Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

March 24, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking to greenify your home, look no further than the plant-filled Living Table . At first glance, the table appears to be a simple square planter covered in a glass top, but an integrated capillary system within the design actually mimics how plants naturally grow, while eliminaing the need for drainage. The high-tech system offers an attractive low-maintenance planter that even those without a green thumb can manage. The Living Table has an integrated passive sub irrigation system that creates a capillary action where water flows upwards. This system, along with the ideal balance of moisture to aeration in the base, results in an attractive planter that doesn’t need drainage. The low-maintenance design, which allows the plants to auto regulate, is perfect for those who find themselves constantly killing their plants because of too much or too little water. Related: Give your succulents their own spacesuits with this 3D-printed planter As far as planting, the  Living Table system is designed for low-growing, ground cover type plants that won’t grow tall enough to touch the glass. Standard 4” plant containers or smaller can be placed directly onto the Habitat Horticulture Growtex capillary mat or plants can be directly planted into the table base using any standard potting soil. Although the planter design is meant to be low-maintenance, the manufacturers are careful to point out that the plants’ specific needs should be considered before planting. The Living Table comes in two sizes with either a stainless steel or powder white finish, and can be all yours for as little as $850.00. + The Living Table

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Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

March 24, 2017 by  
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Sea levels are creeping up as temperatures get hotter here on Earth , and China’s State Oceanic Administration just revealed worrying information about its threat to the country’s coasts. Sea levels in 2016 in China rose 1.3 inches in just one year, a trend that could have challenging consequences. NASA data cited by International Business Times shows sea levels are rising by 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters (mm) to 0.14 inches (3.6 mm) every year at coasts, but the statistics are far worse in China according to their oceanic administration. Sea levels are rising swiftly in China due to climate change , El Niño, and La Niña, according to the agency. Not only did sea levels rise dramatically from 2015 to 2016, but 2016 sea levels were also 3.2 inches (82 mm) higher than the average level between 1993 and 2001. In a statement, the administration said, “Against the background of global climate change, China’s coastal air and sea temperatures have soared, coastal air pressure has fallen, and sea levels have also soared.” Related: Climate change will be the demise of US national parks 38 mm may not seem like much, so oceanographer Huang Gang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics put that in perspective, telling the South China Morning Post, “A few millimeters rise may seem small, but if you think about how big the ocean is, the changes make a huge difference when sea water hits the ground. The adverse impacts could come earlier if sea levels rise faster.” The administration said vulnerable coastal areas should start preparing with infrastructure updates like repairing drains or constructing dams or dykes. They warned such actions must happen soon to avoid damage. According to International Business Times, there are two main factors in climate change-caused rising sea levels: warmer ocean surface temperatures, which causes waters to expand, and melting glaciers. According to Reuters , sea temperatures between 1980 and 2016 increased by around 0.21 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade. Via International Business Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

Trump’s cuts would have ‘devastating impact’ on NY, says NY Attorney General

March 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund program would have a “devastating impact” on New York State, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared at a rally at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn earlier this week. Joined by activists and lawmakers on Tuesday at what is widely considered to be the nation’s most polluted waterway, Schneiderman blasted the president’s calls to slash the agency’s funding by more than 30 percent, noting that the move would stymie the progress of cleaning up America’s most contaminated sites. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would have a devastating impact on New York—delaying and obstructing environmental projects around the state,” Schneiderman said. “Decades of hard work have helped clean up New York’s air, water, and environment. But President Trump’s budget threatens to unravel those gains and send us back to the bad old days of choking smog and rampant pollution.” Once a bustling cargo-transportation hub, the 1.8-mile-long Gowanus Canal is now a cesspool of raw sewage, carcinogenic sludge, and oil slicks. It floundered in political limbo for decades before the EPA designated the canal a Superfund site in 2010. Related: Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal gets Superfund status Dredging work was supposed to begin in earnest later this year, but Trump’s “blueprint” to bring the EPA’s budget to $5.7 billion—its lowest level in 40 years when adjusted for inflation—could grind the already glacial progress to a halt. Schneiderman says he isn’t above taking legal action against the White House, if necessary. “As we’ve made clear: if the Trump administration won’t meet its legal obligations to ensure basic access to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, we won’t hesitate to act to protect New Yorkers,” he said. + Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Via WNYC Photos by bobistraveling

