Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution

July 31, 2018 by  
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Dhruv Boruah, a former management consultant turned environmental hero is cleaning up the Thames River in London on a floating bicycle. The endeavor, named The Thames Project , is more about striking up conversations with passersby and raising awareness than it is about removing all of the plastic waste from the canals — an impossible feat for the one man show that is Boruah. The self-constructed rig, made up of a bamboo bicycle with yellow floats on either side, a rudder and a pedal-powered propeller in the front, has retrieved thousands of kilograms of plastic waste since beginning the project in 2017. “It’s a great conversation starter, and then I can tell them about my work, the plastic and how it all starts here in the canals,” he told CNN while on one of his “off-road cycling” missions. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The 35-year-old philanthropist was impassioned by a yacht racing expedition from London to Rio de Janiero that left him thinking a lot about the dangers of plastic pollution . It was on this undertaking that Boruah had learned of the fortunate rescue of two turtles who were tangled in plastic in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. “Plastic is now in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat,” he explained. “You have to care because it’s about you, your health and the health of your children. Why are we destroying this planet for them?” Boruah’s bicycle nets are often filled with single-use plastic items such as styrofoam containers and water bottles. These get broken down into tiny microplastics over time that not only pollute the oceans, but also affect our air and food. When he is not striking up conversations with curious onlookers, Boruah is working with councils, businesses and communities to educate and encourage them to take action against plastic pollution. + The Thames Project Via CNN Images and video via Dhruv Boruah

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Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution

This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico

July 31, 2018 by  
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The magnificent pines of Mazamitla, Mexico are more than just scenic background for this single-family home—one of the trees has been integrated into the architectural design itself. Architects Alessandra Cireddu and Carlos M. Hernández of Barcelona-based design practice Espacio Multicultural (de) Arquitectura (EMA) crafted the ‘House Around a Tree,’ a single-story abode punctuated by a mature pine tree. The house further embraces the landscape with its use of natural materials and an outdoor, cantilevered terrace that opens up to northwest-facing views of the village below and forest and mountains beyond. Set on a steeply sloped site, the House Around a Tree matches its narrow and linear plot with its rectangular mass. Measuring over 65 feet in length and nearly 20 feet in width, the home has an introverted appearance at first glance—a thick, nearly 10-foot-tall wooden door marks the entrance and, along with the opaque stone side wall , insulates the home from outside street views. The home interior, however, is an entirely different story. Stepping past the entrance takes visitors into an airy void punctuated by the mature pine tree, while large glazing on the southwest side of the home brings sweeping landscape views into the living spaces and bedroom. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles “The gable roof evokes the geometry of the traditional houses of the region, which is trimmed by a void which contains the pine,” explain the architects. “The natural location of the pine divides the house into 2 areas: the first one on the east side where the main room with bathroom and dressing room is located and separated from the rest of the house; the second one on the west side where we find the public areas, two bedrooms and a wooden volume containing the wet areas (laundry, half bath and full bathroom) that breaks with the constant linearity of the project both inside and outside.” + EMA Images by Patricia Hernandez Fotografia

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This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico

Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes

March 5, 2018 by  
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Rather than elevate this coastal beach home on stilts, New York-based Raad Studio sought a more natural method to protect the building from floodwaters. The home, located in Sea Bright, New Jersey, is raised on artificial dunes planted with beach grasses, while stormwaters are safely channeled through an opening beneath the home. To further complement the surroundings, the Beach House was built with local maritime construction techniques and clad in locally sourced timber. Surrounded by stunning views, the Beach House is bookended on two sides by water with the Atlantic Ocean on one and the Navesink River on the other. “Our design team sought to balance an embrace of outdoor natural beauty while seeking to accommodate the site’s vulnerability to storms,” write Raad Studio. “The design solution that resulted is the marriage of landscape and architecture.” Taking inspiration from the dunes in the parkland to the north, the architects used a design by Dirtworks Landscape Architecture to create artificial dunes made from sand piled atop a concrete foundation and stabilized with beach grasses and other plants. “By restoring our idea of the original natural state to the site, we created a set of hydrodynamic dunes with penetrations that allow water to sluice through the land, while simultaneously elevating the house well above the historic high water mark,” wrote the architects. Related: This high-tech solar funnel allows plants to grow deep underground The modern Beach House is built to look like two stacked timber boxes wrapped in Alaskan yellow cedar and ample glazing that make the most of landscape views. A stairway descends down the dune to a pool deck. The light-filled interior is oriented around outdoor views with the common areas on the ground floor and two bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper level. + Raad Studio Via Dezeen Images via Raad Studio , by Robert Wright

