California Caldor Fire destroys town, keeps raging

August 19, 2021 by  
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What started as a little blaze last weekend in El Dorado County,  California , has turned into a town-gobbling inferno. The Caldor Fire tore through the 1,200-person town of Grizzly Flats, leaving not much more than the elementary school play structure, then headed for Highway 50. As of Wednesday evening, the fire had grown to more than 30,000 acres, shot smoke plumes through the sky and was 0% contained. At least two people were seriously injured in Grizzly Flats, which is about 60 miles east of Sacramento. More than 20,000 people have evacuated from the wider area. The Caldor  Fire’s  long evacuation list keeps expanding. Related: Wildfire smoke linked to almost 20,000 COVID-19 cases last year The fire’s growth has been immense, doubling in size from Tuesday to Wednesday. Extreme dryness combined with southwest winds are to blame for the unprecedented wildfire behavior, says Cal Fire. “We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that’s how firefighting has been in the state this year,” said El Dorado National  Forest  Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais in a Tuesday briefing. More than 600 fire personnel are battling the blaze. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of  emergency  for El Dorado County on Tuesday morning. This will help California access federal funds to fight the fire. Now the Caldor has joined the list of other California wildfires which may require federal funds, including the Monument Fire in Trinity County, the enormous Dixie Fire in Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Tehama counties. Officials are still investigating what caused the Caldor Fire. It’s too soon to guess how many structures will be lost or damaged. CalFire estimated that the Caldor will be fully contained by August 21. Meanwhile,  medical  centers are already overloaded, and medical personnel are worried about people with COVID-19 having to evacuate from the area. At Marshall Hospital in Placerville, workers are trying desperately to reserve enough space for severe COVID cases and casualties from the fire. Via Sacramento Bee , KCRA Lead image via InciWeb

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California Caldor Fire destroys town, keeps raging

Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations

August 18, 2021 by  
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A small group of activists is driving the conversation about climate change in new directions with a push against establishing new gas stations. In March, Petaluma, California , became the first town in America to place a moratorium on new gas station construction thanks to the efforts of local activists Jenny Blaker and Woody Hastings. The actions of Blaker and Hastings have inspired many other activists and helped start the conversation about putting an end to the era of gas stations. One such activist is Emily Bit, whose family lives in southern Napa County in California. According to Bit, climate change has become more apparent in her life, with wildfires and extreme weather patterns appearing in recent years.  Related: Maintaining an electric vehicle costs less than gas or hybrid counterparts Bit has mobilized her fellow students to stand against the establishment of new gas stations in her town. She believes that together they can stop the construction of two new gas stations proposed in her town.  Bit borrows a lot from other activists such as Hastings and Blaker, who have had success in their local community. Blaker and Hastings are the co-coordinators of Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations. Blaker says that the push to stop the construction of more gas stations is just the beginning. In the future, the coalition may consider pushing for the construction of more charging stations and demand better public transport facilities.  “Hopefully the next step is more charging stations, cheaper electric vehicles, better public transport, more bikes . But you have to start somewhere,” said Blaker. The city of Petaluma has a population of roughly 60,000 people and is served by 16 gas stations. D’Lynda Fischer, a Petaluma councilor, says that for an area of 14.5 square miles, the 16 gas stations are enough. “Sixty percent of trips in Sonoma County are under five miles and we are basically flat,” Fischer said. “On top of that, 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation. We have an obligation to do this.” Although Hastings and Blaker are happy about their success, they say that it is easier to drive the conversation on a local scale than at the national level at the moment. Hastings argues that if the movement gains national traction, it may be dragged into culture wars. “We are in a bubble,” said Hastings. “But as more affordable alternatives for transportation emerge I think it’ll become less of an extreme idea.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea

August 18, 2021 by  
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Environmental activist and artist Jason deCaires Taylor specializes in site-specific sculptural artwork that’s installed permanently underwater and reflects modern themes of  conservation . The artist’s latest project brings him to Ayia Napa, a Mediterranean town on the southeast coast of Cyprus. Titled “Musan,” the art installation is an underwater forest located 8 to 10 meters below the Mediterranean Sea, just 200 meters off the coast of Ayia Napa. Completed in 2021, the underwater forest consists of 93 sculptural art pieces depicting nature and  trees  meant to be consumed and colonized by marine biomass. Related: Explore eerie wonders at the Museum of Underwater Art Perhaps most importantly, the pieces are designed to attract marine life on a large scale; the sculptures themselves are meant to develop organically and interact with their surroundings indefinitely. As time goes on, the pieces will provide food and shelter for a variety of marine creatures, all while serving as a reminder of the connection between humans, the natural world and  art . Additionally, the project references the depletion of marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, as the underwater forest area will replace a previously barren stretch of sand within a marine protected area. Eventually, the site will be accessible to divers and snorkelers. To create variety among the  sculptures , they are placed at different depths ranging from 8 to 10 meters below the water’s surface, laid out to resemble a path through a forest. Differing in height and shape, the “trees” will provide a complex environment for the marine life in the area, while the sculpture materials are pH neutral to attract a more diverse variety of marine flora and fauna. Images of children playing complement the trees, a reference to our need to be included in the wild places that once existed. + Jason deCaires Taylor Images © MUSAN / @JasondeCairesTaylor / Costas Constantinou

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Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency

