Kalk anti-poaching e-bikes join the battle in the African bush

October 25, 2021 by  
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Transportation in the African bush requires some very specific features. Vehicles need to be durable, reliable and able to handle the diverse terrain. For park rangers responsible for catching and stopping animal poachers, the stakes are even higher. They need transportation that’s also quiet and environmentally friendly. CAKE, a Swedish electric bike company, has delivered on all accounts. The Kalk AP (anti-poaching) project is a collaboration between CAKE, Goal Zero and the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) to find a more efficient and Earth-friendly way to track down poachers in Africa’s National Parks. In the past, rangers used gas-powered motorbikes on the job because they were the fastest and most agile option available. This was not an ideal situation since poachers could easily hear the motorcycles as they approached. Plus, the bikes required refueling, which was provided via helicopter or truck. The entire system was damaging to the very  animal  habitat the team was working to protect.  Related: Bamboo electric bike is designed for Kathmandu locals and tourists The new electric bikes were delivered to South Africa and are currently being tested in the bush by rangers who provide feedback to the SAWC research department. They are comparing the bikes to the existing combustion-engine option and evaluating them on durability and practicality of use.   “The petrol bikes we’ve used previously have all been loud, heavy and expensive to keep running in these areas. The CAKE bikes are quiet, which makes it easier for us to approach poachers undetected. We hope this collaboration will result in more effective anti-poaching in our region and we are really excited to start using the bikes in the wild,” said Mfana Xaba, Anti-poaching Team Leader at SAWC. Kalk AP off-road bikes are recharged in the field with charging stations designed and produced by Goal Zero and placed nearby. Powered by  solar panels , the charging stations are always at the ready, without the need to haul in polluting gasoline.  CAKE custom-made the bikes to respond to the challenges of the African bush. They are equipped with off-road features like oversized tires, a lightweight frame, a cargo rack and a heavy-duty suspension. CAKE plans to use the real-world feedback and make required improvements before sending another batch of bikes to the area.  “It’s great to see that the first batch of Kalk APs has made it to Africa, ready to change the game when it comes to fighting poaching in the most threatened wildlife areas. With fast, quiet and solar-powered driven bikes, we increase our chances of countering poaching and can truly make an impact in the region. This is only the beginning, we will continue to ship bikes to the SAWC in collaboration with the partners they work with to strengthen their anti-poaching work,” said CAKE’s founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn. To raise money for the project, CAKE is offering a buy-one-give-one Limited-Edition Charity Bundle, which offers the first 50 customers the option to buy one Kalk AP at a charity price, while donating another Kalk AP to SAWC. The bundle also comes with a solar-powered charging station and solar cells from Goal Zero. Plus, CAKE and Goal Zero have committed to donating their profits on the bikes and equipment to SAWC and its partners. + CAKE  Via Southern African Wildlife College   Images via CAKE 

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Kalk anti-poaching e-bikes join the battle in the African bush

Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel design blends into the landscape

August 24, 2021 by  
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With a community and business mindset that matches Oslo, Norway’s initiative to make the city carbon-neutral, the Akersbakken Housing Association set out to provide a very basic resource, bicycle parking, in an environmentally friendly and visually appealing way.  To help on the project, the association contacted Don Lawrence Architects with a request to design what is now referred to as the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel. At its core, it’s nothing more than a space to park bikes, yet the finished design provides an inviting, safe, accessible space that offers more than function.  Related: Eco-friendly, affordable housing emphasizes walkability in Milan Although it’s not underground, the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel appears to be from inside, with surrounding concrete walls that feel a bit like an underground parking garage. In reality, the structure is built into the hillside for  minimal site impact  and the benefit of using the existing landscape as support.  Twenty wood beams uphold the structure, which features a roof that allows in  natural light  while sheltering the neighborhood from light pollution that would otherwise seep out of the parking area at night.  From the outside, the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel looks like an extension of the surrounding vegetation, with local  grasses, shrubs and wildflowers  growing directly on the roof of the bike parking area.  The project is an indirect result of the City of Oslo’s commitment to making the city center a car-free zone. In working towards this goal, the city has removed more than 700 parking spots and increased bike lanes in their place. With this encouragement, residents are riding more, but bike parking at the city’s apartments requires hauling bikes up and down staircases to individual storage units, which is a deterrent. Hence, the goal to create accessible central parking. The investment in creating a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city center also brought a focus to creating a tranquil landscape for residents and visitors to enjoy, so the bike hotel needed to be attractive and blend into the landscape.  + Don Lawrence Architects Images via Carlos Martinez Bayona 

