Amazons biospheres spring to life with first planting in Seattle

May 9, 2017 by  
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Tech giant Amazon took a big step towards completing its incredible nature-filled biospheres last week. The company celebrated its ceremonial “first planting”—an Australian tree fern—inside the campus’ three giant geodesic spheres . The 11-foot-tall fern is the first of what will be hundreds of tropical plants to fill the domes in the heart of Seattle. Designed by NBBJ , the three steel-framed spheres are part of Amazon’s $4 billion planned campus that will cover 10 blocks of downtown Seattle when complete. Although the greenhouse-like biospheres will not have official office space, they will be filled with hundreds of tropical plants. Workers can use the space as a therapeutic outlet, which the company believes will help encourage employees to “think and work differently.” Related: Amazon’s biosphere domes are slowly taking shape in Seattle The giant spheres—the tallest of the three reaches 90 feet in height and 130 feet in diameter—will be set to 60 percent humidity and 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The multistory glass buildings can accommodate over 800 staff and personnel. Over 3,000 exotic plant species are currently being incubated and tested for the spheres at a nearby greenhouse. The high-tech greenhouses are slated for completion in early 2018. Via Daily Mail Images via seattle spheres

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Amazons biospheres spring to life with first planting in Seattle

Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

March 30, 2017 by  
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The day when tourists venture to space could arrive sooner than we think. Blue Origin – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ‘ spaceflight company – just unveiled images of the interior of their New Shepard capsule that could transport travelers to outer space as soon as 2018. Blue Origin’s emphasis on tourism means the capsule is filled with large windows to allow stunning views of Earth. New Shepard could transport the first space tourists to just above the Kármán line, commonly considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. There they’ll float around weightless for a few minutes. Naturally windows are an all-important component of space tourism, and Blue Origin says on their website their capsule will have the biggest windows in the history of spaceflight . In an email, Bezos said, “Every seat’s a window seat, the largest windows ever in space.” Related: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the first to land a rocket intact upon return from space Inside reclining black seats featuring the Blue Origin feather logo hint at luxury aboard the New Shepard, which can seat six. The company draws on the romanticism surrounding astronauts as they describe the experience on their website, from communicating with Mission Control to earning astronaut wings. The reusable New Shepard rocket has successfully launched and landed five times to this point, but a person has not yet traveled in the capsule. The interior is quite a departure from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule interior – which has smaller windows – but The Verge pointed out while SpaceX’s primary target is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station , Blue Origin focuses on tourism. But Elon Musk did say recently two private citizens could travel around the moon in a Crew Dragon – also in 2018 – so it appears a new space race is on. After New Shepard’s booster and capsule separate, the capsule free falls for a few minutes before landing with the help of parachutes. The booster also returns to Earth courtesy of an autonomously controlled rocket-powered landing so both can be reused. A New Shepard capsule mockup will be on display at the 33rd Space Symposium from April 3 to 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. + Blue Origin Via The Verge Images via Blue Origin

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Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces death spiral

March 14, 2017 by  
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A new study reveals that the Amazon rainforest may face a “death spiral” of deforestation and drought over the next century. The data comes from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and while the entire forest is unlikely to disappear from the face of the Earth, large parts of the region are currently considered to be at risk. The study explores what might happen as climate change causes the region to experience more frequent and more intense dry seasons. While it may seem obvious that reduced rainfall causes trees to die off and forests to shrink, it’s also been shown that forest loss intensified regional droughts as well. When these two factors occur together, it can cause a self-reinforcing feedback loop that could wipe out large portions of forest. Related: A student-designed drone is hunting illegal loggers in the Amazon Rainforest It’s unclear exactly how much of the Amazon is at risk – computer models show this type of forest dieback could threaten up to 38 percent of the Amazon basin. However, researchers stress that eventually most of the Amazon forest could potentially be at risk. The future isn’t completely without hope, however: the study also found that the more diverse an area’s vegetation is, the less susceptible it is to the effects of the feedback loop. So increasing biodiversity could be a vital tool in protecting the Amazon – and other vulnerable regions – from the worst effects of climate change . The full study has been published in the journal Nature Communications . Via The Independent Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces death spiral

Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

March 3, 2017 by  
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Amazon just announced plans to install 41 megawatts worth of solar power on the roofs of its US facilities this year. The project is part of amazon’s larger initiative to install solar systems on 50 of its order fulfillment facilities around the globe by 2020. “As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability—this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.” The solar projects planned for this year will see a total of 41 megawatts installed on the rooftops of Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on various factors, the solar installations could provide the facilities with up to 80% of the energy needed to run. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane https://youtu.be/R7tMiQcF9tY According to Amazon, the company is also working on other clean energy projects – including a wind farm in Texas and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It’s also possible some of this power could be used to energize other initiatives Amazon is working on – such as the eventual delivery of orders by drones , and the company’s plans to build a giant floating warehouse in the sky from which the drones would work. Via Businesswire Images via Amazon/Businesswire

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Hot moments you missed at GreenBiz 17 in Phoenix

February 21, 2017 by  
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Nearly 1,000 souls — including executives from Amazon and Greenpeace — shared their sustainability visions in the Arizona desert at our annual namesake event.

