Arplan envisions a new, green City Oasis for Latvia

November 25, 2020 by  
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The new City Oasis is a planned residential area in Riga, Latvia that has been designed for optimal efficiency. The project includes hundreds of homes in a highly functional district that is safe and green. City Oasis is expected to serve as an example of sustainable urban planning for the future. The plan was created by Arplan, an architectural firm based in Riga. It worked with B&R Progetti, architect Paolo Bodega and engineer Giussepie M. Rustignoli. The design won an architectural competition in 2011. It took 10 years to set a construction date for the project, which is officially expected to break ground in 2021. Related: SOM designs a low-carbon waterfront community for China’s “most livable city” The City Oasis is planned to sit next to a UNESCO World Heritage site. This made the development of the project challenging, as several approval processes had to be completed first. The building permits have now been issued and City Oasis is starting to look like a reality. Structural engineer Finmap Latvia worked on the project, using design technologies to create an optimal construction plan for City Oasis. “It will be an inclusive residential quarter, with well-thought-out planning and landscaping , aesthetic architecture, and high-quality materials for both the interiors and exteriors,” said Rolands Bruzgulis, founder and lead architect of Arplan. City Oasis is located on the site of a former textile factory that was founded in 1866. It was the largest factory of its kind in the Russian empire by 1913 and stayed in operation until 1989. While some of the old buildings onsite were destroyed, several historic elements were preserved, including a water tower and a locally famous chimney. These elements will be integrated into the masterplan. City Oasis will blend new buildings with preserved and restored historic buildings in a model that proves the past and the future can be blended together beautifully. The plan includes three buildings with six to seven stories each. Commercial space will be available on the ground floors. The new buildings will feature renovated, historic facades, which will maintain the character of the location. Several types of housing units will be available, including lofts and mezzanine-style apartments with their own private entrances. Premium apartments will be located in the restored, 19th-century villa. The residences’ heating and ventilation systems will recuperate residual heat to save energy . Developers also plan to preserve the site’s existing trees, some of which are more than 100 years old. A car-free zone will be included in the plan along with an underground parking area; a public courtyard will sit on top of the parking structure. City Oasis will be surrounded by schools, a public swimming pool, a large playground, a sports center and multiple cafes and restaurants. + Arplan Images via Yellow Stuudio

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Arplan envisions a new, green City Oasis for Latvia

MVRDV unveils sustainable Chengdu Sky Valley masterplan

November 24, 2020 by  
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MVRDV has revealed designs for Chengdu Sky Valley, a competition entry for the Future Science and Technology City, which is a planned district on the outskirts of Chengdu, China. Guided by sustainable and placemaking principles, the masterplan seeks to differentiate itself from the country’s other high-tech cities with an emphasis on retaining the existing agricultural landscape, promoting self-sufficient lifestyles and designing with site-specific analyses in mind. Developed as part of Chengdu’s Eastward Development Strategy, the planned Future Science and Technology City will be developed on a rural swath of land adjacent to the new Tianfu International Airport with access to the city’s Metro Line 18. Rather than raze the rural area, the architects sought to retain and enhance the existing landscape — characterized by agricultural fields, rolling hills and scattered villages — while embedding new areas of development in between preserved farming areas.  Related: MVRDV designs a sustainable “urban living room” for Shenzhen “The dichotomy between the existing rural landscape and the future science and technology campus demands a solution that balances tradition and innovation, past and future, young and old, East and West, technology and agriculture,” MVRDV explained. “The design therefore preserves the agricultural valleys, incorporating this activity as a key component of the Future Science and Technology City. New buildings are clustered on the hills, and shaped in a way that amplifies the valley skyline, augmenting the appearance of the Linpan landscape.” MVRDV’s tech taskforce, MVRDV NEXT, developed a series of digital scripts to analyze the site’s topography. The site analyses informed decisions on several parts of the design: which areas should be designated for agricultural zoning versus new building development; the optimization of pathways and bridges to ensure accessibility across the entire site while never exceeding a slope of 4%; the shape and height of human-made hills; and building height limits. As a result, the design features three main valleys — the Knowledge Valley, the Experience Valley and the Venture Valley — around which seven mixed-use developments will be clustered. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV and Atchain

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MVRDV unveils sustainable Chengdu Sky Valley masterplan

