Eco-group faces imprisonment after reviving an abandoned Spanish village

June 8, 2018 by  
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Like many countries around the world, Spain is struggling to address the problem of rural inhabitants abandoning villages to migrate to urban areas. However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Fraguas. Nearly 50 years after residents left the small area in northern Castilla-La Mancha, an eco-minded group of people decided to revitalize the village. Since 2013, the community has managed to breathe new life into Fraguas by rebuilding dilapidated homes, installing solar panels , planting vegetable gardens and restoring the area’s natural forest growth. By most accounts, it is a heart-warming story of the reformation of a once-beloved village — that is until the Spanish government decided to start legal proceedings to kick the new residents out of town. After decades of urban migration, the Iberia Peninsula is currently teeming with hundreds, if not thousands, of extinguished communities, many of them up for sale . While most of the villages were left abandoned, the previous residents of Fraguas were bought out by the government in the late 1960s to make way for a planned reforestation program . The village had only a handful of full-time inhabitants and became overgrown by nature’s creep. At one point, it was being used as a military training camp for Spanish soldiers, who took to blowing up the remaining buildings. Related: This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding When the group arrived at the derelict site, they were set on bringing the land back to life through sustainable principles . The members began by clearing out the mass plant growth that had taken over the buildings and streets. Then, they started to reforest the area in and around the village, clear out roads and walking paths and plant orchards and large crops of vegetables. To restore the many dilapidated buildings and homes, the group researched as much as they could about the village’s original layout. As they created their master plan, the team started to draw up plans for installing various green technologies such as  solar panels and a communal gray water system. When the group began to revitalize as an eco-village , they met with various former residents, most of whom gave the group their blessings. One such supporter, Rafael Heras, was born in the village 71 years ago, but left at 19 to work in Madrid. Heras helped the team by describing life in what he calls a simple and self-sufficient area. “There was no electricity and no proper road; we used to keep it clear so that cars could come through,” he said. “It wasn’t a prosperous place, but I had a happy childhood here and people got by quite well.” Another former resident, Isidro Moreno, was also instrumental in the village’s rebirth by providing maps, plans and photos of the area as it was when he was growing up. In his guidebook, he addressed a heartfelt letter to the group. “To the new residents of Fraguas,” it reads. “Let’s see if you can recover this village’s history once more … I want to remind you to treat these stones with the love and respect they deserve, even if today they’re dead and lost among brambles and weeds. In another time, they were alive and were part of the story of the people who struggled so hard to live and who went through so many calamities.” Despite the support of many, there are some powerful adversaries that want to put a stop to the group’s hard work. The regional government recently said that the new residents can no longer stay in the village. In fact, not only is the government trying to evict the collective, but it is going through legal channels to punish the members for their “invasion” of the area. Currently, six members face more than four years imprisonment each along with a fine of up to $30,000 that will be used to demolish and destroy all of the effort that the group put into rebuilding the village over the last five years. According to  The Guardian , the regional government’s representative in Guadalajara Alberto Rojo has suggested that the group would had been better off rebuilding a village on the brink of extinction. He explained that there are more than 200 villages in the same area that have fewer than 50 inhabitants and would love to welcome new neighbors. “Of course we agree that there needs to be re-population initiatives in the province – and let’s hope there will be many – but only in the right kind of places,” he said, adding that the area of Fraguas is part of the Sierra Norte natural park, which is protected by law. Rojo also claimed that the village is in a danger zone for forest fires. Jaime Merino, one of the new residents, dismissed Rojo’s argument about the potential fire danger, insisting that the group has significantly reduced the risk of fire by cleaning up the overrun vegetation, and they have even offered to dig firebreaks around the village. He explained that the government says one thing, but does another. “There’s a certain resistance to this kind of project in this country,” Merino said. “They always say they’re going to take steps to tackle depopulation and find ways to get people back into rural areas, but this is an example of that. That’s the paradox: it’s Guadalajara’s department of agriculture, the environment and rural development that wants to demolish the village.” At this time, the Fraguas collective is going on the offensive to protect the home that they have spent years rebuilding. A Change.org petition has already attracted more than 76,000 signatures, and the group has launched an appeal for contributions on their website to fund legal bills. The group regularly posts updates on their Facebook page as well. + Fraguas Revive Via The Guardian Images via Fraguas Revive

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Eco-group faces imprisonment after reviving an abandoned Spanish village

Carbon Engineering cuts cost of carbon capture to less than $100 per ton

June 8, 2018 by  
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Carbon Engineering, a British Columbia -based company that has the financial backing of Bill Gates, has released a peer-reviewed study that demonstrates how the company’s technology is capable of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a cost of less than $100 per ton. This price represents a significant drop from current costs, which can run as high as $600 per ton. “This is a real step forward, and it’s not just our company saying it,” Carbon Engineering co-founder David Keith told BBC News . “I hope this changes views about this technology from being this thing which people think is a magic saviour which it isn’t, or that it is absurdly expensive which it isn’t, to an industrial technology that is do-able and can be developed in a useful way.” Rather than storing the captured carbon, Carbon Engineering uses it to create a synthetic fuel with hydrogen , which is pulled from water using renewable energy. “What Carbon Engineering is taking to market is first of all carbon neutral fuels, in that sense we are just another emissions-cutting technology, there is no net removal from the atmosphere,” said Keith. The company claims that its fuel has a major advantage over traditional sources of biofuel due to its far less intensive water and land production requirements. Related: Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions While Keith has admitted that there are “hundreds of ways in which we can fail,” the technology developments at Carbon Engineering are promising. “Although direct air capture cost of around $100 per ton is still somewhat steep, in our current situation where sticks and carrots for similar technologies are sorely lacking, the cost can only be brought down through further development and streamlining of individual technologies and conjugated processes,” Edda Sif Aradóttir, who has worked on a project in Iceland that turns captured carbon into rock, told BBC News . Carbon Engineering’s latest announcement is a reminder that the biggest obstacle to taking serious action against climate change is political. “The biggest challenge we are facing is, however, that the words agreed on in the Paris agreement must be followed by actions,” said Edda. The technical solutions to climate change are already available but national legislations do not provide enough incentive or obligations for them to be applied at a large scale. This must change quickly if we are to [fulfill] the Paris agreement.” Via BBC News Images via Depositphotos

