You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

September 5, 2017 by  
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It’s vines versus old-growth forests, a biodiversity debate with consequences for steelhead trout, mountain lions and spotted owls.

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In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

Can business save the world from climate change?

September 5, 2017 by  
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A growing number of initiatives are giving corporations the resources to help achieve global climate goals regardless of government support.

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Can business save the world from climate change?

Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic

August 30, 2017 by  
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Earth is presently experiencing its sixth “mass extinction,” and humans are largely to blame, says a leading academic. In his new book The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Professor Patel of the University of Texas explains how mass deforestation to clear grounds to grow mono-crops, the creation of large dead zones in the sea caused by run-off of fertilizers, and the trend of over-fishing are a detriment to the world and are driving the destruction of our planet. “The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture , and that means it is responsible for species loss,” said Patel. “We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.” In an interview with The Independent , Patel pointed to the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico . The region has too little oxygen for marine life as a result of vast amounts of fertilizers washing from farms in mainland US into the ocean. “That dead zone isn’t an accident. It’s a requirement of industrial agriculture to get rid of the sh*t and the run-off elsewhere because you cannot make industrial agriculture workable unless you kick the costs somewhere else,” he said. “The story of industrial agriculture is all about externalising costs and exploiting nature.” Mono-crops, such as soy and corn, are big offenders in Patel’s book. Not only does the farming practice result in a loss of diversity , it eliminates habitats of potentially endangered species, including elephants, jaguars, and penguins.“Extinction is about the elimination of diversity. What happens in Brazil and other places is you get green deserts — monocultures of soy and nothing else,” he said. Evidence of this can be found in Sumatra, where forests are being decimated to make way for palm plantations and industrial meat factories. In the oceans, anchovies and sardines and being overfished . Rather than being consumed by humans, however, they are ground up and added to feed for salmon, pigs, and chickens. For animals that feed on them, such as penguins, this spells trouble as their food source is declining. The Professor is urging consumers to “think on a bigger scale.” Said Patel, “‘As a consumer’ you are only allowing yourself a range of action. ‘As a consumer ’ you can buy something that’s local and sustainable, that’s labelled as organic or fair trade.” He added, “But ‘as a consumer’, you don’t get to do a whole lot of good. As a citizen, as a decent person, you can demand more from your government, from one’s employer, from yourself. Related: The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than “normal” The activist urges people to be aware of their power “as part of a society where we can change things.” He said, “We have this power to change things in the future. What we have to do is make that change.” The answer is not vegetarianism , he said (though it will surely help). Rather, it’s time humanity switch to a world in which resources were shared and looked after. Patel urges a shift in mentality, as well, as people’s “images of consumption that are entirely unsustainable .” Professor Patel will be a keynote speaker at the Extinction and Livestock Conference in London in October. The event is organized by groups such as Compassion in World Farming and WWF and is being held to raise awareness about the rapid rate of species loss which could ultimately lead to the sixth mass extinction of life. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic

Connecting the dots on biodiversity and agriculture

August 3, 2017 by  
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Tasting a termite inspires hope that farming can align better with ecosystems.

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Connecting the dots on biodiversity and agriculture

Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

July 18, 2017 by  
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We already knew dogs are saviors to humankind – but it turns out they are heroes to other species as well! Recently a golden retriever named Storm rescued a baby deer from drowning off the coast of Long Island, New York . The dramatic ordeal was captured on video and has since gone viral – check it out below. This past weekend, Storm was out for a walk with his caretaker Mark Freeley when he “plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck and started swimming to shore,” according to CBS New York . In the video, Freeley can be heard saying, “Storm is trying to save this baby deer — I think he’s trying to save him.” Upon realizing that Storm was, in fact, saving the 3-month-old fawn’s life, Freeley started offering words of encouragement to the dog. “Storm, bring him in! Storm, bring him in! Good boy, Storm, bring him in!” he yelled. The golden retriever dragged the dog to the beach, where it immediately stood up, scurried away, then collapsed. This prompted Storm to chase after it — again. Freeley encouraged Storm to leave the fawn alone as the dog nudged its body and pawed its leg. After receiving a call, Frank Floridia with the Strong Island Animal Rescue League rushed to the beach. There, he found the fawn “completely disoriented.” Out of distress, it rushed into the water again. Erica Kutzing, the animal rescue’s co-founder, told The Washington Post : “They tried to encourage Storm to go back into the water, but the deer was so far out that Storm could not see the deer.” Once they saw the deer’s head was underwater, Floridia jumped into the water to rescue the animal. According to the activist , “It was a do-or-die situation.” Fortunately, the deer made it. Related: Living green bridge keeps wildlife safe from a busy highway According to Kutzing, deer can swim – even in the Long Island Sound – but it’s likely the fawn was spooked and too young to be able to survive in the water. Fortunately for the animal , Storm was nearby to save its life and alert humans to its struggle. Via The Washington Post Images via Mark Freeley

