Out of control wildfires force thousands to flee their homes in Southern California

December 6, 2017 by  
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Relentless wildfires in Southern California have forced thousands of people to evacuate and threaten over 12,000 homes. The largest fire, centered around Ventura, has burned over 70,000 acres, shut down freeways, knocked out power for thousands and is so large it can be seen from space. Experts say that this is “just the beginning” of the problem, as the fires rage out of control in extremely dry conditions, pushed by the Santa Ana winds. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’isef-DPVSbhi6hrtOzU0gw’,sig:’8MVDCZMWHVWThSLQhpAV515zx5qbn9WZflUo-qOws8o=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’886889264′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); The Santa Ana winds – which usually blow during October – have rapidly pushed the fires over the past few days and there is zero percent containment at this point, which firefighters say will likely remain the case until the dry conditions and winds relent. Red Flag warnings have been issued from Santa Barbara to the Mexico border because the area is expected to have one of the driest two-month periods seen in over a century, prompting concerns about additional fires. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’-UQIwCqMSmV58VyTYJcNhg’,sig:’_e2bkc0_zyKQ46YhUpwm9nSBLej2HWDO52Ov1yX9fho=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’886767680′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Related: Donald Trump believes California farmers who say “there is no drought” One fire, called the Skirball fire, threatens Los Angeles neighborhoods and the Getty Center and has jumped across the 405 Freeway – one of the most trafficked freeways in the US. The Creek fire rages out of control 20 miles north of Los Angeles and has devoured 11,000 acres in a short time. The largest fire, called the Thomas fire in Ventura, has forced 38,000 people to evacuate and has consumed 150 structures, including homes and apartment buildings. A fourth fire in San Bernadino has been 50 percent contained and has burned 100 acres. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’IaqOVadkQgFPtwp6RPF7cQ’,sig:’p0PsoBawHX52fAr2TOVQZusImKU4D6XwKbysWG6a07A=’,w:’594px’,h:’397px’,items:’886861778′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, and residents are advised to heed all evacuations warnings for their own safety. Experts also warn people in the area to be extremely cautious, because another blaze could easily erupt due to the massive winds and dry conditions. Via ABC Lead image via Deposit Photo

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Out of control wildfires force thousands to flee their homes in Southern California

This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

October 5, 2017 by  
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California’s extreme droughts are so dire that students at UC Davis have designed an impressive solar-powered home built out of drought-felled timber and installed with various state-of-the-art water conservation features geared towards California residents. The design of the team’s Our H2Ouse (pronounced “our house”) not only implements various grey water systems to use 50% less potable water than a typical residence, but smart technology with real-time LED displays enables homeowners to monitor and control water flow at every single water line. According to the students from UC Davis, who are currently exhibiting their solar home in this year’s Solar Decathlon event in Denver, they based the design on three main pillars: drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness. Using California-specific strategies in the prototype, the resulting Our H2Ouse is a highly-efficient, net-zero-energy design that is equipped to drastically reduce potable water use. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun Geared for the state’s inevitable future droughts, the home was installed with various greywater systems , including a cutting-edge sanitization technology developed at the university. All of the home’s water faucets are equipped with light-up feedback displays to help occupants monitor and control water flow rates at every step. For example, the shower has LED lights that change from blue to red, depending on water use. At the front of the house is a wooden water tank with a gauge that rises and falls to display the daily water usage of the home. According to the team, this smart monitoring system was geared towards overcoming the most unpredictable factor in energy and water conservation : human behavior. By installing smart technologies with real-time displays, the team hopes to bridge the gap between potential and realized water and energy savings. Interestingly, a unique feature of the home’s digitized system allows for sharing usage numbers within a network of users, meaning that eco-minded homeowners can actively participate in not only their own water conservation efforts, but that of the surrounding community. While the heart of the home may be geared to address the state’s water issues, the aesthetic is also a nod to California style. The simple, modern-rustic design reflects the two side of Cali life, urban and rural. To efficiently and sufficiently insulate the home, the team chose to use a 12” thick, bamboo-based , panelized exterior wall system and structural insulated panels (SIPs). This system reduces the home’s carbon footprint to a fraction of a standard residence. All of the wood used in the home was sourced from salvaged California trees  that died due to the state’s severe drought. Because this felled wood is dry and prone to burning, using it in the home design actively helps prevent forest fires. On the interior, the home is well-lit with natural light thanks to large glass doors that lead to the open-air deck. As for the interior furnishings, there are plenty of multi-functional items that were handcrafted by the students themselves, including hollow stools that can be used for storage, and that can be combined to be used as beds or tables. Motion-triggered recessed circadian LED lighting was installed into the flooring to create a modern, but efficient ambience throughout the home. + UC Davis Solar Decathlon Photography by Mike Chino

