Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

October 10, 2018 by  
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According to a Monday report on climate change from the United Nations, maintaining the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if more extreme weather events and species’ extinctions are to be avoided. The current ceiling on temperature increase is set at 2 degrees Celcius since the 2015 Paris Agreement , to which nearly 200 nations are committed. However, new UN research shows that this pledge is not enough to avoid possibly irreparable damage to our planet’s ecosystems. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) both weighed in on the report, saying that as of now, the world is not even on course to achieving the 2C benchmark, let alone a lower target. The UN is calling for rapid changes on the part of nations, businesses and individuals. The unprecedented changes to travel and lifestyle may be jarring but are the only way to avoid catastrophic damage to our planet in the near future. Related: Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold “There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment,” explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. The 1.5C target would slow coastal flooding and ocean rise by the end of the century, giving people in these areas time to adapt to changes. Many species would also be given a greater chance of survival. Under the 2C target, coral reefs are still projected to disappear. The lower target would allow anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs to possibly survive. “Even the scientists were surprised to see … how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC Vice-Chair Thelma Krug told Reuters . According the the IPCC, the human carbon footprint must fall by at least 45 percent by 2030 in order for the planet to maintain the 1.5C temperature rise and reach “net-zero” by mid-century. The report also stated that 70-85 percent of energy needs to be supplied by renewable sources by 2050 to stay at the 1.5C target — right now, renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent. Amjad Abdulla — board member for the IPCC and chief negotiator for small island states at risk of flooding — said, “The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it.” While the U.S. is on target to meet the previous goal, the UN is still stressing that more action is needed. Urging individuals to make changes to their lifestyles, even at the smallest of levels, the report believes that every small incentive will make the difference. For us, this means reducing meat consumption and dairy intake, choosing public transportation or switching to electric and hybrid vehicles and demanding companies to supply low-carbon products for purchase. + United Nations Via Reuters Image via  Natasha Kasim

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Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home

October 10, 2018 by  
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Rather than strip Balmain, Sydney of its post-industrial architectural heritage and history, award-winning practice Carter Williamson Architects has taken care to sustainably breathe new life into the area’s old buildings. Case in point is the local studio’s transformation of a former timber factory into a stunning, modern home with industrial-chic styling woven throughout its four levels. Dubbed 102 The Mill, the unique home boasts 403 square meters of space with soaring ceilings and plenty of natural light. The adaptive reuse design is part of a greater redevelopment project in which a sawmill, cottage and factory were repurposed into multiple residences. All of the renovated buildings retain parts of the original construction. In 102 The Mill, these deliberately exposed frameworks are complemented by industrial-inspired lighting fixtures and minimalist, streamlined furnishings. Timber floors and warm fabrics help imbue the former factory with a sense of cozy warmth. Entering from the street-facing north facade, 102 The Mill allocates the main living and bedroom areas to the west side that faces the garden, while the staircase and elevator shaft are set on the eastern side of home. The ground floor includes a spacious entrance foyer that leads to an entertainment room and a guest suite; both rooms have access to the garden . An open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area are on the first floor, and an outdoor terrace has been added to the rear side. The second floor houses the master suite in addition to two bedrooms. The roof terrace offers extra entertaining space. Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof “By embracing its former factory life, The Mill manages to capture the gritty feel of industrial Balmain, sympathetically redefining the traditional Sydney terrace house,” reads the project description. “The result sits with an inevitability, blending in with its inner Sydney surroundings, yet striking forward as a jewel of modern Australian architecture.” + Carter Williamson Architects Photography by Brett Boardman

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Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home

Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy

October 10, 2018 by  
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Acclaimed architecture practice Olson Kundig is best known for its spectacular residential works in the Pacific Northwest, yet the Seattle-based firm has embarked on somewhat new ground in its recent submission to the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition . Held this year in Melbourne, the international contest has invited designers to create a large-scale and site-specific public artwork that could generate clean energy for the city. In response, Olson Kundig developed Night and Day, a massive solar sail concept designed to produce 1,000 MWh of clean energy through a combination of solar energy and a hydro battery. Launched as part of Victoria State’s Renewable Energy Action Plan and Melbourne’s 2020 net-zero energy goals, the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative competition promotes a “clean energy landscape for a post-carbon world.” Olson Kundig’s Night and Day submission taps into that vision with a sculptural hydro-solar generator that uses eye-catching design to bring clean energy to the forefront of the public’s eye. Proposed for St. Kilda Triangle on Port Phillip Bay, the renewable energy power plant could power up to 200 homes with emissions-free energy, 24 hours a day. During the day, the curved solar sail — topped with 5,400 square meters of photovoltaic panels — collects energy and powers a pump that directs water into a suspended hydro battery vessel. At night, that water would be discharged through two Pelton turbines and transformed by a generator into electricity — a design solution that addresses the common problem of energy storage. Modular and scalable, the Night and Day proposal could also be installed at various sites. Related: This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne “This was different because it wasn’t just about creating architecture, something for the pleasure of its inhabitants,” said principal and owner Kevin Kudo-King of the submission, which also doubles as a pedestrian bridge. “It also needed to function as a machine, and it needed to generate power.” The winners of the 2018 LAGI Melbourne competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on October 11, 2018 at Fed Square, Melbourne . + Olson Kundig Images via LAGI

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Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy

Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency

October 10, 2018 by  
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International practice OPEN Architecture has teamed up with Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi to design MARS Case, a futuristic proposal for Martian living that takes inspiration from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden . Designed for easy transportation, the lightweight and compact housing prototype was unveiled to the public for the first time outside the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing as part of China House Vision, a multidisciplinary and experimental platform for ideas about the future of housing. The tiny home combines the principles of zero waste and self-sufficiency in a rejection of modern consumer excess. When asked to explore new possibilities for the future of housing, OPEN Architecture decided to push the envelope and begin its project with a dystopian premise that envisions humanity forced to settle on Mars . To design a home fit for human habitation on the planet, the architects designed a tiny home that is built on the idea of recycling. “There, we have no choice but to reduce the excessive consumption of four former lifestyles and carry only minimal essentials,” the firm said. “ Recycling will be the only way we survive. As we find new appreciation in every drop of water, every bite of food and every breath of air, will we at last discover the freedom of truly simple living? Is this what we should define as the idea house of the future?” Related: This off-grid, lunar lander-inspired tiny home is out of this world Measuring 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters by 2 meters, this “ideal” MARS Case house relies heavily on green technology, namely with the integration of domestic appliances in Xiaomi’s current product lines that can be controlled remotely via smartphone. The heat and condensation generated by the electronic devices would be harnessed, filtered and recycled to create an “integrated ecosystem.” + OPEN Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by WU Qingshan and Xiaomi

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Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency

Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century

August 1, 2018 by  
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It is no surprise that the world’s most populous country, China , is also the largest polluter on Earth. However, for individuals living in China’s northern plain, the most densely populated region on the planet, it may come as a shock that their homes could become uninhabitable by the end of the century. The region is expected to be subject to aggressive heatwaves that could kill even the healthiest of people in just a matter of hours if carbon emissions are not reduced. In a recent study published by MIT’s Center for Global Change Science , researchers found that China’s northern plain will be the worst spot in the world for future deadly heatwaves. “China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases , with potentially serious implications to its own population,” said Professor Elfatih Eltahir, speaking on behalf of his team who ran extensive computerized climate models to research the unfolding event. “Continuation of current global emissions may limit the habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth.” Related: 6 ways that scientists are hacking the planet This is especially worrisome, because a large portion of the region’s 400 million people are farmers dependent on both the land and outdoor conditions for their livelihoods. According to Bloomberg , Chinese diets are becoming increasingly more like western ones — and it takes about 1 acre to feed the average individual in the U.S. When considering fields that are affected by pollution, which produce mercury-infected rice and milk powder with melamine, China barely has 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen. Pair the degradation of prime land by pollution with the dangerous heatwaves, and China will have a major humanitarian crisis in the near future. Eltahir and his team have previously published global models noting that the key driver to these heat waves is climate change, but that irrigation for farmland is also a serious contributor as water evaporation leads to harmful humidity levels. This combination of heat and humidity is measured in units called “wet bulb” temperature or WBTs. According to the U.S. National Weather Service, WBTs above 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit are classified with an “extreme danger” warning and, “If you don’t take precautions immediately, you may become seriously ill or even die.” WBTs above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will kill even the healthiest individuals sitting in the shade within just six hours. The country will be gambling with the lives of their citizens — not only those living in the northern region — if stricter regulations on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are not adopted. + MIT Center for Global Change Science + Nature Communications Via The Guardian

