Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil

August 25, 2017 by  
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A beached whale is a tragic sight – but a community of sun-worshippers in Brazil refused to sit by when it happened on their beach. Hundreds of people rallied around a stranded humpback whale in Buzios, digging around the animal in hopes of saving its life. They spent hours trying to save the whale, and were rewarded with the return of high tide. A humpback whale was recently stranded on the beach of Praia Rasa in Buzios, and people on the beach jumped into action. They tossed water and dug around the whale to keep it alive for hours. Biologists on site said the whale was young, weighed as much as 15 tons, and was around 45 feet long. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding When high tide returned, the whale was at last able to leave the beach. A Buzios City Hall spokesperson said the whale found its way back to the ocean . Amateur video footage shows crowds of people standing on the beach watching the whale reenter the water. We don’t fully understand why whales strand themselves, although several reasons have been suggested. University of Aberdeen professor David Lusseau published a piece on The Conversation detailing some of these reasons, like that whales beach themselves because they are injured or sick, or have become disoriented. They also might behave differently if food stocks plunge, temperatures are strangely low or high, or if pollutants seep into the water. Lusseau said often whales that are returned to the ocean will re-strand themselves hours or days later (especially if they were ill) – but some whales are able to escape. If you come across a beached whale, the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation said your first response should be to call an expert for help – many countries have stranding networks that can help ensure the whale is treated correctly. Via The Telegraph Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

August 25, 2017 by  
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If your #lifegoals include living off the grid in some stunning locale, then check this out: we’ve rounded up the best pod homes that can be installed in even the most remote locations. From a futuristic 3D-printed shelter to the nature-influenced Baobed , there’s something for every world traveler (and almost every budget). Pod Space Pod Space’s award winning pre-fab pods can be installed just about anywhere you can dream of. The modular pods are customizable, so you can use them as a backyard office, an extra room, or even a fully-equipped tiny home . The best part is the floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can let nature in while keeping the elements out. Podzook If you are the type to think outside the box – literally – you’ll dig the spherical Podzook. With its locally-sourced shingled wood exterior and its space-age interior, the Podzook is what you’d get if you combined traditional Maine craftsmanship with an alien space pod. Each one is made to order and comes with a skylight and a futuristic gull-wing door. Prices range from 28 – 32k depending on the options you choose. 3D-Printed SOM shelter Architecture firm SOM is taking off-grid living into the future with a 3D-printed shelter that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It features rooftop solar panels for power and comes with its own vehicle that generates its own power. Best of all, the structure and the vehicle can share power wirelessly when you need an extra bit of juice. The SOM shelter can be “printed” right on site, illustrating what is possible in the future of home building. ALPOD The 65k ALPOD is a high-tech solution to skyrocketing real estate prices. The prefabricated structure is made of lightweight aluminum, so it can be moved where needed and then recycled when has reached the end of its life. The pods can even be stacked, so you could create an entire skyscraper of them. With 480-square feet of living space, it’s a great solution for both urban locations, since it can be hooked up to the grid, and off-grid with it solar power option. POD-Idlada POD-Idladla is a prefabricated home that can be shipped flat-packed for on-site assembly in a snap. The 186-square foot tiny home is powered by solar energy and is modular, so it can be expanded if necessary. Tall ceilings help make the space feel large without increasing its footprint, and costs start at just $15k. Ecocapsule The egg-shaped Ecocapsule is the stuff that off-grid dreams are made of. The ultra-portable house is powered by solar and wind, with rainwater collection and filtration built-in. The 86-square foot space manages to pack a lot of features, with a folding bed, dining area, shower and toilet, storage and a kitchenette. Each capsule fits inside a shipping container so it can go nearly anywhere. Ecocapsule homes start shipping this year, so save your pennies, because owning one will set you back $94,000. Drop Pod The DROP Eco-Hotel is different because it isn’t designed as a permanent home, but as a pod-like hotel room for modern nomads that can be installed in some truly incredible places – including elevated above the earth. The prefabricated structure is clad in slotted wood to control solar gain, features a skylight for daylighting and a rainwater recycling system. Harwyn Pod The Harwyn Pod is a tiny space for distraction-free work. Designed to be an office, art space or yoga studio , each pod can pop-up on-site in just 5 hours and comes complete with built-in furniture. With a footprint of only 2.5 by 2 meters and luxury car-inspired design, each tiny dwelling is fully insulated against the elements. Baobed Sleeping Pod The Baobed pod is a treehouse for adventure-seekers. The sleek pod can be suspended in the treetops, nestled on a beach, and plopped on a rooftop or even in the middle of a pond. The fruit-like shape was inspired by the fruit of the baobab tree and provides a tiny, safe space for travelers. Thanks to its tiny footprint and light weight (just 992 pounds), it can be transported on a trailer and can be equipped with a platform, mosquito nets and storage options.

