New plastic garbage patch discovered in Arctic Ocean

April 20, 2017 by  
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the only place where plastic pollution is gathering in the world’s oceans . An international team of scientists from 12 institutions in eight countries recently discovered a new garbage patch in the Greenland and Barents seas north of Norway. Between 100 and 1,200 tons of plastic have concentrated there, threatening wildlife already grappling with climate change . The Tara Expeditions Foundation dragged for plastic in the Arctic Ocean to find the new Arctic garbage patch. They visited 42 sites, and found over a third of the locations didn’t have any plastic. But then they found plastic amassing in Arctic waters above Norway. The garbage patch is smaller than the Pacific or Mediterranean garbage patches, but researchers hadn’t anticipated finding so much trash in that part of the Arctic, previously considered to be quite pristine. Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain told The Verge, “We did not expect to find high concentrations of plastic there, so far from the populated regions and the large sources of plastic pollution.” He’s the lead author on a study published online yesterday in the journal Science Advances . So where’s all the trash coming from? Europe and America’s East Coast are likely at fault. Study co-author Erik van Sebille, who during the research was with Imperial College London and now works for the Netherlands’ Utrecht University , told The Verge, “If a plastic bottle or a plastic bag gets into the Atlantic from Europe or the East Coast of the U.S., that has a very good chance of ending up in the Arctic. The problem with plastic specifically being in the Arctic is that it’s going to get into the food chain of animals that are very much under threat already, that are struggling to survive in a changing climate.” Via The Verge Images © Anna Deniaud/Tara Expeditions Foundation

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New plastic garbage patch discovered in Arctic Ocean

Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic

February 14, 2017 by  
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As governments make slow progress towards alleviating climate change and denial marks the Trump Administration’s approach to the global crisis, scientists have hatched a crazy $500 billion scheme to refreeze the Arctic . Led by physicist Steven Desch of Arizona State University , a team of 14 scientists concocted a plan to replenish Arctic sea ice using ten million wind-powered pumps. The strategy involves deploying millions of renewably-powered pumps to send water onto the surface of Arctic ice during the winter. In theory, that water would then freeze, thickening the ice before summer. Desch said the pumps could add around three feet to the current layer of sea ice . If the ice is thicker, he argued, it would last longer and reduce the danger of sea ice vanishing completely during the summer. Related: Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded The paper’s abstract states that the Arctic could be utterly devoid of summer sea ice by the year 2030. If that occurs, the ocean would absorb the sunlight it once reflected – so replenishing sea ice now is an imperative. The paper goes on to state that the 2015 Paris agreement won’t be enough to halt the consequences of global warming . Desch told the Observer, “Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels . It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.” The American Geophysical Union ‘s journal Earth’s Future published their study in late January. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic

Judge orders Exxon-Mobil to disclose 40 years of climate change documents

January 13, 2017 by  
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Last fall, the public learned that Exxon-Mobil may have spent millions of dollars researching the effects of climate change in the 1970s . Upon learning the disastrous impact of their own business practices, the company hid the results and continued as if no risks existed. This revelation prompted the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and New York, Maura Healey and Eric Schneidermann respectively, to pursue investigations that are already bearing fruit. On Wednesday, a Massachusetts judge ordered the fossil fuel behemoth to turn over 40 years worth of documents that will shed light into what Exxon-Mobil knew, when it knew it, and how it obscured this knowledge from the public. The decision by the Massachusetts court arrives at an inopportune time for Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon-Mobil and President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. Tillerson, already under the microscope as the Senate moves through the confirmation process, has thus far refused to answer questions about Exxon-Mobil’s alleged obfuscation and endangerment of public safety, which occurred decades before his tenure as CEO. Tillerson has also been more forthcoming about the threats posed by climate change than other prospective members of the incoming Trump administration, but if these latest legal actions produce smoking-gun evidence of Exxon-Mobil’s deception, Tillerson may find himself in hot water. Related: US Slaps New Sanctions on Russia, Stops Exxon from Drilling in the Arctic While an investigation, however productive, won’t change the past, clear evidence that the fossil fuel industry acted as Big Tobacco did in the 20th century by willfully ignoring its own dangerous practices and deceiving the public would provide additional leverage and pressure on policymakers and businesses to take action against climate change. While scientists assert that we can burn only 565 gigatons more carbon dioxide before the Earth is doomed to a global temperature rise over two degrees celsius, the fossil fuel industry currently sits on 2,765 gigatons of carbon in its reserves, making evident their need to comply in the move towards a carbon-free economy . Even with evidence, the fight will not be easy. Since the revelations in the fall, Exxon-Mobil and its allies have fiercely fought against any investigation. The fossil fuel giant has filed two lawsuits against Attorney General Healey, alleging that her actions were politically motivated. Similarly, a federal judge in Texas had ordered a deposition of Healey, which would have required her to show up in a Texas court. This order was cancelled at the last minute. However, these actions demonstrate that those who fight on behalf of the public against Big Oil will face obstacle after obstacle in the dawning Trump era. Via  Engadget Images via Mike Mozart  and ARLIS Reference

