Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

August 31, 2017 by  
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Melting Arctic ice and spiking temperatures don’t just affect the northernmost part of Earth. According to Cornell University professor Charles Greene, they can also impact storms , like Hurricane Harvey, that are thousands of miles away – prompting them to stall or meander. He said in a statement, “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Just like Superstorm Sandy , Arctic warming likely played an important role in making Hurricane Harvey such an extreme killer storm.” Greene said warming in the Arctic slows jet streams, or global air currents, impacting the nature of big storms like Harvey, which so far has poured around 24.5 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana. Researchers can be reluctant to say exactly how climate change might have altered a certain storm, though many agree rising sea levels can cause higher surges, while higher temperatures in the air and sea surfaces will thrust more water into the atmosphere, which then falls as precipitation. Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Gizmodo spoke to several other scientists, and at least one, climate scientist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unsure warming had a significant role in Harvey. Penn State University climate scientist Richard Alley told Gizmodo, “Mostly, this is weather – big, dangerous weather, but still weather. But, because of global warming the ocean is a little higher than it otherwise would be, and that made the storm surge higher.” Meanwhile Greene compared Harvey to Superstorm Sandy, which also lingered instead of swerving out to the ocean as he said 90 percent of most late-season hurricanes do. He said, “ Houston would have suffered much less damage if Category 4 Hurricane Harvey had just crashed through the city and petered out in West Texas. But instead, the storm system is stalled in place and just continues to dump record amounts of rainfall from the Gulf on the city.” Via Huffington Post South Africa and Gizmodo Images via NASA and Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West

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Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

Midwest greenhouse heated with geothermal energy produces citrus year-round for $1 per day

August 31, 2017 by  
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Those who live in the Midwest United States understand how difficult it can be to eat local during winter. But for Russ Finch and his community, the task isn’t too difficult. A former mailman living in Nebraska , Finch designed a greenhouse that produces lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs, and grapes — all for just $1 a day. His magic trick? Geothermal heating. Finch calls his structure the Greenhouse in the Snow . The original, which he constructed more than 20 years ago, is connected to his home. Finch specifically grew citrus in the greenhouse to prove that it’s possible. “Any type of plant we saw, we would put it in and see what it could do. We didn’t baby anything,” said Finch. “We just put it in and if it died, it died. But most everything really grows well. We can grow practically any tropical plant.” NPR reports that the structure’s design is base don a walipini, or a pit greenhouse. The floor has been dug down 4 feet below the surface, and the roof has a slant toward the south to catch the sun’s rays. During the daytime, temperatures in the greenhouse can reach over 80 degrees F. At night, geothermal heat is relied on to combat the plummeting temperatures. Only warm air is used to heat the greenhouse — no propane or electric heaters. Warm air is obtained from perforated plastic tubing that is buried underground. The tubing runs out one end of the greenhouse and extends in a loop to the opposite side. It is circulated via a single fan. “All we try to do is keep it above 28 degrees in the winter,” said Finch. “We have no backup system for heat . The only heat source is the Earth’s heat, at 52 degrees at 8-foot deep.” Because the 1,200 square foot greenhouse is not dependent on fossil fuels , energy costs are down to just $1 a day. Particularly in midwestern states, low energy costs matter. “There have been hardly any successful 12-month greenhouses on the northern High Plains because of the weather,” said Finch. ”The cost of energy is too high for it. But by tapping into the Earth’s heat, we’ve been able to drastically reduce the cost.” Related: Russian ice skating rink doubles as a solar-powered outdoor cinema and geothermal spa Every year, the farmer grows a few hundred pounds of fruit which he sells at a local farmers market. His main business is selling the design for the Greenhouse in the Snow. A new version of his invention costs $22,000 to build. Finch says he has constructed 17 of them so far, throughout the United States and Canada. While Finch might not be able to supply a supermarket with the crops he grows, he can provide fresh produce to his local community. If more people in the rural midwest invested in greenhouses that rely on geothermal energy, carbon emissions from shipping fruit and vegetables all over the country would be reduced. This, in turn, would benefit the environment and people’s health as fresh, organically-grown food is more nutrient-dense and retains more flavor. + Greenhouse in the Snow Via NPR Images via Pixabay, YouTube

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Midwest greenhouse heated with geothermal energy produces citrus year-round for $1 per day

Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

August 31, 2017 by  
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Several explosions at a Houston-area chemical plant were reported on early Thursday morning, reportedly related to its loss of power. Black smoke billowed from the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas as blasts rocked the site, which remains submerged under six feet of floodwater. The Arkema plant is one of many in the region; this part of Texas is home to the one of the densest concentrations of pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the country. The storm damage is certain to exacerbate the public health threat of Hurricane Harvey long after the rain has stopped. On Tuesday, prior to the explosions, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation zone for a 1.5 mile radius surrounding the plant. The Arkema plant was shut down before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Houston-area, though 11 employees remained behind to service the facility. As the unprecedented floodwaters pushed in, the remaining team was evacuated as fumes began to pour out of the powerless plant. Several deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s office were hospitalized for inhaling toxic chemicals . Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Arkema produces organic peroxides, compounds with a wide variety of applications, from construction materials to pharmaceuticals. Usually the volatile chemicals are kept under control through cold storage. However, without power , there is no refrigeration. “As the temperature rises, the natural state of these materials will decompose. A white smoke will result, and that will catch fire,” Arkema spokesperson Janet Smith told press. Arkema was previously mandated by the EPA to produce a report outlining the potential risks of the plant and plans for worst-case scenarios, which, according to Arkema’s submitted report, could potentially impact 1.1 million residents over a distance of 23 miles. However, the company reports that it is incorporating “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” to ensure that the worst does not come to pass. Via Time and Washington Post Images via Google Maps

