Boa Mistura turns 52 fishing boats into art to bring awareness to the plight of the parrotfish

April 16, 2019 by  
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Inspired by the natural design and shapes of the tropical parrotfish, these previously-rusty old boats now don bright new exteriors. The venture was another in a long line of community projects aimed to create “art as a tool for change” organized by the Madrid-based art collective Boa Mistura . The Pepillo Salcedo village in the Dominican Republic has limited access to electricity and running water, and fishing is an essential facet of the economy and life. Boa Mistura, known for inspiring neighborhoods with its artwork, incorporated the community into the endeavor. With the help of local fishermen and their families, 52 fishing boats were sanded down, removed of mollusks, repaired with fiberglass and painted with primer to prepare them for their colorful transformations. The fishermen of Pepillo Salcedo took to the project enthusiastically, some paddling for hours to reach Los Coquitos Beach, where their boats were to be painted. Related: Old fisherman’s shack is reimagined as a dreamy eco retreat The utilization of the parrotfish conception was a mindful decision, as the animal holds a special significance in the tropical Caribbean region. The parrotfish feed off algae that collect onto the coral reefs , contributing to the cleanliness and therefore survival of the vital coral. What’s more, when the parrotfish eat the algae, it allows for the coral polyps (the soft, tiny organisms that help to form the structure of reefs) to become more resilient to other stressors, such as pollution or global warming. The fish feeds off of the coral itself as well, which is then turned into sand through the parrotfish’s digestive system and the animal’s tough teeth — some of the strongest teeth in the ocean , according to scientists. It is a fragile balance and relationship that benefits both the fish and the reef. A single parrotfish can produce hundreds of pounds worth of white sand in a single year, which means a substantial portion of the Caribbean beaches is made of parrotfish poop. Though the parrotfish is a protected species, intense illegal fishing has caused a devastating deterioration in both the fish population and the delicate harmony of the ecosystem. Needless to say, if the parrotfish numbers continue to decline, the region’s iconic white sand beaches and the colorful coral reefs will be in big trouble . The entire project took about four weeks, and now the 52 yolas (the local term for these traditional fishing boats) that cruise the Bay of Manzanillo serve as a reminder for the respect and mindfulness required for the survival of the Caribbean parrotfish, white sand beaches and coral reefs. + Boa Mistura Images via Boa Mistura

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Boa Mistura turns 52 fishing boats into art to bring awareness to the plight of the parrotfish

Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

April 10, 2019 by  
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Scientists believe the number of bird deaths associated with skyscrapers has reached hundreds of millions. Researchers estimate that anywhere between 100 million and one billion birds die from smashing into glass buildings every year — and they now know which areas of the country are the worst for these incidents. More birds die from hitting buildings in Chicago than any other city in America. Scientists believe around five million birds migrate through Chicago in the fall and spring as they make their way from Central and South America to Canada. According to The Guardian , Manhattan is another deadly place for birds who are migrating north and south. Related: Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends The majority of birds travel across the U.S. at night because the weather is cooler. These birds are often attracted to the bright lights of the cities. Large glass structures, like skyscrapers, are particularly dangerous, because they reflect the surrounding landscape, tricking the birds into thinking they are flying into trees or open air. The new bird conservation study was published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Other cities listed in the study, which was entirely based in the U.S., include Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis. “We’re trying to raise awareness — trying to provide data and insight that could help,” Kyle Horton, an author of the study, shared. One of the ongoing issues with studying bird deaths is obtaining reliable numbers. The New York City Audubon, for example, employs volunteers to collect birds that are killed in the fall and spring of each year. The organization recently reported that between 90,000 and 200,000 birds die from building collisions yearly. Other cities have initiated similar plans, but large scale implementation is difficult. Although the high number of bird deaths is concerning, bird conservationists believe that researchers and designers can come up with solutions to help curb those deaths in the near future — it all starts with recognizing the problem. Via The Guardian Image via Pexels

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Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

April 10, 2019 by  
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Traditionally, most jewelry has always been made out of some type of metal: silver, gold, bronze or copper. Mining for precious metals and gemstones often causes environmental damage, ranging from water pollution to greenhouse gas emissions to soil erosion. Today, however, those looking to decorate themselves with shiny baubles have a new option —  eco-friendly, 3D-printed jewelry. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Winter Hill Jewelry is an innovative, family-run company that makes beautiful and affordable 3D-printed earrings and necklaces out of plant-based plastic . Winter Hill Jewelry is the brainchild of Vanessa Templeman, a mother of two who started experimenting with her family’s 3D printer at home. The printer had been used to print toys for the kids, but soon Templeman decided to do something a bit more creative. After initially drawing and designing her pieces by hand, she then updated to Tinkercard to help streamline the process, which ends with beautiful 3D models of her designs. Related: Elle turns E-waste into unique and eye-catching jewelry According to Templeman, the 3D printing process not only allows her to create and manufacture her own designs, but has also opened up a niche in the jewelry market for eco-friendly designs. Focused on having minimal environment impact, the company uses a full-cycle system that is set up to reduce waste throughout the manufacturing process. Instead of using regular plastic that is made from fossil fuels, for example, they use PLA, a plant-based plastic that is compostable. While they try to reduce waste as much as possible, any remnants left over from the production process can be easily recycled. Additionally, the Flash Forge Creator Pro 3D printers used by Winter Hill Jewelry are fully powered by solar-generated energy . Once the jewelry is printed, they are displayed on cards made out of 100 percent recycled paper and shipped in biodegradable bubble wrap. As an additional way to use its product for good, the company has a special collection that includes a “Cuterus” line of pins and earrings. Portions from the sale of these items are donated to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center OB. + Winter Hill Jewelry Images via Winter Hill Jewelry

