One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

May 18, 2018 by  
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Bad news for wildlife: 2.3 million square miles of protected areas around the world face human pressure from activities like road building, urbanization, or grazing, according to a new study . Lead author Kendall Jones, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland , said in a statement , “We found major road infrastructure such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation .” Millions of square miles “have this level of human influence that is harmful to the species they are trying to protect,” University of Queensland professor James Watson told the BBC . “It is not passive, it’s not agnostic; it is harmful and that is quite shocking.” Scientists at the University of Queensland, University of Northern British Columbia , and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) teamed up for the study, described as a reality check, that was recently published in the journal Science . Related: Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act Watson said that governments claim the areas are protected “when in reality they aren’t.” Even though more land has been protected in the last few decades, the lack of real protection is a major reason for  biodiversity ‘s continued, catastrophic decline. There was a ray of hope in the study’s findings: protected areas that have strict biodiversity conservation objectives in place tend to experience less human pressure. WCS listed the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, and the Madidi National Park in Bolivia as examples. Watson said, “We know protected areas work — when well-funded, well-managed and well placed, they are extremely effective in halting the threats that cause biodiversity loss and ensure species return from the brink of extinction . There are also many protected areas that are still in good condition and protect the last strongholds of endangered species worldwide. The challenge is to improve the management of those protected areas that are most valuable for nature conservation to ensure they safeguard it.” + Wildlife Conservation Society + University of Queensland + Science Via the BBC Image via Depositphotos

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One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

Bering Sea ice is "at record low levels for this time of year"

May 18, 2018 by  
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Arctic sea ice is low, with the Bering Sea’s ice extent “the lowest recorded since at least 1979,” according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This reflects a larger overall trend: in April, Arctic sea ice covered an area 378,400 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average. According to Alaska-based meteorologist Rick Thoman, Bering Sea ice extent “is five percent of normal” for the middle of May, and “there is almost nothing left except for near shore ice in protected areas.” The worrisome part of all this? There are still four months to go in the Arctic’s melt season. NSIDC provided information on Arctic sea ice extent in April of this year, and said 2016 and 2018 essentially tied “for lowest April sea ice extent on record.” Barents Sea and Bering Sea ice extent was below average, as it was during the 2017 to 2018 winter. According to Earther , the Bering Sea has been something of a ground zero for crazy ice, with sea ice disappearing when it was supposed to be growing in February, rebounding slightly in March, and then plummeting in April. Bering Sea ice extent is 5% of normal for mid-May and there is almost nothing left except for near shore ice in protected areas. Chukchi Sea ice extent also at record low, with open water now north of 71N. #akwx #Arctic @Climatologist49 @ZLabe @lisashefguy @amy_holman pic.twitter.com/Ur7UmoptgL — Rick Thoman (@AlaskaWx) May 17, 2018 Related: Extreme Arctic warmth deeply concerning, scientists say Warm oceans have played a role in the dive of Bering Sea ice levels; University of Alaska Fairbanks climate researcher Brian Brettschneider told Earther that “Bering Sea SSTs [sea surface temperatures] have been at record or near record levels for months now. This represents a strong positive feedback. Warm waters are hard to freeze, which then allows for more solar absorption.” And Bering Sea ice typically protects Chukchi Sea ice. When Bering Sea ice disappeared in February, open water seeped into the Chukchi Sea — an event that has probably only happened in one other winter on record. + National Snow and Ice Data Center Via Earther Images via Depositphotos and the National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Bering Sea ice is "at record low levels for this time of year"

Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

February 20, 2018 by  
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Casa Casi Cubo in Chile uses geometry and patterns to provide shelter from the strong local winds — letting in tons of light. LAND Arquitectos designed the house as a pavilion -like structure that plays around with different shapes to create a balance between protection from the elements and exposing its occupants to expansive views of the sea. The designer deconstructed the shape of a parallelepiped and used pine wood to generate a series of bends that demarcate the edges of the roof and the facades of the building. Instead of trying to stand up to strong winds, the design breaks them up and channels them along the exterior. Related: Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood The main shared space, where the stove and barbecue area are located, face the north side of the site and is the most protected from strong air currents. This space is connected to a semi-covered area enveloped by a perforated wooden skin. This outdoor space allows occupants to watch the passing sun and enjoy the constant interplay of light and shadow. + LAND Arquitectos Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
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Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

