China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

May 19, 2017 by  
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China has claimed a major energy breakthrough, but its eco credentials are dubious at best. Researchers say they managed to extract gas from flammable ice in the South China Sea. A frozen mix of natural gas and water known as methane hydrates, the ‘breakthrough’ is expected to revolutionize the future of energy . We’re not sure that’s a good idea. Flammable ice could be our planet’s final great source of carbon-based fuel , according to the BBC. Vast deposits can be found under essentially every ocean. But it’s incredibly difficult to extract gas from flammable ice – in part because it catches fire so easily – a lighter held up next to the ice will do the trick. Related: Japan Successfully Taps ‘Flammable Ice’ as an Energy Source for the First Time Japan so far has led the way in working to mine the potential energy source, but China’s latest efforts could mark a milestone on the path to extracting gas from methane hydrates. Chinese media said the country had succeeded in extracting an average of 16,000 cubic meters of gas per day in the South China Sea. Scientist Praveen Linga of the National University of Singapore told the BBC, “Compared with the results we have seen from Japanese research, the Chinese scientists have managed to extract much more gas in their efforts. So in that sense it is indeed a major step towards making gas extraction from methane hydrates viable.” But Linga warns extraction must be done carefully. Methane could escape from the methane hydrates during extraction, which could harm the planet as methane holds greater potential to affect climate change than carbon dioxide, according to the BBC. It’s hard to tell if flammable ice extraction will fall into the pitfalls of the oil and gas industry, with greed taking precedence over our planet. The BBC also described flammable ice as a very energy intensive source of fuel. Linga says there’s still a long way to go, and he said realistic commercial options might be ready in 2025 at the earliest. Via the BBC Images via William Winters, USGS and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

May 15, 2017 by  
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Over 7.5 billion people now reside on planet Earth , according to the World Population Clock . But with more people could comes less access to resources like food and energy . A global population of 7.5 billion people has far-reaching repercussions – including increased greenhouse gas emissions , strained food supplies, and increased total consumption, according to Charity organization Population Matters . Population Matters says that population growth could keep some countries in poverty , and it intrudes on land needed by wildlife . Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie told edie.net , “We will see cutthroat competition for shrinking resources which will include not just fossil fuels but productive land and water, pushing prices up not just for consumers but for the businesses and industries which need them too. Huge potential markets like much of sub-Saharan Africa will be stuck in poverty and we’ll see political instability arising from population and migration pressures, including conflict over resources.” China has the most people in one country; 1.38 billion people live there. India is next with 1.34 billion, followed by the United States with 326 million. The United Nations thinks our global population will hit 10 billion people by the year 2056. Related: Scientists say the world is “one crop breeding cycle away from starvation” Currie warned that while businesses may see increased global population as the opportunity to gain more customers, too much growth won’t be good for our planet – or business. He said, “Growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet and fewer consumers is ultimately better for all of us. Business must start recognizing and adapting to that reality. With action now, we can limit population growth and eventually reach sustainable levels.” We’re currently using up the resources of 1.6 Earths , and we’ll need 3 Earths by 2050 unless we can alter our consumption patterns. + Population Matters Via edie Images via Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino on Flickr and McKay Savage on Flickr

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

May 15, 2017 by  
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Daan Roosegaarde has been touring China with his Smog Free Project , showcasing the Smog Free Tower and encouraging people to find innovative solutions to address air pollution . He’s not out of ideas yet though; he’ll add to his tour with new smog-sucking bicycles . These bikes could work much like his Smog Free Tower does, absorbing dirty air , cleaning it, and pouring it back out as fresh air. Biking in a city polluted by smog isn’t healthy, so people are less inclined to ditch their cars and opt for a bicycle. Roosegaarde envisions an answer to that problem in a bike that can inhale dirty air, clean it, and pump it out around a cyclist. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working In a statement, Roosegaarde said, “ Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.” The studio says the concept aligns with growing interest in bike sharing programs in China – like Mobike , which has over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. There’s still a long way to go to slash pollution and traffic in the country’s capital, but the smog-sucking bicycle could offer a creative approach to the problem. The Smog Free Bicycle found its beginnings in a Studio Roosegaarde-hosted workshop at contemporary art museum M Woods in Beijing, featuring Professor Yang of Tsinghua University and artist Matt Hope, who worked on an idea for an air-filtering bike around four years ago . According to Studio Roosegaarde, the new smog-sucking bicycle is “currently in the first stage and is intended to become a medium for smog free cities, generating clean air by pedaling, and creating impact on the larger urban scale.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Studio Roosegaarde and Wikimedia Commons