A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold

November 24, 2020 by  
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After purchasing a humble country home 25 years ago in the village of Ivry-sur-le-Lac, architect-owner Richard Rubin of Canadian firm Figurr Architects Collective wanted to treat himself and his family to a new second home with an extremely low environmental impact. Key to the creation of this low-impact holiday home was the use of prefabrication. The residence consists of five custom, prefabricated modules, each approximately 50 feet in length. With a reduced environmental footprint achieved through an airtight envelope, use of sustainable and local materials, and large, insulated glazing, the modern, energy-efficient home is currently being submitted by Rubin for LEED Gold certification. To ensure that his family wouldn’t lose more than one season of enjoying the country, the architect began construction on the new house in late summer, before the demolition of the existing home. Prefabrication not only helped to speed up the construction process, but the modular design also allowed for indoor construction without fear of inclement weather conditions. The five custom prefab modules were assembled with insulation, windows and flooring intact before they were transported to the site — a challenging undertaking due to the size of the giant, factory-built modules and winding country roads. Related: Work from home in this minimalist, modular 15-sided cabin Conceived as a nature retreat, the new country home is punctuated with floor-to-ceiling glazing that brings in views of the forest as well as direct sunshine, which helps reduce the heating and lighting costs. A natural materials palette blends the building into the landscape, while the warm timbers used indoors create a welcoming feel. The home brings the family together with an open-plan kitchen and dining room along with a cozy living room and a three-season, screened-in porch that looks out to the lake and woods. The architect has also carved out more intimate spaces for each of the family members, such as the ground-floor atelier for painting and carpentry. + Figurr Architects Collective Photography by David Boyer via Figurr Architects Collective

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A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold

