California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

April 14, 2017 by  
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Poppies, dune evening primrose, lupine, and other wildflowers are blanketing California in a super bloom so immense you can see it from space. After an especially wet winter, most of the state is finally drought-free – and it’s flourishing with a colorful floral array that spans miles and miles. California received above-average rainfall this year, and the state is being rewarded with several distinct super blooms. Los Padres National Forest, Carrizo Plain National Monument, and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge are all exhibiting spectacular super blooms that can be glimpsed from space thanks to Planet Labs , a company offering stunning satellite images of Earth . Related: Death Valley springs to life with millions of flowers in rare ‘super bloom’ March saw the height of the bloom, but in some snow-covered areas like Lassen Volcanic National Park and the High Sierra, wildflowers might not arrive until June or July – so there’s still time to see the natural beauty. If you’re hoping to glimpse California’s super bloom in person, Visit California put together a list of where and when to see spring wildflowers. The California Department of Parks and Recreation also has a site with information on where and when you can see the blooms, along with phone numbers to check if the landscape is in bloom and which types of flowers are showing. Planet Labs was launched by a team of former NASA scientists, and they debuted a Planet Explorer Beta tool in March that allows the public to see satellite images for 85 percent of Earth’s terrain. In February they acquired Terra Bella , thesatellite business behind Google Earth – and they now control the world’s biggest fleet of satellites imaging the Earth. You can check out other satellite images around the world thanks to Planet Lab’s gallery , which highlights images ranging from illegal mining in Peru to sugarcane deforestation in Bolivia to the Disneyland parking lot in California. + Planet Labs Via EcoWatch and KQED Science Images courtesy of Planet Labs and KQED

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California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

Researchers develop solar-powered device to harvest water in the desert

April 14, 2017 by  
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A solar-powered device could make water worries a thing of the past. Nine scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology , and University of California, Berkeley designed a water harvester that can pull water from air even if humidity is just 20 percent. Chemist Omar Yaghi of UC Berkeley said, “We wanted to demonstrate that if you are cut off somewhere in the desert , you could survive because of this device.” Yaghi invented compounds known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) 20 years ago, and now is using MOF crystals to harvest water even in dry places. In the water harvesting device, around two pounds of tiny MOF crystals are compressed between a solar absorber and condenser plate to collect around 0.7 gallons of water in 12 hours. Related: World’s largest fog harvester produces water from thin air in the Moroccan desert That may not sound like all that much, but it’s plenty for a human trapped in the desert to survive. Yaghi said, “A person needs about a [330ml] can of water per day. That is something one could collect in less than an hour with this system.” Right now there’s no other way to harvest water in low humidity except to draw on extra energy , according to Yaghi. “Your electric dehumidifier at home ‘produces’ very expensive water,” he says. In contrast sunlight enables the new device to work. Rooftop tests at MIT have already demonstrated the device works in the real world. Even if you never find yourself stranded in the desert, you could benefit from such a water harvester. “One vision for the future is to have water off-grid , where you have a device at home running on ambient solar for delivering water that satisfies the needs of a household,” said Yaghi. “To me, that will be made possible because of this experiment. I call it personalized water.” Science published the team’s research yesterday . Via the University of California, Berkeley and The Independent Images via MIT/laboratory of Evelyn Wang and MIT/Hyunho Kim

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Futuristic floating skyscraper ‘heals’ the effects of climate change

April 12, 2017 by  
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Climate change is rapidly affecting every corner of the earth – but could an innovative new skyscraper help turn the tide? Heal-Berg is a proposal for a gigantic iceberg-shaped skyscraper designed to stop, heal and reverse the effects of climate change using some of the world’s most innovative green technology. The Heal-Berg proposal, which was recently awarded an honorable mention in the 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition , envisions a futuristic floating skyscraper that actively heals the state of its surroundings. According to the creators, the design would use four criteria to help improve the environment. The first mission of the design would be to cleanse and purify the immediate air using lasers (invented by the University of California, Davis ) to zap carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. Related: Hyper Filter Skyscraper Inhales Greenhouse Gases and Exhales Pure Oxygen The building would also operate on green energy by using osmotic power as well as wind power generated by the aerodynamic design of the building, which would channel wind through turbines. As far as green building materials, the design calls for 3D printed technology using a form of graphene, one of the strongest lightweight materials in existence, invented by MIT researchers . Within the building and surrounding area, a hyperloop would provide fast access and connectivity for residents and drones would enable the mobility of entire residential units between the different complexes. According to the designers, the healing skyscraper utilizes “some of the most recent innovative technology breakthroughs from all around the world, and combine[s] them as elements of a greater embodiment operating as a whole to achieve a goal, survival.” + Evolo

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Futuristic floating skyscraper ‘heals’ the effects of climate change

Bio-Based Bottle for Water in the Works

April 5, 2017 by  
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The two biggest bottled water companies in the world — Danone and Nestlé Waters — are teaming up to change plastic packaging in the food and beverage industry. To accomplish the feat, they’re bringing in a California startup called Origin…

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Bio-Based Bottle for Water in the Works

The race to put more zero-emission cars on the road

March 28, 2017 by  
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EVs can replace nearly 90 percent of vehicles, but there are a few roadblocks on the way to California’s 2025 emission-free car goals.

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The race to put more zero-emission cars on the road

How off-grid solar energy could connect sub-Saharan Africa

March 28, 2017 by  
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Governments in Tanzania, Rwanda and Sierra Leone are studying “minigrids” enabled by solar and battery advances. But generating costs must become much more competitive for them to become truly viable.