August 18, 2021 by  
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In an initial meeting with Faulkner Architects, the client requested every room be oriented towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It took some out-of-the-box thinking, but somehow the design team managed to stay in the box while achieving that goal. Called Viewfinder House, this home is located in Truckee, CA, a launching point for myriad outdoor activities in every season. Even at 7,200 square feet with a pool, the design offers unique architecture and environmentally friendly features. The body of the home is made up of two rectangular boxes, with connections between the spaces via covered porches. The lower level is contoured to match the property line, but the upper level is rotated to take full advantage of Pacific Crest mountain views. Related: House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic The team relied on steel for the base to hold up against deep winter snow, and an exterior rain screen of red cedar, which also shields the home from the street while allowing  natural light  to filter in.  Passive design elements create shade and promote  energy efficiency  throughout the home, starting with the roof overhang that protects the glass doors from weather and solar gain inside the home. High-efficiency boilers conserve energy and work in conjunction with effective radiantly heated floors. The back of the lower level takes advantage of earth sheltering to organically insulate the home, and natural ventilation is found through window and door placement. Faulkner Architects emphasized using enhanced-efficiency glazing and insulation for a tight construction envelope. According to a press release, these combined efforts help the building achieve a 14.5% improvement in efficiency, above the already strict California energy code.   Outdoors, the surrounding hillsides are covered in native  plants  and mature trees. The materials removed from the pool and house excavation were saved and used for the nearby terraced landscaping. + Faulkner Architects Photography by Paul Hamill

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California just took a huge step towards building electrification

August 13, 2021 by  
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The new code passed by the California Energy Commission will include electric heat pumps as a baseline technology for new construction starting in 2023, taking a towards removing natural gas from buildings and requiring all new builds to be electric-ready.

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California just took a huge step towards building electrification

Setting the perfect stage for wildfires in the Western US

August 13, 2021 by  
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In California, the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons were massive, deadly, and costly.

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3 pandemic trends shaping a better food system

August 13, 2021 by  
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A focus on nutrition, more time spent cooking and the thriving alternative protein and indoor agriculture have cause the pandemic to see huge shifts in food culture.

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The State of Net Zero

August 10, 2021 by  
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We need every company, city, region and nation to transition to net-zero emissions in a way that delivers real climate impacts. Is that happening? Speaker: Kate Cullen, Net Zero Researcher, University of Oxford PhD Student, Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE Net Zero, July 27-28, 2021. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/verge-net-zero/online/2021

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Wildfires rage across Turkey’s Aegean coast

August 2, 2021 by  
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Between rising sea levels and super hurricanes, a summer day at the beach isn’t as relaxing as it used to be. And now, thousands of tourists trying to have fun at popular resorts on  Turkey’s  Aegean coast have been evacuated due to epic wildfires. At least eight people have perished, and boats rescued thousands of holidaymakers from resorts. While resort evacuations are high on the international visibility scale, local people suffer the most. “I feel so much pain, like I lost a child,” said Nurten Almaz, a 63-year-old  farmer  who lost everything, including her home, animals and “one century of people’s labor,” as reported by ABC News. She said people who started the fire deserve the death penalty. Locals fled in cars and small boats. Coast guard and navy ships lingered offshore, in case larger vessels were needed. Related: California teenager invents AI-powered tool for early wildfire detection The fires sweeping through the resort areas of Antalya and Mu?la weren’t just any fires. According to satellite data, this  wildfire  was burning at 20 gigawatts, four times more intensely than any fire in Turkey’s recorded history. Turkey often battles wildfires in the summer, but these fires are something new. “Those numbers are off the scale compared to the last 19 years,” said Mark Parrington, a senior  scientist  with the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, as reported by The Guardian. Ibrahim Ayd?n, a farmer, was almost killed trying to fight the fire. All his livestock died. “Everything I had was burned to the ground. I lost lambs and other  animals ,” he told the Daily Sabah. “This is not normal. This was like hell.” Turkey’s weather is extremely hot and dry this summer, and August has barely started. Conditions are perfect for more of the same. “Our smallest mistake leads to great disaster,” Turkish  climate  scientist Levent Kurnaz said in a tweet. Temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, are forecast this week for the Mediterranean region, including inland areas of Turkey, Greece, Italy and Tunisia. Ankara and some other places in Turkey are expecting  weather  12 degrees Celsius higher than average for August. Via ABC News , The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Nelson Mandela Park adds a breath of fresh air to an industrial part of Rotterdam

August 2, 2021 by  
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Rotterdam is known for skyscrapers and modern architecture. Now, a new masterplan promises to transform an underused harbor site into an urban green space for a neighborhood that could really use more parks. The Nelson Mandela Park is a welcome addition to Rotterdam’s South Maashaven district, a historic grain port. SWA/Balsley is the creative force behind the new park . The design company completed its masterplan for the Nelson Mandela Park this spring. The park cleverly blends in with Rotterdam’s flood defense levee along its east side and aligns with a new levee promenade beside a nearby commercial boulevard. Related: Self-sufficient floating office building for GCA will take anchor in Rotterdam Rotterdam has long attracted immigrants , and many people have moved into this post-industrial harbor area in recent years. While the city’s neighborhoods are divided along socioeconomic lines, Rotterdam city planners are trying to devise ways to improve social cohesion and reduce segregation. The designers at SWA/Balsley came up with a park design that they think will appeal to a diverse population of everyday visitors. The new park will benefit from foot traffic, but it also connects with public transit , including a water taxi station. City officials hope that the park will spur future development in this vibrant neighborhood. The Nelson Mandela Park masterplan balances history and the future by embracing Rotterdam’s maritime culture — Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port — while looking ahead to benefiting future generations. The plan envisions a “Culture Campus” that will make Nelson Mandela Park stand out from others. The 7-hectare site will include marsh habitats, naturalized shoreline, groves of trees and lawns for playing and relaxing on. Park-goers will enjoy views of the harbor and the historic Maassilo building, which was once a hugely productive factory for the Rotterdam Granary Company. Now, it houses shared business spaces for creatives and a large event space. + SWA/Balsley Images via SWA/Balsley

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