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Household pets responsible for up to 30% of US meat environmental impact

August 8, 2017 by  
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Just last week a report found that American citizens’ insatiable appetite for meat is resulting in the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico . Now we’ve learned that furry family members are just as guilty when it comes to environmental degradation. This is because American cats and dogs rank 5th in global meat consumption, according to a new study. In his research, UCLA professor Gregory Okin was interested to learn what effect household pets have on the environment. “I was thinking about how cool it is that chickens are vegetarian and make protein for us to eat, whereas many other pets eat a lot of protein from meat,” he said. “And that got me thinking – how much meat do our pets eat?” Okin found that the meat consumption by pet dogs and cats creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of CO2 annually. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same climate impact as a year’s worth of driving 13.6 million cars. Okin confesses he has nothing against household pets, but their contribution to climate change cannot be overlooked. “I like dogs and cats, and I’m definitely not recommending that people get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy,” said the UCLA professor. “But I do think we should consider all the impacts that pets have so we can have an honest conversation about them. Pets have many benefits, but also a huge environmental impact.” Related: Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs According to the study published in the journal PLOS , if cats and dogs ruled their own country, they would be responsible for an astounding 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S. In fact, household pets’ meat consumption fall behind only Russia, Brazil, the United States and China. As a result of, they produce 5.1 million tons of feces each year — as much as 90 million Americans, writes Alison Hewitt of UCLA. In the study, Okin cited previous research that found the American diet “produces the equivalent of 260 million tons of carbon dioxide from livestock production.” He then calculated how much meat 163 million cats and dogs consume compared to 321 million Americans. This data helped him establish how many tons of greenhouse gases are tied to pet food. It turns out cats and dogs in the U.S. consume 19 percent as many calories as American people do — that’s the same amount as the entire population of France! Additionally, about 25 percent of cats’ and dogs’ diets are meat-based. Okin concluded the best thing humans can do to benefit the environment is to compromise the quality of meat they serve their furry family members. “A dog doesn’t need to eat steak,” Okin said. “A dog can eat things a human sincerely can’t. So what if we could turn some of that pet food into people chow?” “I’m not a vegetarian , but eating meat does come at a cost,” he added. “Those of us in favor of eating or serving meat need to be able to have an informed conversation about our choices, and that includes the choices we make for our pets.” + PLOS Via TreeHugger Images via Pixabay

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Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

June 21, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy is on track to take over the world, if Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)’s predictions are correct. This month they released their annual New Energy Outlook (NEO) report, which reveals 51 percent of the world’s power generation could come from renewables by 2040. During the next 23 years, 72 percent of the $10.2 trillion spent on new power generation will go into solar power and wind power . The future sure looks bright for renewable energy. NEO 2017 lead author Seb Henbest said their report indicates “the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable” as costs for wind and solar continue to plummet. Batteries will also play a role in the shift of the world from polluting fuels to clean ones. Related: Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy Coal is on its way out, if the NEO 2017 predictions are correct. The BNEF team wrote in Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and the United States, solar is at least as cheap as coal, and in just a few years – by 2021 – it will be less expensive than coal in Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, China, and India. And while the report suggests 51 percent of the world’s power could come from renewables in 2040, Greentech Media pointed out that’s an average. Some countries could get more than 51 percent energy from renewables – countries like Mexico, Italy, Brazil, and Chile could get as much as 80 percent of their energy from clean sources. Wind and solar on their own will account for more than 50 percent of power in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico. Green technology adoption – like rooftop solar – will be on the rise. Electric vehicles will “bolster electricity use and help balance the grid .” Henbest told Greentech Media, “The cost declines that we are seeing with these technologies are so steep that it becomes a matter of time as to when they start crossing over and becoming competitive in different ways. These things are getting cheaper faster than we thought even a year ago.” Via Bloomberg New Energy Finance ( 1 , 2 ) and Greentech Media Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

