Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

June 15, 2018 by  
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Researchers have learned that dozens of species of animals have reacted to increased contact with human beings by shifting their internal clocks to become more nocturnal. “It suggests that animals might be playing it safe around people,” study leader Kaitlyn Gaynor told Phys.org . “We may think that we leave no trace when we’re just hiking in the woods , but our mere presence can have lasting consequences.” In a new study published in the journal Science , Gaynor and her team analyzed data from 76 previous studies on 62 different animal species spread out over six continents and concluded that even relatively low-impact activities can affect animal behavior. Animals featured in this study, many of whom were mammals, include coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland, lions in Tanzania, tigers in Nepal, and otters in Brazil . To determine the effect of human behavior on sleeping patterns, researchers determined how long animals were active at night when affected by different kinds of human activities, such as hunting, hiking , and farming. The team concluded that human presence correlated with a 20 percent increase on average of nocturnal activity among the animals studied. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights This research is among the first to explore and quantify how human behavior impacts animal activity and sleep patterns on a broad scale.  “No one else has compiled all this information and analyzed it in such a … robust way,” researcher Ana Benitez Lopez, who reviewed the study, told Phys.org. The study is a reminder that simply being in a wild space can fundamentally change it. “It’s a little bit scary,” ecologist Marlee Tucker, who did not participate in the study, told Phys.org. “Even if people think that we’re not deliberately trying to impact animals, we probably are without knowing it.” While some animals will struggle with adapting to night life, the shift may also provide benefits to animals who hope to share space with humans without ever dealing with them. Armed with new knowledge, I will nonetheless continue to hike and camp , because it helps me sleep. Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos

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Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate

May 23, 2018 by  
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In a monumental trial, DeWayne Johnson will soon become the first person to face Monsanto in court for an alleged cover-up of the cancer-causing dangers of its herbicide products. Johnson, a father of three and resident of California , has cancer, which he believes was caused by his exposure to Monsanto-produced chemicals in his work as a groundskeeper. Though Monsanto has denied it, studies have demonstrated a link between glyphosate , the active ingredient in Monsanto herbicides, and cancer. Last week, presiding Judge Curtis Karnow issued a ruling that allowed for the consideration of evidence with regards to whether Monsanto knew about the dangers of its products and systematically concealed it, as well as the specifics of Johnson’s case. Johnson’s lawsuit, which will be filed on June 18th in San Francisco county superior court, is part of a larger legal fight against Monsanto. Approximately 4,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that the failure to disclose the dangers of its chemicals has led to  cancer . The soon-to-be-filed lawsuit says that Monsanto “championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies,” while engaging in a “prolonged campaign of misinformation,” which caused harm to the public. “We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” Michael Miller, Johnson’s lawyer,  told the Guardian . “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public.” Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer Monsanto claims there is no evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic. “Glyphosate-based herbicides are supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health and environmental effects databases ever compiled for a pesticide product,” Monsanto said in a statement . “Comprehensive toxicological and environmental fate studies conducted over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated the strong safety profile of this widely used herbicide.” Monsanto will soon have to defend this position in court, not only in California, but also in St. Louis, Missouri , where Monsanto was founded. Via The Guardian Images via Chafer Machinery , Avaaz and Mike Mozart

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Escape the everyday in this Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs

May 19, 2018 by  
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Inspired by 20th-century architect R. Buckminster Fuller , architect Pavlina Williams transformed a decrepit dome house in Palm Springs into a dreamy retreat that channels bohemian and mid-century modern vibes. Now available as a vacation rental on Boutique Homes , the Geodesic Dome House offers stunning desert views on a private five-acre lot. Keep reading for a peek inside. Pavlina  and her husband Carter worked on their passion project on weekends and completed the renovation in a year. The key to the redesign was opening up the interior to natural light; Pavlina ordered custom windows from Home Depot to create a band of glazing for panoramic views . For a more modern appearance, Pavlina and Carter ripped up the existing flooring to expose the structural slab, which they then polished. Related: Couple spent seven years handcrafting their dream geodesic home In contrast to its bohemian exterior, the interior is bright and airy with a mid-century modern aesthetic in homage to the movement’s impact on Palm Springs . When asked by Boutique Homes about her favorite part of the home, Pavlina replied, “The location and the views. It’s five acres — and you hardly see the neighbors. You’re in the middle of nowhere. I mean that in a good way. You have the windmills all around you, so it feels like this is the end of the road, like you are here on your own. I love the desert, I love the mountains. In my mind, it’s really all about what’s around it.” The three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home accommodates up to six guests with rates starting at $245 a night . + Geodesic Dome House Images via Boutique Homes