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GM, Steelcase see a web of opportunity in the circular economy

February 21, 2017 by  
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The manufacturing giants talked creating jobs and cutting supply chain waste at the GreenBiz 17 conference in Phoenix.

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GM, Steelcase see a web of opportunity in the circular economy

Uber nabs NASA flying car guru; from St. Regis to green building

February 10, 2017 by  
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In this month’s Names in the News roundup of green business career moves: New hires at the ridesharing giant, Amazon and the Southface Energy Institute.

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Hundreds of ancient earthworks similar to Stonehenge found in the Amazon

February 7, 2017 by  
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For hundreds of years, the Amazon rainforest concealed over 450 massive, mysterious earthworks similar to those in Stonehenge . As a result of deforestation , researchers were able to catch a glimpse of the baffling geometrical geoglyphs in Brazil’s Acre state. The 2,000-year-old earthworks reveal a wealth of information we didn’t know before about how ancient people managed the rainforest . Many people used to think the Amazon rainforest ecosystem remained largely untouched by humans in the past, an idea challenged by the recent discovery of these huge earthworks. Led by Jennifer Watling of the University of São Paulo and the University of Exeter , a team reconstructed fire and vegetation history over 6,000 years near two of the geoglyphs, and found humans actually changed the bamboo forests heavily for millennia. They temporarily cleared areas to build the earthworks. Related: Archaeologists reveal fresh details about 4,500-year-old “New Stonehenge” As researchers didn’t find many artifacts around the earthworks, the sites probably weren’t villages, and their layout prompts researchers to think they weren’t used for defense. Instead, the ancient geoglyphs may have been utilized only once in a while for ritual gatherings. Watling cautions against excusing rampant deforestation based on this new information. Her team’s research shows while ancient people altered the rainforest, they did not employ long term, large-scale deforestation as happens today, or burn swaths of forest. Instead they employed ancient agroforestry practices and focused on economically valuable trees like palms to create what the University of Exeter describes as a prehistoric supermarket of products from the forest. Watling said, “Our evidence that Amazonian forests have been managed by indigenous peoples long before European Contact should not be cited as justification for the destructive, unsustainable land-use practiced today. It should instead serve to highlight the ingenuity of past subsistence regimes that did not lead to forest degradation, and the importance of indigenous knowledge for finding more sustainable land use alternatives.” Nine other researchers from institutions in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Canada joined Watling in the research; the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their study online this month. Via Phys.org Images via Jenny Watling/Phys.org

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Hundreds of ancient earthworks similar to Stonehenge found in the Amazon

INFOGRAPHIC: NASA’s top houseplants for improving your wellbeing and removing air pollution

November 15, 2016 by  
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Next time you’re cruising Amazon for an air purifier, consider heading to your local nursery instead. Thirty years ago, NASA studied houseplants as a way to help clean the air on the space station. Since then, study after study has proven that plants can clean the air in your home, too. Not only that, but plants have been proven to increase positivity, calmness and creativity and to help you sleep better. This infographic  breaks down the best plants for your home to remove those deadly toxins and increase your wellbeing – click on to get all the deets. + Chadwicks

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Tenth of world’s wilderness destroyed in last 20 years, study finds

September 9, 2016 by  
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A tenth of the world’s wilderness has been lost since the early 1990s and if trends continue there could be no wilderness left on the planet by 2100, according to new study published in the journal Current Biology. The researchers found that an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon — 3.3 million square kilometres — has been destroyed by human activities such as large-scale land conversion, industrial activity and infrastructure development. That equals to approximately 9.6 percent of the world’s wilderness. The most losses have occurred in South America (29.6 percent loss) and Africa (14 percent loss). The researchers discovered that 30.1 million square kilometres (23.2 percent of the world’s terrestrial areas) now remains as wilderness.

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Tenth of world’s wilderness destroyed in last 20 years, study finds

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