lack of reliable emissions data. The current scheme, which launched in late 2017, involves only the power sector. As the country attempts to develop its cap-and-trade regime, it also must confront challenges created by a major bureaucratic change that transferred the responsibility for climate change from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. “It is questionable whether in the short term [the new ministry] can be elevated in status and power to the extent that it will be able quickly to assume the influential role that the NDRC occupied in the area of climate change ,” Peter Corne, a managing partner at the Shanghai legal firm Dorsey & Whitney, told Reuters . Nonetheless, China is making progress and that is good news for all of us. Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump

March 28, 2018 by  
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Financing for extreme fossil fuels  like tar sands  swelled in 2017 under Trump, according to a new report.  Banking on Climate Change 2018  tracks 36 of the largest banks in the world to discover they poured $115 billion into these polluting projects, up 11 percent from 2016, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Coal mining and power, Arctic and ultra-deepwater oil, and liquefied natural gas export are among the extreme fossil fuels covered by the report, endorsed by more than 50 groups — but the tar sands sector leaped ahead of the pack, overtaking coal to become the most heavily backed extreme energy sector. From 2016 to 2017, financing increased by 111 percent, and banks poured almost $47 billion into tar sands. Related: Here’s every bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how to switch Organizations including RAN, BankTrack , Oil Change International , Honor The Earth , Indigenous Environmental Network , and Sierra Club , graded banks worldwide on their financing, and found JPMorgan Chase was the number one Wall Street funder of these polluting fuels. That institution, along with the Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank, passed what RAN described as coal-heavy Chinese banks to be extreme fossil fuels’ biggest bankers in 2017. According to RAN’s statement, “JPMorgan Chase increased funding to coal mining by a shocking 21 times and quadrupled its financing of tar sands oil.” Multiple European banks pledged to reduce financing for fossil fuels like shale or oil sands, according to The Independent , but the report revealed banks in North America, especially in Canada, increased funding. “Every single dollar that these banks provide for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a dollar going to increase the climate crisis ,” Oil Change International executive director Stephen Kretzmann said in a statement. “The World Bank, which understands the deep threat that climate change poses to poverty alleviation, has gotten the message and is ending its financing of upstream oil and gas projects. Meanwhile, it seems some commercial banks appear intent on going in the opposite direction. It’s time banks like Chase and TD and US Bank took the World Bank’s lead and stop funding fossils. Until they do, these banks will be complicit in our climate catastrophe.” Find out how your bank stacks up in the Banking on Climate Change 2018 report on RAN’s website. + Banking on Climate Change 2018 + Rainforest Action Network Via The Independent Images via Depositphotos and Backbone Campaign on Flickr

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Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump

Non-profit uses machine learning and solar energy to protect the rainforest

March 23, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based non-profit Rainforest Connection has created a unique, technologically advanced system to defend the rainforests of Brazil . The high-tech protection system incorporates machine learning and solar energy to operate sensor devices called Guardians that listen to the rainforest and send real-time messages if illegal logging activity is detected. Built out of modified cellphones, the Guardians are placed high in the canopy. The solar panels mitigate the need for battery changes or maintenance. With assistance from Google, Rainforest Connection has focused their efforts on the Amazon Rainforest in Pará, northern Brazil, where they have also collaborated with the local Tembé people, who are defending their homeland from encroaching logging. About 30 members of the Tembé people regularly patrol the forest to repel illegal loggers. Even with refined knowledge of the local environment, the Amazon Rainforest is difficult for anyone to navigate. Up in the canopy, the Guardians capture sounds, which are then sent to Rainforest Connection. The company recently announced it will be using Google’s TensorFlow tool, which facilitates the use of machine-learning software by other companies. The sounds are then analyzed so that the location and origin of the sounds can be determined. Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests “The people on the ground, they’re the solution,” said Rainforest Connection founder and CEO Topher White. “They’re the ones who can fight off deforestation . But technology can play a really big part in helping them do it more safely and more effectively.” Rainforest Connection intends to provide services for those who live in rainforests and other ecological treasures all across the world. Communities equipped with the tools they need to thrive are more resilient.”The system pinpoints exactly where the problem is, so we no longer need to spend months patrolling the land like we used to,” said Chief Ednaldo Tembé . “That means we have more time for our culture, for our family, and for our survival.” Via Gizmodo Images via Google

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How — and — why the world’s biggest buyers deploy clean energy

February 10, 2018 by  
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What do the nation’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, an e-commerce giant and the U.S. military have in common?They are some of the world’s biggest buyers of energy, and they are all scaling their efforts to procure renewables. Here, the heads of sustainability at Walmart and Amazon and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force (now head of RMI’s Business Renewables Center) tackle sustainability solutions at a global scale with a focus on economic prosperity. 