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Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

Modern Mount Qiyun treehouse immerses guests in nature

May 11, 2017 by  
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A romantic weekend escape awaits lucky couples on China’s Mount Qiyun. Cambridge graduates Andong Lu and Pingping Dou of lanD studio designed Treehouse M, a prefabricated timber structure perched high in the tree canopy with sweeping panoramic views. The contemporary design and luxurious feel elevates the structure into a kind of glamping in the treetops. Prefabricated offsite with timber and steel elements, Treehouse M was assembled within a short time with minimal site impact and waste. The designers carefully sited the treehouse to immerse guests in nature at the forest resort. Panoramic views can be enjoyed from the room without compromising privacy. Related: This playful Airbnb treehouse near San Francisco lets you sleep in a 150-year-old oak tree The treehouse derives its name from its inverted roof that gives the building its M shape. Ample glazing blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living. The simple 40-square-meter interior houses a large bed, dresser, bathroom, and lounge chair. A bathtub is located on the semi-covered outdoor terrace . + lanD studio Via IGNANT Images © Bowen Hou

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Modern Mount Qiyun treehouse immerses guests in nature

One of China’s largest car makers just broke ground on a $6.5 billion EV park

May 10, 2017 by  
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Chinese automakers are getting in on the electric car market in a big way. GAC Motor – one of the country’s largest car companies – just began construction on a $6.5 billion electric vehicle park where they’ll produce self-driving and electric cars. Electrek noted this is one of the biggest investments of this nature. The Guangzhou Automobile Intelligent Industrial Park will sprawl across almost two square miles in Guangzhou’s Panyu district in the province of Guangdong . A press release states the employment population of the park will be over 20,000 people. At the park, a new electric car plant, which might be ready to go by the end of the next year, could churn out as many as 200,000 units a year. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory GAC Motor General Manager Yu Jun said, “The planning and construction of this industrial park is a concrete step to implement the Chinese government’s green development goals for Guangdong and the national ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy. The move will help promote the development of the automobile industry and drive economic growth.” Research , development, and production will take place at the new industrial park. Electrek explained one reason for the huge investment is China’s electric vehicle mandate, which says at least eight percent of car makers’ total sales by 2018 should be electric vehicle sales, and increases to 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020. The publication said China is rapidly becoming the world’s biggest electric vehicle market. GAC just unveiled the GE3, their first entirely electric car, at the North American International Auto Show this year. But they have grand ambitions for the upcoming years: Yu Jun also said in the next five years, they’ll release a minimum of seven new electric car models, saying, “Our goal is for GAC Motor to take the lead in the EV business.” Watch out, Elon Musk ! Via Electrek and GAC Group Images via GAC Motor Facebook and GAC Group

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One of China’s largest car makers just broke ground on a $6.5 billion EV park

