CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm – the highest in millions of years

April 24, 2017 by  
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Remember when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere hit a terrifying 400 parts per million (ppm)? That’s number’s old news now – concentrations just reached 410 ppm for the first time in millions of years. Last week, researchers at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the record-breaking level, and scientists warn the rate of increase will only slow when we reduce our carbon emissions . Mauna Loa Observatory scientists just recorded the first CO2 level above 410 ppm since they began recording in 1958. Back then, the first atmospheric CO2 concentration was a mere 313 ppm . In 2013 concentrations hit 400 ppm . Last week’s reading was 410.28 ppm. Related: CO2 levels likely to stay above 400 ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows University of Southampton professor of isotope geochemistry Gavin Foster told Climate Central, “It’s pretty depressing that it’s only a couple of years since the 400 ppm milestone was toppled. These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record.” The United Kingdom Met Office put out a CO2 forecast for the first time ever earlier in 2017, and it turned out to be pretty close to reality; they predicted CO2 concentrations could breach 410 ppm in March but very likely would by April. El Niño is partly at fault for spiking levels of CO2, but more than natural factors, humans burning fossil fuels are to blame. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric scientist Pieter Tans said, “The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease. But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.” In a March NOAA article , Tans said the rate of CO2 growth over the last 10 years is 100 to 200 times quicker than the rate Earth saw as it transitioned out of the Ice Age, saying “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.” Via Climate Central Images via Flickr , Flickr  and Wikimedia Commons

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CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm – the highest in millions of years

Lithium-ion batteries made from recycled glass bottles store almost 4x more energy

April 24, 2017 by  
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A team of researchers at UC Riverside developed a low-cost way of turning disgarded glass bottles into lithium-ion batteries that store almost four times more energy and can last much longer than conventional batteries. This could mean significantly fewer charges for laptops, cell phones and electric cars, not to mention reducing waste. The team, led by Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering at UC Riverside, asked themselves whether silicon dioxide found in waste beverage bottles would be able to provide high purity silicon nanoparticles that can be subsequently used for lithium-ion batteries. The three-step process of producing the anodes starts by crushing and grounding glass bottles into fine white powder, silicon dioxide is then converted into nanostructured silicon, followed by coating the silicon nanoparticles with carbon. Related: 94-year-old inventor of lithium-ion cells develops new battery that can store 3 times more energy According to lab test, coin cell batteries that were made using the glass bottle-based silicon anodes considerably outperformed conventional batteries and demonstrated excellent electrochemical performance. The team expect these high-performance batteries to not only extend the range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles, but also provide extra power with fewer charges to laptops, cell phones, and other gadgets. Photos via University of California, Riverside

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Lithium-ion batteries made from recycled glass bottles store almost 4x more energy

Hacienda San Jose Lavista is a fairytale retreat in San Miguel Allende

April 24, 2017 by  
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Set in the hills overlooking San Miguel Allende, the striking Hacienda San Jose Lavista is a beautiful retreat surrounded by expansive vineyards, lakes, and fields of wild flowers. Designed by architects Jose Seoane Castro and Pedro Urquiza to be a romantic getaway, the idyllic hotel pays respect to traditional building practices – including using adobe as the primary building material. Looking to colonial Mexican architecture for inspiration, Castro and Urquiza used traditional adobe as a primary building material. Adobe allowed the architects to forgo common structural elements, instead creating 50-centimeter thick walls to support the building’s mass. Related:Casa Xixim is an eco-friendly, self-sustaining resort in Mexico Castro and Urquiza reportedly designed the complex to be romantic retreat. In addition to the luxury suites, a picturesque chapel sits on a small pond, creating a picture-perfect setting for weddings or baptisms. Hotel guests can also enjoy various interior and exterior patios, game rooms, a pool and plenty of private nooks that look out over the gardens. Multiple pieces of local art and traditional furniture were used in the hotel’s interior design – another nod to the area’s long artisan history. + Hacienda San Jose Lavista Images via Hacienda San Jose Lavista

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Hacienda San Jose Lavista is a fairytale retreat in San Miguel Allende

Earth’s climate hurtling towards warmth unprecedented in nearly half a billion years