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Escape the everyday in this Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs

NASA study shows water shortages could worsen without action

May 17, 2018 by  
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In a recent “first-of-its-kind”  study led by  NASA , scientists found major changes to freshwater availability — changes that could impact water shortages over the course of the century. For the study, published this week in  Nature , scientists drew on 14 years of satellite observations combined with data on human activity to track freshwater trends in 34 regions worldwide. And, according to hydrologist Jay Famiglietti, “What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change.” Specifically, wet areas around the globe are getting wetter, and dry areas are getting drier. This is bad news for the dry areas, most of them between the tropics and the high latitudes. Several of these hotspots, such as the Middle East, California and Australia, are complicating the issue by depleting their reserves of groundwater. While the study did not find a clear connection between the changing freshwater patterns and climate change, it is unlikely that the situation in these areas will improve without significant government action. Humans playing a huge role in changing freshwater availability via climate change, water management and changing extremes. Freshwater security is more tenuous than we thought. Out now in @Nature https://t.co/KxnC9eQts4 pic.twitter.com/h8Gab3dHrb — Jay Famiglietti (@JayFamiglietti) May 16, 2018 Related: Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air There are multiple factors behind the trends, including climate change , natural cycles and human water management . Lead author Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said, “A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability — wet periods and dry periods associated with El Niño and La Niña, for example — from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished.” Famiglietti said, “The pattern of wet-getting-wetter, dry-getting-drier during the rest of the 21st century is predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models, but we’ll need a much longer data set to be able to definitively say whether climate change is responsible for the emergence of any similar pattern in the GRACE data.” The study states that government policies that encourage water conservation could help avoid increased water shortages. + NASA + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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NASA study shows water shortages could worsen without action

Podcast, May 14, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear

May 14, 2018 by  
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On this week’s podcast, the Earth911.com team discusses California’s groundbreaking … The post Podcast, May 14, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Podcast, May 14, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear

Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

May 11, 2018 by  
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Another day, another genius marketing idea from Elon Musk . In an Instagram post , Musk announced that he plans to offer free rides in The Boring Company’s first tunnel — which he described as “almost done.” Musk went on to say: “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 10, 2018 at 6:49pm PDT The Boring Company will offer rides in the tunnel under the Los Angeles , California area “pending final regulatory approvals” in a few months. Elon Musk thanked people who have been involved in the project, and said “Strong support from public, elected officials and regulators is critical to success.” As he often does, Musk answered a few questions about the project on Twitter. He said the company has already started working on a route between New York and Washington, D.C., and that they hope to start work on a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019. Musk explained that one would be a true Hyperloop with “pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels,” and that passengers on that route would be able to travel faster than if they were on a jetliner. Related: Boring Company confirms plans to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing bricks When one Twitter user requested a stop near Vandenburg, an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County from which SpaceX launches rockets, Musk responded , “A cool thing about the design is that’s easy to incorporate branch loops to serve small to mid-size cities without slowing down the main loop at all.” The Boring Company’s frequently asked questions page says the initial test tunnel is in Hawthorne, California. According to the Los Angeles Times , in April the City Council’s public works committee unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a 2.7-mile tunnel. The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

May 10, 2018 by  
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It’s official — California is the first state in America to mandate solar for new homes. Yesterday, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to approve the building standards, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The New York Times quoted Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich as saying, “There’s…this real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop. And it’s another example of California leading the way.” Homes built in California in a couple of years will have to be equipped with solar energy systems. Called the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the requirements “will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years,” according to a frequently asked questions document from the California Energy Commission. The New York Times quoted commission member Andrew McAllister as saying, “Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset. It’s good for the customer.” Related: California to become the first US state to require solar panels on new homes The commission said in a press release the standards would lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as if around 115,000 fossil fuel cars left the streets. They said the standards zero in on four areas; in addition to residential solar power, those areas are “updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.” There are people who wonder if California’s new mandate is the best path forward to clean power. MIT Technology Review linked to an email from University of California, Berkeley economics professor Severin Borenstein to commission chair Robert Weisenmiller early yesterday morning; Borenstein said he, along with most energy economists, “believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” + California Energy Commission Via The New York Times Images via Deposit Photos ,   Wikimedia Commons and mjmonty on Flickr