90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

May 10, 2017 by  
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Twenty-five years ago, a mysterious egg was discovered. For a good portion of that time, the unknown specimen that failed to hatch has been studied by paleontologists of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Finally, the dinosaur embryo has been identified and given a scientific name, and researchers say the discovery is more profound than they once thought. The study, published on May 9 in the journal Nature Communications , was co-led by researcher Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology. She told Live Science in an email, “This is the first embryo known for a giant oviraptorosaur, dinosaurs that are exceedingly rare.” Additionally, it is the second known giant oviraptorosaur (B. sinensis) on record. 15 inches in length (38 centimeters), the embryo would have developed into a gigantic bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak and a crest on top of its head. Another name for the dinosaur is Gigantoraptor, as it was a beast that stood as tall as 16 ft (5 meters). Reportedly, the two-legged dinosaurs look like modern-day cassowaries – large, flightless birds that live in Australia. Researchers believe B. sinensis measured up to 26 feet long from its snout to the end of its tail and weighed up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) by the age of 11. This means it would have been 9 lbs by the time it hatched. The fossilized embryo was discovered by a Chinese farmer in Henan Province in 1992. One year later, it was exported to the U.S. by The Stone Co., a Colorado firm that sells fossils and rocks. After word spread that the embryo had been discovered, National Geographic featured it on a magazine cover in 1996. Related: World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Australia’s “Jurassic Park” Enthralled by the discovery, people began calling the dinosaur embryo “Baby Louie.” The embryo representing a new species was eventually repatriated to China (2013) and put on display at the Henan Geological Museum. There, researchers flocked to study the intriguing discovery. After years of speculation and research, the 90-million-year-old embryo has finally been identified. + Nature Communications Via Live Science

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90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world

May 2, 2017 by  
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Prague-based firm Artikul Architects has managed to combine two of our favorite things: shipping containers and wanderlust. The ContainHotel is a small boutique hotel made out of three repurposed shipping containers that can be easily disassembled and transported to different locations. The eco-hotel is made out of three large shipping containers , but has a total of five rooms that can accommodate up to 13 guests at a time. A horizontal row of four rooms was built into a 40-foot high cube container, which is supported by two perpendicular 20-foot containers on the bottom level. The ground level containers house the sanitary facilities, a technical room, a storeroom on one end and a four-bed guest room on the other. Related: Luxury Hotel Made from 35 Recycled Shipping Containers Opens Next Month in China Although compact, the rooms are open and airy, with minimal, but elegant features on the interior. Large windows provide tons of natural light for all of the rooms. The interiors are clad in birch plywood, which was also used for the custom-made furniture. All of the rooms open up to an elongated shared balcony that provides great views of the surrounding nature. Currently located in in Treboutice, Czech Republic, the hotel was designed to be a self-sufficient, eco-friendly hotel that can be easily demounted and transported to multiple locations. The structure was built on railroad sleepers to leave minimal footprint no matter where it is assembled. The building is connected to a local electric power source and has an integrated water reservoir that supplies the showers and sinks, all installed with water saving taps. To save on heating and cooling, the hotel awnings, which were made of reclaimed wood planks from a local sawmill, insulate the roof and provide shade in the summer months. + Artikul Architects Via Contemporist Photography by Michal Hurych

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This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world

Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

April 25, 2017 by  
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The next time you visit Beijing you may want to get your sled ready. China’s ever-evolving capital will soon be home to a stunning new civic center topped with an artificial snow-covered slope perfect for skiing and sledding. Designed by architect Andrew Bromberg of Aedas , the civic center, called the China World Trade Center Phase 3C, will merge energy efficient principles with mixed-use programming that accommodates the arts, outdoor recreation, and even organic farming. Set for completion in 2020, this extraordinary project is the final piece of the China World Trade Center masterplan, which includes Beijing’s two tallest towers to date in the city’s business district. With its eye-catching sculptural shape and ample green space, the Phase 3C development will serve as an anchor and gateway to the complex. Instead of massing the buildings around a single street-level civic green, Bromberg elevated the green space to the upper level to create a series of green terraces outfitted with seating and large trees. The shape of the elevated building dips towards the street corner but gently lifts up towards the tall towers. An Olympic-sized indoor ice-skating rink will be located directly below the largest roof garden, which sits above multiple levels of retail. Parking is tucked beneath ground. The building will also include an amphitheater, art studios, exhibition spaces, an organic farm , cultural and educational facilities, a rock climbing wall, theater, and a water play area that can be converted into an outdoor ice skating rink in winter. The crown jewel of the project is the sloping hill at the crest of the building that, with the use of artificial snow, will be turned into a slope for skiing and sledding during the colder months. Related: Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution To lower its energy footprint, the building will be clad in low-e , low-iron glass and is designed to maximize indoor access to natural light to reduce electricity demands. Existing trees will be transplanted onto the roof of the development and the natural landscaping will help reduce the city’s heat island effect and solar gain. Specially chosen plants and an efficient irrigation system are expected to reduce the project’s landscape requirements by as much as 30 percent as compared to the project baseline for the peak watering month. Water Efficiency Labeling Scheme (WELS) rated water fittings will also be used. The project will begin construction in August 2017. + Aedas Images via Aedas