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Judge orders Exxon-Mobil to disclose 40 years of climate change documents

Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

January 13, 2017 by  
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Tranquility is at the heart of the handsome Sunbeams Music Center , where music is used as therapy to soothe the souls of the disadvantaged. Designed by Newcastle-based studio Mawson Kerr for the Sunbeams Music Trust charity, the music therapy center visually harmonizes with its bucolic lake landscape in Cumbria, England. The building is sensitively placed on the landscape and incorporates environmentally friendly design including photovoltaics , locally sourced natural materials, and passive design principles. The 600-square-meter Sunbeams Music Center caters to disabled children and adults with a variety of music therapy rooms. The building includes four such rooms as well as recording studios, an exhibition space, concert hall, and administrative offices. To minimize site impact , the architects shaped the building along the landscape’s natural contours, which resulted in a building’s horn-like shape. “The building is designed as a home and advert for the amazing work Sunbeams do working with disadvantaged members of society,” writes Mawson Kerr. “Bringing music into the building was on of the key drivers alongside harmonising the building with the natural surroundings and wider environment.” Related: Green Covered Taipei Music Center by Mario Bellini Architects The building was largely constructed from locally sourced timber and features a glue-laminated timber structure, cedar shingles, and exterior oak slats. Skylights punctuate the building’s green roof . The music center was also built with ground-source heat pumps and sheep wool insulation. + Mawson Kerr Via Dezeen

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Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

December 2, 2016 by  
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Sweden’s famed ICEHOTEL , perhaps the “coolest” hotel in the world, has just unveiled a permanent luxury lodge made entirely of ice. The newly-designed ICEHOTEL 365 has all of the chilly charm of its sister hotel, but will be open 365 days a year thanks to state-of-the-art solar-powered cooling technology that will keep the structure frozen during summer months. Located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi, ICEHOTEL rose to fame thanks to its unique igloo structure made out of “snice”, a mixture of snow and ice collected from the Torne River. The fantastical structure has been built and rebuilt every year since 1989. Related: World-Famous Swedish Ice Hotel Forced to Install Fire Alarms Despite Sub-Freezing Temperatures Now the new ICEHOTEL 365, which sits adjacent to the other temporary structure, has just been unveiled. Thanks to the solar-powered cooling technology , guests can now enjoy either cold or warm rooms year round, along with a cocktail room, saunas, and even an ice church. The cold rooms are kept between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius, and although the beds are made from blocks of ice, they have thick mattresses on top of wood crates for added comfort. Reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags keep guests warm and comfy during the night. Like the original hotel, the 365 version has a series of thematic rooms called Art Suites. Each room has carved ice detailing created by artists from around the world. And if you really want to splurge, go for the Deluxe Suites. The largest suites in the hotel, the Deluxe Suites also have individually designed carvings as well as a private heated relaxation area, sauna, shower, and en suite bathrooms. + ICEHOTEL 365 Via Contemporist Photographs by Asaf Kliger and ICEHOTEL

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Sweden’s new ICEHOTEL 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year-round

Obama administration just protected the Arctic and Atlantic from drilling until 2022

November 18, 2016 by  
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With only two months left in office, President Obama’s administration just finalized its program for oil and gas leasing , and it will ensure protections for the Arctic and Atlantic oceans until 2022. In what is considered a major win for coastal regions and marine wildlife, these areas will not be subject to dangerous oil or gas drilling until climate change-denier and fossil fuel-guzzling proponent Donald Trump has completed his term in office – and perhaps even beyond. “Coastal businesses, fishermen, and marine life learned the lesson after the BP disaster that when you drill, you spill,” said Heather Leibowitz, the Director for Environment New York . “We are thrilled the Atlantic is protected for the next five years and adding protection for the Arctic makes the victory that much sweeter.” The road to such protections was a long one, beginning with the initial 2017 to 2022 Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan proposed in January of last year. This version of the plan left coastal regions from Virginia to North Carolina vulnerable, as well as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean. Related: Obama to target Arctic and Atlantic oil drilling in fight against climate change The final plan cancelled leases for these areas for the next five years, yet left behind 10 leases in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a National Resources Defense Council survey , a majority of American oppose oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. Leibowitz says more and more citizens are becoming aware of the dangers of offshore drilling, so there may still be hope for the Gulf’s future. She adds, “The only safe amount of drilling for our climate and communities is none at all – that is why President Obama should extend permanent protection for the Atlantic and Arctic oceans before leaving office.” Via  Environment New York Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Obama administration just protected the Arctic and Atlantic from drilling until 2022

Pianist’s haunting performance on melting glaciers eulogizes the Arctic

June 27, 2016 by  
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DLnhdnSUVs&feature=youtu.be Chances are, you will never see a piano concert like this one again. In a symbolic performance organized by Greenpeace , acclaimed Italian composer and pianist plays an original composition entitled “Elegy for the Arctic,” while he and his piano float in the Arctic Ocean. The Wahlenbergbreen glacier outside of Svalbard, Norway provides the backdrop, calving icebergs into the water to punctuate Einaudi’s chilling melody. The musical piece was inspired by eight million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection, and Greenpeace is urging the OSPAR Commission to protect international Arctic waters under its mandate. + Greenpeace International