February 19, 2018 by  
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Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen has created an incredibly sophisticated cylindrical home that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Located on the Chilean coast overlooking the sea, the Rode House is a wooden structure shaped in a unique curved form that not only provides stunning views from any angle, but also protects the home from the area’s notoriously strong winds. Located on Chiloe island, the building site has dramatic views of the ocean, inspiring the architects to create a nature-inspired home design with a strong connection to the surroundings. Accordingly, the home’s dynamic shape is threefold: aesthetically vernacular, the low-lying structure blends into its environment, nestled into the rising prairie grass. Secondly, the cylindrical structure, which includes several angular forms, is a protective strategy that blocks the strong winds that blow in from the shore. Thirdly, the home’s materials and construction, along with its form, were all inspired by traditional woodworking techniques found in the region, especially prevalent in boats and churches still found in the area. Related: Chilean Folding House allows owners to control the temperature to adapt to the season The architects explain that their inspiration for the home’s curved shape came from the region’s long tradition of carpentry: “Knowing that the island is not only well known for the exuberant myths and legends but for a refined artisanal carpentry knowledge expressed both in churches and boats, accepting that something of that local knowledge would inform our project,” they said, “we preferred to have in mind that delicate artlessness of a totally forgotten wooden padlock.” The curved roof, covered in traditional thin wood shingles , was strategically angled to allow optimal natural light into the living space. This slanting volume continues through to the interior where double height ceilings add a sense of airiness to the interior. Inside, the walls are clad in light wooden panels, also adding to the serene cabin-like atmosphere. + Pezo von Ellrichshausen Via Ignant Photos via Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

Three border collies tear through a charred Chilean forest with backpacks full of seeds

February 15, 2018 by  
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Over 1.4 million acres were burned in Chile in 2017, in the country’s worst wildfire season in history. According to Mother Nature Network , the fire left in its wake a ravaged landscape, but a furry team led by Francisca Torres, a dog trainer who also runs the dog -oriented community, Pewos , came to the rescue. She outfitted three border collies with backpacks filled with seeds , and sent then dashing through the forest. Das, Olivia, and Summer will melt your heart. As they careen through the forest sporting seed-filled backpacks, seeds trickle out; the humans behind the mission hope the spilled seeds will sprout and grow, reviving the forest. For the animals , it’s just a chance to frolic and have fun, according to Torres, their owner. Related: Frida the rescue dog helps search for survivors after Mexico’s deadly earthquake (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Feliz dia madre tierra ?? Posted by Pewos on Sunday, May 14, 2017 Das is the oldest at six, and she leads the way with her pups, Summer and Olivia, both two-years-old. The dogs earn treats as they wait for their backpacks to be filled with more seeds, when they come back to their handlers, and at the end of the day’s work. They can cover up to 18 miles, spreading over 20 pounds of future plants, according to Mother Nature Network. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Pewos on Thursday, April 20, 2017 Torres launched the effort in March 2017, and went back to the forest regularly over six months. Her sister, Constanza Torres, also helped; the two women pay for the native seeds , backpacks, and trips to the forest and plan to start the project up again soon. Torres told Mother Nature Network, “We have seen many results in flora and fauna coming back to the burned forest!” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Pewos on  Friday, March 31, 2017 (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Pewos on  Friday, March 31, 2017 Francisca Torres told Mother Nature Network they specifically use border collies because they are super smart. When they’re not reviving forests, the dogs work with sheep and in disc and obedience training. Via Mother Nature Network Images via Depositphotos

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Three border collies tear through a charred Chilean forest with backpacks full of seeds

Student ditches cramped dorm to live large in a self-built tiny house

February 15, 2018 by  
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Although tiny home living may not be for everyone, there is one group who is certainly taking advantage of the minimal living trend – college students. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to stay in a cramped, closet-like dorm room, one ambitious college student named Bradley took his living situation into his own hands by building his own 230-square-feet abode, aptly named Rolling Quarters. After spending a year paying for on campus housing, Bradley decided it was time to build his own home, something that would give him his own personal space and designed to his taste. “Right out of high school I went and paid a year’s worth of rent and decided that wasn’t for me,” he said in an interview with Living Big In A Tiny House . “So I moved back home to save some money and pay for it all in cash to build it.” Related: Two college students build a tiny home for under $500 After purchasing a 27-foot-long trailer, he looked to Craigslist to find materials he could repurpose into his new home. A few things like the vinyl siding were bought new, but the total price of the project came in just under $15,000. Bradley’s self-built tiny home on wheels is just 230 square feet, but packs a large punch in terms of living space. The entrance of the home is through a lovely wooden deck with two rocking chairs set up to enjoy the surrounding wooded lot. The interior space has a comfy, cabin-like atmosphere with wooden flooring and wood-planked ceiling. The living space, which is air-conditioned, is at the heart of the home, with a medium sized pull-out sofa and tv, and a small nook for a desk. The kitchen, although compact, is incredibly efficient and conceals a number of space-saving and storage features. Additional storage is tucked under the stairs that lead up to the sleeping loft. Although Bradley now lives off campus, that doesn’t mean that his social life was affected. In fact, the ambitious student has had up to 25 guests in his home and even occasionally rents out Rolling Quarters on Airbnb . + Rolling Quarters Instagram Via Apartment Therapy Images via Rolling Quarters Instagram and Airbnb. Video via Living Big in a Tiny House Just 25 people hanging out comfortably in a tiny house. #saystheguywiththelofttohimself #tinyhouse #bradthebuilder #thow #tinyhouseonwheels #diythow #tinyhousemovement #diytinyhouse #minimalist #minimalism A post shared by Rolling Quarters Tiny House (@rolling_quarters_tinyhouse) on Oct 7, 2017 at 7:37am PDT

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Student ditches cramped dorm to live large in a self-built tiny house