A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

November 17, 2020 by  
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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda Aron Cramer Tue, 11/17/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . Now that the results of the United States presidential election are in, it is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy.  The U.S. government has been either absent or counterproductive on sustainability issues the past four years. This will change in a Biden-Harris administration. How much it changes will depend greatly on the actions and influence of the business community. BSR exists to catalyze business leadership to achieve a just and sustainable world. We believe strongly that sustainability is a primary source of strategic business advantage. We believe that comprehensive business action calls for companies to “act, enable, and influence,” creating change both through actions in the “real economy” and also in advocating for policy solutions. With a new government coming into power, now is the time for business to use its voice and influence to call for decisive action from a more receptive administration in Washington. With this in mind, here is the agenda that BSR urges businesses to call on the Biden administration to adopt, in the spirit of the campaign’s “build back better” mantra. It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. Employment and economic Repairing the safety net:  It is time for business to engage with government in remaking the social safety net for the 21st century. 2020 has exposed the serious holes in the safety net, not least access to health care. It is also time to develop a consensus on portable benefits for people who change jobs or who work outside traditional jobs. Innovations such as the tax-deferred “401(j)” accounts proposed by Al Gore to allow employees to save for lifelong learning also would be a good step. These steps not only would enable economic security and mobility, they also would ensure opportunities for innovation and a dynamic workforce that businesses need. Income inequality: t is long past time for Americans to reverse the deep and widening inequality that plagues our country. While there are multiple reasons for this problem, three topics deserve to be made a priority. First is the need to raise the minimum wage to a level that is a genuine living wage. This would both enable families to support themselves and also reward labor in an economy in which capital has been rewarded more than it should be. Second is executive compensation, which has continued to rise far too fast. It is time for business leaders to take voluntary steps to reduce executive pay and for boards to commit to the same. Third, income inequality strikes communities of color especially hard and all pathways to prosperity need to address the wealth gap directly. Future of work: The changing nature of work is accelerating due to the confluence of COVID-19 and automation. Contingent or non-traditional work is the fastest growing category of work. There is no consensus on the rules governing such work or universal benefits people can access regardless of how their work is classified. Dialogue between business, government and workers’ representatives is needed to establish the rules of the road. Climate and environment Net zero target for the U.S.: Returning to the Paris Agreement will happen Jan. 20 — that is only the start. The U.S. should commit to a net-zero target the way that the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and others — including many U.S. states and cities — have. The need for renewed climate diplomacy, with the U.S. playing a crucial role along with the EU, China and Japan, could not be more important in the run-up to COP 26. Climate justice/just transition: Awareness of the disparate impacts of climate — mainly hitting communities of color and those with less formal education — means that environmental justice should come to the forefront. The shift to net-zero is a generational opportunity for progress, not only removing the most toxic elements of the existing energy system but also generating economic opportunities in the clean energy economy as a means of combatting poverty and discrimination. Business should insist that the transition to net zero include policies that prioritize the phase out of toxic impacts on communities of color, incentives for investments that ensure that the clean energy economy delivers training, and employment for people who need opportunities the most, in both rural and urban communities. Green infrastructure:  Even with divided government, investment in green infrastructure is possible as a means of generating employment at a time when it is badly needed and to reduce the operating costs of U.S. infrastructure. Business should advocate for built environment and transport systems that accelerate and prepare for the net zero economy. The long debated Green Infrastructure Bank should become a reality, not least with the rise of green and “olive” bonds. And this is also the place where serious — and badly needed — resilience objectives can be achieved. Regenerative agriculture: At long last, there is mainstream recognition of the deep intersections of climate, human health and the vibrancy of America’s agricultural economy. What’s more, the political opportunity to bring the country together through heartland interest in thriving agriculture and coastal interest in climate action is one that could help unify a country that is divided against itself on climate action. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Social Racial justice: The Biden campaign made clear that racial justice was one of its four priorities, along with climate action, economic opportunity and public health. In fact, these four topics are interrelated and should be addressed as such. The business community should make sure that the many statements of support for Black Lives Matter in 2020 are strengthened by a long-term commitment to ensure that decisive action is taken to end the centuries-long scourge of systemic racism. As noted above, the wealth gap that exists in communities of color is a legacy of longstanding oppression. Steps taken to address climate, strengthen the social safety net, restore public health and invest in green infrastructure offer great promise in addressing the wealth gap, and business should support this objective vocally. In addition, business also should make clear its support for criminal legal system reform, starting with policing, but also including access to the court system and incarceration rates. Finally, business should call for mandatory disclosure of employee demographic information, which leverages transparency in support of greater equity. Technology and human rights/privacy: It is well understood that policy moves more slowly than technology. At a high level, the U.S. government should establish the principle that new technologies should adhere to international human rights standards in their design, development and use. In addition, the U.S. government can introduce a federal privacy law along similar lines to the GDPR, ensure that any revisions to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 are consistent with the protection of human rights, and introduce sector-based approaches to regulating disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometric technologies. Companies from all industries should advocate for a technology policy and regulatory context that protects interdependent rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, security, freedom of assembly, non-discrimination, public health and access to remedy. Restoring support for human rights and democracy: The U.S. government has provided implicit and explicit support for some of the governments most responsible for the worst human rights abuses over the past few years. The business community shied away from calling this out the way they challenged the Trump administration’s approach to climate. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Human migration and refugee policies: The xenophobia unleashed in the first days of the Trump years must be relegated to the past. Business consistently has called for immigration policies that enable the U.S. to welcome the breadth of human capacity that comes from literally every corner of the world. This is needed both for humanitarian reasons, which speak for themselves, but also because of the positive impact open societies have on economic vitality and innovation. What’s more, this will also help to restore America’s soft power around the world, something that benefits U.S. businesses and which has been seriously damaged since 2016. Governance Corporate governance reforms and listing requirements: It is time for boards to reflect more fully the world in which business actually operates. This means diversifying board composition. It also requires that so-called “non-financial” considerations be embedded in corporate governance and listing requirements. A good first step towards integration of ESG into corporate governance would be business advocacy for making the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory. This then can be extended to other steps including mandatory human rights diligence, executive compensation and workplace diversity. All these steps will strengthen the resilience of business and bring America’s trading rules in sync with advances in Europe and elsewhere. Restoring democracy: 2020 has made clear, yet again, of significant structural flaws in American democracy. Business associations stepped up to call publicly for democratic processes to be honored — and have continued to call for this post-election. This remains important as many have chosen not to honor the clear outcome of the election. Despite this, American democracy appears poised to survive in the wake of this unusual election, but issues remain. Business should use its voice to call for reforms that address voter suppression, campaign finance, gerrymandering and a judicial system infected by hyper-partisanship. This is an issue that many CEOs will seek to avoid for fear of appearing to pick sides, and that is understandable. But the reforms called for here should not be seen that way, as they are necessary for our system to function, for all people to have their voices heard and for faith in the system be restored. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Rules-based trading system with multilateral agreements: The U.S. was the primary architect of the rules-based trading system in the wake of World War II and the primary protector of that system over the past 75 years. While this system certainly needs significant reforms, the past four years have taken a scorched-earth approach that leaves us no hope of managing an interdependent world well and fairly. Business could not have more of a stake in restoring support for the concept of multilateralism and more of a need to make sure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Procurement: Finally, business should call on government to partner more aggressively on procurement policies. The U.S. government has immense purchasing power and it is not being used as fully as it could be to promote the creation and efficiency of markets for sustainable products and services. This is also a uniquely valuable way to address the wealth gap, with government partnering with BIPOC-owned businesses as suppliers. There will be a time to get more specific on policy solutions. For now, however, it is essential to define the areas where progress is necessary. Much of what is advocated here is also found in BSR’s call for business action to promote a 21st century social contract . The temptation to “go back to business as usual” will be strong for many, but that would be a mistake. Building a just and sustainable world never has been about opposing any single political leader. It always has been about building a future in which we can all thrive. It is about what we are for, not what we are against. After four years when the U.S. government failed to embrace — and often thwarted — the achievement of sustainable business, the business voice remains a powerful tool in creating an economy that works for all. Pull Quote It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Topics Policy & Politics Policy & Politics Paris Agreement Climate Justice Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware during the 2020 election campaign. Photo by  Stratos Brilakis  on Shutterstock.