April 5, 2017 by  
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Climate change is already altering the planet, but the warmth we’re headed for may be greater than anything Earth has experienced in around half a billion years. Three scientists collaborated on a study and penned an article for The Conversation, in which they find Earth could see carbon dioxide (CO2) values not seen since the Eocene Epoch. Carbon concentrations today that match previous high CO2 periods could lead to worse warming . Today’s CO2 concentrations may lead to more warming because the sun has also been getting stronger, according to the University of Southampton’s Gavin Foster, Wesleyan University’s Dana Royer, and the University of Bristol’s Dan Lunt. They explain Earth’s temperature isn’t simply a result of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere; the sun plays a role as well. They write, “…due to the way the sun generates energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, its brightness has increased over time. Four and half billion years ago when the Earth was young the sun was around 30 percent less bright.” Related: Ancient marine fossils in the Transantarctic Mountains offer disturbing clues about climate change The scientists point out 1 degree Celsius warming hasn’t been too unusual in terms of geological time. They said the planet has been warmer than it is today for much of Earth’s past. During the last greenhouse state in the Eocene, temperatures on Earth were 10 to 15 degrees Celsius hotter than today. There was no ice in the polar regions and palm trees thrived on Antarctica’s coast then, according to the scientists. But Earth today is technically in an icehouse state – or a time when both poles have ice – even though warming is happening. In the past when the sun got stronger, atmospheric CO2 decreased, in contrast to today, according to the scientists. They wrote, “We found no past time period when the drivers of climate , or climate forcing, was as high as it will be in the future if we burn all the readily available fossil fuel . Nothing like it has been recorded in the rock record for at least 420 million years.” The journal Nature Communications published the three scientists’ research online yesterday. Via The Conversation Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Earth’s climate hurtling towards warmth unprecedented in nearly half a billion years

This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs

April 5, 2017 by  
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Wildpoldsried , a Bavarian village of about 2,600 residents, is leading the way in Germany’s extraordinary renewable energy transformation . Over the past 18 years, the village has invested in a holistic range of renewable energy projects that include 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics , five biogas facilities, 11 wind turbines and a hydropower system. As a result, the village has gone beyond energy independence – and it now produces 500% more energy than it needs and profits from sales of the surplus power back to the grid. Renewable energy projects in Germany have gained enormous traction in recent years, propelled by government subsidies that are designed to lower costs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and move the nation entirely away from nuclear power; this transformation is known as the Energiewende . As a result, Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable sources—that’s twice as much as U.S. households receive. On a local level, Wildpoldsried has far exceeded the successes seen across Germany. The villages’s commitment to renewable energy began in 1999, when the city council crafted a document titled “Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend” (WIR-2020, or Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The document looked at how the town might encourage growth and invest in new community facilities without incurring debt. As Biocycle explains, the WIR-2020 contained three main areas of focus: “1) Renewable Energy and Saving Energy; 2) Ecological Construction of Buildings Using Ecological Building Materials (mainly wood-based); and 3) Protection of Water and Water Resources (both above and below ground) and Ecological Disposal of Wastewater.” Related: Renewables Recently Provided 74% of Germany’s Energy Demand Through these three areas of focus, Wildpoldsried sought to produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. But in a relatively small, engaged community where, as one resident explained , there is a notion of “thriftiness… I don’t need to buy what I can make,” the projects advanced much faster than anyone might have expected. By 2011, the village was producing 321 percent of the electricity it needed, and was receiving $5.7 million in payments for the surplus. The entire list of Wildpoldsreid’s projects is pretty remarkable: in addition to the five biogas plants, 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics, 11 wind turbines and the hydropower system, the town is also home to several municipal and residential biomass heating systems and 2,100 m² of solar thermal systems. Five private residences are heated by geothermal systems and passivhaus techniques have been used in some new construction. One is also likely to see a fair number of electric cars dotting about. Related: German State to Receive 100% Renewable Power This Year With such a diversity of renewable energy sources, the town operates a smart grid that, as Siemens explains “maintains the balance between energy production and consumption and keeps the power grid stable.” As Windpoldsreid’s Deputy Mayor, Günter Mögele, explained to the Financial Times : “I think people were surprised that the Energiewende is happening so fast,” and certainly it is not without it’s headaches for those looking at the issue on a national level. But Windpoldsried is a spectacular example of what can happen on a local level when residents and municipalities take matters into their own hands. + Windspoldried Lead image via Shutterstock

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This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs

CO2 levels likely to stay above 400ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows

June 16, 2016 by  
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A new study reveals that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are likely to remain above 400 parts per million (ppm) throughout this year and for many years to come. Scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre and Scripps Institution of Oceanography scrutinized data from NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and forecasted that levels would not dip below 400ppm for ‘our lifetimes.’ According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CO2 concentrations of ” about 450ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels.” But lead author on the paper Richard Betts said we could pass that number in 20 years or less. He told the Guardian that even if we reduce emissions immediately, we might be able to delay reaching 450ppm but “it is still looking like a challenge to stay below 450ppm.” Related: Global CO2 concentrations exceed 400ppm ‘point of no return’ for first time Paper co-author Ralph Keeling said, “Back in September last year, we suspected that we were measuring CO2 concentrations below 400ppm for the last time. Now it is looking like this was indeed the case.” El Niño has played a role in climbing carbon dioxide levels, but we’ll likely see higher CO2 levels than the last large El Niño storm during 1997 and 1998 because ” manmade emissions ” have risen by 25 percent since that storm, according to The Guardian. Met Office experts are fairly confident in these projections. They predicted in November 2015 that in May 2016 “mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2” would hit 407.57ppm. The actual figure was 407.7ppm. During 2015, NOAA reported that the “annual growth rate” of C02 in the atmosphere rose by 3.05ppm . NOAA lead scientist Pieter Tans said “Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It’s explosive compared to natural processes.” Via The Guardian Images via Rick Sharloch on Flickr and NOAA Photo Library on Flickr