The fate of global corporations in an anti-globalist world

June 13, 2017 by  
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Is the post-war ascendance of multinational corporations irreversible?The world’s roughly 80,000 multinational corporations (MNCs), long dominated by U.S., European and Japanese firms, have been joined by a growing number based in China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies. MNCs are the engine of a quarter of total world production and their global supply chains represent about half of world trade. MNCs have played a major role in driving a tenfold increase since 1979, now totaling $16 trillion, roughly the size of entire U.S. GDP.

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C&A debuts world’s first Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold T-shirts

May 12, 2017 by  
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A chain of clothing stories in Belgium has launched the world’s first Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold T-shirts . Available in two styles for women in up to 17 different colors, C&A’s tees mark the company’s first foray into apparel for the so-called “circular economy,” where products are designed to be reused or recycled rather than thrown away. The shirts, which comprise 100 percent organic cotton , represent what C&A calls a “positive ecological and social level never before seen for a fashion garment.” California’s Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute , which manages the certification mark, defines C2C Certified products as items that have been optimized for human and environmental health, material reutilization, renewable energy use, carbon management, water stewardship, and social justice. Ratings are based on four levels: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Related: First Cradle to Cradle Platinum certified product is reclaimed Bark House shingle C&A worked with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry , the recently formed Fashion for Good initiative, and two India-based factories to develop the tees based on Cradle to Cradle Certified criteria. Both Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex, C&A said, needed minimal improvement in those areas. “In nature, the ‘waste’ of one system becomes food for another,” Jay Bolus, president of certification services at MBDC, said in a statement. “The two new T-shirts illustrate the possibility by which we can transform what is currently a take-make-waste industry to one that is regenerative and closed loop to progress us toward a positive future. We worked closely with Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex and throughout their supply chains to ensure the resulting apparel is not only attractive, accessible and affordable—but also a positive design.” C&A’s shirts, which will appear in stores in June, use only materials that have been deemed safe for cycling as biological nutrients, making them safe enough to compost at home at the end of their lives. Two additional styles, one for women and another for men, will debut in Brazil and Mexico in September. Related: Freitag announces that their 100% compostable denim is about to hit shelves “We are very proud to introduce our first Gold level Cradle to Cradle Certified T-shirts,” said You Nguyen, director of brands, womenswear collections, at C&A. “Taking inspiration from nature, these shirts were designed with their next life in mind. This means they can be reused recycled—or you can literally throw your shirts onto the compost pile.” Nguyen added, “We believe in fashion with a positive impact and are excited to provide our customers with stylish products and render sustainable fashion available at great value.” + C&A

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C&A debuts world’s first Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold T-shirts

Greenpeace releases first images of newly-discovered Amazon reef

February 6, 2017 by  
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  Feast your eyes on some of the first images ever made of a unique coral reef near Brazil that turned a lot of heads in the scientific community –  due to its diversity of new species – when it was first discovered in 2016. Sadly, these photos may be some of the last, as oil drilling nearby may damage the reef if it goes ahead. According to The Guardian , the first images of the reef were recently released by Greenpeace, after being taken off the coast of Brazil at a depth of 220 meters by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. Discovered in in 2016, these are the first images of the 600 mile-long reef that scientists expect will reveal various new species as it is explored further. Spanning the mouth of the Amazon river , from French Guiana to Maranhao State in Brazil, scientists have already found more than 60 species of fish, spiny lobsters and stars in the reef. “This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light,” Nils Asp, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará in Belém, Brazil, told The Guardian . “It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone.” But oil exploration is happening in the area and companies, including Total, BP and Petrobras could start drilling at any point, if they get permission from the Brazilian government. Greenpeace, unsurprisingly, is opposed to the drilling and plans to protect the reef. Related: Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind “We must defend the reef and the entire region at the mouth of the Amazon river basin from the corporate greed that puts profits ahead of the environment,” Greenpeace campaigner, Thiago Almeida told The Guardian . Via The Guardian Images via Greenpeace  