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Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel design blends into the landscape

Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations

August 18, 2021 by  
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A small group of activists is driving the conversation about climate change in new directions with a push against establishing new gas stations. In March, Petaluma, California , became the first town in America to place a moratorium on new gas station construction thanks to the efforts of local activists Jenny Blaker and Woody Hastings. The actions of Blaker and Hastings have inspired many other activists and helped start the conversation about putting an end to the era of gas stations. One such activist is Emily Bit, whose family lives in southern Napa County in California. According to Bit, climate change has become more apparent in her life, with wildfires and extreme weather patterns appearing in recent years.  Related: Maintaining an electric vehicle costs less than gas or hybrid counterparts Bit has mobilized her fellow students to stand against the establishment of new gas stations in her town. She believes that together they can stop the construction of two new gas stations proposed in her town.  Bit borrows a lot from other activists such as Hastings and Blaker, who have had success in their local community. Blaker and Hastings are the co-coordinators of Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations. Blaker says that the push to stop the construction of more gas stations is just the beginning. In the future, the coalition may consider pushing for the construction of more charging stations and demand better public transport facilities.  “Hopefully the next step is more charging stations, cheaper electric vehicles, better public transport, more bikes . But you have to start somewhere,” said Blaker. The city of Petaluma has a population of roughly 60,000 people and is served by 16 gas stations. D’Lynda Fischer, a Petaluma councilor, says that for an area of 14.5 square miles, the 16 gas stations are enough. “Sixty percent of trips in Sonoma County are under five miles and we are basically flat,” Fischer said. “On top of that, 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation. We have an obligation to do this.” Although Hastings and Blaker are happy about their success, they say that it is easier to drive the conversation on a local scale than at the national level at the moment. Hastings argues that if the movement gains national traction, it may be dragged into culture wars. “We are in a bubble,” said Hastings. “But as more affordable alternatives for transportation emerge I think it’ll become less of an extreme idea.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

October 2, 2017 by  
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People traversed the roads for several hours in Paris , France yesterday not in cars , but on their own two feet. The government held a Car Free Day , where the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. The goal for the day was to see public spaces less polluted and more peaceful. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey

September 14, 2017 by  
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Houston Bike Share is distributing free bicycles to those who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Harvey . When the powerful storm dumped a record amount of rain on the Houston area, damaging at least 100,000 homes and killing more than 70 people, it also destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars. Many of those who lost their vehicles are still paying for them, which makes purchasing a new car difficult. Through its program Keep Houston Rolling , in partnership with  BikeHouston , Freewheels Houston and Rice Bikes , Houston Bike Share aims to provide access to alternative transportation to those who need it. Houston is a car city, as is clear in its infrastructure and its local culture. “I love driving my car, I’m never going to get rid of it,” admitted Carter Stern, executive director of  Houston Bike Share . “But I ride my bike to work three to four days a week, and that’s great. I [view] the mobility in a city less as a binary decision and more as giving people a healthy ecosystem of options.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, access to bikes could make a difference for those who currently are immobile without their vehicles. “It’s a way for us to put a dent in some of the issues that are going to be facing Houston in the aftermath of the storm,” said Stern. Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Although Keep Houston Rolling is serving an immediate need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it may have a sustained impact on how the city views and supports biking as a transportation mode going forward.  “When I go to city meetings or talk with the community, there’s a lot of skepticism around using a bike for utilitarian purposes, not just for fun,” said Stern. “But once you start using it to go to the store or go to work, you realize it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s good, it’s relaxing.” Via Fast Company Lead image via Pixabay , others via Houston Bike Share and Brandon Navarro

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Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey