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San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater

March 20, 2017 by  
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San Diego is aiming to to become the most environmentally sustainable city in the United States. As part of its ambitious Climate Action Plan , last year the city council unanimously approved a $3 billion initiative to recycle wastewater for drinking. Now the city is demonstrating that the pure water program can be used for just about anything, even a cold beer, by partnering with Encinitas-based craft beer maker Stone Brewery to unveil Stone Full Circle Pale Ale — a beer made with 100 percent recycled wastewater from the city’s pure water program. “Just a great example of what this is gonna be like in terms of the future and Stone who’s a huge driver of not just the craft beer industry but sustainability, that’s what our pure water program is all about,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at Stone’s Point Loma location last week, where city leaders gathered to sample the beer and talk up the pure water program. Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy The wastewater recycling plan puts purified water treated at the Point Loma Water Treatment Plant back into the freshwater system rather than the ocean — providing a steady source of potable water to protect the water supply from drought and disruptions to water imports. The pure water program is expected to deliver 30 million gallons of recycled water a day within five years and 83 million gallons of drinking water per day when fully implemented in 2035 — providing one-third of the city’s freshwater supply. Stone, the largest brewery in San Diego and ninth largest in the country, produced five barrels of the beer using water trucked in from the city’s pure water demonstration plant in Miramar. “We like trial and we like testing and if we can help others jump on the same bandwagon, we would love to do that because it’s a great thing for the City of San Diego,” said Stone Chief Operating Officer Pat Tiernan. + Stone Brewery + San Diego Water Sustainability Program Via UPI Images via Wikimedia  and Twitter

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San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater

Artisanal clay pots from Egypt can water your plants for up to a month

March 20, 2017 by  
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Gardeners who travel will love these absorbent clay pots from Egypt. Modeled after the Olla, an ancient ceramic pot prevalent throughout North Africa, the small vessels are designed to water plants for weeks at a time–using nothing but gravity. Clayola founder Rami Halim says 20 liters (5 gallons) of water can sustain six to eight plants for up to a month. The Clayola pots, connected via a pipe to a water source placed at a slightly higher elevation, are pushed into the soil until the colorful tops are flush with the surface. A small siphoning pump gets the water flow going and then gravity takes over from there. The porous clay vessel acts like a sponge that slowly releases a small amount of water into the soil – just when it starts to become thirsty. “As water evaporates from a plant’s leaves, it draws water from the soil and as the soil dries up water is drawn from the Clayola to the soil,” Rami said. “In effect the plant extracts the water it needs from each clay pot.” “After a while,” he added, “a plant’s root system will find the source of water and literally hug the Clayola, allowing for maximum water use.” Related: Solar terracotta water filter distills 5 liters of water a day Rami says Clayolas are ideal for travelers. Unlike those of us who tend to either starve or drown plants, this system guarantees “each plant gets the exact amount of water it needs at no risk of over or under irrigation.” And it is said to be 80 percent more efficient than conventional irrigation techniques. Just 3 x 5 inches, the Crayola has a tapered shape that serves multiple functions. Not only does it maximize watering surface at the top, but it also makes it easier to penetrate the surface of the soil. The colorful glazed tops prevent evaporation and enhance the design’s playful aesthetic. There are two reasons Clayola favors employing skilled artisans in Cairo to make their products, according to Rami. “The handmade imperfections are absolutely beautiful,” he said, “and this old world craft is efficient, elegant and produces a surprisingly durable product.” A box of six costs less than $30, plus shipping. For more information, check out Clayola’s Facebook page . + Clayola Egypt

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Artisanal clay pots from Egypt can water your plants for up to a month

14,000 forced from homes by flooding in San Jose

February 23, 2017 by  
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A series of heavy rainstorms has caused severe flooding near San Jose, California, forcing a mandatory evacuation of at least 14,000 residents overnight . About 250 of those people had to be rescued via boat by emergency crews. The flooding affected Coyote Creek and the spillway of the Anderson Reservoir, which was filled to capacity by the recent rain. An additional 22,000 have not been ordered to evacuate yet, but have been encouraged to leave their homes. Some of those affected have complained that they received no advance notice that they needed to evacuate until firefighters showed up, delivering notifications door-to-door, leaving them little time to prepare. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has pledged to investigate the issue. Floodwaters have begun to recede, however, the danger may not have passed. Further rain is forecast for this weekend, but the break in the rain should allow authorities time to assess the current damage. Water levels in Coyote Creek are already at a 100 year peak, so any additional rain could be dangerous. Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought After a lengthy drought, heavy storms have pummeled much of California this year, causing mudslides and flooding. Earlier in the month, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated near the Oroville dam due to fears it might overflow. Via NPR Images via AJ+

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California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

February 19, 2017 by  
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The city of Lancaster, California is one step closer to becoming a Zero Net Energy city – the very first in the U.S. The proposed ordinance, recently moved forward by the city council, will require all new homes to be equipped with solar panels or to take other steps toward energy mitigation. The end goal is to create a city with a truly sustainable future. “This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners.” Related: Lancaster, California to require all new homes to have solar panels The ZNE ordinance requires all new homes built in the year 2017 and beyond to choose one of three options for energy use: install photovoltaic panels to support two watts of energy for each square foot, pay mitigation fees that will result in a discount on the energy generation rate section of their bill, or select a combination of both options. The required feasibility study for the ordinance is already taking place, which is needed before receiving approval from the California Energy Commission . These processes are expected to be complete by the end of the year. Images via  Wikimedia

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