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Trump’s cuts would have ‘devastating impact’ on NY, says NY Attorney General

Worlds tallest skyscraper design hangs off an orbiting asteroid

March 24, 2017 by  
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What if your daily commute involved parachuting down to earth rather than being stuck in vehicular traffic? That’s the vision in Clouds Architecture Office’s incredible proposal for a skyscraper suspended off an orbiting asteroid. The design, called Analemma, would be powered by space-based solar panels and capture water in a semi-closed loop system that draws from the moisture in clouds and rainwater. While some may write off Analemma as an early April Fools’ Day joke, we think the unusual design is a fun and unconventional thought experiment worth exploring, if only to get our creative juices flowing. The conceptual design begins with the placement of a large orbiting asteroid set on a figure-eight geosynchronous path that moves between the north and southern hemispheres on a predictable daily loop. The skyscraper , suspended from the asteroid via a high-strength cable, would allow residents to parachute down to work when the orbit slows down and gets closest to midtown Manhattan. The proposed building is split into four main areas: business activities at the lower end of the tower, sleeping quarters placed approximately two-thirds of the way up, prayer rooms at the very top of the building, and surface transfer points at the bottom. The tower would be prefabricated in Dubai —which the architects say is “a specialist in tall building construction at one-fifth the cost of New York City construction”—and the modules transported and assembled above earth. Related: This 3D-printed space igloo just won NASA’s Mars habitat competition “Analemma Tower is a proposal for the world’s tallest building ever,” writes CAO. “Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility. If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.” + Clouds Architecture Office Via Dezeen Images via Clouds Architecture Office

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Worlds tallest skyscraper design hangs off an orbiting asteroid

State Department to approve permit for Keystone XL

March 24, 2017 by  
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The Trump administration has announced its intention to reverse Barack Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision by March 27, according to a report by Politico . Obama blocked construction of the controversial pipeline 16 months ago, a move hailed by environmentalists and slammed by the oil industry. This should come as no surprise, given that one of Donald Trump ’s campaign promises was to push through both Keystone XL and the renewed Dakota Access Pipeline project. The pipeline’s cross-border permit will be signed by Tom Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs. Due to his personal connections with the industry as former CEO of Exxon Mobil, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from the process. This will be the end result of a decade-long fight on the part of developer TransCanada to build the $8 billion project. If construction is completed, the pipeline could potentially result in catastrophic oil spills that could pollute drinking water and destroy ecosystems. But even more worrying is the amount of CO2 the project could produce by triggering development in Alberta’s oil sands . At a time when climate change is accelerating rapidly, the last thing we need is to promote projects that will pump huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Related: The Keystone XL Pipeline could be resurrected under Trump’s administration This isn’t the end of the road for anti-Keystone protesters. Though the project has won cross-border approval, it still needs to receive approval from the state of Nebraska and a small number of landowners who have refused to yield the right of way. The Nebraska decision isn’t expected until September. Via Politico Images via Wikimedia Commons and Maureen/Flickr

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Light-filled Compass House prioritizes low maintenance and energy savings

March 23, 2017 by  
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Toronto-based superkül architects designed a vacation home for a family of six transitioning back to Canada after living abroad. Set on the grassy plains of Mulmur, Ontario, the 4,300-square-foot dwelling is a striking all-white building that prioritizes low maintenance, natural light, and energy savings. The energy-efficient home was built in two phases, the first of which was certified LEED Gold . Created as a spacious weekend home, the Compass House comprises two volumes arranged in an L-shaped plan with multiple bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room at the heart. The dwelling was constructed with locally sourced fieldstone and other low-maintenance materials such as the white cement-board siding, aluminum windows, and steel roof. In contrast to the hardy, weatherproof exterior, the interior emanates warmth with white oak and knotty white cedar floors and walls. Related: Superkül Designs Canada’s First Active House Skylights and large windows fill the home with natural light and ventilation. The ample glazing also frames views of the varied landscape, from the forests to the west to the 100 acres of fields in the north and east. An outdoor courtyard extends the indoor spaces out. “Through its siting, tectonics and materiality, it balances intimacy and expansiveness, light and dark, land and sky — orienting and heightening one’s experience of the surrounding environment,” wrote the architects. Use of geothermal -powered heating and cooling, natural daylighting, passive ventilation, and high insulation values help keep energy demands low despite the building’s large size. Construction waste was also kept to a minimum. + Superkül Images by Ben Rahn / A-Frame Studio