3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

September 14, 2017 by  
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One major issue a lot of backyard farmers have to contend with is water . All plants need water in order to thrive, and that generally means people have to hose down their gardens twice a day to ensure a healthy, generous harvest. With droughts and water shortages becoming more frequent, we need to be innovative when it comes to harvesting and using this precious resource: read on to find out how you can capture water around your own home, for startlingly less cost than you might have guessed. Trashcan Barrels For about $20, you can make a rainwater collection barrel from a simple trash can. What you’ll need and how to make it: A 20-gallon plastic garbage can—make sure to get one with a domed lid Mosquito netting A drill with a small hole saw bit 1 valve spigot that has a bulkhead fitting Waterproof duct tape or plumbing tape Teflon tape to secure the spigot Step 1 : Use your drill to create several drainage holes in the center of the garbage can’s lid. Then drill an overflow hole into the side of the barrel, about 3 inches down from the top. Step 2 : Cut a piece of mosquito netting large enough to cover those holes, and use the duct or plumber’s tape to secure it on the convex side. You’ll be tipping the lid upside-down to create a bowl, so you want the netting facing downwards, into the barrel. Step 3 : Drill a hole about 3 inches from the barrel’s bottom, get your bulkhead into place, and then insert the spigot. It’s a good idea to use the teflon tape around the spigot first to make sure it’s watertight, and then twist it firmly into place to secure it. Step 4 : Secure that upside-down lid onto the barrel, and seal with duct tape. You’ll need to prop your barrel a foot or two above the ground, so stack up some cement masonry blocks or random bricks as a stand for it. Voila! It’ll catch rainwater when it falls, and the netting will prevent leaf detritus from falling into the water below. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments Earth Mounds Got a shovel? Then you can make these. Basically, this technique just involves moving soil around in your yard to create channels that direct rainwater to where you want it to collect. Pretty much every bit of land has naturally occurring microclimates : these are areas that are either higher or lower than the rest of the soil around them, or get more light (or more shade), or have different clay/sand/loam ratios. You can determine where the wetter microclimates in your own land are by doing a quick, heavy watering with your garden hose, and watching where the water runs. You can use your shovel to dig shallow trenches to divert water to where you want it to go, and use the soil you’ve removed to build up shallow walls on either side of that trench for reinforcement. You’re essentially creating mini streams that will flow towards the plants that require the most moisture, and away from those that prefer drier feet. Ideal areas that will benefit from this kind of diversion system are: Trees, especially those that produce fruit or nuts, as they require a lot of water Brassica beds: dedicated areas where you’ll grow kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on Lettuce beds: those greens are thirsty Corn rows: its shallow roots don’t hold water well, so it needs to drink often Legume patches: peas, snow peas, beans Related: DIY hugelkultur – how to build raised garden beds Mulch Say it out loud, just for fun: “mmmulch”. Satisfying little word, isn’t it? It’s also a tremendously effective way to collect (and keep) moisture in your garden. A lot of people end up watering their food gardens far more often than should be necessary because so much moisture is lost through evaporation, so the best way to combat that is with mulch . Grass clippings, trimmed leaves from plants like squash and comfrey, and bits of bark can all be lain atop your garden’s soil—just make sure to keep it about half an inch away from vegetable stems so that it doesn’t cause root rot. Here’s a tip: lay strips of copper coil around these mulchy mounds to keep slugs away, since they won’t cross the metal barrier. Those slugs may love moist mulch, but the copper will keep them away from your vegetables. As an aside, don’t be too overzealous with your weeding: those inedible plants may be “unsightly” as far as a traditional garden goes, but they help to keep water in the soil and prevent erosion. Additionally, if you let your chickens roam around freely, they can feed on those weeds instead of on your vegetables. Unless the unwanted plants are causing real harm, let them be. Photos via Pixabay, Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

May 15, 2017 by  
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Daan Roosegaarde has been touring China with his Smog Free Project , showcasing the Smog Free Tower and encouraging people to find innovative solutions to address air pollution . He’s not out of ideas yet though; he’ll add to his tour with new smog-sucking bicycles . These bikes could work much like his Smog Free Tower does, absorbing dirty air , cleaning it, and pouring it back out as fresh air. Biking in a city polluted by smog isn’t healthy, so people are less inclined to ditch their cars and opt for a bicycle. Roosegaarde envisions an answer to that problem in a bike that can inhale dirty air, clean it, and pump it out around a cyclist. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working In a statement, Roosegaarde said, “ Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.” The studio says the concept aligns with growing interest in bike sharing programs in China – like Mobike , which has over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. There’s still a long way to go to slash pollution and traffic in the country’s capital, but the smog-sucking bicycle could offer a creative approach to the problem. The Smog Free Bicycle found its beginnings in a Studio Roosegaarde-hosted workshop at contemporary art museum M Woods in Beijing, featuring Professor Yang of Tsinghua University and artist Matt Hope, who worked on an idea for an air-filtering bike around four years ago . According to Studio Roosegaarde, the new smog-sucking bicycle is “currently in the first stage and is intended to become a medium for smog free cities, generating clean air by pedaling, and creating impact on the larger urban scale.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Studio Roosegaarde and Wikimedia Commons

