Humanity’s footprint is weighing down the planet with 30 trillion tons of junk

December 6, 2016 by  
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Everyone knows that humanity has an enormous footprint on the planet – but few of us have thought to ask just how much our collective impact weighs . A new study published in The Anthropocene Review examines exactly that question, and has found that the so-called human “technosphere” is bogging down the planet with a staggering 30 trillion tons of infrastructure, development, and manufactured products. To understand the sheer volume of our impact on the planet, it’s important to recognize what’s being included in the tally. The paper includes all of the structures people have built or modified, as well as all of the gadgets and junk we’ve created – that means everything from farmed land to smartphones is being counted in that estimate. It includes all of our buildings, factories, roads, and trash, “active urban, agricultural and marine components used to sustain energy and material flow for current human life, and a growing residue layer.” Related: Scientists say that we are entering a new geological epoch thanks to human activity The mass of all the technosphere was estimated using an interesting method – basically, the authors compiled information on the area, thickness, and density of our cities , roads, croplands, and other structures worldwide. This is just one more piece of evidence that the Earth has entered a new geological era, what some are calling the “ Anthropocene ” epoch. In order to declare the current era its own geologic epoch, scientists need to be convinced that our footprint will last throughout the planet’s history, -even if our species fades away – as part of the fossil record. It’s hard to argue against the theory – after all, many of our structures will never decompose and may be preserved into the far future. But where previous epochs have been marked by the evolution of new life, our era will be marked in history by “techno-fossils” – the structures and trash we leave behind. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Humanity’s footprint is weighing down the planet with 30 trillion tons of junk

Al Gore meets with Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump to talk climate change

December 6, 2016 by  
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Rumors have been flying that Ivanka Trump may focus on the issue of climate change in her role as First Daughter. Yesterday Ivanka met with climate advocate Al Gore at Trump Tower – and President-elect Donald Trump joined in. While a spokesperson initially said the President-elect would not be present at the meeting, Gore later said he did talk with Trump, and that Ivanka is “very committed” on climate policy . Trump spokesperson Jason Miller told the press that Ivanka would meet with Gore to discuss climate issues, although the spokesperson said he didn’t know exactly what they would discuss. Miller said the President-elect would not be present during the meeting. Related: Al Gore reaches out to work with Donald Trump on climate change But some members of the press said Trump did indeed meet with Gore. Wall Street Journal deputy bureau chief Tim Hanrahan quoted Gore as saying “I had a very lengthy and very productive session,” after the Trump Tower meeting, and “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground.” NBC Nightly News editor Bradd Jaffy quoted Gore as saying , “The bulk of the time was with President-elect Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation and to be continued. And I’m just going to leave it at that.” After campaigning for Hillary Clinton , Al Gore said he would be willing to work with Trump and the new administration on the issue of climate change. He wrote that as Trump said he’d like to be a president for all, Gore hoped Trump would “work with the overwhelming majority of us who believe that the climate crisis is the greatest threat we face as a nation.” While Trump continues to pursue actions that negatively affect the environment, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline , his meeting with Gore may offer some hope. In addition, Ivanka’s meetings with climate advocates have led some people to wonder if the First Daughter will advocate for progressive climate change policies. Ivanka has apparently already met with climate advocate Leonardo DiCaprio . Aides for Ivanka and DiCaprio said they met to talk about the environment, with DiCaprio gifting her a copy of his documentary Before the Flood . After referring to climate change as a hoax, Trump seems to be backpedaling – he told New York Times reporters there is “some connectivity” between humans and climate change. Let’s hope both the President-elect and his daughter are willing to listen to the science backing up climate change. Via CNN Images via Michael Vadon on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Al Gore meets with Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump to talk climate change

Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape

December 6, 2016 by  
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This modest yet stunning cabin overlooking beautiful views of Washington’s Puget Sound is a triumph of modern, environmentally sensitive design. Seattle-based MW works designed the Case Inlet Retreat for clients who had hiked, camped, and paddled on the 20-acre site for years and wanted a home that would forge a strong relationship with the land. The low-maintenance cabin beautifully delivers on the clients’ requirements and has since won several American Institute of Architects awards, including a 2016 National Honor Award. Tucked away on a forested slope along the eastern edge of the Case Inlet, the compact retreat is a quiet and low-maintenance sanctuary that blends into the landscape with large glazed surfaces and a natural materials palette. A weathered cedar -clad volume anchors the building in the north and houses the master bedroom en suite with the bath located in a wood-lined, light-filled room overlooking views of the outdoors—a space the homeowners describe as their “favorite spot to enjoy a glass of wine at [the] day’s end.” A stairway next to the bathroom leads to the basement, where a guest bedroom, bathroom, mechanical room, and storage room are located. Related: Element 1 is a modern prefab island retreat that frames views of Puget Sound In contrast to the mostly opaque sleeping volume, the living spaces are wrapped in glazing for a transparent effect. A concrete cantilever juts out over the edge to the west, projecting the open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area towards panoramic views of the tree canopy and water. The kitchen sits on an Ipe wood deck that seamlessly extends the building footprint beyond sliding glass doors and into an outdoor meadow bathed in afternoon light in the south. A broad timber-clad flat roof, accessible via a staircase, tops the cabin and offers homeowners the chance to immerse themselves in the evergreen canopy. + MW works Images via Jeremy Bittermann

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Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape

China’s coal use peaks in a ‘real turning point’ for the fight against climate change

July 27, 2016 by  
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A new study reveals that China’s coal use peaked in 2014, marking a “real turning point” in the fight against climate change . Economists at China’s Tsinghua University and the London School of Economics said this peak is likely a permanent trend – which is significant, as China produces more emissions than any other country in the world. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s coal consumption tripled. During those years, the country produced billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide. Since then, coal production and coal burning have fallen for several reasons. For starters, China’s economy has moved from heavy industry towards technology, and there’s been a greater emphasis on energy efficiency . Further, the Chinese government has turned its attention to dealing with water and air pollution. Related: China on track to reach Paris climate goal way sooner than expected Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics, co-author on the paper, told The Guardian “I think historians really will see [the coal peak of] 2014 as a very important even in the history of the climate and economy of the world.” The economists said the peak could be a breakthrough in the Anthropocene Era , or the geological period in which human influences alter the environment. Stern said other nations might be influenced by China’s shift, bringing the world closer to goals set in the Paris agreement . The New Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa described the peak as a “very positive development.” She said, “It underlines how ambitious and deliberate policies to shift away from highly polluting fuels to cleaner energy sources can deliver global climate benefits and national improvements in health and indeed in people’s lives.” + Nature Geoscience Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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China’s coal use peaks in a ‘real turning point’ for the fight against climate change

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