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CO2 levels likely to stay above 400ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows

The new Tate Modern designed by Herzog & de Meuron opens its doors

June 16, 2016 by  
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According to the Tate Modern , the Switch House is “the most important new cultural building to open in Britain since the British Library.” The Switch House will increase the size of Tate Modern by 60 percent with galleries, a panoramic viewing terrace, and the first permanent spaces for live art in old oil tanks. Building materials such as concrete, oak, and brick comprise the Switch House. High ceilings, spiral staircases, and tall thin windows add to the aesthetic. Related: Tate Modern’s Energy Efficient Redesign by Hertzog & de Meuron The Switch House will be the site of a new program Tate Modern is launching later in 2016 called the Tate Exchange. The ” open experiment ” will take over an entire floor and provide a space for innovative workshops and events. Tate Modern says 50 organizations will be part of the Tate Exchange, including artists, healthcare trusts, charities, universities, and community radio stations. Tate Director Nicholas Serota said it will be a “combination of the Open University, art school, TED talks, and Guardian debates, all wrapped into one.” The day before the museum opens to all, 3,000 schoolchildren from all around the UK will get to experience the Switch House. They will be the first members of the public to explore the building and artwork inside. Artist Bob and Roberta Smith will welcome the children. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said , “Bringing culture to this neglected area of London has transformed it.” Herzog & de Meuron designed Tate Modern’s Bankside Power Station conversion back in 2000 as well. + Tate Modern Via World Architecture News Photography by Iwan Baan

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The new Tate Modern designed by Herzog & de Meuron opens its doors

Australian beekeepers celebrate rare flowering of trees that are a magnet for bees

June 16, 2016 by  
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Withering bee populations have prompted global concern, but it looks like 2016 will be a good year for them in Australia . In the western part of the country, there’s a forest of massive karri trees that only flower every seven to 10 years. This year a huge number of them have bloomed simultaneously and beekeepers are thrilled. Karri tree flowers act like magnets for bees, which are producing buckets of honey. While the forest’s karri trees tend to blossom in patches, this year far more of them have flowered together. Beekeeper Mike Spurge works in the area, where his father worked before him as a beekeeper back in the 1960’s. He said the forest has changed, possibly due to climate change and wildfires. Back then, his father was able to keep the bees in one place instead of shifting them from place to place as Spurge often has to do. This is crucial because in a struggling profession, he’s now able to save money by keeping them in one place and has yielded more honey. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees He told ABC News Australia, “It hasn’t flowered like this for 40-odd years or more; nearly 50 years that it’s been over the whole forest. It’s flowering right through the whole 12-month period this year which it used to do back in the 1960’s.” Spurge said honey production doubled this year. Other beekeepers report that each hive in the karri forest is generating around 250 to 440 pounds of honey. Because the flowering is so rare, honey from karri tree blossoms is treasured and goes for more money than other varieties. Spurge said the flavor is mild and that the honey candies fairly well. He described the combination of steep prices and large volume as a “game changer.” Via Mother Nature Network and ABC News Australia Images via Winam on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Australian beekeepers celebrate rare flowering of trees that are a magnet for bees

Scientists Report Dramatic Jump in Carbon Dioxide Emissions in 2012, Predict Faster Warming

March 6, 2013 by  
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Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped dramatically over the past year, making it unlikely that global warming can be limited to 2 degrees by 2020, which was an international goal set by the Copenhagen Accord in 2009. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recorded a CO2 jump by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 which is the second highest greenhouse emissions rise since 1959, when the agency started measuring carbon levels. Read the rest of Scientists Report Dramatic Jump in Carbon Dioxide Emissions in 2012, Predict Faster Warming Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon dioxide levels , carbon emissions , carbon study , Climate Change , climate change research , coal , environmental destruction , fossil fuels , global greenhouse emissions , global temperature rise , global warming , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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Scientists Report Dramatic Jump in Carbon Dioxide Emissions in 2012, Predict Faster Warming

Volvo Unveils New Safety System that Automatically Brakes for Cyclists and Pedestrians

March 6, 2013 by  
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Volvo is positioning itself at the head of the class when it comes to developing high-tech safety features that will protect not only car drivers, but also pedestrians and cyclists. The Swedish automaker recently unveiled external airbags meant to protect pedestrians, and the company is also developing accident-avoiding self-driving cars . At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show , the company unveiled a new collision avoidance system that automatically senses when cyclists and pedestrians are in a car’s path and brakes for them. Read the rest of Volvo Unveils New Safety System that Automatically Brakes for Cyclists and Pedestrians Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2013 Geneva Auto Show , 2013 Geneva Motor Show , car safety , cars , cyclist detection system , geneva auto show , Geneva Motor Show , pedestrian friendly cars , volvo , volvo pedestrian safety , volvo safety features

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Volvo Unveils New Safety System that Automatically Brakes for Cyclists and Pedestrians

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