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This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

Off-grid camping just got so much better with these solar-powered teardrop trailers

October 5, 2017 by  
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Explorers could venture way off the grid thanks to a new collaboration between teardrop trailer maker Vistabule and solar power company Sunflare . Sunflare makes bendy solar panels a few micrometers thick that can be taped to any surface – so they’re the perfect solution to adorn the top of the Vistable camper , conforming to its unique shape. The lightweight solar panels add virtually no weight to the trailer. Vistabule trailers, manufactured by Minnesota Teardrop Trailers, can now be lined with flexible solar panels on their rooftops. Solar energy allows users to turn on lights, charge phones, and cook in the trailer’s full kitchen off-grid . Sunflare CEO Philip Gao said the solar panels can be installed on a new trailer or retrofitted to ones people already own. Related: Sunflare’s new ultra-thin solar “wallpaper” can stick to any surface The trailers feature 1950’s-inspired design, with plenty of space inside for adventurers to store gear, cook dinner, or snuggle up. There’s a full-size sofa bed, collapsible coffee table, and drop-down nightstands inside. A two-burner stovetop and sink with running water allows users to prepare food. Several large windows offer grand views inside the trailer that can be towed by just about any car. With Sunflare solar panels atop the Vistabule trailer can fully charge two smartphones, charge a laptop up to 30 percent, allow campers to switch on the lights and a fan, enable the refrigerator to keep running all day for two and a half days, and run the heater for three hours per day. Sunflare says after that users will probably need to recharge the battery . Minnesota Teardrop Trailers CEO Bert Taylor said in a statement, “When we first started our business, we wanted to make a camping trailer that was beautiful, energy efficient, and would easily blend technology with human comfort. Adding Sunflare solar collection panels to our Vistabule trailers substantially lengthens the time campers can be off the grid, and greatly enhances the entire camping experience.” + Sunflare + Vistabule Images courtesy of Sunflare and Vistabule Facebook

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Off-grid camping just got so much better with these solar-powered teardrop trailers

World’s first solar-powered, indoor vertical farm sprouts in Philadelphia

October 5, 2017 by  
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Future-farming experts Metropolis Farms have opened the world’s first solar powered, indoor vertical farm in the heart of Philadelphia . Although the City of Brotherly Love currently hosts only about eight acres of urban farming due to lack of traditional agricultural land, Metropolis Farms seeks to take advantage of the urban jungle to provide a new model for local agriculture in the city. Rather than receiving sunlight from the open air, the crops will receive concentrated full-spectrum light in a controlled indoor environment. In its latest undertaking, Metropolis Farms has installed a 500 kilowatt solar array composed of over 2,000 solar panels, which will be used to power the indoor vertical operation. The company plans to produce the equivalent of 660 acres of traditional farmland on less than 100,000 square feet. While it may not always be sunny in Philadelphia, the solar panels atop Metropolis Farms are an innovative way to capture energy and redirect it towards an efficient, controlled environment for growing vegetables. “By bringing the growing process indoors, in line with our mission of social responsibility, we are revitalizing abandoned spaces and are using them for local food production,” said Metropolis Farms in a statement. Their technological design is applicable for urban environments regardless of climate , making local, fresh, sustainable food accessible for the billions of people that live in cities across the globe. Related: This brilliant floating farm actually heals the world’s oceans The primary challenge to an efficient indoor growing operation is the high cost of electricity to power the lighting and pumps necessary to keep the plants healthy. Through its use of on-site solar power and further innovations, Metropolis Farms seeks to eventually achieve a zero-carbon farming operation. The company hopes to reveal its latest innovative practices and technology at the 2017 Indoor Ag-Con, which will be hosted by Philadelphia for the first time. Via Clean Technica Images via Metropolis Farms  and Jonas Ingold/Flickr

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World’s first solar-powered, indoor vertical farm sprouts in Philadelphia

Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

December 12, 2016 by  
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Months after the Flint , Michigan water crisis emerged, residents still can’t obtain clean drinking water straight from their taps. That may be set to change as the Senate just passed a bill providing $170 million to replace lead -contaminated pipes in the beleaguered city. But the victory could come at the cost of environmental harm in California . Policymakers inserted a rider, or addition, to the bill allowing more Bay-Delta estuary water to irrigate farms, which some environmentalists fear could harm estuary wildlife . Many Flint residents have been waiting for safe, clean water since 2014. With federal government money, the city is expected to replace 29,000 service lines. Although 96 percent of samples from high-risk Flint houses met federal standards for lead, according to state officials speaking this month, the crisis has not yet been fully resolved. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said people will only be confident in the water when old lead infrastructure is replaced. The new government money could enable the city to at last put any fears to rest. Related: 6 Michigan state workers charged with misconduct over the Flint Water Crisis But not everyone is pleased with the Senate legislation. The bill providing relief to Flint includes an addition allowing more Bay-Delta water to irrigate drought-afflicted farms. According to The Guardian, the bill could make way for new desalination projects and dams. As she spoke against the bill, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said, “You’re destroying the Endangered Species Act,” but California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote the bill with California Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy, said the legislation was the best they could do after working for three years. The organization Defenders of Wildlife issued a statement saying the rider hurt wildlife like Delta smelt and salmon. Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director, also condemned the bill. He said in a statement , “Federal funding to help begin fixing the pipes at the heart of the Flint water crisis is shamefully overdue. This is a start, but far more is needed to fix Flint and ensure safe drinking water to communities across America. We should not have to trade delinquent Congressional action in Michigan for the erosion of endangered species protection and a threat to fishing jobs in California, but that is the result of the partisan games at play in this bill.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Mitch Barrie on Flickr

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Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

More than 100 million California trees dead due to drought

November 21, 2016 by  
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Drought -stricken California is now facing another dire problem: dying trees . The U.S. Forest Service just reported that 102 million California trees have perished due to the drought, and 62 million trees died just in 2016. Officials fear the dead, dry trees could act as kindling as California battles more extreme fire seasons. The number of dead trees in California has increased by 100 percent from 2015, according to the USFS. Lifeless trees can be found across 7.7 million acres, and millions more trees are weak and expected to fall victim to drought. But it’s not just the drought alone that’s massacring trees; climate change and bark beetles have also played a role. The USFS said higher temperatures and a spike in beetle infestation have killed off trees too. Related: California street trees are worth $1 billion, says USFS and UC Davis United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement, “These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California.” He called for a better budget to not only fight wildfires but also to work towards tree health and restoration. The USFS often has to redirect funds away from restoration work to fight fires, said Vilsack, and without Congress fixing the fire budget, the agency won’t be able to break that devastating cycle. 56 percent of the USFS budget in 2015 went up in flames, consumed by fire management, and the agency expects that by 2025, 67 percent of their funds will go towards fighting fires. California has grappled with drought for five years now, and the USFS reports the state’s wildfire season has only stretched longer and become more severe. Scientists predict in 2017 still more trees will fall victim to harsh, dry conditions in the state. + U.S. Forest Service Images via USFS Region 5 on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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More than 100 million California trees dead due to drought

Over 82,000 people evacuated as wildfire engulfs Southern California

August 17, 2016 by  
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Yesterday a fire started near San Bernardino in Southern California . In just one hour, the fire leaped from two acres to 1,000 acres. By evening, the fire, called the Blue Cut Fire, reached at least 15,000 acres, and authorities advised 82,640 people to evacuate their homes as a result. Around 34,500 homes may be affected by the Blue Cut Fire. According to a Tuesday night tweet from CAL FIRE Chief of Public Information Daniel Berlant, the fire was not at all contained. United States Forest Service spokesperson Bill Poole described the fire as ” very aggressive .” Related: Lethal extreme heat and wildfires scorch the American southwest California’s governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency for San Bernardino County. In the proclamation, Brown linked the fire to the drought that “has caused millions of trees to die” and has “increased the severity and spread of fires throughout the State.” California has suffered through drought for around five years now, and the summer heat and wind has exacerbated the wildfire season. Around 700 firefighters are currently working to contain the fire. Helicopters dumped water and planes sprayed flame retardant. At one harrowing point, the fire trapped six firefighters. Though they were able to find shelter and make it to safety, two had to be treated for minor injuries. So far there have been no reported civilian injuries. Authorities closed part of Interstate 15, a primary route between Las Vegas and Southern California, in the face of the Blue Cut Fire. Local news station NBC Los Angeles captured a terrifying ” firenado ” on camera and said the fire is burning “out of control.” Other fires continue to burn in the dry state as well. According to recent tweets from Berlant, the Clayton Fire in Lake County is 40 percent contained and the Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County is 20 percent contained . As of Tuesday there are 8,500 firefighters battling “six large wildfires” in California. Via The New York Times Images via CAL FIRE PIO Berlant on Twitter and screenshot