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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

Driving, flying expected to spike after COVID-19 pandemic

November 12, 2020 by  
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Amidst the everlasting pandemic, fewer people yearn to squeeze into closely spaced airline seats or pack into crowded buses. As such, a new survey reveals a seemingly contradictory conclusion that post-pandemic , people expect to drive private cars more, even though the majority of respondents believe humans are responsible for the climate crisis. In some countries, people also planned to fly more after the pandemic. The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project polled about 26,000 people in 25 countries during July and August. It found that respondents held humans as the culprits of global warming by a ratio of more than three to one. This belief was most strongly held in Brazil, Spain, China, the U.K. and Japan. The countries with the largest number of doubters regarding human responsibility rely heavily on oil production, notably Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the U.S. Related: Could a private car ban make NYC more livable? Air travel has long been an issue to climate campaigners, because it’s a huge source of emissions . People in the U.K., Italy, Germany and India all said they plan to fly less post-pandemic, although this could well be more for fear of contagion than love of the planet. But some respondents plan to fly more, especially those in Brazil and Nigeria. People in Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt and Sweden were more likely to be looking forward to holidays abroad. Meanwhile, those in Italy, the U.K., Germany, Thailand and China will be planning more domestic vacations in the future. Researchers were most alarmed by the fact that respondents in all 25 countries plan to drive more post-pandemic. Brazilians showed the most marked planned increase, with 62% saying yes to more driving and only 12% planning to drive less. South Africa was right behind, with 60% yay and 12% nay. More than 40% of Australians and Americans planned to spend more time behind the wheel, with only 10% anticipating leaving their cars in park more often. What do all these statistics mean? Human behavior is complicated and often contradictory, as our best intentions battle with fear and convenience. But if people begin to drive as much as predicted, they could undermine global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Via The Guardian Image via S. Hermann & F. Richter

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Driving, flying expected to spike after COVID-19 pandemic

Renewable energy grows in 2020 despite pandemic

November 11, 2020 by  
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A report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that renewable energy has defied the coronavirus pandemic to hit new records. Worldwide, renewable electricity installations have reached an all-time high. According to the report, about 90% of all new electricity generation in 2020 is renewable. If the IEA report is anything to go by, the world will see a record increase of 200 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity in 2020 compared to last year. This report is a sign of hope for a future dominated by renewable energy. If the trend is maintained, renewable energy sources could overtake fossil fuels and become the largest power source by 2025. As renewable energy takes center stage, the focus will be shifted to the U.S. and China, as they are the front-runners in the sector. The IEA anticipates that if the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden implements his energy policies, the transition to green energy could be much faster than anticipated. Related: Renewable energy is the cheapest source of electricity “Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic , showing robust growth while others fuels struggle,” said Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director. “The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors.” While fossil fuels have dwindled, wind power and solar have increased in capacity significantly. Solar has increased 18 times since 2010, while wind energy has increased about four times in the same period. According to Birol, solar power is projected to become the king of clean energy in the future. According to the report, hydropower dominated the renewable energy sector in 2010, taking about 77% of the market share. However, that has reduced to just about 45% in 2020. Although renewables are doing well in 2020, it is not time to celebrate yet. IEA warns that to continue the positive trend, countries must adopt policy changes that govern the energy sector. + IEA Via The Guardian Image via Karsten W.