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3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

Monarch butterfly conservation groups fight to conserve the species

February 20, 2019 by  
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Monarch butterfly conservation is in full effect as numerous organizations have shared concerns for the beautiful butterfly. The number of monarch butterflies observed at 97 sites in 2018 was dramatically lower than ever before, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation , an organization that monitors monarch butterfly populations. In fact, the numbers dropped as much as 86 percent. That’s a startling statistic and is much higher than scientists expected it be. Worse yet, looking back twenty to thirty years, the records showed a population around 4.5 million, which means the rate has been rapidly declining for decades. The numbers have plummeted so dramatically, that it has now become a race to save the vanishing species. Fortunately for the Eastern and Western monarch butterfly, there are several groups fighting for their survival. When it comes to increasing numbers and monarch butterfly conservation, the focus is splintered, working simultaneously to improve natural habitat alongside evaluating the health of the butterfly population. Here are some notable organizations and a highlight of their efforts to help the monarch butterflies. Related: California’s Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018 Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) The largest monarch habitat restoration projects in the western U.S., beginning in 2017 and continuing today, is taking place in the backyard of SOMA and they’ve played a key role in its success. Covering over 300 acres across Southern Oregon, the Southwest Oregon Pollinator Collaborative Project is working towards rebuilding pivotal habitats for the insects . For their part, SOMA placed over 7,000 plants over 40 acres in the Sampson Creek Preserve in the hopes of attracting and populating the butterflies. This project was one of the most recent of several, representing nearly five years of hands-on habitat restoration and community education. In 2015, the group began developing waystations for the butterflies — the largest of which is located at an appealing creekside location at Coyote Trails School of Nature in Medford, Oregon. Relying on the suggestions of published experts in the field, the SOMA group establishes plants well known as butterfly attractants, such as milkweed and other nectar-bearing plants . They also distribute seeds to encourage backyard planting and offer community outreach to several organizations with similar interests. Monarch Watch Based out of the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch promotes education pertaining to the monarch butterfly. They strive to inform the public about the life cycle and breeding of the species in an effort to encourage public involvement in the cause. In addition, the group also engages in research to better understand their biology and migration patterns. Monarch Watch also promotes the protection of known habitats and assists with the development of potential new habitats for the species . The website offers resources for the community and classrooms, such as a list of research projects that students can undertake along with information on how to rear monarchs. Monarch Watch feels that in order for the public to help, they need to have a better understanding of the issues so they provide information about how human activities such as infrastructure development decimates the natural habitat of the butterfly. They report that both overwintering and summer habitats are at risk due to human activities such as logging trees (known to aid the monarch) and building within the few known migration sites through Mexico and California. Journey North Journey North is another organization focused on saving the monarch butterfly. For twenty five years, Journey North has worked to maintain reliable resources for educators and the public. As an online citizen science program, they encourage teachers, scientists, members of the community and nature centers to report sightings so they can maintain a realtime database of monarch locations and numbers. This information is then mapped as waves of migrations move across the continent. The more people they involve, the more information they can gather. With a focus on “ecologically- sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative science, stewardship, education, and public engagement,” community involvement is at the core of their mission. Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) The Monarch Joint Venture is an example of private and governmental organization coming together in an effort to conserve the monarch butterfly. More than 70 partners are part of the joint venture, all with the goal of “implementing science-based habitat conservation and restoration measures” to protect the migration of the butterfly. With a vast network of resources from all levels of stakeholders, the Monarch Joint Venture culminates all the information gathered and produces an annual report called the Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan that outlines the best conservation and habitat planning techniques for organizations making the effort to protect nesting grounds, build habitats and work to better understand the species and their needs. To further coordinate the efforts of this diverse group of like-minded organizations, the MJV maintains a visual map database of ongoing projects so people can connect with others in their area. Financially, the MJV also allocates funds to different conservation projects across the lower 48 states. As with all monarch conservation organizations, MJV works to provide information about the species, including their needs, biology , habitat, habits, migratory patterns, etc. so they facilitate an organized webinar series on the topic. Reports across the board support the knowledge that the monarch butterfly has become dangerously threatened. Organizations like those above agree that saving the species will require a coordinated effort of educators, scientists and the public from Mexico and up the west coast to Canada. Via Monarch Joint Venture , Journey North , Monarch Watch , SOMonarchs Image via elleo , eliza28diamonds , lauralatimer

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Monarch butterfly conservation groups fight to conserve the species