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Amazons incredible plant-filled biospheres open in Seattle

January 30, 2018 by  
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Amazon has finally opened its stunning new downtown Seattle office and it’s unlike any workspace we’ve seen before. Amazon Spheres, which celebrated its grand opening yesterday, is part greenhouse and part office housed within three glass geodesic domes. Designed by NBBJ , the $4 billion “mini-rainforest” campus will house over 800 Amazon employees in addition to more than 40,000 plants in an ecosystem built to emulate a verdant cloud forest. Located at the corner of Lenora Street and 6th Avenue, Amazon’s giant geodesic domes are made with a steel frame holding 2,643 laminated glass panels made up of four-layered low-iron glass to minimize heat loss. The largest of the three domes measures 90 feet tall and 130 feet in diameter with five floors (and a four-story-tall living plant wall that grows 200 plant species). Retail space occupies the ground floor and part of the first floor. Over 400 species of plants from more than 30 countries are represented in the domes and are cared for by a full-time horticulturalist. Nearly all of the plants were grown in a suburban greenhouse for the Spheres project. The flora centerpiece is a 55-foot-tall Ficus tree (nicknamed Rubi) that weighs almost 36,000 pounds and was craned into the space through the roof. The plantings are mostly organized in either the Old World garden that features African and Asian plants, or in the New World garden with a focus on the Americas. An architectural highlight is undoubtedly the “bird’s nest,” a timber treehouse suspended 30 feet in the air that serves as an intimate meeting space. Related: Amazon’s biospheres spring to life with first planting in Seattle The interior temperature will be stabilized at 69 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit with 60 percent humidity, and the climate will vary throughout the space. Recycled heat from the nearby data center is used to heat the Spheres. The project is on track for LEED Gold certification. The public is welcome to take a free tour of the facilities but must first book with Spheres Discovery at Understory . + NBBJ Via Bloomberg Renderings via NBBJ, photos via Amazon

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Amazons incredible plant-filled biospheres open in Seattle

Ruins of Swedens oldest church put on a new A-frame shelter

January 30, 2018 by  
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Medieval history meets modern architecture at Kata Farm, a ninth-century church that now serves as a shelter and exhibition hall in Varnhem, Sweden. Designed by Stockholm-based AIX Arkitekter AB , a new 300-square-meter timber A-frame structure sits atop the remains of Sweden’s oldest Christian church that’s also thought to be the country’s oldest building. Glue-laminated timber was used as the primary material for the new structure. Located on the grounds of Varnhem Abbey, Kata Farm was named after the woman who ruled the farm and allowed the church to be built. The new timber structure, which was built to protect the farm foundations from the elements, is raised on a series of pillars to minimize site impact . An elevated walkway with a glazed railing and signage wraps around the exposed stone ruins and is punctuated by glass panels allowing for top-down views of the burial sites, including Kata’s tomb that dates back to the mid-1000s. Related: Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors The glue-laminated timber trusses are exposed and timber left unpainted for a minimalist look to complement the excavated grounds. In contrast to the light-colored interior, darker tar-treated pine planks clad the sloped exterior. The building can be accessed via a staircase that leads up to an outdoor deck or a glazed elevator on the opposite side of the building. + AIX Arkitekter AB Via ArchDaily Images © Antonius van Arkel

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Ruins of Swedens oldest church put on a new A-frame shelter

Amazon Takes Plants in the Office to the Next Level

January 29, 2018 by  
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It’s not surprising why our article on the best office … The post Amazon Takes Plants in the Office to the Next Level appeared first on Earth911.com.

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