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Pianist’s haunting performance on melting glaciers eulogizes the Arctic

This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

June 27, 2016 by  
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Pink snow might sound outlandish, but it can actually be found around the world. While it may be pretty, it turns out it really isn’t a good look: the color is caused by blooming algae , which cause the snow to melt quicker. As the climate changes, these algae thrive – but their presence has ominous implications for glaciers . In a study published this week in Nature Communications , scientists from the UK and Germany scrutinized the algae and an effect called “bio-albedo.” White surfaces, like glaciers and snow, reflect sunlight, and that’s called albedo. When those glaciers and snow melt, they reveal darker surfaces beneath, like mountains or oceans, and those surfaces have a lower albedo, or absorb greater amounts of sunlight. That effect is important because red algae actually gives snow a lower albedo and makes it melt faster. Related: Arctic temperatures are literally off the charts Lead author Stefanie Lutz told Gizmodo, “The algae need liquid water in order to bloom . Therefore the melting of snow and ice surfaces controls the abundance of the algae. The more melting, the more algae. With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect.” Lutz’s study reveals ” red pigmented snow algal blooms ” can decrease snow albedo by 13 percent during a melt season. The phenomenon takes place all around the world, too, from the Arctic to Antarctica. Greenland, the European Alps, and Iceland are a few other places where people have noted the algae. The algae is especially prevalent in the Arctic during the summer, when Lutz says by her estimation at least 50 percent of snow on a glacier displays the blooms. Lutz and her colleagues recommended the algae be taken into account in future climate models, because warmer temperatures will likely mean more algae, and therefore even more melting. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Dick Culbert on Flickr

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This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

Crazy low Arctic sea ice levels will likely smash records this summer

June 10, 2016 by  
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Arctic sea ice levels continue to plummet. Researchers from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center tracking sea ice levels have found results that aren’t too surprising: Arctic sea ice extent is likely to break records for the lowest level this summer. Data from May revealed Arctic sea ice extent levels were ” two to four weeks ahead ” of the levels in 2012, the year that currently holds the dubious record. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center , the “average ice loss” every day in May was around 23,600 square miles. That’s far faster than the 1981-2010 average, which was 18,000 square miles daily. Another factor to take into account is the type of ice . “Multiyear ice” is ice that doesn’t melt and helps keep Arctic ocean temperatures cool. If that ice melts – and it is right now – next winter there will only be “first-year ice” which then melts easier than multiyear ice. If there’s not as much multiyear ice, Arctic ocean temperatures will likely warm. According to Gizmodo, the Arctic is warming up at ” twice the rate ” as other areas on earth. Related: Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again Are there any weather patterns that can help explain these crazy low numbers? The National Snow and Ice Data Center noted that winds from Alaska and northern Europe bringing “pulses of warm air” led to “hot spots” across the Arctic. Central Siberia was the only area where temperatures were lower than the average recorded between 1981-2010. Then there’s the “early retreat” in the Beaufort Sea of ice – and as more ice melts, the Arctic warms . According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the numbers are “tentative” due to the “preliminary nature” of satellite data. However, they’re backed up by other sources, and it’s probable we’ll watch those numbers continue to plummet. Via Gizmodo Images via Land Atmosphere Near-Real Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) System, NASA/GSFC ; W. Meier, NASA ; and National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Crazy low Arctic sea ice levels will likely smash records this summer

All-in-one Humanihut emergency shelters set up in five fast minutes

June 10, 2016 by  
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South Australian startup Humanihut has developed an all-in-one emergency shelter for refugees and disaster victims that can be set up in only five minutes. Unlike some temporary shelters, the Humanihut provides more than a roof over refugees’ heads and walls for protect them from the elements — showers, toilets, electricity, and laundry facilities are also integrated into the system. A standard shipping container can hold 16 of the shelters, allowing them to be easily transported and deployed. A “village” of the huts can be built in a matter of hours. https://youtu.be/VBz-zPCNZ18 Each hut is 7.3 meters long and 2.4 meters high, including solar panels on the roof and wiring for 110V outlets throughout. Heating and water purification equipment are built into the hut, and the units include a built in table, bench, and sink. The steel walls and roof of each unit contains insulated panels to help keep the temperature comfortable in hot or cold weather. The hope is that access to these facilities will help cut down on the rates of water-borne diseases like malaria that kill thousands of refugees per year. Related: 6 designs to help refugees live a better life The shelters aren’t just portable and quick to set up, they’re also incredibly durable. Each unit is expected to last for up to 20 years, a vast improvement over the tent shelters that many refugees find themselves living in. This both helps provide a more comfortable and stable living situation for the refugees or disaster victims, and helps cut down on costs for aid organizations . An investment in the Humanihut is expected to break even after about 3.5 years, and could potentially save millions of dollars thereafter. In a camp with 50,000 people, the huts could cut costs by $70 million per year. + Humanihut Via Treehugger

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All-in-one Humanihut emergency shelters set up in five fast minutes

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