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The Trump Administration just ended the program that lets us monitor carbon emissions

May 10, 2018 by  
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While the news media focuses its attention on the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the scandals related President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the Trump Administration quietly ended the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS). With a $10 million annual budget and administered by NASA, CMS served to track the flow of Earth’s carbon, a particularly important mission as the United States and other nations confront climate change. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, told Science . Gallagher described the administration’s decision to end the program as “a grave mistake.” Much of the work done by the CMS since 2010 has focused on forests and the carbon that they contain. One such project involved a collaboration between NASA and the US Forestry Service, in which the organizations created an aircraft-based laser imaging device to quantify forest carbon stocks. “They’ve now completed an inventory of forest carbon in Alaska at a fraction of the cost,” CMS science team leader George Hurtt told Science . The CMS has also used its capacity to support other countries in their efforts to preserve and study their forest stocks, particularly in tropical locations. Related: Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice Though disheartening for those who work to combat climate change, the Trump Administration’s decision to end CMS fits with its previous policy making on climate change . However, this decision, like others, puts the United States outside of the global climate mainstream. “The topic of climate mitigation and carbon monitoring is maybe not the highest priority now in the United States,” said Hurtt. “But it is almost everywhere else.” The work of carbon monitoring will continue in Europe , though the United States has ceded leadership in the process. “We really shoot ourselves in the foot if we let other people develop the technology,” president of the Woods Hole Research Center Phil Duff told Science . Via ScienceAlert Images via IIP Photo Archive/Flickr and Joshua Meyer/Flickr

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The Trump Administration just ended the program that lets us monitor carbon emissions

This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour

May 7, 2018 by  
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It takes hundreds of years for disposable diapers to decompose in landfills – but this new machine can turn 220 pounds of dirty diapers into clean, raw materials in a single hour. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and a team of researchers at Taiwan’s Chung Hua University built the machine as a pilot plant – and they’re planning to build a larger facility that can recycle 10 tons of used diapers in just one day. Disposable diapers are convenient but problematic Have you ever thought about the evolution of the diaper? You might be surprised to learn that the history of diapers goes back thousands of years, but disposable diapers have only been around since the 1960s. Diapers have evolved to be more effective and efficient. The disposable variety makes parents’ lives easier – they’re convenient, absorbent and gentle on babies’ skin. However, there is a huge downside to disposable diapers: the amount of waste generated from their use. In the U.S., it is estimated that 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year, and pathogens from solid waste contained in those diapers find their way into the environment. It can take hundreds of years for diapers to degrade in a landfill , and they release methane and other toxic gases into the air. If soiled diapers don’t end up in landfills, some companies choose to incinerate them, leading to an estimated 3428 kg of CO2 emissions per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. There is a need to reduce the amount of waste caused by disposable diapers, and companies and researchers are using technology to find innovative ways to recycle and reuse soiled diapers. Recycling disposable diapers Recycling diapers and other absorbent hygiene products might sound like a no-brainer, but the process has its complications — including cost-effectiveness and complex engineering. As technology advances, science can overcome these obstacles and make recycling disposable diapers a viable solution for reducing the amount of waste in landfills and harmful chemicals in the environment. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and his team have developed a diaper recycler that can make it easy for institutions — like long-term care facilities, day cares or hospitals — to give old diapers new life. The plan is simple: a specialized on-site washing machine sanitizes used diapers so they can be processed into reusable raw materials. The staff loads the machine with diapers and washes them with a disinfectant to destroy any pathogens. After the diapers are cleaned, the different materials (plastic, fluff fibers and absorbent material) are separated using stratification. This method uses less water than an average toilet, and the used water can be recycled on-site or easily disposed in the facilities’ existing drainage systems. The estimated carbon emission from this process is 35.1 kg of CO2 per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. After they are cleaned and separated on-location, the materials are taken to a central recycling center. The separated layers are transformed into new materials, which can be made into a range of products: plastic bags or trash cans from the plastic; new diapers, cardboard boxes or paper products from the fluff fill; and absorbent pet pads, desiccant or polyacrylate fiber from the absorbent material. In order for the product to be successful, the researchers had to make it user-friendly. If the process is too complicated or time-consuming, most people won’t bother with it. Hwang and his team designed the machines to make it easy for people to lift the diapers and load the machine. Diaper design must become more eco-friendly Hwang and his team are working with facilities to find new and inventive ways to recycle disposable diapers, and some other businesses are following suit. However, Hwang’s method stands out in that it focuses on making it easier for caretakers to collect the used diapers. Moving forward, diaper companies will need to partner with researchers to design the most effective and efficient diapers with a lower environmental impact. By finding innovative ways to reuse products and reducing the impact our waste has on the environment , we can help sustain our world for generations to come. + Chung Hua University Images via Chung Hua University , Hermes Rivera and Flickr

