Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

July 19, 2019 by  
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Cities should be planting more trees, but the reasons why may be more complicated than you think. As it turns out, trees provide so much more than aesthetics and a way for humans to connect with nature. More and more research is emerging about how the proper implementation of tree planting in urban areas and cities could help solve growing environmental issues. We already know that nature can improve mental health . It can inspire positive engagement with community and provide the kind of groundedness one needs to live in the moment. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology examined the emotional effects of taking time to notice nature versus human-built objects by dividing participants into three different groups. The group instructed to pay more attention to nature had significantly higher levels of elevating experiences, a sense of connectedness and intent to help others. That means you don’t necessarily have to plan an epic week-long camping trip (though that sounds great!) to reap nature’s benefits. Something as simple as walking through a park on your morning commute or stopping to admire a tree at the bus stop can create positive effects. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills A report published by the Nature Conservatory in 2016 found that investing $100 million annually in tree planting in cities could provide cooler temperatures for 77 million people and cleaner air for 68 million people. That’s a pretty important statistic, considering that a “vast majority” of humanity will be living in cities, towns and other urban areas by the year 2050. When it comes to pollution , the bulk of cities are most greatly affected by particulate matter, AKA the consequence of burning fossil fuels from cars and factories. Fine particulate matter inhalation into the lungs alone causes an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year from complications such as stroke, heart disease and respiratory illness. According to the report, by the year 2050 this number could almost double if something isn’t done. The good news is, the leaves of trees act as an absorber of these pesky pollutants, and the matter itself can get caught or retained on the tree surfaces. Fortunately, we already have some of the answers to these pressing problems. The Nature Conservatory studied 245 cities in 2016 to find that trees are already providing humans with benefits such as reductions in fine particulate matter and reduction in summer maximum temperatures , and that was just the trees that were already there. Significant tree cover in cities can also help reduce the need for air conditioning, reducing utility costs and lowering energy usage. Tree planting, when combined with other strategies, appears to be a cost-effective, simple way to improve the environment and soak up air pollution, all while beautifying the neighborhood. In order to make this approach most effective, the types of trees planted must be considered as well. Trees with larger leaves provide more sufficient shade and are more productive in absorbing pollutants. Species that are less susceptible to drought may also be considered in areas where water is more scarce. Maintenance is another factor to consider, as it may not cost much to plant the trees in the first place, but watering, pruning and protecting against diseases all require added costs and labor for city trees. Trees aren’t the only air purifiers in the natural world. Certain types of moss can produce oxygen while binding environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, which at high levels can damage the ozone layer and human lungs. Berlin-based company Green City Solutions is creating irrigated city park benches made of condensed moss. The benches have the ability to absorb air pollutants and use installed fans to create large area-covering air flow. In 2018, Goodyear released a tire design made with living moss that helps improve air quality as you drive. Air pollution was the theme for the 2019 World Environmental Day , held on June 5. Thousands of people took to social media to show their support with the hashtag  #BeatAirPollution and pledging to make lifestyle choices to support the fight for cleaner air. Officials from different countries made big announcements involving environmental issues such as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, revealing a ban on single-use plastics in national parks. Other politicians who joined were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s who pledged to phase out coal-use in Canada by 2030 and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera’s plan for Chile to go carbon neutral by the year 2050. UN Secretary-General António Guterres was quoted saying, “My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. People everywhere are demanding action. On World Environment Day, let us heed their call.” Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

