Climate change increases pollen and worsens allergies

February 11, 2021 by  
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If you feel like you’re going through hankies faster than ever, you’re not just imagining it. Climate change is making allergy season even worse, according to a new study. Researchers concluded that pollen and planetary warming are closely tied in a study published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Allergy season is both beginning sooner and generating more pollen overall, thanks to a sneeze-inducing mixture of warmer air and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The study’s authors found that pollen season in North America now starts about 20 days earlier than it did in 1990 and produces about 21% more pollen. Research predicts that this trend will accelerate. Related: Avoid allergies this spring with these 7 natural remedies The study used attribution science techniques to estimate the degree to which wildfires, rainfall during hurricanes, and other extreme weather events are worse than they’d be if the planet wasn’t getting toastier. “It’s a great piece of work,” Kristie Ebi of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington said of the study. “There has been very little research on the application of detection and attribution analysis to the health risks of a changing climate.” By examining data from 60 pollen-monitoring stations around the U.S., the researchers found the runniest noses and most watery eyes in Texas, the Southeast and the Midwest. Less pollen-driven mucous production was happening in the northern states. The greatest increase in pollen is coming from trees, not the more traditional culprits of grasses and weeds. While a runny nose is annoying enough, allergies can have serious effects on public health. Asthma and respiratory diseases are life-threatening and can increase the severity of respiratory viruses like COVID-19 . + PNAS Via The New York Times Image via Magda Pawluczuk

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Climate change increases pollen and worsens allergies