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Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes

Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

January 2, 2018 by  
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A report from United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking three ocean monuments and opening them up to commercial fishing . The monuments, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean , are undersea treasures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s administrator between 2009 and 2013, Jane Lubchenco, who told The Guardian , “These ‘blue parks’ harbor unique species, a wealth of biodiversity , and special habitats.” President Donald Trump may not just take aim at land-based national monuments , but at the following three marine monuments. The over 490,500-square-mile Pacific Remote Islands monument, created by George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama, includes largely untouched coral reefs and is “the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet,” per the Fish & Wildlife Service . The 10,156 square mile Rose Atoll monument “protects diverse marine ecosystems and the millions of wildlife dependent upon the Central Pacific.” And the 4,913 square mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument is the United States’ only protected area in the Atlantic Ocean, featuring underwater mountains and canyons, deep-sea coral, and endangered whales and sea turtles. Related: Patagonia is suing the Trump administration over Bears Ears: “The President Stole Your Land” In his report Zinke said, “While early monument designations focused more on geological formations, archaeological ruins, and areas of historical interest, a more recent and broad interpretation of what constitutes an ‘object of historic or scientific interest’ has been extended to include landscape areas, biodiversity, and viewsheds.” Fishing organizations aren’t always pleased about the monuments. In March, a New England coalition sued the federal government over fears fishers would be out of a job due to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument. The challenge is based on the idea Obama exceeded his authority in designating the monument. Conservation groups worry activities like seabed mining or oil drilling could be next if monuments are opened for fishing. Pew Charitable Trusts Director of U.S. Oceans, Northeast Peter Baker told The Guardian, “It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Lubchenco said, “Creation of highly protected blue parks like these monuments is beginning to re-establish the all-important balance of places to be used and places to be treasured. We need both.” Via The Guardian Images via USFWS – Pacific Region on Flickr and NOAA photo by Hatsue Bailey

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Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

Hurricane Jose strengthens to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4

September 8, 2017 by  
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Hot on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is yet another natural disaster, Hurricane Jose. The “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane is located east of the Leeward Islands and is forecasted to transit west-northwest into the Atlantic Ocean in the coming days. This is the first time in history two hurricanes with 150-plus mph winds have been recorded at the same time. According to the National Hurricane Center , Jose has sustained winds near 150 mph.  As a result, Antigua, Barbuda and Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy — islands that were just battered by Hurricane Irma — are now on a Hurricane Watch as of Friday at 11 a.m. When Irma passed over Barbuda, a tiny Caribbean island of 1,800 residents, 95 percent of the buildings were destroyed, said Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Cuba and south Florida are now preparing for the destruction Irma is expected to unleash. Related: This image of Hurricane Irma from space will blow your mind This is the first time on record two hurricanes with 150-plus mph winds have been recorded at the same time, said Colorado State University meteorologist  Philip Klotzbach . And, it turns out humans deserve most of the blame. For years, scientists have warned that unsustainable habits would exacerbate climate change , resulting in melting glaciers, rising sea levels , and worsening natural disasters due to increased precipitation and a few other factors. The only silver lining from this situation might be that the events inspire more people to invest in sustainable initiatives. + National Hurricane Center Via CNN Images via National Hurricane Center, Pixabay