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Over 82,000 people evacuated as wildfire engulfs Southern California

Donald Trump believes California farmers who say "there is no drought"

May 31, 2016 by  
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Climate denier Donald Trump makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t believe humans are contributing to climate change, calling it a ‘hoax’ proctored by the Chinese. Now he’s adding another scientific fact to the list of things he doesn’t believe in : the severe drought that has plagued California for the past five years. In a speech in Fresno on Friday, Trump claimed that a group of “50 or 60 farmers” told him, right before he took the stage, that “there is no drought.” And the Republican presidential candidate says he believes it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC-W971AeF4 In the clip above, Trump recounts his conversation with farmers, saying that he asked them how bad the drought was. They told him, he says, “There is no drought, they turn the water out into the ocean.” Trump said that, after 30 minutes of discussion, he believes what the farmers told him. To be clear, Trump never actually says there is no drought, but by quoting others who have allegedly said it and saying he agrees, we can all agree that’s pretty much the same thing. Related: Donald Trump vows to nix Paris climate deal and pave way for Keystone XL pipeline Anyone who has been paying attention knows that he’s wrong about this. California is suffering a very real and very devastating drought. There simply isn’t “plenty of water,” as Trump quotes farmers allegedly telling him. Some 95 percent of the state is enduring drier than average conditions, and 20 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions deemed “exceptional” by the Western Regional Climate Center, which has been closely monitoring the drought for years. Even Fresno, the city in which Trump came out of the closet as a drought denier last week, is experiencing drought conditions that rank in the “extreme” to “exceptional” range. Across the state, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmlands have turned fallow , millions of trees have lost canopy water , and rampant wildfires have raged , fueled by drier than normal brush. Not even the wet El Niño season could provide much relief, although it has helped contribute to the snowpack in the northern part of the state. It continues to be difficult to tell whether Trump is on a mission to spread misinformation and foster distrust in science, or if the man is just very, very confused. Either way, we wonder what will he will deny next. Is gravity also a hoax, Donald? Via Slate Images via Donald J Trump/Facebook and  U.S. Drought Monitor

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Donald Trump believes California farmers who say "there is no drought"

China added half of new global wind power capacity in 2015

May 31, 2016 by  
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China is making massive investments in clean energy as the government works to meet climate targets and clean up polluted cities. According to a new report , China installed 30.5 gigawatts of wind power in 2015 – which accounts for nearly half of all new global wind energy installations. The most populous country in the world beat the United States in second place by a wide margin — the U.S. installed 8.6 GW, while third place Germany installed 6.1 GW. Brazil and India each installed 2.6 GW. “After focusing on increasing its installed capacity, China’s 13th Five Year Plan has raised the 2020 wind target to 250 GW, and aims to shift the focus from scale expansion towards quality and efficiency,” said Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s Practice Head for Power. “Indeed, the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) market in China, and all over the world, is poised for a growth phase.” Related: China puts the brakes on construction of 200 coal-fired power plants GlobalData predicts that China will maintain its position as the top nation for wind energy, installing 23 GW in 2016. The firm also predicts that China’s installed wind capacity will triple by 2030, increasing total capacity from 149 GW last year to 495 GW. But China is not just installing huge amounts of wind in its borders. The country is venturing into other markets, including the U.S. and U.K. Goldwind, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, recently announced that it bought the Rattlesnake Wind Project in Texas. The wind farm will consist of 64 of Goldwind’s 2.5-megawatt wind turbines. The U.K.’s first Chinese-backed offshore wind farm is moving forward . And the 588-megawatt Beatrice project off the northwest coast of Scotland is expected to be completed in 2019. + GlobalData report Via Climate Action News Images via Wikipedia

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China added half of new global wind power capacity in 2015

Nearly 1 billion California trees have suffered severe canopy water loss in just a few years

January 4, 2016 by  
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California’s historic drought has led to devastating effects on its residents and environment, including the loss of  millions of trees in its formerly lush forests. Low rainfall, wildfires, and beetle outbreaks have caused damage to the health of forests in the state, but until now we did not know just how much. Recently, a study by the Carnegie Institution for Science revealed extensive canopy water loss in 888 million trees. The use of a laser-guided, airborne observatory resulted in detailed scans of forests and satellite data helped to map the slow degradation of the trees from 2011 to 2015. Read the rest of Nearly 1 billion California trees have suffered severe canopy water loss in just a few years

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Nearly 1 billion California trees have suffered severe canopy water loss in just a few years

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