The climate solutions beneath our feet

August 15, 2019 by  
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if 2020 is about ending deforestation, 2030 must be about eliminating indiscriminate conversion of land for agricultural purposes.

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The climate solutions beneath our feet

Largest nature reserve in Niger threatened by oil development

August 5, 2019 by  
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One of the largest nature reserves on continental Africa may soon be destroyed by the China National Petroleum Corporation in the name of oil exploration and economic development. Just seven years after its establishment, and only months after finally becoming operationally managed, Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve could be reduced in size by half. The Niger government announced plans to remove over 17,000 square miles from what was originally a 38,600-square-mile park. The park is known for containing part of the Sahara desert and low mountain ranges. The specific area of the park that will be converted into oil operations is the most important section in terms of threatened biodiversity. It is home to the critically endangered addax (a type of antelope) and the dama gazelle. There are only an estimated 100 addax remaining, but they continue to be hunted for their meat. Now, the oil development project could shrink their habitat and decimate the addax’s main source of water. The China National Petroleum Corporation is one of the largest oil companies in the world. In exchange for a much-needed $5 billion investment in Niger, the Chinese have exploration rights and permission to build a pipeline that carries 20,000 barrels of oil out of the country every day. Paradoxically, China will be hosting the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, yet government officials and oil executives seem unbothered by this localized biodiversity issue in the Sahara. The government has proposed to add land to the park along a different border. According to Sébastien Pinchon, a member of the nonprofit that manages the park on behalf of the Niger government, that new area “has little ecological value.” Via Mongabay Image via Shankar S.

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Largest nature reserve in Niger threatened by oil development

A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

August 5, 2019 by  
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When a husband and wife purchased five acres of bluff top property overlooking the Peconic Bay in the Hamptons, they knew from the beginning that landscape preservation would be a major focus of their future home. To bring their vision of an environmentally sensitive residence to life, the couple turned to Mapos , a New York-based architectural studio that they had worked with previously. By treading lightly on the site, the architects crafted a modernist multigenerational family retreat—the Peconic House—that blends into its meadow setting with a lush green roof, Corten steel exterior and timber interior. Designed in part as a reaction against the “insensitive residential development…and reputation for showing off” that has characterized recent real estate development in the Hamptons , the Peconic House is a callback to the modernist legacy of Long Island’s South Fork. Featuring simple and low-slung proportions, the rectangular 4,000-square-foot shuns ostentatious displays and instead uses a roof of native meadow grasses to camouflage its appearance and minimize its impact on the watershed. The residence also embraces indoor/outdoor living with a 2,000-square-foot terrace that faces the Peconic Bay and culminates in a 75-foot-long infinity-edge lap pool. In positioning the building, the architects were careful to preserve the property’s existing vegetation—particularly a 70-foot-tall sycamore located at the center of the meadow. To relate the architecture to the old-growth forest, the architects relied on a predominately timber palette that includes cedar and reclaimed ipe wood that are complemented by concrete and Corten steel. All materials are left unfinished and will develop a natural patina over time. Related: The Beach Box is the First Hamptons Home Built With Recycled Shipping Containers! Inside the open-plan living area “further abstracts the bluff-top landscape, with unfinished cedar and reclaimed white oak,” note the architects. The blurring of indoors and out are also achieved with 100-foot-long walls of glass that slide open and seamlessly unite the indoor living spaces with the outdoor terrace. The cantilevered roof helps block unwanted solar gain and supports a thriving green roof of native grasses that promote biodiversity. + Studio Mapos Via ArchDaily Images by Michael Moran

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A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

Rethinking conservation: the Amazon through the lens of a NatGeo photographer

July 15, 2019 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: Is conserving natural resources in the Amazon rainforest as black-and-white as we think?

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Rethinking conservation: the Amazon through the lens of a NatGeo photographer

One-sixth of the world’s economy soon could be covered by carbon neutral commitments

July 15, 2019 by  
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A new analysis shows that 16 percent of the global economy could soon be covered by net-zero goals.

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One-sixth of the world’s economy soon could be covered by carbon neutral commitments

Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive — and could be part of strategies to save them

July 1, 2019 by  
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New diversification approaches could help save “the rainforests of the sea.”

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Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive — and could be part of strategies to save them

The toll of tourism: Can Southeast Asia save its prized natural areas?

May 29, 2019 by  
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From Thailand to Bali, a huge increase in tourists, many from China and other rapidly developing economies, is straining sensitive ecosystems to the breaking point. Some countries are trying to control the boom, with a few closing popular destinations to allow damaged areas to heal.

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The toll of tourism: Can Southeast Asia save its prized natural areas?