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Renewable energy grows in 2020 despite pandemic

San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalskis horse

October 16, 2020 by  
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Kurt, a baby Przewalski’s horse, looks and plays like any other baby horse. But the now two-month-old colt is unique in that he is a clone. The endangered Przewalski’s horse colt was created from stallion cells that had been frozen at the San Diego Zoo in 1980. The frozen cells were recently collected and fused with an egg from a domestic horse to create the world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse. The process of cloning started several decades ago. In 1980, cells from a 5-year-old stallion were collected and stored at the San Diego Frozen Zoo facility. According to officials at the San Diego Zoo, the cells were merged with an egg after removing the nucleus. The egg was then implanted in a mare, who became the mother to Kurt two months ago. Related: Scientists in China have successfully cloned monkeys The San Diego Zoo now sees the birth of the cloned horse as a huge step forward in the efforts to restore the population of Przewalski’s horses. Also known as the Asiatic Wild Horse or Mongolian Wild Horse, this species was formerly extinct in the wild and only about 2,000 are left, mostly residing in zoos. Intensive breeding programs have aided in conservation efforts but have also limited the gene pool. Zoo officials say that it is necessary to take measures that will help repopulate the endangered species. Cloning, depending on cells available in the Frozen Zoo, can help prevent genetic diversity losses. “This colt is expected to be one of the most genetically important individuals of his species,” Bob Wiese, chief life sciences officer at San Diego Zoo Global, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that he will bring back genetic variation important for the future of the Przewalski’s horse population.” The baby horse has been named after Kurt Benirschke, who was instrumental in founding the Frozen Zoo facility. “A central tenet of the Frozen Zoo, when it was established by Dr. Benirschke, was that it would be used for purposes not possible at the time,” said Oliver Ryder of San Diego Zoo Global. The cloning was made possible through a partnership among the San Diego Zoo, conservation organization Revive & Restore and genetic preservation company ViaGen Equine. Przewalski’s horses are said to be the only truly wild horses in the world today. Although there are some horses in the wild in the U.S. and Australia, most are actually the ancestors of escaped domesticated horses. This species is named for Nikolai Przewalski, a Russian geographer who came across a horse skull and hide, then donated his findings to a museum. + San Diego Zoo Via Huffington Post Photography by Scott Stine via San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalskis horse

Green-roofed theater in Shenzhen raises the bar for civic architecture

October 15, 2020 by  
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When the Pingshan District government in Shenzhen, China tapped Beijing-based OPEN Architecture to design the district’s first theater, the architects knew immediately that they wanted to create something different from the high energy-consuming and monotonous theaters that have recently become the norm throughout China. After taking a critical look at the past development of theaters in the country, the architects worked closely with the client to propose a new program for the Pingshan Performing Arts Center that emphasized social inclusivity by serving as a new cultural hub with amenities for both theater-lovers and the general public. Integrated with a public promenade and series of publicly accessible gardens, the contemporary theater also boasts a restaurant, a cafe, social and educational programming and an expansive landscaped roof that helps mitigate the urban heat island effect. Completed over the course of four years, the Pingshan Performing Arts Center eschews the extravagant exteriors that have defined many modern theaters in China in favor of a climate-responsive facade wrapped in precision-engineered perforated aluminum V sections that protect the building from sub-tropical sun exposure while enhancing natural ventilation. Related: This museum is carved into the seaside sand dunes of China’s Gold Coast At the heart of the new performing arts center — nicknamed “drama box” — is a 1,200-seat grand theater wrapped in dark red-toned wood panels that are visible from both inside the building and atop the roof, where the fly gallery can be seen. The grand theater is flanked by a series of smaller functional spaces and a public promenade that links together a cafe, a black box theater, teaching spaces, rehearsal rooms, an informal outdoor theater and outdoor gardens on multiple levels. “In breaking away from the mono-function Cultural Landmark typology, the building not only becomes much more sustainable in daily operation, but also sets a new example of social inclusivity for civic buildings ,” the architects explained. “Serving as a new cultural hub, it also provides the non-theater-going public with an exceptional and unusual urban space.” + OPEN Architecture Photography by Zeng Tianpei and Jonathan Leijonhufvud via OPEN Architecture

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Green-roofed theater in Shenzhen raises the bar for civic architecture

