Manchin opposes Build Back Better and Biden’s climate agenda

December 21, 2021 by  
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One Democratic Party holdout has stopped Biden’s Build Back Better plan in its tracks. On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) declined to support Build Back Better, leaving many worried about legislation partly designed to slow climate change. The Senate currently has 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents, who generally side with the Democrats. Manchin’s support was critical for Build Back Better. Related: Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan: create millions of jobs, reverse climate change The far-reaching plan included grants, tax credits and other policies to lower greenhouse gas emissions . Many environmentalists worry that now the US will fail to meet climate goals. “Without Build Back Better, the 2030 target is certainly still feasible, but it’s going to be a lot harder to reach,” said John Larsen, a director at the Rhodium Group, an independent energy research firm , as reported by the Washington Post. “In one action, the federal government was going to get halfway there.” In addition to funding the largest effort in U.S. history to combat climate change , Build Back Better promises two years of free preschool to every family, the biggest expansion of affordable health care coverage in a decade, programs to bring down costs for the middle class, a huge investment in childcare and eldercare, tax cuts for more than 35 million households and expands free school meal programs, among other things. Manchin’s lack of support can’t really come as a huge shock to other Democrats. The West Virginia senator said for months that he wouldn’t back the plan if it cost more than $1.5 trillion, which he later expanded to $1.75 trillion. Instead, Biden’s plan cost considerably more. Critics accuse Manchin of valuing the millions he makes from his family’s waste coal business and his support for the oil and gas industry, over a clean energy future for America. Manchin says the plan’s price tag is too high, making him worried about inflation. He also thinks the childcare subsidies, child tax credits and paid family leave are too generous. Nor does he like being pushed around. “I knew where they were, and I knew what they could and could not do,” said Manchin of his fellow Democrats on Monday in an interview with a West Virginia radio station. “They just never realized it, because they figured surely to God we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough [that] they’ll just say, ‘I’ll go for anything. Just quit.’ Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.” Now the US will have to see if Build Back Better can be salvaged, perhaps in a scaled down model that focuses on climate change rather than packing so many aims into one plan. Via Washington Post and White House

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Manchin opposes Build Back Better and Biden’s climate agenda

This year’s warmer winter could create irreversible damage

December 21, 2021 by  
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February 2021 brought the planet’s 16th-warmest February, and this December is much warmer than it should be. Although warmer climates are being experienced across the world , experts say that the temperatures have a much bigger impact in regions that are usually cold. Further, experts say that the warm winter is likely to lead to more adverse weather patterns in the coming year. In addition to climate change, uneven warmer winter can trigger tornados and heavy storms, according to Kai Kornhuber, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Related: Denver’s snowless season has experts worried “One of the truisms in climate science is that cold places and cold times of year warm faster than the warmer places and warmer times of the year,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “Not only is the actual rate of warming faster in colder seasons and places – like the Arctic , which is warming three times faster than other places – but also a lot of impacts that are associated with warming are amplified.” Although global warming is a factor across the world, scientists have proven over time that colder regions warm much faster. This often means irregular precipitation, whether it is in terms of rain or snow . Further, the effects caused by even a slight increase in temperature can be far-reaching. For instance, if the temperature causes rain instead of snowfall, the effect will be that the rainwater washes away much faster than snow. “Winter warming affects the frozenness – or not – of things, which is ecologically important for the accumulation of snowpack and the water supply,” Swain explained. Extreme warm spells in winter can result in heat waves in summer. The warmth in this season can lead to premature snowmelt and even vegetation growth, which lowers moisture content in soils and increases the likelihood of extreme and persistent heatwaves in summer . Hot winters will also affect agriculture. Agriculture needs chill months to yield high outcomes. Fruits that require a long period of cold weather, such as apples, cherries and pears, will be hit the hardest. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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This year’s warmer winter could create irreversible damage

Good, Better, Best: Shopping for Natural Fibers

October 5, 2021 by  
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The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. That means it… The post Good, Better, Best: Shopping for Natural Fibers appeared first on Earth911.

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Good, Better, Best: Shopping for Natural Fibers

We Earthlings: Reduce Food Waste, Reduce Carbon Footprint

October 5, 2021 by  
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The average American wastes approximately 400 pounds of food each year. Reducing that amount by… The post We Earthlings: Reduce Food Waste, Reduce Carbon Footprint appeared first on Earth911.

