"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

October 16, 2017 by  
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When you hear the word ‘ hurricane ,’ you probably don’t think about Ireland . But Tropical Storm Ophelia, which has been downgraded from its status as a hurricane, is on a path towards the country, with warnings of high seas, power outages , and hazardous conditions. Minister for Flood Relief Kevin Moran said at a Dublin press conference, “This is unprecedented.” An Atlantic hurricane has been whirling towards the United Kingdom . Although Ophelia is an ex-hurricane, the Irish Meteorological Service, Met Éireann , is warning of violent and destructive wind gusts that could reach between 120 and 150 kilometers per hour (km/h), or around 75 to 93 miles per hour (mph). They said heavy rain and storm surges in some coastal areas will lead to flooding , posing a danger to human property and lives. Related: How Hurricane Irma changed the colors of these Caribbean islands As many as 100,000 homes and businesses in the country have lost power, as power lines have been knocked down. An Electricity Supply Board spokesperson said earlier today many of the power lines are still live and asked people to stay away. The Met Éireann said at Cork Airport, wind gusts of 124 km/h, or 77 mph, were recorded; at Fastnet Rock wind gusts were 176 km/h, or 109 mph. The United Kingdom Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, Strathclyde, and Wales. They issued yellow warnings for 11 locations, including western areas in England and Yorkshire. A status red weather warning applies to all cities and counties in Ireland, according to prime minister Leo Varadkar, who told people to stay indoors. Speaking of Debbie, the largest storm recorded in the history of Ireland in the 1960’s, he said, “The last time we had a storm this severe 11 lives were lost so safety is our number one priority.” Via The Guardian Images via NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team and Met Éireann on Twitter

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"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

October 16, 2017 by  
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Snøhetta ’s recently completed National Academy of the Arts in Bergen is wrapped in an innovative prefab façade made of raw aluminum elements . The new facility is built to withstand the rainy climate of the Norwegian west coast and offer a durable, robust space where KMD’s 350 art and design students can learn and collaborate under one roof. The building replaces the former Bergen Academy of Art & Design (KHiB) and assembles the previously scattered faculty buildings under one roof. It has two main axes–one internal, dedicated to students and staff, and one external, open to the public. Related: Snøhetta unveils spectacular makeover for nation’s second-largest waterfall The most prominent features of the building are in the large project hall situated at the point where the two axes cross. The entrance is connected to a large outdoor plaza which makes the building inviting and engaged in a dialogue with Bergen’s city center. Related: Iridescent hand-folded metal panels clad Snøhetta’s Learning Center at Toronto’s Ryerson University Prefab raw aluminum elements clad the building’s exterior, with 900 varied sized seawater-durable crude aluminum elements protruding from the wall at varying distances. Large cantilevered box-shaped windows punctuate the rhythm of the metal surface. The crude aluminum surfaces can withstand the rainy coastal climate and will gradually weather and oxidize, heightening the variations in colors and textures. + Snøhetta Lead photo by Trond Isaksen

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A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

Huge battery in the UK holds the energy equivalent of 500K smartphone batteries

October 16, 2017 by  
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A large new battery storage project could help the United Kingdom’s grid handle power from more renewable sources . The 10 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery , on the grounds of a biomass plant in Sheffield, is contained inside four 40-foot shipping containers . It can hold the same amount of energy as around 500,000 smartphone batteries. UK energy company E.ON installed the battery , called the Blackburn Meadows battery for its location at the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant, and connected it to the grid . They said in their statement the battery has the same power as around 100 family cars. Related: Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia The Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the first of what The Guardian described as a fleet of industrial-scale battery plants. National Grid, the firm that owns England and Wales’ electricity transmission network, requested new technologies to help keep the grid balanced, a challenge as more renewable sources come online – since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. The large batteries are a response to that request. When supply is high, the batteries can store power, and when supply drops, they can provide power. National Grid commercial development manager Leon Walker said in a statement, “Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced. Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200 million.” While the Blackburn Meadows battery is currently one of the largest in Britain, The Guardian pointed out it won’t be long before others even bigger are built. They said British Gas’ parent company Centrica is building a 49MW battery facility, and EDF Energy is also building one that’s the same size. Their article included a graphic saying renewables provided almost 30 percent of the UK’s power between April and June of this year. Via The Guardian and E.ON Images via E.ON and Darren Cool / E.ON