From raising cows to growing veggies: ranchers go vegan

February 11, 2021 by  
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Richard and Cindy Traylor are part of a growing number of ranchers who have made the surprising switch to plant-based agriculture . In 2018, Honey, Cindy’s favorite cow, was injured. Cindy had become so attached to Honey that she didn’t want the cow to go to a slaughterhouse. She got in touch with Renee King-Sonnen of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary , who introduced the Traylors to a whole new way of living. The Traylors shared their experiences with Inhabitat about making the change to a vegan diet and livelihood on their Huntsville, Texas ranch. Related: Why American ranchers are feeding Skittles to their cattle Inhabitat: What have been the reactions of neighbors, family members and others in your life to halting ranching and switching to veganism? Cindy: Everyone we have talked to has been supportive. When we explain that we now eat vegan and how good we feel, they seem curious; however, so far we have not heard that anyone has tried to change their diet. We do have a young friend who was wowed when he sat and ate spaghetti and “meatballs.” Richard: When I was first confronted with veganism, I get the same ignorant response from others, which is “I’m carnivorous. I’m a meat eater. I need the protein. I’m healthy enough. It doesn’t hurt the environment that bad. There are other things that hurt the environment just as bad.” Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about why Honey the cow was so special to you. Cindy: Honey was my “baby.” She would eat out of my hand and was a really gentle creature. When she gave birth, she immediately would let me know and show me her calf . I would ooh and ahh and tell her what a beautiful baby she had. She was the youngest of the mothers and she would let the other calves nurse off her. Our connection was really deep, and I hated to see her hurt! Richard: When she was a little over a year, I built a five-strand barb wire fence, one strand at a time, from the bottom up. In essence, I taught her, albeit accidentally, how to jump the fence. Each strand I put up, I thought would be the last one she would jump. The top strand, the fifth strand, she would still jump it. I have never seen a cow that could jump fences like her. She did that for several years. Inhabitat: What have been the best benefits to going vegan? Cindy: Personally, I had wanted to go vegan in my twenties. I asked my doctor, who immediately told me that I couldn’t. You see, I have Crohn’s and for decades, I was back and forth to the hospital. Now, I jumped at the chance. Not only to see how it may help me health -wise, but to do my part in ending cruelty to animals. I cannot remember feeling this good! It has really helped me with Crohn’s symptoms and my arthritis doesn’t hurt anymore. I have neuropathy in my feet, and now I don’t have that tingling all the time…it is gone! I love creating meals — everything is delicious. Richard: I don’t have knee or back pain, I have more energy that individuals half my age envy. The first thing I tell people is how good I feel! I have no muscle cramps from working and sweating. Inhabitat: What are the hardest things about going vegan? Cindy: I had been dairy-free for decades, because I have a milk intolerance, so that was not a problem for me and Richard followed suit, because I do the cooking! There were a couple of things for me that were difficult. First, it was putting together enough recipes and understanding what veggies provide essential vitamins, minerals and protein. Then, it was finding a substitute for eggs! Baking without eggs kind of stumped me at first. Then, as I read more, I found several products to solve that problem. We now use for breakfast, Just Egg and Just Fold, which we love! Another problem for Richard, was thinking that veganism was boring, tasteless and bland. He soon realized that spices can do wonders! We both wish we had pursued this decades ago. The amazing thing now is that there are so many new plant-based products in the grocery stores and in the fast-food markets. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about what the RAP Summit is and your involvement in it. Cindy: Well, we attended the first Summit in November, as ranchers in transition. Right now, we do not have our cattle on our property, so in order to have an agriculture exemption, we need to find our “niche” for the future. There are a lot of options, and our state is specific as to what we can grow. The Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP) is helping us find our way. Renee and Tommy [Sonnen] are there to help us with any questions and find experts in whatever direction we choose to go. We have held Zoom meetings with everyone to brainstorm and talk about what we need to do. Renee and Tommy have been incredibly supportive. Inhabitat: What are some of the new uses you’re considering for your land? Cindy: Right now, we have several ideas: growing hemp for CBD oil, peas and fava beans for protein sources (this was something that vegan cheesemaker Miyoko Schinner mentioned at the Summit), as we want to produce a product that will be marketable and beneficial for the environment. Bamboo is another option we have been considering; however, this may not be doable for us at this time. Inhabitat: How do animal and plant-based agriculture compare as far as making a living? Cindy: Well, animal agriculture is less intensive during the warm months, as the pastures provide most of the cattle’s feed. We have two ponds for drinking, so that is also taken care of. There is fencing to repair, cattle to take to the market (which I always hated!), hay to buy and store. Plant-based agriculture will be more work-intensive. Irrigation, picking the produce, weeding, marketing, packaging, talking to vendors. The list goes on and on. However, it will be more fulfilling to know that we are not sending an animal to market to get slaughtered. And we are helping the environment. For example, peas and fava beans give back nitrogen to the soil. Other plants will be rotated to put back other nutrients into the soil. That way, less fertilizers are needed. Richard: We hope to give back to the soil , rather than take from the soil, which we have done for decades. We want to have a healthy environment for the future. Inhabitat: What else should others know about transitioning from raising cows to plants? Cindy: There are lots of people out there who are knowledgeable and willing to be mentors to help ranchers transition to another industry. I can attest that changing over to plants is emotionally freeing, because I used to dread when the calves got to a certain age/weight. I don’t think anyone “likes” to have their animals slaughtered. Richard: The environment is most important to protect our planet. The entire process of methane gases causing rising temperatures, growing hay, grasses equals less trees and less oxygen, the runoff of the fertilizers that end up in the creeks, bayous, rivers and oceans is poisoning the planet. + Cindy and Richard Traylor Images via Adobe Stock

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From raising cows to growing veggies: ranchers go vegan

This dream job lets you live on a Cornish island with a Medieval castle

April 13, 2018 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to live on an island , this job could help get you there. St. Michael’s Mount is home to one of the area’s most famous medieval castles – and the island is looking for a visitor services manager . “Giants, mermaids, miracles, and more have all left their imprint,” according to St. Michael’s Mount’s history web page . “All you have to do is set foot on the island, look and listen. Who knows what you’ll discover?” St. Michael’s Mount is an island connected to the town of Marazion in England . The island, a mere 0.09 square miles, is accessible by causeway at low tide and boat at high tide, and boasts a medieval castle and church. There are sub-tropical gardens and medieval pathways to explore. Buildings on the island date back to the 12th century, according to the National Trust . St. Michael’s Mount’s history page divulges more of the island’s storied past: “From a pilgrim’s path uncovered in the 1950s that is now the main route to the castle, to ancient tree stumps, blackened with age, unearthed in recent storms, and Bronze age artefacts dug up by our gardeners — the Mount never ceases to surprise us. What secrets will it yield to you?” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); ** JOB VACANCY – VISITOR SERVICES MANAGER, ST MICHAEL'S MOUNT **Full Time, £24,000 – £29,000 – service accommodation… Posted by St. Michael's Mount on  Wednesday, April 4, 2018 Related: You can buy this private Scottish island starting at £250,000 Sound like the perfect place to work? The visitor services manager is a full time position that pays £24,000 to £29,000. St. Michael’s Mount said 350,000 visitors ventured to the island last year, and this role oversees their experience and a team of employees. If this sounds like your dream job, you have until April 17 to get your application in; find out more information on the St. Michael’s Mount website . + St. Michael’s Mount + St. Michael’s Mount: Work for Us Via Cornwall Live and The Spaces Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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This dream job lets you live on a Cornish island with a Medieval castle