A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

February 20, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm  Megowan Architectural has unveiled a beautiful home located in Mount Eliza in Victoria, Australia that uses strategic angles and contrast to make the most of the idyllic seaside setting. The three-story Two Angle House is not only aesthetically stunning — behind its sophisticated concrete and wood facade is a complex system that makes the home incredibly energy-efficient . Located in the seaside town of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, the 5,920-square-foot home’s sophisticated design scheme is based on contrasting building materials. According to the architects, “The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape.” Related: Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape The exterior and interior are made with a number of contrasting materials, namely concrete and wood. Using extensive concrete in the floors and walls was strategic to creating a tight thermal mass while in-slab hydronic heating further helps regulate the interior temperatures year-round. Using a system of cubed volumes, which contain two angles within the layout, the Two Angle House was strategically designed to provide stunning views of the ocean. Additionally, the design saw the home’s large concrete blade wall “stretched” from east to west to take advantage of optimal passive solar gain throughout. This allows the structure to not only benefit from a natural heating and lighting system, but it also reduces energy usage substantially. The roof was also equipped with solar panels to provide much of the building’s energy . Much like the outdoor space and wraparound deck, the interior is focused on the amazing sea views, which can be found from virtually any angle inside the home. In fact, just opening the front door leads the eye to the sea at the other side of the house. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors naturally brighten the interior and open up the living space to the outdoors, creating a seamless connection to the natural surroundings. + Megowan Architectural Via Dwell Images via Megowan Architectural

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A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe

July 11, 2018 by  
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International rights group Avaaz says the illegal ivory trade is still alive and well in Europe after the group purchased 109 ivory products from 10 countries and found that many of these items were illegaly sourced from wildlife after 1989. The findings further support Avaaz’s mission in calling on Europe to completely end its ivory trade and protect elephants . During its four-month investigation, the non-profit was able to successfully purchase ivory items in 10 European nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The ivory products were then shipped to Oxford University , where researchers used carbon dating to determine their authenticity and age. According to Avaaz, approximately 20 percent of the discovered items were harvested in 1990 or later. Under international regulations, it is illegal to sell any ivory taken from animals after 1990, when sanctions on the organic material went into effect. Related: United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade The good news is that the majority of items found date back as far as 1947 and later, meaning no new animals were killed or threatened for ivory. While this is a major win for animal conservation , pre-1990 ivory trade is only allowed with official documentation — Avaaz was able to purchase the items illegally. “This proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe,” Bert Wander, campaign director for Avaaz, said in a media statement. “Every day the sale of these trinkets continues is a day closer to wiping out majestic elephants forever.” The undercover operation is part of a wider awareness campaign by Avaaz to stop all ivory trading across Europe. In a recent update , the activist organization accused the European Union of being open to future trading opportunities. Furthermore, Avaaz claims the EU does not support a proposed five-point plan to protect all elephants from poaching for their tusks. Avaaz is not the only group calling for the outright end of ivory sales. Tusk , a charity championed by Prince William , is demanding the U.K. end all ivory trading, claiming the nation is the third-largest supplier of illegal products to the U.S. + Avaaz Via The Guardian

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Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe

Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies

April 6, 2016 by  
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Last month conservationists praised the first contact with a critically endangered Sumatran rhino in 40 years . But hope dissolved when the rhino, who was christened Najaq, passed away this week. She appears to have died from an infection instigated by a poaching attempt before her capture , though the exact cause of death remains unknown. Read the rest of Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies

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Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies

Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

April 6, 2016 by  
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The World Wildlife Fund issued a new report that warns nearly half of all World Heritage sites are being threatened by industrial activity. Oil and gas exploration, mining, and logging (legal and otherwise) all endanger some of the world’s most beloved and natural locations, many of which are home to biodiverse animal kingdoms. WWF is calling on world leaders to respond by taking more aggressive action to protect natural sites from commercial development and corporate interests. Read the rest of Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

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Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

World’s oldest panda celebrates with cake and bamboo. Happy Birthday Jia Jia!

July 28, 2015 by  
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Celebrations took place Tuesday, July 28 at Ocean Park in Hong Kong as Jia Jia took her place the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living panda in captivity. Jia Jia was presented with a colorful cake of ice and fruit juice, as well as a handful of fresh bamboo shoots to mark the occasion, as her caretakers at Ocean Park noted that she is remarkably active and healthy for a panda of her highly advanced years. Read the rest of World’s oldest panda celebrates with cake and bamboo. Happy Birthday Jia Jia!

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SNEAK PEEK: Chrysler’s electric Town & Country minivan spotted on the streets of LA

July 28, 2015 by  
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What do we have here? Yesterday on my way to the office I pulled up next to two heavily camouflaged prototypes of Chrysler’s all-new Town & Country minivan , which is expected to arrive sometime next year as a 2017 model. While this isn’t the first time that spy photographers have caught the new minivan driving around the country, what sparked my interest here was the “EV” sticker on the back – providing a hint of the electrified powertrain under all that camouflage. Read the rest of SNEAK PEEK: Chrysler’s electric Town & Country minivan spotted on the streets of LA

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SNEAK PEEK: Chrysler’s electric Town & Country minivan spotted on the streets of LA

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