The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

April 20, 2018 by  
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The  Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an alarming rate — and it’s already three times the size of France . Fortunately, help is on the way: new images show that The Ocean Cleanup  is building an innovative  plastic -scooping system in Alameda, CA, and they’re planning to launch it as early as this summer. There are around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic junk in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup , started by now-23-year-old Boyan Slat , is much closer to deploying its technology to tackle the dilemma. The group’s  Road to the Cleanup timeline reveals that, earlier this month, the crew finished “the first weld of two floater sections” — the official start of the assembly process. Days later, the organization shared another image of what they called great progress. Related: The Ocean Cleanup launches San Francisco base in Pacific trash-busting bid Fast Company reported  that a massive floating tube, around 2,000 feet long, will serve as a U-shaped barrier to help trap plastic. It’s flexible enough to bend with ocean waves and is made of HDPE plastic — the same material that the system aims to collect, according to ABC7 News . A nylon screen attached to the tube will catch plastic beneath the waves — but not fish, as it isn’t a net. Big anchors, a concept unveiled by Slat in a presentation last year , will essentially tether the system not to the seabed, but to a deep water layer. When might we be able to see the system in action? The Road to the Cleanup timeline estimates launch will happen in the middle of this year. The first piece of the system, which is about as long as a football field, will be towed out into the ocean for tests in a few weeks. The piece will be connected to the larger system following the local tow test, and a final test 200 miles offshore will occur after assembly is finished. It will take three weeks for the system to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup could get there in August if everything goes as planned. Plastic they gather could be transformed into various  products — clothing, for example — and the Ocean Cleanup could have a shipment of plastic in late fall. + The Ocean Cleanup + Road to the Cleanup Via Fast Company and ABC7 News Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

Apple says they’re "globally powered by 100% renewable energy"

April 10, 2018 by  
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Silicon Valley’s big tech companies are hopping on the clean power bandwagon — last week, Google announced they’d purchased enough renewable energy to match the electricity they consumed in 2017, and now Apple’s making an announcement of their own: their global facilities “are powered with 100 percent clean energy .” Apple’s offices, data centers, and retail stores are all 100 percent powered by renewables, according to the company. They also said nine of their manufacturing partners committed to power their Apple production entirely with clean energy, bringing the tally of supplier commitments up to 23. Related: Google hits its incredible 100% renewable energy goal The Verge pointed out this doesn’t mean every electron or joule originally stems from wind , solar , or other clean energy plants. Some global operations are located in areas that lack access to renewables. Apple purchases enough clean energy to offset their power consumption. They buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which the Environmental Protection Agency defines as “a market-based instrument that represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation. RECs are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource.” Apple said they work together with partners to construct renewable energy projects — and they have 25 operational projects worldwide with 626 megawatts (MW) in generation capacity. 15 projects are in the works, and when they’re finished, Apple can boast 1.4 gigawatts of renewable energy generation in 11 countries. Apple Park , the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters, is 100 percent powered by clean energy, according to the company, including 17 MW in rooftop solar . Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the company’s statement, “We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it…We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.” + Apple Via The Verge Images via Apple

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Apple says they’re "globally powered by 100% renewable energy"

This pop-up camper transforms any truck into a tiny mobile home in seconds

April 10, 2018 by  
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Adventure company  Fiftyten has just unveiled the Adventure Vehicle System, which lets anyone transform a pickup truck into a full-on adventure vehicle. Designed to be a universal fit for every double cab pickup truck, the innovative kit gives adventurers optimal flexibility when it comes to turning a regular truck into an expedition fortress. The three-part system includes a tray with side storage and pull-out rear drawer, a box that can be equipped with a kitchen module, and a pop-up camper that provides extra space for sleeping or extra storage. The innovative system consists of three parts: the tray, the box, and the tent. The tray replaces a traditional bed in order to provide side storage boxes and a large drawer at the rear. The box is installed over the tray and has t-slots for attaching furniture, shelves or a kitchen module, etc. A  pop-up rooftop tent fits on top of the box and provides shelter on the go. Related: The Air Opus pop-up camper inflates in 90 seconds flat Two lifelong outdoor enthusiasts, Stefan Decker and Benjamin Krenzer, designed this innovative concept. Their vision was to create the perfect setup for campers, fisherman, rock climbers, hikers, and others in order to make it easier to enjoy “nature, being outside and feeling the beautiful places of our earth.” In fact, rarely has one DIY kit had so much to offer in terms of making world exploration so simple. + Fiftyten Adventure Images via Fiftyten

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This pop-up camper transforms any truck into a tiny mobile home in seconds