Australia experiences record-setting, summer-like heat even though winter is coming

April 13, 2018 by  
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It’s autumn in Australia , but you might not be able to tell from the weather . Record-breaking heat has gripped large swaths of the country — the government’s Bureau of Meteorology said Sydney, Adelaide, and other locations have hit the “hottest or equal-hottest April days on record.” We have published a Special Climate Statement exploring the highly unseasonal hot spell experienced by much of Australia at the start of April. More at https://t.co/jHCzg7hb3c pic.twitter.com/Yg2uQHeOqj — Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) April 13, 2018 Persistent heat in Australia prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to release a Special Climate Statement : a 22-page document delving into detail about record-setting temperatures across the country. In a media release about the climate statement, the Bureau of Meteorology said during the first week of April, the heat affected primarily northwest Australia. Then the hot spell moved southeast, impacting New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. All those states set April temperature records. Related: Rise of just 0.5 degrees C in India has already resulted in deadly heat Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Blair Trewin said the heat’s extent was exceptional, saying in the statement, “The heat had been building up in northwestern Australia since monsoon rains ended in mid-March. Northwesterly winds then brought the hot air mass southeast at the start of this week, which is when we saw the impacts on South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales.” The climate statement described conditions as as abnormally warm, and said the heat was more in line with what a person might expect in mid-summer, not mid-autumn. The statement said the heat “was unprecedented in many areas in April for its intensity, its persistence, or both.” Is climate change responsible for the heat? The Bureau of Meteorology didn’t say, in the statement or the media release. The climate statement pointed back to past notable April heat events in southeastern Australia, which occurred in 1922, 1938, 1986, and 2005. But the heat could be a preview of coming attractions, according to Mashable , which said extreme events such as this one could be more regular in a world impacted by climate change. + Special Climate Statement 65 — persistent summer-like heat sets many April records + Bureau of Meteorology Media Release Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Australia experiences record-setting, summer-like heat even though winter is coming

Scientists discover first salty lakes in the Arctic and they could be a key to finding alien life

April 13, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered extremely salty subglacial lakes buried beneath 1800 feet (550 meters) and 2460 feet (750 meters) of ice in the Canadian Arctic . This extremely unusual find offers scientists a glimpse into how similar environments on other planets and moons function – and could help guide their search for extraterrestrial life .  Ph.D.student in radio glaciology Anja Rutishauser made the incredible discovery while studying the bedrock conditions found underneath the Devon Ice Cap, one of the Canadian Arctic’s largest ice caps. “We weren’t looking for subglacial lakes ,” Rutishauser told ScienceDaily . The ice is frozen to the ground underneath that part of the Devon Ice Cap, so we didn’t expect to find liquid water.” Rutishauser initially noticed something unusual while studying airborne radar data acquired by NASA and the University of Texas Austin. “We saw these radar signatures telling us there’s water, but we thought it was impossible that there could be liquid water underneath this ice , where it is below -10C.” Related: The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought The Devon lakes are the first subglacial lakes to be discovered in the Canadian Arctic as well as the first hypersaline lakes found on Earth. “We think they can serve as a good analog for Europa , one of Jupiter’s icy moons, which has similar conditions of salty liquid water underneath — and maybe within — an ice shell,” said Rutishauser. This similarity to lakes found on other planets may shed light on how life on other planets may exist and function. “If there is microbial life in these lakes, it has likely been under the ice for at least 120,000 years, so it likely evolved in isolation. If we can collect a sample of the water, we may determine whether microbial life exists, how it evolved, and how it continues to live in this cold environment with no connection to the atmosphere.” Via CBC  and ScienceDaily Images via Martin Sharp and Depositphotos