Two protective layers keep this angular house in Chile cool in the summer

December 22, 2017 by  
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The angular Two Skins House, designed by architect Veronica Arcos , is enveloped in two insulating layers that help maintain stable temperatures indoors all year roound. Perched on high cliffs north of Santiago, Chile , the house features generous openings that offer views of the Pacific Ocean. The house has a simple rectangular plan and faceted walls that add drama to the space. Dark pine planks used as cladding add additional variation to the exterior surfaces. Pine and other wooden structural panels were used to bring a little warmth and nature into the interior. Related: Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid Thanks to the presence of two outer layers, occupants can benefit from stable temperatures throughout the year. The gap between the layers facilitates natural ventilation and keeps the house cool in the summer. Mineral wool insulates the inner structure, while a zinc coating protects it from humidity. An overhang on the northern side shelters a raised platform and steps that lead to the garden. This wall extends to enclose the east-facing terrace and provide more privacy for this space. Most functions are housed on the ground floor, while the mezzanine , which marks the spot where the sloping roof reaches its highest point, accommodates the master bedroom. Minimalist interior design dominates the living room, with pops of color providing visual accents. + Veronica Arcos Arquitectos Photos by Cristóbal Palma

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Two protective layers keep this angular house in Chile cool in the summer

Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

December 7, 2017 by  
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Over 200 countries signed a United Nations resolution in Nairobi, Kenya to eliminate plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The resolution is an important step forward to establishing a legally binding treaty that would deal with the global oceanic plastic pollution problem. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there will be more plastic by weight in the world’s oceans than fish by 2050 if current trends continue. The resolution offers hope for the future. “There is very strong language in this resolution,” said Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, in an interview with Reuters . “We now have an agreement to explore a legally binding instrument and other measures and that will be done at the international level over the next 18 months.” Although plastic pollution is a global problem, Norway was the country that initiated the UN resolution. “We found micro plastics inside mussels, which is something we like to eat,” said Helgesen. “In January this year, a fairly rare species of whale was stranded on a beach because of exhaustion and they simply had to kill it. In its tummy they found 30 plastic bags.” Even the most remote parts of the globe have not escaped the plastic menace. In the final episode of the acclaimed  Blue Planet II ,  plastic pollution is documented in isolated areas of Antarctica . Related: Scientists discover cheap method to identify “lost” 99% of ocean microplastics China is the world’s largest producer of plastic waste and biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, the world’s most populous country has taken the global lead in addressing these environmental crises. “If there is one nation changing at the moment more than anyone else, it’s China … the speed and determination of the government to change is enormous,” said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, according to Reuters . Meanwhile, the resolution, which was originally intended to have legally binding targets and timetables, was weakened by the United States , after Trump Administration officials rejected the stronger language. Current American intransigence notwithstanding, Solheim envisions a future in which products and manufacturing systems are redesigned to use as little plastic as possible. “Let’s abolish products that we do not need … if you go to tourist places like Bali, a huge amount of the plastic picked from the oceans are actually straws,” said Solheim. Although there is much work to be done before a treaty is signed, several nations are already moving ahead to protect the environment. To mark the signing of the UN resolutions, 39 countries, including Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa, adopted new commitments to reduce plastic pollution . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos and  Trevor Leyenhorst/Flickr

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Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

Soles of world’s first graphene sports shoes are 50% more resistant to wear

December 7, 2017 by  
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British sportswear brand inov-8 decided to take footwear a leap further: with graphene . Working with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester , they developed rubber enhanced with the game-changing material for running shoe outsoles that are, according to University of Manchester reader in nanomaterials Aravind Vijayaraghavan, “50 percent stronger, 50 percent more stretchy, and 50 percent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene.” Is there anything graphene can’t do? inov-8 created their forthcoming G-series with flexible graphene-enhanced rubber for footwear – you guessed it – far superior to shoes with regular old soles. Vijayaraghavan said when graphene is added to rubber for the product, it imparts its groundbreaking properties like strength. The improved material offers a long-lasting grip for sneakers without rapidly wearing down. inov-8 product and marketing director Michael Price said the shoes offer durability and traction never before seen. Related: Newly discovered property of graphene could lead to infinite clean energy Price said in a statement, “Off-road runners and fitness athletes live at the sporting extreme and need the stickiest outsole grip possible to optimize their performance, be that when running on wet trails or working out in sweaty gyms. For too long, they have had to compromise this need for grip with the knowledge that such rubber wears down quickly. Now, utilizing the groundbreaking properties of graphene, there is no compromise.” Graphene is the thinnest, strongest material on the planet, and can be folded or twisted without damage. The University of Manchester has worked on graphene-enhanced airplanes, medical devices, and sports cars – and now sports gear. inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey said the company is positioned “at the forefront of a graphene sports footwear revolution,” and hinted this is just the beginning, saying graphene’s potential is limitless. The G-series shoes will hit the market in 2018. Via inov-8 and the University of Manchester Images via the University of Manchester

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Soles of world’s first graphene sports shoes are 50% more resistant to wear

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