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Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

The 10,000-year-old East Coast Grand Canyon 100 miles from NYC

April 5, 2017 by  
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The East Coast has its own Grand Canyon -like natural wonder – just 100 miles southeast of Lady Liberty in New York City. And the mile-deep Hudson Canyon brims with biodiversity , but it is at risk of being exploited for oil and gas exploration. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s New York Aquarium recently nominated the canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary in a bid to protect endangered creatures dwelling there from the fossil fuel industry. The Hudson Canyon formed around 10,000 years ago during the last ice age, but few New Yorkers or East Coast residents know it exists. It’s under around 60 feet of water on the continental margin, or ocean floor zone separating thin oceanic crust from thick continental crust, at the Hudson River’s outlet. Scientists don’t even know a lot about what is at the bottom of the canyon, which is the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon , but they do know it’s home to endangered whales , sea turtles , sharks , and hundreds of plankton species. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio gives Seychelles $1 million for monumental marine sanctuary New York Aquarium visitors will get a glimpse into the canyon in the upcoming 57,000-square-foot exhibit “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” set to open in 2018. The exhibit will include Canyon’s Edge, a recreation of the experience of sitting on or standing just below the edge of Hudson Canyon. WCS wants to preserve the Hudson Canyon from fossil fuel exploration and extraction through nominating the site as a National Marine Sanctuary. They say such a designation will also sustain recreational and commercial fisheries and whale and bird cruises. WCS vice president Jon Forrest Dohlin also told NYMetro a sanctuary designation could also help scientists obtain resources necessary to explore the canyon further. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did determine the Hudson Canyon meets criteria necessary to be “an ecological site of national significance worthy of protection,” according to WCS, and they have a petition going asking NOAA to rapidly start the designation process. You can sign the petition here . Via 6sqft and NY Metro Images courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2013 – Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS and Dominic Sherony on Flickr

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The 10,000-year-old East Coast Grand Canyon 100 miles from NYC

This Tower of Biodiversity is designed to spread seeds throughout Paris

November 18, 2016 by  
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Maison Edouard François took a new approach to their tower design. When planning cities, many in France have worried buildings will be too high, according to the firm, but they wanted to demonstrate the potential of tall buildings with a design that disperses seeds to encourage greater biodiversity. The tower is largely able to accomplish the feat due to its 50 meter, or 164 foot, height. Related: Paris allows anyone to plant an urban garden In their building description, Maison Edouard François says, “Covered with plants from wild natural areas, our tower is a tool for seeding: it allows the wind to spread class one purebred seeds into the urban environment. Its height is a key element for its capacity to regenerate urban biodiversity.” Titanium cladding also contributes to the unique tower design. The recyclable cladding is green, and is intended to look almost like moss. Maison Edouard François said the distinctive material affords a fluctuating look to the tower through moiré patterns, and “distills a ‘green’ aura to the Parisian cityscape.” Stainless steel netting covers the 16-story tower over the cladding, granting creeping plants an opportunity to thrive all the way up the building sides. When wind sweeps through the area, it will carry seeds from the plants out into Paris . There’s even a garden on the roof. Inside, exposed concrete contrasts with colorful art and lighting. The M6B2 Tower of Biodiversity stands next to smaller structures with zinc and aluminum facades and roof gardens. Maison Edouard François said when pedestrians stroll among the buildings, they’ll feel as if they’ve stepped outside the city into a garden. + Maison Edouard François Via Dezeen Images via Pierre L’Excellent

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This Tower of Biodiversity is designed to spread seeds throughout Paris

Saving seeds in the North Pole

November 18, 2016 by  
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With American climate policy now highly uncertain, the founder of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault talks about his efforts to protect our agricultural future.

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Saving seeds in the North Pole

Can digital ecosystems save species from extinction?

November 3, 2016 by  
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It’s a fact: Homo sapiens are wiping out the rest of the planet’s species. How can the surge of digital technology be harnessed to protect biodiversity?

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Can digital ecosystems save species from extinction?

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