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Hurricane Jose strengthens to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4

Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

April 7, 2017 by  
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Increasing temperatures aren’t the only factor to blame for dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. An international team of 16 scientists led by the International Arctic Research Center in Alaska discovered warm currents from the Atlantic Ocean are snaking up to the Arctic and melting ice from below. They call this phenomenon the Atlantification of the Arctic. Scientists placed sensors in the Arctic seas in 2002, and the information they’ve gathered isn’t good. The Arctic Ocean’s behavior has undergone a massive shift, according to physical oceanographer Finlo Cottier of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, who was not part of the study. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic Warm Atlantic currents have a lot to do with this change, according to research published online by Science yesterday. The scientists looked at the Eurasian basin, or one of two basins in the Arctic Ocean divided by a ridge far beneath the surface. The Eurasian basin is north of Europe and Asia. Scientists have long known warm Atlantic currents prevent ice formation on the western side of the Eurasian basin north of Scandinavia . But now it seems those currents are working against ice on the eastern side north of Siberia too. Atlantic currents stream into the Arctic at depths of around 656 to 820 feet, with temperatures around four degrees Celsius higher than surface water. When they mix with surface water, which cools and falls in winter, the mixed water is a little warmer overall so the ocean has little sea ice. On the Eurasian basin’s eastern side a barrier known as the cold halocline layer (CHL) used to prevent much of that mixing. But now the eastern side is becoming more like the western side. Summer sea ice once helped form the CHL, but without that ice the ocean mixes more – and then not as much ice forms. Study lead author Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks told Science , “Previously this monster, Atlantic warm water, was well covered from the surface” by the CHL. “The new data show this layer has disappeared in winter.” Cottier told Science , “Here we’re seeing an ocean basin changing on a generational timescale – or less.” Via Inverse and Science Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

April 7, 2017 by  
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You’re familiar with thrift stores – maybe you shop at one from time to time. But have you ever seen an entire mall of reclaimed goods? Such a thrifter’s paradise exists in Sweden , about 1.5 hours west of central Stockholm. ReTuna Återbruksgalleria , or ReTuna Recycling Galleria, peddles reused or upcycled goods, pioneering the climate -friendly future of the shopping mall. How does ReTuna work? People can submit items worthy of reclaiming or restoring to the Return. Staff from the city of Eskilstuna’s Activity, Motivation, and Work unit sort the donated items, which are then fixed up, repaired, or transformed to be sold in the mall. The goods are assigned to the mall shops based on each one’s business plan. There are 14 shops inside ReTuna, along with a restaurant serving organic food . Related: 6 Places You Can Find Trash to Transform into Treasure The purpose of the creative mall is to explore a new way of shopping resulting in less harm to the environment . All businesses in the mall must operate in an environmentally friendly way, and if they must purchase new goods – such as the cafe – the items must be organic or climate-friendly. According to the mall’s website, “ Sustainability is not about holding back and living less – but achieving more with the resources we already have.” Mall manager Anna Bergström says on the website they envision customers stopping by to donate old furniture or clothing, and then entering the mall to find maybe a new jacket or a new lamp, and having a bite in the organic restaurant. She said, “When you leave here, you should feel that you did something good for the environment.” The ReTuna website says it is “perhaps the world’s first shopping mall that will take advantage of things that need new homes.” The recycling mall will host an information meeting on April 20, 2017. + ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Images via ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Facebook

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Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