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The Jackson House floats at the base of a canyon in Big Sur

May 9, 2018 by  
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This beautiful home located at the base of a canyon in Big Sur is made from an array of materials, including copper and concrete. Fougeron Architecture designed the Jackson House as a modern holiday house on stilts that appears to float over the site. The house was designed as a place where the inhabitants can enjoy their weekends and reconnect with nature. Fougeron Architecture worked for three and a half years with several consultants to build the modern family retreat . Related: Gorgeous staggered timber home offers panoramic views of Idaho’s wilderness The main design challenge was to create a building that would blend into the steep canyon walls, while resting gently on the land so as not to disturb the fragile environment. The home is composed of four main volumes nestled under an over-sized butterfly roof that extends out to create covered terraces . The retreat balances the relationship between communal living and privacy. + Fougeron Architecture Via Uncrate Photos by Richard Barnes

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The Jackson House floats at the base of a canyon in Big Sur

A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

May 8, 2018 by  
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People have occasionally glimpsed tailless whales in western North America, but a recent spike in sightings has troubled scientists. This year alone, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted near California. Ship collisions or killer whale attacks probably aren’t to blame for the injuries; entanglement in fishing equipment is likely the cause. National Geographic reported that when whales are feeding in areas with debris, man-made objects or fishing gear, nets or ropes can get stuck at their tail’s base, slowly sawing off their flukes. Ropes and nets can also cut off blood circulation, causing a whale’s tail to wither away. Entangled whales may not survive, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘s (NOAA) California stranding network coordinator Justin Viezbecke. “The majority of them — if not all of them — are going to most likely die from these injuries,” Viezbecke said. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry Losing a tail makes life difficult for whales. Feeding becomes a challenge; the limb serves as a propeller as they navigate to the seafloor and seek out crustaceans. The long migration from Mexico birthing grounds to Arctic feeding grounds can also be hard without a tail. Flukeless mother whales are less capable of defending their babies from killer whales . According to whale biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger, some whales can adapt to the handicap. Brooke Palmer — who posted a YouTube video of a tailless whale near Newport Beach, California earlier this year — said in the video description that the whale was doing “seemingly well as it adapted to the loss of an integral limb. It is sad, but inspirational how resilient and adaptive these beautiful mammals can be.” The increase in tailless gray whale sightings matches up with what National Geographic called a general increase in whale entanglements. There was an average of 10 incidents a year between 2000 and 2012, but in 2017, there were 31 incidents, according to NOAA whale disentangler Pieter Folkens. Folkens said the reason behind the rise is unknown, although it could be possible that people are better at spotting the whales. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

Unreleased internal FDA emails show glyphosate weedkiller residue in almost every food tested

April 30, 2018 by  
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For the past two years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing food samples for the weedkiller glyphosate , but the agency hasn’t released any results of their findings. This week, The Guardian , using a freedom of information request, found that the FDA has had “trouble finding any food that does not carry traces of the pesticide.” Not only that, but the levels tested are higher than the legal limit allowed in foods. Glyphosate is best known as the weedkiller in Monsanto’s Roundup products and it is sprayed directly onto crops and soil to suppress weeds. It is used on everything from corn, soybean, wheat, oats, to spinach and almonds.  Internal FDA documents show that scientists have found traces of glyphosate in a wide variety of foods. “I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson wrote in an email in January 2017. In fact, the only food Thompson readily found that was glyphosate-free was broccoli. Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer These tests are the first time the FDA has attempted to figure out how much of the weedkiller is showing up in our food. Many groups have criticized the FDA for taking so long to do so because glyphosate is a commonly-used chemical that has been utilized in food production for four decades. It was declared a possible carcinogen in 2015. In another email, FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem found glyphosate levels of 6.5 parts per million, well above the legal limit of 5.0 ppm. Normally this would be reported to the EPA , but a supervisor at the FDA claims that the food used in the testing was not an “official sample.” We should be able to expect an official report by 2019. That report should also include information on other herbicides used in food production. Via The Guardian Images via Global Justice Now and Deposit Photos

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Unreleased internal FDA emails show glyphosate weedkiller residue in almost every food tested

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