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Carbon Engineering cuts cost of carbon capture to less than $100 per ton

Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires

May 31, 2018 by  
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The elevated summer temperatures in California  are causing decreased levels of the low-atmosphere clouds that were once common throughout the southern coastal regions of the state. A new study has found that because these clouds are dissipating from the increased heat, the region is now facing an increased risk of wildfire . “Clouds that used to burn off by noon or 1 o’clock are now gone by 10 or 11, if they form at all,” bioclimatologist and study lead author Park Williams told Phys.org . Due to a warming climate and an expanding urban heat island, cloud cover is trapped in a positive feedback loop where less clouds mean higher temperatures, and higher temperatures mean less clouds. Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters , the new study concludes that there has been a 25 to 50 percent decrease in low-lying summer clouds since the 1970s. “ Cloud cover is plummeting in southern coastal California,” said Williams, “and as clouds decrease, that increases the chance of bigger and more intense fires.” The low-lying stratus clouds in the area typically form in the early morning in a thin, wet layer of coastal air that exists between land and drier air masses. The increased heat from climate change and the urban heat island effect has caused the clouds to dissolve earlier in the day, leaving little cover during the hottest parts of the afternoon. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley To study the changes in cloud cover, Williams and his team analyzed hour-by-hour cloud data gathered by California airports over the past several decades. The data was then compared with vegetation moisture data from the U.S. Wildland Fire Assessment System. This comparison enabled the team to conclude that the decreased cloud cover has led to an increased wildfire risk. “Even though the danger has increased, people in these areas are very good at putting out fires, so the area burned hasn’t gone up,” Williams explained. “But the dice are now loaded, and in areas where clouds have decreased, the fires should be getting more intense and harder to contain. At some point, we’ll see if people can continue to keep up.” +  Geophysical Research Letters Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveil a pedestrian-friendly masterplan for Oslo’s Eureka Kvarteret

December 15, 2015 by  
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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveiled their winning competition proposal to design the area of Skøyen in central Oslo, Norway. The masterplan scheme aims to create a clear street network of main streets, internal passageways, shortcuts and promenades which will strengthen local engagement and link the area with major transportation hubs. Read the rest of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveil a pedestrian-friendly masterplan for Oslo’s Eureka Kvarteret

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveil a pedestrian-friendly masterplan for Oslo’s Eureka Kvarteret

Why San Francisco can lead the way on resiliency planning

January 29, 2013 by  
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The San Francisco Bay area already blazes the trail in other ways so its not surprising the area also is one of the U.S. cities most  able to withstand a disaster arising out of climate change.

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Why San Francisco can lead the way on resiliency planning

Will Christo’s Next Big Art Project Damage Colorado’s Arkansas River Valley?

November 10, 2011 by  
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Christo’s plan to hang 5.9 miles of fabric over a pristine river has drawn criticism from environmentalists for the potential harm it will do to the area.

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Will Christo’s Next Big Art Project Damage Colorado’s Arkansas River Valley?

Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympics Park Will Focus On Nature Preservation And Urban Legacy

August 25, 2011 by  
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Images: Courtesy of Rio de Janeiro’s mayor office. Authorities from Rio de Janeiro announced the winning project in the international contest held to design the Olympic Park to be built for the 2016 games . The winning project is focused in the preservation of nature and of the lagoon in the area, as well as in ensuring the conditions for new developments to be installed in the area after the event…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympics Park Will Focus On Nature Preservation And Urban Legacy

There are Now One Billion Cars Stuck in Traffic Around the World

August 25, 2011 by  
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Photo credit: Cory M. Grenier via Flickr/CC BY-SA According to the most recent stats, there are now a record one billion cars on the world’s roads. One billion cars doing long and short commutes , one billion cars spurring the growth of unsustainable suburbs , one billion cars stuck in traffic around the world. In other words, there’s around one car for e… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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There are Now One Billion Cars Stuck in Traffic Around the World

NASA Satellite Photographs Massive Phytoplankton Bloom in Barents Sea

August 24, 2011 by  
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Photo by NASA A NASA satellite has sent down an image of a phytoplankton bloom stretching across the Barents Sea , located north of Norway and Russia. The bloom is over 500 miles long and several hundred miles wide. While it is a common occurrence for the area during August, it is rare to get such a spectacular view. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Android App Locates Endangered Species Wherever You Are

August 22, 2011 by  
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Image via Android market This is one of those cool-yet-terribly-sad-it-exists apps. The Center for Biological Diversity has created an app for Android users that will tell you exactly which endangered species are living in the area you’re standing in. On the one hand, it’s amazing to know at any point in time which species are living in the area you’re walking though, and especially interesting to know which endangered species are struggling to survive. It could be a way to stay aware of local ecology and how you can help with conservation efforts. However, it’… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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