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Scientists discover first salty lakes in the Arctic and they could be a key to finding alien life

March for Science hits DC and over 200 other cities around the world tomorrow

April 13, 2018 by  
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Around 1.3 million people participated in March for Science rallies all over Earth last year, according to New Scientist . Concerned over the incoming United States administration’s climate change denial and anti-science overtures, marchers turned out in droves — and tomorrow many people will take to the streets again. Here’s what to expect, and how you can get involved. The 2018 March for Science takes place April 14 in Washington, D.C. , and in hundreds of other locations around the world. Their mission is “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.” Not just scientists marched last year — one quarter of attendees said their job wasn’t in a scientific field, according to New Scientist. They just cared about science. Related: The funniest signs we spotted at the March for Science Since the 2017 March for Science, New York City march co-organizer David Kanter told New Scientist more scientists than ever ran for political office. Activism made a difference in science funding, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists Center for Science and Democracy deputy director Michael Halpern. New Scientist said Congress’ 2018 spending bill included more funding for research. Organizers estimate this year’s march won’t be as large as last year’s. Fear over what Donald Trump’s administration might or might not do motivated many people to show up in 2017. March for Science interim director Caroline Weinberg told The Washington Post , “People are definitely still motivated, but it’s coming across differently. Their behavior has been adjusting. What we’ve seen is a huge uptick in people taking action in other ways — signing petitions , making calls, sending letters.” But there are still reasons to march. Kanter told New Scientist, “The reason we’re still marching is that the goal of the march — use of evidence in policy-making — still isn’t being fulfilled in our politics today.” Halpern agrees. He told New Scientist, “They’re marching because they see EPA administrator Scott Pruitt go against his scientific advisers and fail to ban chemicals shown to cause damage to children’s brains. They’re seeing people at the Department of the Interior kicked out of their jobs [working] on climate change.” Find out how to get involved on the March for Science website . + March for Science Via New Scientist and The Washington Post Images via March for Science

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March for Science hits DC and over 200 other cities around the world tomorrow

Super-Efficient Solar Water Desalination

November 26, 2014 by  
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A novel approach to desalinating water could be very beneficial in providing fresh water for many parts of the world needing clean water.  This is a relatively inexpensive process which uses graphite to use solar energy far more efficiently than ever before. Desalination is an important way to provide fresh water in many parts of the world, but it is usually an extremely energy intensive process.  In order to produce fresh water, the brackish water must be heated to produce steam, which leaves the salts behind.  Then, the steam is condensed to yield clean water. Solar power would seem to be ideal for this application, but, until now, it has required intense concentration of sunlight in order to produce the heat needed to boil the water. The method developed by Dr. Hadi Ghasemi at the University of Houston first microwaves graphite for a few seconds, causing it to fracture and pop “like popcorn.”  This material floats on top of a container of water and draws small amounts of water up through capillary action.  The pores in the material serve to further concentrate solar energy on those small amounts of water, causing it to steam.  Since the solar energy is concentrated on just the top layer, the rest of the water stays cool, so far less energy is needed to produce the steam. This allows cheaper and simpler equipment to be used to concentrate the solar energy and makes for a simpler system to produce clean water.  And graphite is a cheap and plentiful material, which also makes this a promising technology. via: BoingBoing and NPR

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Super-Efficient Solar Water Desalination

Meet with Dow Ventures

May 31, 2012 by  
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Dow Venture Capital is working with the Environmental Business Cluster to engage with the latest cleantech startups. We invite startups involved in the energy storage, solar, wind, water, agricultural, carbon capture, and energy efficiency fields to apply to Meet with Dow by completing the application form on our website.

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Meet with Dow Ventures

Electrowetting Lenses Improve Solar Efficiency

October 7, 2010 by  
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Electrowetting might not be a term or a concept you are familiar with yet, but it is the principle behind optofluidic solar concentration , another one of the recent ARPA-E grants to improve efficiency in solar energy. Beyond that, it may be a part of technologies you will use in the next few years, and maybe even some you already have

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Electrowetting Lenses Improve Solar Efficiency

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