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Huge battery in the UK holds the energy equivalent of 500K smartphone batteries

Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

September 7, 2017 by  
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While Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean towards the United States mainland, another two potentially powerful storms are waiting in the wings. Following closely behind Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, are Tropical Storms Jose and Katia. The presence of these storms marks the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic. In what may prove to be one of the most active on record , the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has already demonstrated the unpredictable and explosive power of storms in the age of climate change . Jose, like Irma, is known as a Cape Verde hurricane for its origins in the far eastern Atlantic , near the island nation of Cape Verde off the coast of Africa . However, it is unlikely that Jose will follow Irma’s path nor will it likely be as powerful. Jose is expected to spin towards the open ocean and become a Category 3 hurricane, though it is not expected to travel over any land area. Related: Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map Katia is more closely related to Harvey, in that it too became a hurricane in the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Despite its shared birthplace with the devastating hurricane that made landfall near Houston , Katia is expected to travel close to Mexico . It is currently nearly 200 miles northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, near which a small portion of the coast is currently under hurricane watch. Although three hurricanes active in the Atlantic at the same time is unusual, it is neither unprecedented nor unrivaled. During the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, four hurricanes, including Hurricane Georges which caused major damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic , were active during the same period. Via CNN Images via NOAA (1)

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Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

Hurricane Irma as seen from the International Space Station

September 6, 2017 by  
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NASA captured an astonishing video of Hurricane Irma from space. Soon after the National Hurricane Center upgraded Irma to a Category 5 storm , the International Space Station’s external cameras caught what NASA described as a dramatic view of the hurricane . Irma has already smashed records – meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said on Twitter earlier this morning Irma has broken the Atlantic record previously held by 1980’s Hurricane Allen for Accumulated Cyclone Energy produced during 24 hours. Hurricane Irma is currently moving over Caribbean islands, and looks to be en route to Florida with winds reaching up to 185 miles per hour. As the International Space Station orbited the Earth, the station’s cameras shot the hurricane from multiple angles, showing how truly massive it is. According to weather forecaster Liam Dutton , Hurricane Irma is so large it would cover both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Related: Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever Most of the people on Antigua and Barbuda lost power, and in Antigua around 1,000 people spent the night in shelters, according to ABS TV and Radio director of news Garfield Burford. He said the winds posed a major threat, and that a few rooftops had already blown away. Around 1,600 people reside on Barbuda, where the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over. Irma – des images de Saint Barth @ParisMatch pic.twitter.com/KhbYgMr6ha — Pauline Lallement (@pau_lallement) September 6, 2017 The hurricane also hit Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, causing blackouts and flooding . French Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin was quoted by AFP as saying Hurricane Irma has resulted in major damage on multiple Caribbean islands. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters of Saint Martin, “We know that the four most solid buildings on the island have been destroyed which means that more rustic structures have probably been completely or partially destroyed.” Image d'un hôtel à #StMartin après le passage #IRMA #ouraganIRMA via @guadeloupe_1ere pic.twitter.com/im6ORYro8m — La1ere.fr (@la1ere) September 6, 2017 According to The Guardian, Tropical Storm Jose, which is the weather system following Hurricane Irma, is forecast to turn into a hurricane by tonight. Via Reuters , The Guardian , and NASA Images via screenshot and screenshot

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Hurricane Irma as seen from the International Space Station