How 2 gadgets are going to change China and the world

October 14, 2020 by  
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Pollution. Smog. Dirty air. It’s all around us. Sometimes, you can see the pollution hanging in the air. Pollution is a huge public health problem, especially in China. But how big is the problem? There’s no precise answer to that question. At least, not yet. A couple of amazing new inventions may just change that. Many of the world’s most polluted cities are in China. It’s the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and in 2014, the country far exceeded the national standard for pollution suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO). It isn’t always easy to get accurate pollution ratings through standard methods employed by the Chinese government. Enter the Pollution Ranger. This little machine is a self-powered air quality monitor that can be placed on cars to collect data on air pollution everywhere it goes. Related: How clean is your indoor air? The Pollution Ranger is designed for full transparency of data. Anyone can use a smartphone app to access the data gathered by the device. You can use the information to check out pollution levels in your current location, or use the app to find data on a place you’re going to. Want to know how much pollution is the air? Smog Shade makes it easier to visually see exactly how polluted the air around you is. This is an installation with a sleek, circular design that shows air quality in real-time. The shade darkens to indicate how much pollution is in the air; the darker the shade is, the more polluted the air is. The Smog Shade is accessible via app as well. The app allows users to view overall city pollution or pollution levels in specific locations all over the city. Both of these inventions were designed by Huachen Xin. Xin spoke about some of the applications for the gadgets, saying, “People have the right to know the genuine air quality [around them]…based on this data, they could choose whether they need to move in or out of where they currently live. City managers could also use the data as clues to find out realtime pollution, for example, or track illegal emissions during the night.” According to Xin, the Chinese government doesn’t always offer precise pollution measurements. Sometimes, air quality monitors are purposefully put in areas where the air is cleaner. Monitors installed in parks, on rooftops and on islands in the middle of lakes aren’t getting accurate readings of city streets and neighborhoods. One study published in Lancet estimated that as many as 1.24 million deaths in China in the year 2017 were caused by air pollution. That’s a huge public health risk, and that’s why accurate pollution monitoring matters. Putting pollution data in the hands of everyone could have another effect — it shows people the reality of pollution. Hard data and accurate numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Xin hopes that real-time pollution data will encourage people to change their daily habits and help work toward reducing pollution levels. If the first step to improving air quality is raising awareness of how bad the air actually is, then devices like the Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade are going to change the world … and not a moment too soon. + Huachen Xin Images via Huachen Xin

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How 2 gadgets are going to change China and the world

Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks

October 7, 2020 by  
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Scientists are racing against time to create a COVID-19 vaccine, but the effects of this venture may cause irreversible harm for sharks . Conservationists estimate that preparing a coronavirus vaccine will require at least half a million sharks. Such numbers would push some shark species to extinction. Squalene, a compound that regulates shark buoyancy in water, is primarily found in shark liver oil. Vital for boosting the human body’s immunity, this compound factors heavily into vaccine preparation. Since 1997, squalene has been used to prepare flu vaccines, and the CDC recommends squalene due to its safety record. The compound also helps reduce the amount of vaccine needed per individual. Additionally, a  Science Times  publication reports that squalene makes vaccines more effective.  Although squalene also occurs in plants, humans and other animals, sharks contain the highest volume of this important compound. For this reason, hundreds of thousands of sharks risk losing their lives to the vaccine cause. According to shark advocacy group  Shark Allies , five of the top COVID-19 vaccines being prepared use shark squalene. The organization has petitioned vaccine developers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , China and Europe to exclude the compound from their vaccines. The organization encourages developers to use shark-based squalene alternatives. According to a  Sky News report , a leading British pharmaceutical company that uses shark squalene plans to harvest a billion doses of the compound for use in potential coronavirus vaccines by May 2021. Stefanie Brendl, executive director of Shark Allies, says that the process of harvesting this compound is killing sharks. “It’s called harvesting , but really you’re not growing it, you’re taking it from the wild,” Brendl said. “It’s a limited resource.” If the compound is used to prepare a COVID-19 vaccine, the world could pay a serious ecological price. “It’s something we need to get ahead of ASAP, because we are facing many years of vaccine production, for a global population, for many more coronavirus vaccines to come,” Brendl said. “The real danger is in what this can turn into in the future. A reliance on shark oil for a global vaccine — it’s truly insane. A wild animal is not a reliable source and cannot sustain ongoing commercial pressure.” Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks

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