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Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

Japan’s House of 33 Years was once two separate buildings in two different towns

May 15, 2017 by  
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The past and the future coexist in this daylit house in Nara, Japan . Tokyo-based architecture studio ASSISTANT designed the house as a cluster of small buildings for an elderly couple who places great value on preserving memories. The result is a steel-framed structure that was built in several different locations and then assembled on-site to create several overlapping spaces. Local carpenters in Aomori built the main quarters of the house using locally available materials . The project was initially installed as part of the “Kime to Kehai” exhibition at the Aomori Contemporary Art Centre. After the exhibition, the team disassembled the structure and loaded it on a truck to transport it to Nara, where it was reassembled as the House of 33 Years. Related: Renovated Vietnamese home ‘sewn’ together with intricate steel threads Students at the Sendai School of Design built the rooftop pavilion as an homage to Philip Johnson’s Ghost House. Before becoming a permanent part of the house, the pavilion was installed in the courtyard of a university campus and used by the students as a space for growing vegetables. + ASSISTANT Via Archdaily Lead photo by Shinkenchiku-sha

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Japan’s House of 33 Years was once two separate buildings in two different towns

How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet

April 17, 2017 by  
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Earth Day is April 22nd, and to get prepared for the big day, here are a few Earth Day facts that you may not know. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first ever Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day not only marks the beginnings of moving toward a more sustainable world, it’s a time to come together and contemplate our global environmental situation, as well as participate in community and global “green” activities. Read on to find out all about this important eco-holiday . Earth Day is one of the most widely celebrated environmental events across the globe. The first Earth Day was focused on protesting an oil spill off the coast of California, but today, the focus is on increasing awareness of the planet and all the issues around its health, from fracking and water pollution to rainforest depletion and animal extinctions. More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day of United States that took place on 22 April 1970, and one of the results of that first celebration was the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. It became an international event in 1971, when UN’s Secretary-General U Thant spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. On that first celebration, NYC’s mayor shut down Fifth Avenue for use on Earth Day, and allowed it to be celebrated in Central Park. Today, over 1 billion people celebrate Earth Day around the world. Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries. This day is a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the Earth, its issues and its problems, and people in different countries take action that will benefit their region the most. For example: On Earth Day 2011, the Earth Day Network planted 28 million trees in Afghanistan. On Earth Day 2012, more than 100 thousand people in China rode their bikes to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. In Panama, in honor of Earth Day, they planted 100 species of endangered orchids to prevent their extinction. In 2014, NASA participated in Earth Day with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event , asking people to take a photo of themselves outside and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. We can all use Earth Day as a time to reflect on our personal impact on the environment. Simply implementing something that promotes sustainability, such as a weekly recycling regimen, can truly make a difference. Let’s use today as a starting point for great change, and make every day an Earth Day. + Vangel The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet

For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

April 17, 2017 by  
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For the first time on record, climate change has completely changed the route of a river. In a shift that researchers called “geologically instantaneous,” a river in Canada’s Yukon territory shifted from draining into the Bering Sea to draining into the Pacific Ocean below Alaska. What makes this particularly concerning is that while shifting rivers aren’t unheard of in the Earth’s history, never before to our knowledge has a river rerouted so quickly, causing an enormous impact on the surrounding environment. The Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada has been rapidly melting. That influx of meltwater choked out the Slims River, depriving the downstream Kluane Lake of water and causing it to drop rapidly. The water shifted to the Alsek River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, where the ocean water will now see a rapid influx of freshwater. The shift began in 2016 when the melting water burst through an ice dam, depriving Slims River of its glacial water source. Now, the Kluane Lake level is dropping rapidly, which will put stress on the environment around the lake and could completely alter the geology of the area. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc Scientists determined that this shift was driven by human-caused climate change after they looked at the Kaskawulsh glacier and calculated that there was only a minuscule chance of it retreating in a stable climate. They also believe that it is unlikely that the Slims River will return to its previous water levels. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience . Via The Washington Post images via Nature Geoscience, Murray Foubister and Nat Wilson

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For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

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