Can we really solve the million-piece climate puzzle?

April 20, 2017 by  
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Too many of us are too focused on addressing narrow slices of the challenge, rather than the bigger picture.

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Can we really solve the million-piece climate puzzle?

Etsy hacked an app to track waste — one you can use, too

April 13, 2017 by  
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The only publicly tech company to be certified under the Living Building Challenge is open-sourcing the system it uses to measure what’s leaving its offices.

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Etsy hacked an app to track waste — one you can use, too

3 ways to embed sustainability in public-private partnerships

April 13, 2017 by  
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Sustainability considerations should be prominent in the design, development and operational phases of the PPP process.

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3 ways to embed sustainability in public-private partnerships

13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5

October 24, 2016 by  
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The future looks bright thanks to the next generation of scientists. Maanasa Mendu, a 13-year-old girl from Ohio , recently won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating a $5 energy harvesting device. Mendu’s innovative design, called HARVEST, converts sunlight, wind, and rain into renewable energy . Mendu has been named America’s Top Young Scientist and won $25,000.

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13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5

Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

October 6, 2016 by  
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The Great Bear Rainforest is ” one of the largest old growth temperate rainforests on the planet .” The region is also home to around 18,000 to 20,000 First Nations peoples, whose spirituality and identities are linked to the rainforest, according to Rainforest Solutions Project . Spirit bears, or Kermode bears, also make their home in the rainforest, and it is the only place in the world where they live, according to the Save The Great Bear Rainforest Facebook page . Related: 6 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge The Rainforest Solutions Project team said in a statement, “The problems we faced are very common, although the ecosystems and First Nations cultures are unique. The process for the parties to move through conflict to collaboration required alliances and cross-cultural relationships, while holding firm to key principles. This helped us all navigate through complex issues to bring the art of the possible into being at a meaningful scale now and into the future.” According to the Buckminster Fuller Institute , the agreement the Rainforest Solutions Project team helped develop is “historically unprecendented” and is “one of the most extraordinary approaches to conservation , social justice, and indigenous rights in recent memory.” Fuller Challenge Review Committee member Bill Browning said in a statement, “Selecting the Rainforest Solutions Project as the 2016 Winner is a provocative point in the evolution of the Challenge, as design is being recognized as an integral part of business and society.” + Rainforest Solutions Project + Buckminster Fuller Institute Images via Save the Great Bear Rainforest Facebook ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) and Dogwood BC on Flickr ( 6 , 7 )

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Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Local Motors unveils plans for self-driving 3D-printed car with drone tech

September 9, 2016 by  
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjhl3UgbWxI The contest was based on the Strati , a 3D-printed car produced by Local Motors that vaguely resembles a dune buggy. The competition challenged engineers to create new electronics features that would be suitable for a self-driving version of the 3D-printed vehicle. (In the video above, you can watch Imahara ride shotgun with Local Motors General Manager David Woessner in the Swim, another 3D-printed vehicle and the first model the car company aims to put through highway certification.) Related: Local Motors unveils world’s first 3D-printed car for mass production The winning design, FLY-MODE, has an appeal that is easy to understand. One of the most exciting aspects of a self-driving car is the possibility for activities that people can engage in while they’re being transported from Point A to Point B, since staring at the road will no longer be necessary. The FLY-MODE has a video screen, internet connectivity, and the ability to connect with an actual flying drone and view live drone footage during the ride, giving you the feeling they are flying instead of riding in a car. The contest winner scored a trip to the Local Motors microfactory in Phoenix, Arizona and will be invited to participate in the final build process and production video with Local Motors and Imahara. We can’t wait to see that! So, let’s run that back a bit: my favorite Mythbuster (sorry, Adam and Jamie), self-driving cars, 3D printing, crowdsourced engineering, and drone technology. Yep, sounds like a good time to me. + Mouser Electronics + Local Motors Images via Local Motors

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Local Motors unveils plans for self-driving 3D-printed car with drone tech

7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

August 23, 2016 by  
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Cooperación Comunitaria In 2013, Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid ravaged La Montaña, one of the poorest and most marginalized areas of Mexico. Home to over three-quarters of the Mexican state Guerrero’s indigenous population, the beautiful but devastated area struggled to get back on its feet in the wake of mass destruction. Cooperación Comunitaria was founded to radically improve the population’s living conditions with a comprehensive model that begins with community outreach and ends with projects that integrate both local indigenous culture and modern, eco-friendly techniques. One such example is the organization’s program to build affordable and earthquake-resistant homes constructed from local materials . Taking Root’s CommuniTree The World Wildlife Fund estimates that between 46 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost every year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. CommuniTree tackles deforestation with a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy that also aims to help turn the tide on poverty and climate change. The project is currently working with thousands of smallholding rural farming families in Nicaragua by providing economic incentives that encourage sustainable land-use change. PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools PITCHAfrica designed and implemented the Waterbank School , an innovative rain-harvesting school campus model for Africa that comprises education buildings integrated with rainwater harvesting , collection, and filtering systems. By using buildings to collect water rather than female labor, more girls and women are able to attend the Waterbank Schools. The nonprofit says school attendance has risen by at least a quarter, and often as high as 95%. The Sentinel Project’s Una Hakika Canada-based nonprofit The Sentinel Project launched Una Hakika as part of their mission to prevent genocide worldwide. Described as a “hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media,” the Una Hakika project aims to use online and offline measures to empower ordinary citizens in combating misinformation that can lead to violence or genocide. The pilot has helped defused conflict between farmers and herders in Kenya’s Tana Delta and is now being tested in Burma to prove that it can be replicated in different contexts. Urban Death Project The Urban Death Project (UDP) wants to turn corpses into compost as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to burials and cremations. The UDP designed Recomposition centers that would safely decompose dead bodies into nutrient compost. The building would be a hybrid between a public park, funeral home, and memorial space. The first full-scale Recomposition center is slated to pop up in Seattle, Washington. Rainforest Solutions Project British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests are rich with resources and life, which is why they’ve become the target of many different interest groups including the government, First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies. In an effort to protect the rainforests, Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions, and Sierra Club BC founded the Rainforest Solutions Project to promote conservation options and economic alternatives to industrial logging. One of their most recent successes is the historic 250-year agreement between different parties to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest. + Buckminster Fuller Institute