This couple turned an old RV into a five-person home for just $3,000

April 5, 2018 by  
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Renovating an old RV is no easy feat, but ambitious couples are taking on the challenge with some seriously incredible results. When sky-high rental prices in California forced Ashley and Dino Petrone to look for alternative housing options for their family, they decided to convert a 2003 Cougar Keystone camper into one very sophisticated living space. Although it’s a mere 180 square feet, their new home is spacious enough for their large family and includes a beautiful interior design. Even more surprising, the family spent just $11,000 to create the tiny home of their dreams. The Petrones sold their five-bedroom house with hopes of building their dream home on land they purchased in Ventura, California. However, they needed a place to live while they built it. Soaring rental prices in California forced the couple to look for an alternative living situation; they solved this problem by purchasing a dilapidated Keystone camper for $8,000 and spending just $3,000 to renovate it, proving once again that brilliant home design doesn’t have to be expensive. Related: Family of five moves from a 2,100-square-foot-house to a beautifully renovated school bus After purchasing the camper, they gutted the entire rundown interior, saving absolutely nothing. “The state of the RV was old and blue and dirty. The curtains were horrible and huge and the whole feeling just felt dark,” explained Ashley. They kicked off the renovation by ripping out the camper’s carpet and replacing it with beautiful pale timber flooring. They took down the original wallpaper in the camper and replaced with it chic wooden trim. They also replaced all of the old kitchen cabinetry, as well as the built-in furniture, which took up too much space. An Ikea desktop was custom cut for the new kitchen in order to make the space as efficient as possible. Once the camper’s shell had been renovated, the family began to add custom furniture and storage solutions that would help avoid clutter. The living space is light and airy, with an abundance of natural light . The family’s sleeping quarters take up the opposite sides of the camper, with the parents in the master bedroom at one end and the kids in triple bunk beds at the opposite end. Throughout the space, the decoration is minimal, but sophisticated – the Petrones found most of the items at garage sales or discount stores. The family posts updates on their fabulous RV conversion on their website, Arrows and Bow , as well as on their Instagram page . + Arrows and Bow Via Dwell Photographs courtesy of Arrows and Bow

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104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

April 5, 2018 by  
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March was a good month for renewable energy in Portugal . The country’s monthly clean energy production exceeded demand, according to a report from the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association (APREN) and the Sustainable Earth System Association (ZERO). And this likely won’t be the last time Portugal obtains so much power via clean sources; the report said, “Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future.” APREN, citing data via power grid operator REN , said mainland Portugal’s electricity consumption was 4,647 gigawatt-hours (GWh). In March, there were 4,812 GWh of renewable electricity produced, accounting for 103.6 percent of electricity consumption. It wasn’t a completely clean month —  Reuters  said fossil fuel plants complemented the supply during short periods, but those periods “were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production,” according to APREN’s report. Related: This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs Wind and hydropower accounted for 42 and 55 percent, respectively, of the monthly consumption. Portugal’s adoption of renewable energy allowed the nation to avoid 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions . The average daily wholesale market price dropped to 39.75 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), compared against the price of 43.94 euros per MWh during the same period the previous year. The report said, “…it is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal. However, it will eventually be necessary, here and then, the use of natural gas power plants, aggregated to interconnections and storage.” IFLScience said Portugal aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. While this recent milestone is exciting, Portugal, home to around 10.3 million people, isn’t large; for comparison, Beijing’s population is more than double that at around 21.7 million people . + Portuguese Renewable Energy Association Via Reuters and IFLScience Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as lifting burdensome regulations on automakers to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos and the White House

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Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

World’s rarest marine mammal could face extinction under Trump administration

March 26, 2018 by  
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Under 30 vaquita porpoises live in the wild — but Donald Trump’s administration may be violating federal laws that could protect the animals, according to a lawsuit recently filed by conservation groups and reported on by Mother Jones . Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) staff attorney Giulia Good Stefani said in a statement  that the lawsuit “might be the vaquita’s last chance.” Will vaquitas vanish forever? Environmental groups are concerned they might, and the NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity , and Animal Welfare Institute are calling out Trump’s administration for failing to protect what the World Wildlife Fund calls the world’s rarest  marine mammal . The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act  requires the Secretary of the Treasury to “ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards.” The vaquita can drown in gill nets, which are used to catch seafood , but the Trump administration has not banned seafood harvested with these nets in the Gulf of California, the sole habitat of the vaquita. Related: Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales Gill nets kill around 50 percent of the vaquita population every single year — and, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the creatures might even go extinct next year if fishing practices aren’t changed. Mexico  also hasn’t permanently banned all gill nets in the Gulf of California, though scientists have recommended they do so. And Animal Welfare Institute’s marine animal program director, Susan Millward, said the United States is “a leading importer of fish products caught in the upper Gulf of California.” The groups that filed the suit are calling for an immediate US ban on seafood imports that come from the upper Gulf and Mexican shrimp, hoping such a move would pressure Mexico to completely ban gil lnets in the vaquita’s habitat. Millward said, “The U.S. seafood market should not be contributing to the extinction of a species.” + Center for Biological Diversity Via Mother Jones Images via Wikimedia Commons and NOAA Restoration Center, Chris Doley