8 sustainability podcasts to listen to this Earth Day

April 22, 2019 by  
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Give your daily commute a boost by subscribing to an eco-friendly podcast. Not only do these podcasts make your drive pass by a little faster, but they will also keep you informed on the latest trends in sustainability — just in time for Earth Day . Here is a quick list of the best sustainability podcasts for your morning drive. Sustainable Jungle This podcast tackles current and future problems in the environmental realm. The hosts of the podcast, Lyall and Joy, tour the planet to discuss big issues with some of the world’s leaders in conservation, tackling issues like plastic waste , climate change and overconsumption, to name a few. Although the people they meet are focusing on different areas of conservation, they are all working together to build a better world. Organic Healthy Life This podcast is led by Nancy Addison and focuses on healthy eating. In each episode, Addison dives into recipes that are tailored to benefit the entire body and mind. According to Player FM , Addison’s clients have experienced substantial improvements to their health by following her advice. This includes weight loss and improved medical conditions. Related: 6 fun, meaningful ways to celebrate Earth Day! Addison is the author of several award-winning books, including Raising Healthy Children ; Lose Weight, Get Healthy And Never Have To Go On A Diet Again ; and How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian . The Minimalists Starring Ryan and Josh, The Minimalists podcast examines sustainability through a slightly different lens. Being minimalists, the pair often talk about how they live a more fulfilled life by decreasing what they own. They also discuss their impact on the environment and how modern living affects Earth’s delicate ecosystem . Ryan and Josh frequently take questions from the audience and offer an inside look at what it really means to be a minimalist. My Ocean The My Ocean podcast interviews leaders in the conservation community whose main focus is on preserving the ocean. This podcast will undoubtedly leave you inspired about the good in people while offering an interesting look at some of the problems facing our oceans today. If you are looking for feel-good stories about people making positive impacts on the oceans, this podcast is definitely for you. The Adaptors This podcast is for listeners who are looking for interesting twists on sustainability. The Adaptors frequently introduces ideas that are hypothetical and bordering on ridiculous, but they still make you think about sustainability in a different way. One of the common questions on the show is how environmentalists would adapt to some of the most damaging effects of climate change . Although the answers are sometimes outlandish, they are often inspirational. Warm Regards Warms Regards may be one of the most passionate podcasts on this list. The hosts often interview journalists and climate scientists who are dedicated to their work in a way most of us could only dream of being. The podcast focuses on climate change and the effects of global warming . This includes exploring ideas on how to deal with global warming and what might happen in the future if proper steps are not taken to deal with the issue. Direct Current Direct Current will appeal to those looking for environmental discussions with elements of comedy. The main topic on Direct Current is electricity and the many ways humans generate and use energy around the world. The discussions often feature human elements and explore new trends in technology that are driving the renewable energy revolution. Fast-paced and always fascinating, this podcast is perfect for those looking to solve old problems in unique and inventive ways. Hippie Haven Hippie Haven releases an episode every Wednesday, and each one is sure to teach you something new about sustainable living. Led by host Callee, this podcast interviews ordinary people who follow  eco-friendly lives . The guests typically offer real-world solutions while telling people how they can get involved in the environmental community. Related: These sustainable headphones are making a debut just in time for Earth Day The topics on Hippie Haven are diverse and include anything from becoming a vegan to building a tiny home . The topics change each week, so you never know where the conversation might take you. Being a long-time activist and small business owner, Callee also brings plenty of experience to the table and is never afraid to discuss even the most controversial of issues. Mountain And Prairie Mountain and Prairie could definitely be your next favorite podcast. Ed Roberson hosts the show and talks with a myriad of guests from the American West. The topics tend to focus on issues that ranchers and hunters face, but they always come back to conservation. Even if you are not an expert on the environment, you will find the discussions on this sustainability podcast both significant and illuminating. Via Player FM , 1 Million Women and The Basic Goods Images via Pexels , Kaboom Pics , Matthieu A , Tomasz Gaw?owski  and  Photo Mix Company

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8 sustainability podcasts to listen to this Earth Day

This tool measures children’s connection to nature

January 21, 2019 by  
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Scientists at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Auckland have created a 16-part questionnaire for parents called the CNI-PPC (Connected to Nature Index-Parents of Preschool Children) to identify how well children in Hong Kong are relating to nature. One of the densest urban areas on Earth, Hong Kong poses challenges for kids when it comes to connecting with nature , and the scientists are hoping to develop a tool to inspire policy changes and interventions that will help strengthen interactions between kids and their natural surroundings. The questionnaire, created by Dr. Tanja Sobko of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong and Professor Gavin Brown of the University of Auckland, identifies four ways in which children usually develop a relationship with nature: “enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility toward nature and awareness of nature.” Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food Nearly 500 families with kids between the ages of two and five participated in the study, and they all responded to the 16 questions. After the families responded to the CNI-PPC, the researchers then measured the answers against a well-known child behavior measurement, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The results told us something we already know — the more time kids spend in nature , the happier they are. “Parents who saw their child had a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity, fewer behavioral and emotional difficulties and improved pro-social behavior,” the  University of Hong Kong press release said . “Interestingly, children who took greater responsibility toward nature had fewer peer difficulties.” When a child grows up in an urban environment, without access to parks and green spaces , it can have lasting consequences. Children who lack access to the natural world can develop “nature-deficit disorder” or “child-nature disconnectedness,” and this can lead to a deterioration of mental and physical health. The CNI-PPC is the first tool of its kind that “measures nature-related attitudes and awareness” for children in a highly urbanized Asian city. + University of Hong Kong Via TreeHugger Image via University of Hong Kong

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This tool measures children’s connection to nature

Sustainability leaders on how 2017 will be different

December 23, 2016 by  
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How will your company’s sustainability efforts be different in 2017 than in 2016? Members of the GreenBiz Executive Network let us in on their answers.