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Dry Gardening for a Better Tasting Tomorrow

September 20, 2021 by  
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If your summer water bills – or your local government’s water use restrictions – have… The post Dry Gardening for a Better Tasting Tomorrow appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith

September 20, 2021 by  
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Recyclops founder Ryan Smith has a vision for locally grown recycling services. The company’s Uber-like… The post Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Reinventing Community Recycling With Recyclops’ Ryan Smith

Mid-century modernism and sustainable design meet in two desert homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Two new residences in Palm Springs by o2 Architecture  combine the best of mid-century modernism  and 21st-century sustainable design. The team brought to life an unbuilt project by Arizona modernist architect Al Beadle designed in 1970s, while combining mid-century modernism and sustainable design in the o2 House, located just a few steps away. The two structures, each in its own way, fit into the rocky desert landscape of Arizona . Originally named Palisades Dos, the Beadle House is built primarily out of steel, concrete and glass. Originally designed by modernist architect Al Beadle, the house stays true to the late architect’s meticulous drawings and schematics. Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture worked with Mike Yankovich of local design-build firm Better Built to bring Beadle’s work to the modernist community of Palm Springs. The house features a large, gravity-defying second floor that cantilevers over the desert landscape. Related: Midcentury modern ranch is renovated into a spacious energy-efficient home The second building, o2 House, is a 3,664-square-foot sprawling residence that celebrates mid-century modernism and marries it with contemporary sustainable design practices. Natural ventilation and a solar energy system complement the interior design. Both houses were part of the architect’s Miele Chino Canyon Project. + o2 Architecture + Better Built Via Architizer

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Mid-century modernism and sustainable design meet in two desert homes

IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

November 29, 2016 by  
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IKEA is working hard to create an environment that can help everyone live a sustainable life. That’s why they say “to change everything, we need everyone.” So far, the company has set aside one billion dollars to move the company toward not just becoming energy positive by 2020, using solar and wind, but also to invest in people and a sustainable supply chain. We sat down with Lena Pripp-Kovack, Sustainability Manager of Range and Supply for IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult, where IKEA’s first store popped up in 1958, to talk all about how IKEA is changing the world for the better—one EKTROP sofa at a time. Inhabitat: Tell us about your role at IKEA Lena Pripp-Kovac : My responsibility is range and supply from a sustainability point of view. Sustainability has two parts. One is building sustainably, which is the materials we use, how they were produced and how they were transported. The other is the function of the product, which means, does this product actually contribute to a more sustainable life at home? The way we think about it is that there is a built-in function and a function that actually provides for a more sustainable life. Are there any exciting projects going on at IKEA that you want to share with us? Lena Pripp-Kovac: A lot of the things we are working on right now have to do with circularity: prolonging the life of products and prolonging the life of materials. We work closely with our suppliers and the whole supply chain, and we spend a lot of time investing in research to determine how to use materials from secondary sources. I don’t want to call it waste because it is actually a resource. That’s why we work today with an increasing number of recycled materials, even using our own waste. So we collect waste from our stores and produce new products. We also look into how to design products today to prolong their lifespan. We think we’ve come far, but we still think we can reduce a lot in terms of material use. Then we have our bigger goals for the company, which is to become fully renewably powered. We have, I think, 700,000 solar panels now, and we are working with our suppliers who also have energy saving goals and renewable energy plans. We are investing 1.5 billion euros in renewable energy; our goal is to be energy positive by 2020. We are also on a journey to transform our cotton to be more sustainable. Last year we reached the goal of ensuring that all of our cotton, no matter where it is sourced, is now more sustainable than previous sources. The next step is to find other alternatives for textiles; we believe that a lot more things will come from wood. The transformation of materials I think is the next big thing for IKEA from here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7ENnyudY6w And then you go over to sustainability at home, which is more about behavior. We just had a meeting with lots of people around what’s an attractive sustainable lifestyle. That I find interesting. What does it mean to have a sustainable life? You hear a lot about the big solar and wind projects at IKEA, but how are you making the more behind-the-scenes things, like textiles, more sustainable? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The textile journey is a big one. The first goal we had was to source all the cotton from more sustainable sources. That required that we consolidate our supply chain, and it changed the way we look at dyeing and water treatment plants. This is very critical. The Better Cotton Initiative is based on working with farmers on the ground to reduce fertilizers, reduce pesticides, change the water irrigation system, and ensure that farmers get better yields and money – the social aspect of things. We started working on this 10 years ago because we knew it would take time to transform things with farmers. If we went out and said we’d only buy organic, we would buy everything on the market and no one else would have the availability, so it didn’t transform conventional cotton. Which is the biggest part of the problem. We actually felt that the biggest change we could make was to transform the conventional cotton to be better than just buying organic cotton. Which means when you go into an IKEA store it is very seldom that you see a collection that says that this “the” sustainable collection. Because we believe in three things: one, we should have the greatest possible impact. We want to make things efficient and innovate, since we have the capacity to do that, and provide greater access to people with thin wallets. The last part is extremely important. If sustainability is expensive and only for people with big wallets, we don’t define it as sustainable. Low prices ensure access to (all) people. You also have to make sure that does not equal disposable. That’s more about the behavior than the product itself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNvUeb3OoVY How is IKEA working towards making the supply chain and workers’ lives better? Lena Pripp-Kovac: What makes us different is that when you ask someone how many suppliers they think we have, they often think thousands and thousands and thousands. But we have around – last year we calculated about 978 suppliers in furniture – and we work very long term. The average time is 10 or 11 years. We always said when we pick a supplier it should be a strategic fit and we should stay with them for a long time. The first thing we do is work with our IWAY code of conduct , which sets conditions like fair wages and safety and environmental requirements on the factory floor. When that is done we do an audit; we have 90 auditors that are trained – they trace forests, or go into factories to do an audit. We also have a little team of calibration auditors who make sure we all audit the same way. That is our ongoing schedule. We audit usually once a year, always unannounced, but we are also present every month at the supplier in case something comes up very visibly for IKEA people. We also have third party auditors to see that we are true to our own self. Our third party auditor finds the same results. On a third level, we also have unannounced audits, which means that we at IKEA don’t know [when they will happen], nor does the supplier know. The third party just shows up. Then we both get the results and discuss them. It’s of course important that you don’t just see that as police activity – it is a result that we share and go through to improve things. The development programs that we set up are designed to track suppliers biggest supply change. [In] Bangladesh, for example, compared to the garment industry which has maybe 500 suppliers, we have seven suppliers: one is ceramic, one is highly industrial – just a machine weaving – and one is lots of women making carpets. We have also worked a lot with working conditions. But since we’ve been there since the ’90s, we know their journey and we picked a journey together. We see social entrepreneur projects from time to time at IKEA. Is there any plan to expand these types of special collections? Lena Pripp-Kovac: We will expand the number of projects, but what makes these projects strong is that they are small. The fact that we can work with them and have two, three or four stores supporting that project, we learn from them and they learn from us. It is almost a co-creating situation. There is a region in Malmö where there are a lot of migrant people, refugees coming in. There is a fantastic entrepreneur there working with helping women and introducing them into society. So that’s one project connected to one store where they get textiles and they can sew things and just have them in one store. Are you seeing a lot of demand for a sustainable supply? Lena Pripp-Kovac: If you want to be part of a long term solution in society, you have to drive things to that end. It is part of our mission to create a better everyday life for the many people, and sustainability is strong there. It is a request we see, but in certain specifics. Sustainability doesn’t need to be grey and boring, and it is a complex issue, so we are working on making it understandable and attractive. That’s one of our biggest challenges – to communicate – because the biggest way that consumers have been educated over the years is to just put a label on something. But that’s not enough – you need to communicate more. To really crack what is a sustainable lifestyle requires more than a label. How can we get involved with sustainability at IKEA? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The best thing is to share what a sustainable life is for you. Get the conversation going – it is much more than just sorting waste. How can we make it fun and not just a chore? We believe in access for the many. Everybody should be able to live a sustainable life. We need to see things with a different core value. Even if you buy something that is affordable, it should still have a value. Why do you just keep things that are expensive? There should be other values. + IKEA Images via Kristine for Inhabitat and IKEA