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Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

May 7, 2018 by  
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When Altereco Design was approached to overhaul a hundred-year-old worker’s cottage in Melbourne , the clients asked that the renovation leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. As a result, the home—called Melbourne Vernacular—sports a stylish and sustainable redesign that combines recycled materials and modern aesthetics. Located in the inner-western suburb of Yarraville, Melbourne Vernacular retains much of its original structure. The original red brick paving from the backyard was salvaged as an internal feature wall and an external brick wall—doubling as thermal mass for the building—while the original Bluestone foundations and paving found new life as front paving. Local company Cantilever Interiors designed the kitchen, which features Cosentino’s line of ECO countertops made with 80% recycled content and a low-VOC finish. Related: Gorgeous live/work home in Melbourne is built with recycled materials A new insulating green roof tops the home and is complemented with drought-tolerant and native plant gardens. “This industrious approach to build and design reduces associated wasted energy (often synonymous with demolishing the old and building something shiny, modern and new), all the while successfully preserving and celebrating the certain charm that comes with a house of this era,” explained the architects. + Altereco Design Images by Nikole Ramsay

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Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

Walmart and WWF on their unlikely collaboration and ambitious project

May 7, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: How Project Gigaton, Walmart’s initiative to remove one billion tons of carbon emissions from its supply chain, is getting done.

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Walmart and WWF on their unlikely collaboration and ambitious project

Lyft is making all their rides carbon neutral

April 19, 2018 by  
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If you use ride-sharing services but still worry about their impact on the environment, Lyft has got you covered. The company has just announced that it will invest millions of dollars to offset its carbon emissions. Co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green said in a blog post that the ridesharing company will become “one of the world’s largest voluntary purchasers of carbon offsets” as they make all their trips carbon neutral from now on. According to Zimmer and Green, while all cars will be cleanly powered at some point in the future, climate change isn’t waiting, so they’re taking action. Lyft is partnering with 3Degrees to offset carbon emissions from their rides around the world. Zimmer and Green said, “The stark reality is that transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. As a growing part of the transportation ecosystem, we are holding ourselves accountable to being part of the solution.” Related: VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing Lyft rides will be carbon neutral due to “the direct funding of emission mitigation efforts, including the reduction of emissions in the automotive manufacturing process, renewable energy programs, forestry projects, and the capture of emissions from landfills.” These projects will be based in the United States. 3Degrees will oversee “the independent verification of all projects according to rigorous third-party standards” and ensure the company is “only supporting emission reductions that are new and would not have happened but for Lyft’s investment.” The company offered nearly 50 million rides last month. Green and Zimmer said they feel responsible for Lyft’s impact on the Earth, and they joined the We Are Still In movement spearheaded by former New York City mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg to show support for the Paris Agreement . Lyft expects to offset more than one million metric tons of carbon in the first year — the equivalent of taking hundreds of thousands of vehicles off the streets or planting tens of millions of trees . The co-founders said this isn’t their full solution to the issue of climate change, but it is one step forward. + All Lyft Rides Are Now Carbon Neutral Images via Lyft

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