Japan’s new mushroom solar farms produce sustainable energy and food

September 6, 2017 by  
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Japan’s agricultural sector could find a much-needed boost with an innovative approach to growing that combines solar power generation and mushroom cultivation. Sustainergy , a Tokyo -based renewable-energy startup, in collaboration with Hitachi Capital and Daiwa House Industry , is determined to generate a total 4,000 kilowatts of solar power on two underutilized farm sites in Japan. Not only would the 2,000 kw output at each site stand as the largest of any similar facility in the country, the solar sites will serve another agricultural purpose: the cultivation of cloud-ear mushrooms, which require little sunlight, underneath the solar panels. In previous years, a reduced feed-in tariff kept potential entrepreneurs from seeking to convert land for solar purposes. However, in 2013, regulations were relaxed to ease the transition, though the government continued to insist that this land still be used for agriculture in some form. As Japan’s workforce ages and its young people primarily move into urban areas for job opportunities, much of the country’s farmland is unused, with some estimates claiming that about 10 percent of agricultural land is abandoned. If all of Japan’s abandoned agricultural spaces were converted to include solar power generation, the Ministry of Environment estimates that these projects could generate 70,000 megawatts, which would be enough energy to power 20 million households. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms 1.2 billion yen ($11 million) will be invested in the initial mushroom-solar sites in Miyagi Prefecture in northeast Japan. If this project proves successful, the collaborating companies plan to open up the concept to farmers and utilities across Japan, with Hitachi Capital providing panels and equipment to farmers for free, to start. This would allow farmers to become self-sufficient in their energy needs and earn a supplemental income. Additionally, mushroom cultivation would prove to be a big boost for local food; most cloud ear mushrooms consumed in Japan are currently imported from China . The solar-mushroom farms are expected to yield 40 tons of edible mushrooms while the power generated could be sold annually for 140 million yen ($1.27 million). Via Nikkei Images via Nikkei, Depositphotos , Wikimedia ,  iamme ubeyou/Flickr , and Alpha/Flickr

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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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Over half of average American’s calories come from ultra-processed foods

March 24, 2016 by  
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If you are what you eat, Americans are unfortunately artificial. For all the Food Movement has achieved, from the elevation of farmers markets to leading a national conversation about inequities in our food system , the average American’s diet still consists mainly of junk food. Researchers at Tufts University and the University of São Paulo have learned that 57.9 percent of the average American’s calorie intake comes from what the team refers to as “ultra-processed foods.” Access to healthy food and the learned habits to consume it seems to be out of reach for many Americans. Processed foods are not necessarily unhealthy. The Food and Drug Administration has defined “fresh food” as food that has been only harvested, cleaned, and coated, i.e. fruits, vegetables, mushrooms. Under this definition, if the vegetable has been frozen, it is considered processed. However, the research team focused only on ultra-processed foods, which they define as “formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.” Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food Beyond the 57.9 percent of calories consumed from ultra-processed sources, the study found that 29.6 percent of the average American diet consists of minimally processed or unprocessed food, which includes meat, produce, eggs, and milk. 9.4 percent comes from processed foods, such as cheese or preserved produce. The remainder is derived from “processed culinary ingredients,” such as oils, salt, and seasonings. The researchers are most concerned about the added sugar in ultra-processed foods, which has been linked to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. These sugar-packed processed foods have replaced nutrient-dense, filling foods. Those who consume ultra-processed foods may finish their dish feeling “simultaneously overfed and undernourished.” The researchers identify sugary drinks as one of the main sources of added sugar in the American diet and recommend replacing that can of soda or glass of juice with water. While individual actions can make an impact, the widespread failure to eat healthy suggests a structural failure in the American food system. Shifting subsidies from corn or corn syrup to fresh produce would be an excellent start at addressing this problem. Via the Atlantic Images via  Masahiro Ihara/Flickr  and  Rex Sorgatz/Flickr

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Over half of average American’s calories come from ultra-processed foods

This crazy Singapore school looks like it’s made from rainbow lollipops

March 24, 2016 by  
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Obama to target Arctic and Atlantic oil drilling in fight against climate change

March 15, 2016 by  
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President Barack Obama seems poised to take his fight against climate change a step further by temporarily halting controversial oil and gas operations. After last week’s conversations with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Obama is expected to announce tough new measures: no gas or oil drilling in most of the Atlantic and nearly all of the Arctic until 2022. Read the rest of Obama to target Arctic and Atlantic oil drilling in fight against climate change

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