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Flexible Una Pavilion is designed to be super stable and easy to construct

January 24, 2017 by  
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All the elements of this multi-purpose pavilion in Brazil contribute to its structural stability and the ease of its construction. Brazilian architecture office Apiacás Arquitetos designed the Una Pavilion using standardized elements, achieving a high degree of programmatic flexibility. The pavilion is located in a residential condominium near São Paulo in Brazil. Surrounded by a lush rainforest with a running stream nearby, the building had to be elevated from the ground in order to avoid flooding. Metal connections were used to assemble the wooden elements, including large pivot doors that make up the facade. Related: Ecocentric cantilevered home was designed to conform to the sloping Brazilian landscape Interspersed wooden slats facilitate a visual connection to the forest, while protecting the interior from excessive sun and rainfall. The minimalist wood furniture follows the constructive logic based on simplicity. + Apiacás Arquitetos Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Leonardo Finotti

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Flexible Una Pavilion is designed to be super stable and easy to construct

Modern Brazilian home treats neighboring mountain as an extension of its green patio

January 4, 2017 by  
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When designing a home in a country as verdant as Brazil , it’s important to retain a strong connection to nature. Obra Arquitetos does just that with LEnS House by creating an open design, unobstructed views of the beautiful Mantiqueira mountain range, and planting a suite of lush green plants throughout. The house provides a contemplative and reflective space for a couple. Organized around a small patio , it unfolds across different levels providing views of the central open space through curved glass . The building’s dialogue with nature intensifies with height. The outdoor experience starts with the views of the patio, which features a host of plant species. Related: Brazilian House Harnesses Natural Materials and Smart Design A staircase leads to a green roof , gradually opening up more expansive views of the surrounding landscape. + Obra Arquitetos Via Archdaily Photos by Nelson Kon

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Modern Brazilian home treats neighboring mountain as an extension of its green patio

Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil

January 4, 2017 by  
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Couples looking for a romantic escape can unplug in comfort at these off-grid eco-cabins hidden away in the remote coastal mountains of Brazil. Surrounded by nature and captivating views, these solar-powered getaways are the latest installments of Minimod , a prefabricated modern home designed by MAPA Architects. Cozy and dreamy, these Minimod Catuçaba dwellings are the first of their kind in Brazil and are even available to rent on AirBnB. Located on the five-hectare estate of a former coffee plantation that dates back to 1840, the two Minimod Catuçaba cabins border the Serra do Mar State Park and overlook a verdant landscape of trees and mountains. The two 45-square-meter units are placed 1,000 meters apart and were built with different viewpoints and different layouts—one is cross-shaped while the other is rectangular. Both cabins were prefabricated offsite in a factory using cross-laminated timber and are equipped with solar panels and full-height glazing. “We invited Minimod to join the Fazenda Catuçaba community because we believe it is a revolutionary concept in Brazil, that shares in our vision of natural living,” write Casas de Catuçaba , the operators of the eco-cabins. “The Minimod is a primitive refuge with a modern twist. It´s not just a living space, it is an experience. It is a technological experience applied to the natural landscape, an invitation to live on the border between of the natural and the man-made. The Minimod incorporates a silencing system to enhance the experience between the inhabitant and the landscape.” Related: MAPA Architects’ Tiny MINIMOD House is a LED-Lit Prefab Home for Off-Grid Living Each cabin accommodates four and includes two beds, bathroom, kitchen, and living area with an indoor fireplace. Guests have access to trails through the woods that lead to a lake and floating deck, as well as an outdoor fire pit. The cabins are available to rent on AirBnB for $267 per night. + Minimod Catuçaba Via ArchDaily Images via Minimod Catuçaba and © Leonardo Finotti

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