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Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

Scientists warn of uncontrollable climate change amid drastic Arctic melt

November 25, 2016 by  
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Arctic scientists warn we may be headed for uncontrollable changes in the environment – and fast. Drastic Arctic ice melt could set off 19 tipping points from which the world may never recover. Even now the striking effects of melting Arctic ice reach as far as the Indian Ocean , and researchers say Arctic temperatures are “off the charts.” The Stockholm Environment Institute released their Arctic Resilience Report , and the news isn’t good. They warned of several potentially irrevocable climate change tipping points. For example, more vegetation has been growing in the tundra, but the darker plants don’t reflect sunlight like snow would, instead absorbing the heat and leading to even more warming. And that’s just one of the 19 tipping points. Related: Arctic ice levels hit a new winter low – again Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute Marcus Carson told The Guardian, “The warning signals are getting louder. [These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.” Even though Arctic ice melt will make itself felt around the world – in the report the scientists say “what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic” – the way of life for Arctic people could be dramatically altered forever. The scientists said these people should be given the resources they need to survive the coming changes. Carson said the serious issues we see in the Arctic still aren’t well understood and we need further research, much of which has been done by the United States. But one man may now try to stand in the way – Donald Trump . The President-elect has been rather wishy-washy on his climate change stance lately, recently announcing he wants to stop giving money to NASA for climate research. On Trump’s idea, Carson said, “That would be…like ripping out the aeroplane’s cockpit instruments while you are in mid-flight.” The report also says greenhouse gas emissions around the world need to be reduced if we have any hope of heading off some of the disastrous effects of climate change. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Climate change is making Arctic mosquitoes hatch earlier and grow faster than ever before

September 18, 2015 by  
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In Alaska, many residents have joked for years that mosquito is the state bird – referring both to the size of the insect as well as its prevalence. Climate change could make that much less of a joke, though. A new study from Dartmouth College Dickey Center’s Institute of Arctic Studies suggests that warming temperatures in the Arctic are having a profound effect on mosquito populations, causing them to emerge earlier and grow faster, leading to an increased threat to the caribou they feed upon. Read the rest of Climate change is making Arctic mosquitoes hatch earlier and grow faster than ever before

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Climate change is making Arctic mosquitoes hatch earlier and grow faster than ever before

25 prefab eco-lodges pop up at ViVood’s adults-only Landscape Hotel in Spain

September 18, 2015 by  
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25 prefab eco-lodges pop up at ViVood’s adults-only Landscape Hotel in Spain

More than 250 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now

June 26, 2015 by  
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Wildfires as of 6/23/15, via Alaska Division of Forestry Wildfires in Alaska rarely make the national news, but this year’s season is off to a particularly dramatic start, with the Alaska Division of Forestry reporting that as of Wednesday there are 278 wildfires burning in the state. And while the land area covered by these fires is not especially large, it is part of a trend of increasing fires that burn not only woodland, but threaten to burn soil and permafrost, triggering large releases of carbon into the atmosphere. Read the rest of More than 250 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alaska permafrost , alaska wildfire , arctic fire , Arctic warming , carbon emissions , carbon permafrost , carbon stores , carbon wildfire , global warming , west coast fire

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More than 250 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now

World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo

June 26, 2015 by  
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Bees in the capital city of Norway now have their own ‘highway’ thanks to a pioneering initiative by environmentalists protecting urban bees. Concerted efforts to sprout pollinator-friendly plants on rooftops, balconies and in gardens throughout Oslo give bees a safe space to proliferate without having to overcome pesticides and other human-caused curve balls that have decimated global bee populations. Headed by Bybi , the project has captured the attention of private individuals, businesses and various state bodies, who can map their section of highway on a dedicated webpage . Read the rest of World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Animals , bee highway , bee hive , bee news , bees , Biodiversity , Bybi , colony collapse disorder , environmental news , habitat , highway for bees , norway , oslo , pesticides , pollinator friendly plants , pollinator highway , rooftop gardens , super highway

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World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo

Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale

June 26, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: fairytale house , Haida Gwaii , lloyd alter , Noel Wotten , Sitka Spruce , Sitka spruce house , Sitka spruce treehouse , Sitka Studio , tiny home , tiny house , Tlell , treehugger

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Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale

Greenland’s ice is melting faster than previously thought

December 17, 2014 by  
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The rate of melting ice from Greenland’s ice sheet might be vastly underestimated according to a new study released Monday in Nature Climate Change . Data from satellites led the study to conclude that Greenland is likely to develop more lakes “that speed up melt,” which would add as much as 20 feet to sea levels. Read the rest of Greenland’s ice is melting faster than previously thought Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: antarctic ice sheet , arctic climate , Arctic warming , Climate Change , climate change global warming , global warming , greenland , greenland ice sheet , ice melt , ice sheet

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