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Sustainability leaders on how 2017 will be different

Climate change is pushing Earth’s clouds higher and towards the poles

July 13, 2016 by  
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A new study published in Nature warns that climate change is pushing Earth’s clouds higher and towards the poles. Why do these cloud patterns matter? For starters, there isn’t much solar radiation near the poles, so the clouds won’t reflect as much heat back into the atmosphere. Also, when cloud tops are higher they act similar to greenhouse gases, trapping radiation on Earth. These patterns only serve to bolster climate change . As scientists work to understand how climate change will affect our planet, one of the biggest uncertainties has been how warming will impact clouds . In the past, it was hard to obtain reliable observations; satellites gathering data typically weren’t designed to collect long-term records. Scientists at institutions in California and Colorado scrutinized ” corrected satellite records ” from as far back as the 1980’s. They found cloud patterns similar to those described by climate change simulations. These patterns predict that some clouds will move towards the poles, and some cloud tops will stretch higher into the sky. The scientists tried to account for natural variations by looking at models that incorporated elements like volcanic eruptions and increasing greenhouse gases, and models that didn’t incorporate those elements. Study lead author Joel Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said , “The pattern of cloud change we see is the pattern associated with global warming.” Related: World’s largest fog harvester produces water from thin air in the Moroccan desert The study doesn’t provide all the answers we need; it doesn’t look at low subtropic clouds, which some scientists speculate will be more important, and the cloud shift patterns could be due to erupting volcanoes in addition to greenhouse gas emissions. However, the study is another step on our path towards understanding how climate change will impact Earth. Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology director Bjorn Stevens said, “This study reminds us how poorly prepared we are for detecting signals that might portend more extreme (both large and small) climate changes than are presently anticipated.” + Nature Via The Guardian Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Wikimedia Commons

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Climate change is pushing Earth’s clouds higher and towards the poles

Worlds first Rose Museum in Beijing is wrapped in a beautiful perforated facade

July 13, 2016 by  
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? Set on a 100-hectare rose park that exhibited over 2,000 species of roses for the convention, the Beijing Rose Museum was designed to engage and overlook its stunning surrounding views. The museum is a modern take on the historical Chinese courtyard house that embraces and encloses open spaces, as a nod to traditional Chinese architecture. To showcase the history and culture of rose cultivation in China, which dates back to at least the 11th century B.C., NEXT architects wrapped the building in a 300-meter-wide, 17-meter-tall soft, stainless steel facade perforated with rose-shaped patterns. The detached facade creates a series of walled-off courtyards. Related: Bat bridge provides shelter for our winged friends in the Dutch town of Monster “The main challenge with the Rose Museum was to find a modern Chinese identity for a building which significance is so deeply rooted into Chinese culture,” said John van de Water, partner at NEXT Architects. The semi-transparent stainless steel walls blur the boundaries between the indoor and outdoor landscape. At night, the museum lights up from within for a beautiful glowing appearance that can be enjoyed from across a lake. + NEXT Architects Images via NEXT Architects , by Xiao Kaixiong

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Worlds first Rose Museum in Beijing is wrapped in a beautiful perforated facade

Deadly sodium cyanide pollution discovered after Tianjin explosion in China

August 17, 2015 by  
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Last Wednesday, a series of explosions caused massive destruction in Tianjin , China, and left over a hundred dead. Now, days later, levels of deadly cyanide pollution are sky-high and many people have been displaced after their homes in the area were destroyed. Over 70 people, including some firefighters, are still reported as missing. As the public and local media blame the government for its poor response to the disaster, the answers are few and far between. Read the rest of Deadly sodium cyanide pollution discovered after Tianjin explosion in China

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Erik Meldahl Wants to 3D-Print this Extraordinary Maasaica Car with Biodegradable Materials in Kenya

July 11, 2014 by  
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Imagine a third industrial revolution where sustainable energy and manufacturing set the standards for production of culturally-relevant cars? Maasaica is a concept from BMW that was built in the Serengeti using 3D printing technology , degradable materials and traditional handcraft. The intention with Maasaica was to create a concept that will evoke questions about how to best design a sustainable, locally produced car. Another aim was to question the methods and ideas of the conservative automotive industry. While Massaica doesn’t give all the answers, it is a step in the right direction. As designers we have a great opportunity to influence a product early in the process. However, one can also see it as we have a great responsibility to do our best to design products for a better society. That is what Massaica is about. My main inspiration came from the Maasai culture and new ways of manufacturing. The name Maasaica comes from the Latin word for the lion species in Kenya, Panthera Leo Masaica. + Maasaica Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3d printed car , 3D-Printed Maasaica Car , biodegradable car , biodegradable materials , Erik Meldahl , green car Kenya , green transportation , locally sourced materials , Maasai people , Serengeti

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Erik Meldahl Wants to 3D-Print this Extraordinary Maasaica Car with Biodegradable Materials in Kenya

Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council: Answers to FAQs

August 14, 2013 by  
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Answers to the many questions about the new group posed during GreenBiz's July launch webcast.

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Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council: Answers to FAQs

Entergy seeks to lead on climate risk mitigation

August 14, 2013 by  
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While most of Louisiana’s oil and gas companies are on the defensive after being sued for destroying wetlands, some have made wetland restoration a major goal.

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Entergy seeks to lead on climate risk mitigation

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