April 7, 2017 by  
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We’re getting closer to the year many automakers predicted would see self-driving vehicles on the road. While Ford has made great advances lately, General Motors isn’t yet ready to stand on the side line with other automakers in 2020. In order to help bridge that gap, GM has announced it is giving eight American universities a Chevy Bolt as part of the new autonomous vehicle design competition called AutoDrive Challenge. The AutoDrive Challenge includes teams from Kettering University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, North Carolina A&T University, Texas A&M University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Virginia Tech. Each school will be given three years to to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous Chevy Bolt. Related: The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway While three years may seem like a long time, the AutoDrive Challenge will be quite tough. At the end of the three years, each team will have to complete the development of a Chevy Bolt that will be able to navigate an urban driving course, autonomously and without any human interaction. In addition to receiving the Bolt, GM has also tapped strategic partners and suppliers to aid the students in their technology development by providing vehicle parts and software. Additionally, throughout the competition, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding. “GM is very excited to work closely with these eight universities over the next three years,” said Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. “The students and faculty at these schools bring deep knowledge and technical skills to the competition. We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate.” The AutoDrive Challenge kicks off this fall. Images @GM + General Motors

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8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

Haunting Human Gyre made of over 200 underwater figures warns of climate change

January 10, 2017 by  
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A haunting sight awaits scuba divers on an Atlantic seabed. Over two hundred life-size human figures have been arranged in a circle to create the ‘Human Gyre,’ the last exhibit in Museo Atlantico , Europe’s first underwater museum officially completed this month. Located off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain, the artistic installation forms a complex reef for marine species to inhabit and speaks to the fragility of our ecosystem and our relationship with the natural marine environment. The monumental Museo Atlantico complex is the project of British artist Jason de Caires Taylor , who installed over 300 works across a dozen large-scale installations. Constructed around 14 meters underwater, the sprawling museum was created to promote conservation and education. The sculptures, made from environmentally friendly, pH-neutral inert materials, were specially created to double as artificial reefs and attract local fish species. The installations are made to last for hundreds of years and help raise awareness about the threats facing our world’s oceans and climate. Early works installed less than a year ago—construction began in February 2016—have already seen an increase of over 200 percent in marine biomass. Related: Haunting drowned figures send a chilling message in Europe’s first undersea sculpture museum Some of the hauntingly beautiful artworks double as political commentary, such as ‘Deregulated,’ which depicts suited businessmen in a playground-like environment to suggest that corporations are irresponsibly abusing nature as their play area. The life-size human figures used in the Human Gyre and in other installations are based on models of all ages and from all walks of life. “The artistic installation reminds us that we have evolved from marine life, and are all subject to the movements and will of the ocean,” says a statement in the museum press release. “The piece embodies our naked vulnerability to its inherent power, and our fragility in the face of its cycles and immense force. It provides the oxygen we breathe, it regulates our climate and it provides a vital source of nutrition to millions of people. A visit to Museo Atlantico may lead us to a closer understanding of our relationship with the natural marine environment and appreciate the need to value and protect this fragile ecosystem in order to save ourselves.” + Museo Atlantico Images via Jason de Caires Taylor

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Haunting Human Gyre made of over 200 underwater figures warns of climate change

Giant squid brings the mysticism of the sea to a Portuguese island

November 3, 2016 by  
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Created for the sixth annual public arts festival of the Azores , the character of Vernie was inspired by the vibrant sea life in the Atlantic Ocean. Moradavaga writes: “Influenced by the stunning landscapes and the mystic aura related to all that concerns whale hunting (in the past) and observation (in the present) our mind wandered through old tales like Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne, and the presence of sperm-whales along the Azores coasts led us to devise a character, “Vernie” the giant squid, that came from the depths of the ocean to serve as a communicative playful tool for passersby of all ages at Portas do Mar in the city of Ponta Delgada.” Related: VIDEO: Watch giant squid flash different colors to communicate Made with long red tubes, Vernie the giant squid sprawls out across a green park with a length of 15.55 meters. The mantle with the head measures 1.9 meters in height and features two empty “eye-holes” large enough for visitors to stick their head through. The tentacles are extended in different directions and wrap around nearby objects, from a wire sculpture to trees. The site-specific sculpture was installed in July 2016. + Moradavaga Via ArchDaily Images via Moradavaga

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