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7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Climate change will be the demise of US national parks

August 23, 2016 by  
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This week the National Parks Service turns 100 years old, and it’s a good time to reflect on the organization’s genuine dedication and hard work to preserve land and monuments across the U.S. But now US national parks are facing the biggest threat of all: climate change . Melting glaciers , wildfires, erosion, and rising sea levels are just some of the mammoth effects that will likely bring an end to these national gems as we all know them. The NPS has charted the toll climate change has had on its 412 protected parks and monuments all over the nation, according to The Guardian . Alaska is especially hard-hit, due to 80 percent of the state hiding permafrost under the surface. The Arctic is the fastest warming region on Earth, causing sinkholes and landslides when the permafrost melts. Coastal regions have been hammered by severe storms, wind erosion, and rising sea levels. Towns with generations-long histories have even elected to relocate due to the imposing global warming effects. In the southern states weather patterns have been destroying pieces of history. Arizona’s Tumacácori National Historical Park suffered the intense rain-induced collapse of two historic structures made from adobe clay. Lauren Meyer from the NPS stated, “For the more vulnerable sites, particularly adobe structures which seem to be the canaries in the coal mine in the south-western US, losses are already rapidly occurring.” Related: Alaskan permafrost could melt in the next 55 years, says world’s leading expert Everything threatening the parks seems to be traced back to warmer temperatures . A glimpse of the rampant wildfires in the last few years confirms this, as does the fact that tree species are dying out, causing a ripple effect in the wildlife that relies on them for food and shelter. 40 national parks are threatened by a one meter rise in sea level , which NPS calls “one of the most obvious and most challenging impacts” of climate change. Sally Jewell, NPS’ secretary of the interior described a dystopian vision of parks becoming “Isolated islands of conservation with run-down facilities that crowds of Americans visit like zoos to catch a glimpse of our nation’s remaining wildlife and undeveloped patches of land.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia ( 1 , 2 ), Wikipedia

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Climate change will be the demise of US national parks

Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California

August 23, 2016 by  
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“LAGI 2016 comes to Southern California at an important time,” write Rob Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian, co-founders of the Land Art Generator Initiative . “The sustainable infrastructure that is required to meet California’s development goals and growing population will have a profound influence on the landscape. The Paris Climate Accord from COP 21 has united the world around a goal of 1.5–2° C, which will require a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure. For this particular competition, LAGI asked designers to submit proposals that incorporate either an energy or drinking water component, since they are inextricably intertwined, or both. Khalil Engineers from Canada chose to power an electromagnetic desalination device using solar power . And – in keeping with the public art and educational aspect of LAGI’s overall environmental and social crusade – The Pipe is a beautiful design that allows people to seamlessly interact with their source of drinking water without any of the unpleasant side effects typically associated with energy generation. Related: Gigantic solar hourglass powers up to 1,000 Danish homes “Above, solar panels provide power to pump seawater through an electromagnetic filtration process below the pool deck, quietly providing the salt bath with its healing water and the city with clean drinking water,” the design team writes in their brief. “The Pipe represents a change in the future of water.” According to Khalil Engineers, their design, a long gleaming thing visible from Santa Monica Pier, is capable of generating 10,000 MWh each year, which will in turn produce 4.5 billion liters (or 1.5 billion gallons) of drinking water. Given the current drought throughout California , and the dearth of water in general, a variety of urban micro generators such as this can complement utility-scale energy generation. “What results are two products: pure drinkable water that is directed into the city’s primary water piping grid, and clear water with twelve percent salinity. The drinking water is piped to shore, while the salt water supplies the thermal baths before it is redirected back to the ocean through a smart release system, mitigating most of the usual problems associated with returning brine water to the sea.” The winners of LAGI 2016 will be announced on October 6, 2016 at Greenbuild 2016 . + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica + Khalil Engineers

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Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California

Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

August 23, 2016 by  
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Australian researchers are warning of a new, invasive threat to the continent’s native wildlife: goldfish that were abandoned by their owners and released into the wild. Most of us think of goldfish as a small and harmless species, but apparently Western Australia’s rivers contain just the right conditions to allow the fish to grow into two kilo monsters that wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. There are a number of reasons why these fish pose such an environmental hazard. For one, they tend to eat the eggs of native species. But even when they aren’t directly affecting the reproduction of other fish, they’re releasing a nutrient-rich waste into the water column which creates dangerous algae blooms . They’re also carriers of nasty diseases that don’t naturally occur in Australia’s waters. Related: Great Barrier Reef tourist pollution may be causing turtle-specific herpes outbreak It’s believed that pet owners who dump unwanted fish in local waterways are to blame. The practice is called “aquarium dumping.” Once they are released into the water, they breed at a rapid rate, taking over the area. Because they can travel quite far, up to 230 kilometers per year, they’re incredibly difficult to eradicate. In fact, scientists from Murdoch University are calling them “one of the world’s worst invasive aquatic species.” This isn’t the first time pet goldfish have caused an ecological crisis. In 2013, researchers at Lake Tahoe in the US found abandoned goldfish that had grown over and foot and a half long terrorizing the waters. Via Gizmodo Images via Murdoch University

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Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

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