Words matter: The Guardian announces updated climate crisis language

May 22, 2019 by  
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Words matter, and last week The Guardian announced it will start using more appropriately strong words that reflect the magnitude of the climate crisis. Instead of “climate change,” which editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said sounds passive and gentle, staff writers will now use the terms “climate crisis” and “climate emergency”. “What scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity,” Viner said in a statement sent to all Guardian staff. “Increasingly, climate scientists and organizations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in.” Related: Ireland declares a climate emergency, promises action Recent reports about the urgency of reducing carbon emissions and the loss of biodiversity also helped motivate the change to take a stronger stance on the climate crisis. The Guardian will also use “wildlife” instead of “biodiversity” and “fish populations” instead of “fish stock.” The Guardian has also decided to discontinue the misleading use and recognition of “climate skeptics” who will now be called “climate science deniers.” A  skeptic is “a seeker of truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions.” However, in today’s climate skeptics can more accurately be described as those who deny overwhelming scientific evidence. Writers at the BBC have also been advised to give less airtime to climate science deniers, a position which is no longer widely accepted as an alternative and balanced side to climate debates. The Guardian recently began including the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on their daily weather reports. The change is the first time that weather reports symbolize not only how weather is predicted to impact human activity on a certain day but also how humans are impacting the weather. “Wording around climate really does matter, and though The Guardian’s changes are technically small, they may help reinforce the importance of climate reporting in the minds of both readers and newsroom staff,” Laura Hazard Owen from think tank Nieman Labshe wrote of the change. Via The Guardian Image via brontiN biswaS  

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Words matter: The Guardian announces updated climate crisis language

These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

May 13, 2019 by  
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The earth is a fragile place, a bit more so with each day that humans contribute to chemicals in the waste stream and overconsumption of resources. While it may seem like a benign daily activity, doing laundry traditionally pours toxins such as microplastics into the water stream and drinks up valuable freshwater in the process. Since it is an activity we all do, and one we aren’t able to overlook (no one likes smelly clothes), there is a great opportunity to reduce the cumulative impact that laundry has on the environment . Here are some ways you can lower your laundry footprint by adopting sustainable practices. Laundry accumulation The best way to keep your laundry practices “clean” is to not wash clothes when it’s not necessary. Overwashing clothing wears down the fibers, which is bad both for your clothing and the environment, especially those materials that shed microplastics into the waste stream. Limit your laundry accumulation by re-wearing clothing. For example, jeans can handle several wearings before washing. Also, rehang and reuse bathroom towels a few times rather than washing them daily. Avoid washing items just because they have laid on the ground or are wrinkled. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Prewash Instead of reaching for the chemical-laden prewash from the store, go old school with a more natural option. Laundry bars, like Dr. Bronners, remove stains without adding unnatural ingredients into the water supply. Simply keep it near the washing machine and rub it on stains to pretreat. Also avoid the prewash setting that requires more water and energy . If you have a tough stain try soaking it with a stain remover before washing. Dish soap may also do the job. Detergent options Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with nasty chemicals that run down the drain into the rivers and eventually make their way out to sea . While many might think these chemicals are completely removed with water treatments, the truth is not all are. However, fabrics will come clean without all the mainstream added toxins— so select your detergent with this in mind. For store-bought convenience, look for natural ingredients and read labels carefully. If you have the time to spare, try making your own laundry detergent. There are recipes all over the internet. Once you find your supplies, it is quick and easy to make and you can make enough to last months at a time. Fabric softener/dryer sheet options Clothes dryers rank high on the energy consumption scale, but they also add to waste with dryer sheets and chemicals from liquid fabric softeners. Clean up your act with homemade liquid detergent using a combination of 1/8 cup food-grade glycerin, two cups of water and two cups of white vinegar. Use about 1/4 cup per load. Also soften your fabrics and shorten drying time with wool dryer balls in each load. Alternately, you can make a liquid fabric softener that goes into the dryer instead of the washing machine. Just moisten a rag with the mixture and dry with your load of clothing. You can reuse the same rag endlessly without dryer sheet waste . Water usage As mentioned, the best way to reduce water usage is to avoid unnecessary washing. Also, skip the prewash and select the best cycle for the task at hand. For example, override the extra rinse for whites and choose a lower soil level for regular washings. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, select one with an energy star rating for low water and electrical consumption. Cold water It requires energy to heat water around the house, so save it for the shower. Your clothes will do just fine when washed in cold water and your pocketbook will thank you too. Line dry Another winning way to lower the electric bill is to skip the dryer all together. Instead, set up a clothesline and hang items to dry when the weather allows. If you don’t like the rough feel of sun-dried clothes, toss them in the dryer for a few minutes then take the clothes out. Trap the microplastics In the environmental realm, microplastics are making headlines around the globe. It’s said that they are found in nearly all tested fish, which means we’re literally eating our clothes . Because microplastics are minute, they are not filtered out at the the water treatment plant and instead travel right through to the ocean. There are now products, like the Cora Ball, designed to throw in your washer as a filter to capture the microplastics in your laundry. Newer washing machines are expected to have microplastics filters built in so keep an eye out for those to hit the market. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine The dry cleaner Dry cleaning is a chemical process, and therefore a foe of the environment. Avoid dry cleaning as much as possible by washing at home and being conscious of the fabrics you buy at the store. Doing laundry has become such a part of our daily routines that we might not notice how often we are tossing our barely worn clothes in the washer. It’s never too late to begin an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporate new approaches to our routines. Follow these helpful tips and significantly reduce your environmental impact. Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year — it’s time to protect them

May 10, 2019 by  
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Ecosystems at risk can provide valuable services if they are preserved — now.

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Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year — it’s time to protect them

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