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Light-filled Compass House prioritizes low maintenance and energy savings

Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

March 23, 2017 by  
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Madison just became the first city in Wisconsin and the largest city in the Midwest to commit to 100 percent clean energy in just the latest example of how President Donald Trump can’t stop the renewables revolution. The state capital and college town is the 25th US city to commit to the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy following Tuesday’s city council vote. The vote allocated $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, including electricity, heating and transportation. “Madison’s historic commitment to 100 percent clean energy shows that we are determined to lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment,” Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said in a statement. “The benefits of a transition to 100 percent clean energy are many. These goals will drive a clean energy economy that creates local jobs, provides affordable and sustainable electricity, and results in cleaner air and water. I am proud to be a part of this council that has made the historic commitment that will lead our community to a more sustainable future.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy Abita Springs, Louisiana also voted on Tuesday to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. The Sierra Club said that Madison and Abita Springs both committing to 100 percent clean energy demonstrates that there is bipartisan support across the country for a renewable energy future because liberal Madison voted for Hillary Clinton while conservative voters in Abita Springs went for Donald Trump. “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy, and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs,” Greg Lemons, mayor of Abita Springs, said in a statement. “Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense. By establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal, we have an opportunity to use solar power that we can control in our community, for our community. Clean energy is a way that we can save money for Abita Springs both today and in the future.” Other American cities that have made the 100 percent renewable energy pledge include Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; the California cities of San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose; Rochester, Minnesota; St. Petersburg, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; East Hampton, New York; Greensburg, Kansas; and Georgetown, Texas. Via Sierra Club Image 1 , 2 via Good Free Photos

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Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

March 22, 2017 by  
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Children and adults can now check out books for free from tiny libraries in over 50,000 neighborhoods in 70 different countries. Some libraries are built with sustainable materials , some consider height differences between kids and grownups, while others are just plain fun. The organization behind these free exchanges, Little Free Library , recently held a Little Free Library Design Competition that drew an astonishing 300 designs from 40 countries. Check out the winners after the jump. Friendly Owlie library has eyes that glow at night Owls are commonly associated with wisdom. So an owl outline offered the perfect shape for Bartosz Bochynski’s tiny library, called Owlie. Bochynski, who is of design studio FUTUMATA in London , England, said Owlie could be constructed with affordable, sustainable materials and lit with LED lights . The friendly little library can hold around 40 tomes, some of which can be seen through the owl’s eyes which light up at night. Owlie was the judge’s choice in the competition. Related: Little Free Library: Tiny House-Shaped Boxes Let You Take a Book or Leave One Sleek little library with removable parts allows for easy customization Seth Thompson of San Francisco , California designed a little library designed for effortless rearranging. With a removable plexiglass door and shelves, the little library could accommodate a hanging flower planter, according to Thompson, and stewards can write on the door with dry-erase markers. Snøhetta San Francisco, one of the competition’s judges, described Thompson’s library as iconic, earning him the judge’s choice runner-up award. Flat-packed library is easy to assemble and includes a seat Chronicle Books , who partnered with Little Free Library for the competition, picked two winners, stipulating their choices had to weigh no more than 42 pounds, be able to be flat-packed , and be built with environmentally friendly materials. They picked Rachel Murdaugh and Clark Nexsen from Asheville, North Carolina as the winners. Nexsen and Murdaugh’s flat-packed library assembles simply and comes with instructions and hardware. It even includes a seat so patrons can peruse books before checking them out. Geometrical library assembles with just a hammer and screwdriver Lea Randebrock of Lahti, Finland nabbed the runner-up prize from Chronicle Books with this flat-packed library than can be set up onsite with a screwdriver and hammer. Randebrock said the design is intended for serial production, allowing for more tiny libraries. The Chronicle Books team noted they loved the surprise shelving inside the modern little library. Earthy Tree of Knowledge draws inspiration from nature The Little Free Library staff and founder also chose a winner and runner-up, with the help of votes from the whole Little Free Library community. Ryo Otsuka and Lin Zihao of CIRCLE in Tokyo, Japan claimed the prize with their nature -inspired Tree of Knowledge. They said they aimed to emphasize the origins of paper, a primary element of books , in their tree design. Little library in Ohio transforms into community center The 4th Street Farms Little Free Library is more than just a design concept; it’s already a fixture of its Columbus, Ohio neighborhood and has morphed into a mini community center offering a Little Food Pantry alongside books. Mural elements from local artists adorn the library, and varying shelf heights allow patrons of all ages to explore offerings. Motion sensor lighting brightens the space day or night. Nine honorable mentions include designs from Germany, China, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few. They include one shaped like a big chunk of cheese, one designed for beach use, and one inside a floating pavilion. Flip through Inhabitat’s gallery to see more of the clever designs! + Little Free Library Via Chronicle Books Images courtesy of Little Free Library