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IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

Hackers just attacked a major public transit system and demanded $70,000

November 29, 2016 by  
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On Friday, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation System was attacked by hackers who left a message reading “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted” on the system’s computers throughout the city. Their demand? A payment of $70,000 from the city – or they would release the system’s data on the web. So-called “ransomware” attacks have become more and more common in recent years. Hackers will encrypt a computer’s data, demanding a payment from the user in an untraceable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin with threats to permanently erase the computer’s files if their conditions aren’t met. Antivirus and security professionals recommend taking the exact approach that Muni seems to be embracing: keep frequent backups of your system and refuse to pay. Related: Lava Mae’s big blue bus brings mobile showers to San Francisco’s homeless population As of Sunday, the system appeared to be restored and gates to Muni stations were once again operational. The agency is declining to address further questions about the hack or how its systems were restored, saying simply that the situation is subject to an ongoing investigation, but that “Neither customer privacy nor transaction information were compromised.” The incident did result in one unexpected benefit for passengers: rides on the trains were free throughout the day on Saturday. Via Mashable Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Hackers just attacked a major public transit system and demanded $70,000

Scientists may have finally found a cure for the common cold

November 29, 2016 by  
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Could the common cold soon be a thing of the past? Scientists have created a breakthrough nasal spray that could block the virus as it tries to enter through the nose, where more than 90% of pathogens get in. The vaccine is called SynGEM , and it treats Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), one of three viruses that cause 80% of common colds. According to Mucosis , the Dutch company developing SynGEM, around 200,000 people die from RSV each year. RSV is especially dangerous for the elderly and children . The vaccine works for rats and mice, and researchers are beginning human trials at Imperial College London . Researchers say if the humans currently testing SynGEM develop antibodies, the scientists will be able to know the vaccine is truly working. Related: 44-year-old British man could be first to receive HIV cure Imperial College London professor of experimental medicine Peter Openshaw said in a statement, “We will first test whether the vaccine induces the right sort of immunity in humans, and, if it does, then test whether it will prevent infection in adult volunteers. Previous research has shown that boosting immunity in the nose and lungs may be the best way of increasing defense against RSV, blocking the virus from gaining entry to the body.” Openshaw has been researching colds and the flu for 30 years, and according to The Independent is hopeful the vaccine could be a major breakthrough. The second trial phase, which could occur in 2017, will test the vaccine in even more people. 54 adults would receive SynGEM in the second trial and 54 would receive a placebo. Via The Independent Images via anna gutermuth on Flickr and Claus Rebler on Flickr

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