The rise of plastic insecurity in China’s Yangtze River economic belt

February 5, 2019 by  
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Waste management and pollution prevention are historically ineffective in China — here’s why that matters.

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The rise of plastic insecurity in China’s Yangtze River economic belt

In EV100 initiative, 31 companies join drive to switch to electric vehicles

February 5, 2019 by  
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The Climate Group’s global report tracks progress among major corporates shifting towards 100 percent electric fleets.

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In EV100 initiative, 31 companies join drive to switch to electric vehicles

The State of Green Business, 2019

February 5, 2019 by  
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It’s déjà vu all over again.

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The State of Green Business, 2019

Companies pledge $1.5 billion to reduce plastic waste

January 23, 2019 by  
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The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a group of 28 companies that produce plastics and consumer goods, announced last week that it has pledged to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years to reduce plastic waste. Global companies like  Exxon Mobil , Dow DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Royal Dutch Shell and BASF are all part of the AEPW. The investment will go toward building waste collection infrastructure in Asia and Africa, designing waste-management systems in cities close to rivers that transport waste to the ocean, educating governments, cleaning up highly-polluted areas and funding startups that are developing technologies to prevent plastic waste. Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic As the plastic waste problem continues to grow, 8 million tons are now ending up in the oceans every year, and this is resulting in bans on some single-use plastic products. According to the AEPW, 90 percent of global ocean pollution comes from only 10 rivers. More than half of the “land-based plastic litter” that leaks into oceans comes from five Asian countries: China , Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. A spokesperson for the AEPW said that none of China’s major plastics and chemical groups are part of the alliance, but the team is hoping to change that. While most of the alliance members are plastic makers, there are two that make consumer goods: Procter & Gamble and Henkel. More are expected to join the group in the near future. Kraft Heinz, Nestle and Unilever have already made individual pledges to transition their packaging into materials that are recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Related: Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste In an October report, IHS Markit, a London-based information provider, said that 59 percent of global plastic waste comes from single-use plastic packaging. “While there is no single answer to the issue of plastic waste in the environment, we are collaborating to promote infrastructure, education and engagement, innovation and clean-up efforts to keep plastic waste in the right place,” said the AEPW website . + AEPW Via Reuters Image via Monica Volpin

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Companies pledge $1.5 billion to reduce plastic waste

Global warming to blame for insect collapse in Puerto Rican rainforest

January 23, 2019 by  
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35 years ago, scientist Brad Lister left the Puerto Rican Luquillo rainforest after studying the arthropods of the region. He left an area that had a thriving insect population that provided food for all of the birds in the national park. But, when he returned in 2018, Lister and his colleague, Andres Garcia, made a shocking discovery — 98 percent of the ground insects had vanished. “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” Lister told The Guardian. “We were driving into the forest, and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.” According to Lister’s study , published in October 2018, 80 percent of the insects in the leafy canopy were gone, and on the ground, 98 percent of the insects had disappeared. The believed culprit? Global warming. Lister noticed the huge decline as insects barely covered the sticky ground and canopy plates in the rainforest, and recalled the long hours it used to take to pick them off.  But now, after twelve hours in the forest, there were maybe one or two insects trapped on the plates. Related: Farming insects too much too fast could create an environmental disaster “It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” Lister said. “We began to realize this is terrible– a very, very disturbing result.” Lister’s study is one of a handful of recent studies about the decline of  insect population, and the results are “hyper-alarming” according to experts. In Germany’s natural reserves, the number of flying insects has plummeted 75 percent in the last 25 years. A lack of insects due to drought and heat in the Australian eucalyptus forest has been blamed for the disappearance of birds. Lister and Garcia also studied the insect numbers in a dry forest in Mexico, and found an 80 percent insect collapse within the last three decades. Scientists call the crash of insect numbers a significant development and an “ecological Armageddon” as they are a vital part of the foundation of the food chain. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Global warming to blame for insect collapse in Puerto Rican rainforest

Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

January 18, 2019 by  
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China has taken a major step toward long-term space exploration. Earlier this month, the Chinese moon probe Chang’e 4 carried a container with cotton, mustard and potato seeds , yeast and fruit fly eggs to the moon’s far side (facing away from Earth), and early this week, the China National Space Administration said that those seeds started to sprout. Unfortunately, temperatures dropped and killed the plants. According to the BBC , the project was designed by 28 Chinese universities, and the experiment was contained within a canister 7 inches tall and weighing about 6.5 pounds. It was designed to test photosynthesis and respiration, which are processes that produce energy . For the first time ever seeds 🌱 are growing on the moon 🌑! China’s moon mission success means that astronauts 👩‍🚀👨‍🚀could potentially harvest their own food in space! Learn more 👉 https://t.co/S6dOB3p2Ym via @BBCNews #ZeroHunger #FutureofFood pic.twitter.com/TNssZBLG0R — FAO (@FAO) January 15, 2019 The plants  were in a sealed container on the lunar lander, and the hope was that the crops would form a mini-biosphere. Inside the container, the organisms had a supply of air, water and nutrients to help them grow. The scientists said that keeping it at the right temperature was a challenge, because of the wild temperature swings on the moon , which ultimately killed the first sprout. If the experiment worked, astronauts could potentially begin to harvest their own food in space. That would be incredibly useful for long-term space missions, because they wouldn’t have to return to Earth to resupply. Although the sprout died, the experiment is a move toward this goal. Related: China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’ But could these experiments contaminate the moon ? Generally, scientists don’t believe this is something we need to worry about, especially because there have been containers of human waste on the moon for 50 years thanks to the Apollo astronauts. The consensus among experts is that the sprout was “good news.” Fred Watson, astronomer-at-large at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said that it could be a positive development for future space exploration. “It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment,” Watson said. “I think there’s certainly a great deal of interest in using the moon as a staging post, particularly for flights to Mars , because it’s relatively near the Earth.” Via BBC and The Guardian Image via Jeremy Bishop

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Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

10 clean energy developments of 2018

January 10, 2019 by  
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Rocky Mountain Institute identifies major trends in clean energy from the last year.

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Sasaki to transform Shanghais Hongkou Stadium with a High Line-esque park

December 26, 2018 by  
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International disciplinary planning and design firm Sasaki has unveiled designs to transform China’s first professional soccer stadium into a sustainably minded mixed-use hub focused on health and wellness. Designed to stitch the Shanghai Hongkou Stadium back into the urban fabric, the proposal will reactivate the stadium as a destination even on non-game days while improving the expanded building’s energy efficiency. Key to the design intervention will be the addition of the Midline, an elevated park built along a light rail corridor, which will provide a green link between Hongkou’s university district in the north and the cultural and commercial districts to the south. Located on a major north-south green corridor, Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium is accessible via public transit yet suffers from lack of interest on non-game days and lack of connection to its urban surroundings. To reposition the stadium as the heart of a new mixed-use health and wellness hub, Sasaki plans to not only extend the lush landscape of the adjacent Luxun Park to the stadium grounds, but also add the elevated Midline, a recreational spine beneath the light rail tracks that provides pedestrian and bicycle access from the north and south to the stadium. In addition, new shops and restaurants on the street level will activate the stadium’s main plaza and podium. Moreover, the stadium, which was built in the 1990s, will be expanded to a total of 50,000 seats and nine levels to accommodate new programming such as a soccer museum, VIP clubs, community recreation facilities and a cantilevered restaurant with 360-degree views of the field. Rooftop gardens and outdoor concourses will be publicly accessible from the adjacent Luxun Park to attract the community year-round. Related: The 2018 Super Bowl stadium in Minnesota offsets 100% of its energy “By positioning the stadium as a community asset, its renovation reaches far beyond its original function,” reads Sasaki’s press release. “Many stadiums serve the single purpose of hosting sporting events, resulting in an empty building during non-game days and in the off-season. Hongkou Stadium reimagines the arena as a multi-functional complex that fulfills the demands of large events while also serving as a unique public space for all citizens.” The renovated stadium will also be optimized for energy efficiency and tap into passive ventilation strategies. Rainwater runoff will be harvested in underground cisterns and reused as irrigation. The stadium’s new smart glass facade can be digitally adjusted to minimize unwanted solar heat gain and used as a digital screen to broadcast events. + Sasaki Images via Sasaki

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Sasaki to transform Shanghais Hongkou Stadium with a High Line-esque park

China’s climate progress may have faltered in 2018, but it seems to be on the right path

December 20, 2018 by  
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China’s emissions are likely to peak before 2030. What comes next?

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China’s climate progress may have faltered in 2018, but it seems to be on the right path

The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

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