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Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

March 21, 2017 by  
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Talk of climate change probably evokes images of rising sea levels or hotter temperatures, but what about algae blooms ? Scientists have made a direct connection between an algae bloom in the Arabian Sea, which has blown up to the size of Mexico, and climate change. The massive bloom has been captured from satellites . 30 years ago, algae in the Gulf of Oman could barely be seen. Now, twice a year, microscopic organisms of the species Noctiluca scintillans turns the gulf green as it sprawls throughout the Arabian Sea towards India. Scientists say conditions produced by climate change are allowing the algae to thrive. Columbia University researchers have even traced the algae blooms to ice melting in the Himalayas. Related: Florida declares state of emergency due to gigantic algae bloom Satellite technology has also allowed researchers to connect algae with greater levels of water and air pollution . NASA ocean carbon and biology projects manager Paula Bontempi told the Associated Press satellite images of the algae are beautiful, like a Van Gogh painting, but in person the algae is smelly and ugly. She said, “We know that our Earth is changing. It may be in a direction we might not like.” The phenomenon threatens local ecosystems ; algae has been known to paralyze fish . The United Nations’ science agency says in rare cases algal toxins have killed humans. Oman faces unique threats from the algae bloom. There, algae can clog pipes at desalination plants providing as much as 90 percent of fresh water for the country. Fisheries in the country could also be harmed by the algae bloom; in 2008 an eruption of a different type of algae beached 50 tons of fish, which were starving for oxygen and rotted along the coast of Oman. Saleh al-Mashari, the captain of a researcher vessel, said this algae bloom has already caused damage. He told the Associated Press, “The fish are migrating. They can’t get enough air here.” Ahmad al-Alawi, a marine ecologist, said blooms are getting larger and lasting for longer periods of time. He said the blooms displace zooplankton, which are the base of the local food chain . Via Phys.org Images via Tristan Schmurr on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

Boston public schools phase in new map to decolonize curriculum

March 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The global map on which all your geographical knowledge is based probably wasn’t as accurate as you thought. For nearly 500 years, classrooms have referred to the Mercator projection, which exaggerated the size of continents in the northern hemisphere. But now Boston public schools are switching over to the Gall-Peters projection, which attempts to correct the sizes of countries and could have a dramatic impact on students’ worldview. The Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator devised the Mercator projection all the way back in 1569. Now hundreds of years later, Boston schools are implementing a replacement, and director of the Boston public schools history department Natacha Scott says they believe they are the first public school district in America to make the switch. Related: New map reveals the world’s most toxic countries The Mercator projection has informed our collective worldview for centuries, but Mercator made it seem as if North America and Europe were larger than South America and Africa , for example. He also moved the equator, which places Germany near the map’s middle instead of much further north. Arno Peters, a German historian, released his projection in 1974 – as it corresponds with work by James Gall, a 19th century Scottish cartographer; today it’s called the Peters or Gall-Peters projection. Now in Boston classrooms, teachers have put the Gall-Peters projection up next to the Mercator projection. Colin Rose, Assistant Superintendent of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps for the Boston Public Schools, told The Guardian, “This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools…It’s important that students trust the material they are given in school but also question it. The Mercator projection is a symbolic representation that put Europe at the center of the world. And when you continue to show images of the places where people’s heritage is rooted that is not accurate, that has an effect on students.” But some people say the Gall-Peters projection is also distorted – stemming mainly from the fact that it’s difficult to place a three dimensional sphere shape on a two dimensional piece of paper. Sizes are correct in the Gall-Peters projection, but shapes are wrong: near the poles countries are stretched horizontally and near the equator they’re stretched vertically, according to Business Insider, which pointed to four alternatives , including the Winkel tripel projection which National Geographic adopted in 1998. Via The Guardian and Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boston public schools phase in new map to decolonize curriculum

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