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World’s rarest marine mammal could face extinction under Trump administration

"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

March 14, 2018 by  
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President Donald Trump stopped in Otay Mesa during his trip to California to inspect eight prototypes of the potential border wall . His feedback? “You have to have see-through,” Trump told reporters, according to CBS Los Angeles . “You have to know what’s on the other side of the wall. You could be two feet away from a criminal cartel and you don’t even know they’re there.” If we don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. Congress must fund the BORDER WALL & prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country & the people of our country. We must enforce our laws & protect our people! #BuildTheWall pic.twitter.com/NGqNueukvj — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018 Trump examined 30-foot border wall prototypes during his first trip to California since he won the election. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported he preferred a combination of a see-through wall topped with steel or rounded concrete to make it harder for climbers to scale. Archinect said there were solid, opaque options as well as four other materials, non-concrete prototypes Trump appeared to favor. Related: Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the world’s longest peace-themed mural The president said, “If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. There’s a lot of problems in Mexico , they have the cartels. We’re fighting the cartels, we’re fighting them hard.” Trump also addressed criticism about the border wall from California’s governor, Jerry Brown , saying he thinks the governor “has done a very poor job running California” and “the place is totally out of control.” “You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities,” he said. Brown responded on Twitter , saying bridges are better than walls. ? Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump . But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 13, 2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune said hordes of both supporters and critics gathered throughout San Diego, and people were largely peaceful, but for shouting insults at the other side, and a Mexican flag was torn and almost burned. CBS Los Angeles said people peacefully protested Trump’s visit, chanting, “No ban! No wall!” Via CBS Los Angeles , The San Diego Union-Tribune , and Archinect Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Flickr

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"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

Anaheim’s elegant new Performing Arts Center was inspired by the city’s former orange groves

March 12, 2018 by  
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Recently unveiled plans for the new Anaheim Performing Arts Center envision an 11-acre complex with a series of cylindrical buildings whose shapes were inspired by the city’s former orange groves. Designed by local firm, SPF Architects, the sprawling APAC campus will have a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 1,700-seat opera hall, and a 600-seat black box theater, all covered in a brilliant perforated copper cladding reminiscent of orange peels. The new complex will replace the existing Anaheim’s City National Grove venue in order to bring a contemporary, world-class arts complex to the city. Along with the concert and opera halls, the sprawling complex will also have a soaring museum tower with a 24-foot observatory, an outdoor amphitheater, two restaurants, office space, a convention hall and lecture auditoriums. The outdoor area will include various open spaces that include fountains, a large reflecting pool and various walking paths that lead between the buildings. The landscaping scheme will use native plants chosen for their resiliency and ability to provide shade. Related: Renderings unveiled for World Trade Center Performing Arts Center show a glowing, lantern-like cube Each of the main buildings on site will be clad in a perforated copper-anodized aluminum. The particular cladding style was chosen not only for its environmental properties, allowing for light and air circulation in the interiors but also as a nod to the city’s agricultural history. Anaheim city was once covered in vineyards, with the local economy based almost entirely on wine production until the vineyards were wiped out by disease in the late 19th century. Later, an investment in citriculture revived the city’s agricultural strength, spurring what is commonly referred to as California’s “second gold rush.” “Anaheim’s socioeconomic driver quickly became the orange, so naturally our design for the center was influenced by it,” says SPF:a design principal, Zoltan E. Pali, FAIA. “We imagined that if we were to roll up the pavement of the parking lot we would find the old spirits of old citrus trees.” To create the circular buildings, the architects studied the design of orange trees, from the trunks to the leaves and even the skin of the oranges. The tiny circular elements found in orange skin inspired the design team to mirror not only the circular shape of the trees but also the porous nature of the fruit’s skin. Even the layout of the complex was designed in a grid system, similar to the common orchard. + SPF:Architects

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Anaheim’s elegant new Performing Arts Center was inspired by the city’s former orange groves

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