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Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

April 21, 2017 by  
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You probably haven’t thought about the bird flu in a couple of years, unless you’re a virologist, but a new strain that resurfaced in China has the potential to be pandemic. The H7N9 virus only caused mild illness in poultry until recently, but a genetic change means the new strain is deadly for birds . Now, H7N9 has led to more human deaths this season than any other season since it was detected in people four years ago. Between September and March 1, 162 people perished from H7N9. Human cases have increased since December, with reports from eight different provinces in China. Hong Kong University research lab director Guan Yi told NPR, “We’re trying our best, but we still can’t control this virus. It’s too late for us to eradicate it.” Related: U.S. avian flu outbreak drives up the price of eggs as supplies are threatened The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for increased surveillance. FAO animal health officer Sophie Von Dobschuetz said China has started intensified observation while the FAO Beijing office has been providing recommendations for the country’s ministry of agriculture . As with past avian flu strains, patients said they were exposed to infected birds or went to live bird markets. Guan is concerned with how rapidly the H7N9 strain is evolving. He said ten years ago chickens were barely affected by the strain, but his lab’s research revealed the new strain can kill every chicken in his lab in 24 hours. There isn’t evidence the new strain will be deadlier in people, but when people do catch the virus from birds over one third of them perish. Guan said China’s government is already investigating vaccinating chickens. “Today, science is more advanced, we have vaccines and it’s easy to diagnose. On the other hand, it now takes hours to spread new viruses all over the world,” Guan told NPR. “I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years.” Via SciDev.net and NPR Images via CDC Global on Flickr and M M on Flickr

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This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

April 21, 2017 by  
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In 1959, the small village of Caowangba in China ’s Guizhou Province had a problem – a drought had dried up all the nearby water sources, and residents were forced to rely on a single well for drinking water. Even that single well was faltering, sometimes leaving the people of the town without enough water to go around. Worse yet, the town’s single rice paddy had dried up, making it hard for residents to access enough food. Something had to be done. But rather than give up and move to a new home, one man named Huang Dafa decided to lead an ambitious project to dig a 10-kilometer canal along the face of several sheer cliffs to bring water to his home. It took 36 years and at least one failed attempt, but now enough water flows to the city to provide food and drinking water to everyone. Many have compared Dafa to the legendary figure Yu Gong , an old man whose determination caused the gods to literally move mountains from his path. At only 23 years old, Dafa made the project his life’s work. To build the canal, villagers had to carve along the sheer cliffs of three karst mountains , dangerous work that involved climbing up the side of the mountains, tying themselves to trees, and rappelling hundreds of meters down the cliff to dig. Related: Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest Naturally, it took a bit of persuading before anyone else in town was willing to take on this dangerous work. But in the end, the only other option was to do nothing and watch the town continue to struggle. Unfortunately, after a decade of work, the first attempt at a canal was unsuccessful in bringing water to the city. It wasn’t a total waste: the effort did create a tunnel through the mountains that allowed for easy travel through the stone, rather than around, which is still in use today. Dafa realized they needed a better understanding of irrigation to make the project work. So he left to study engineering for several years, and planned his next attempt even more meticulously. In the early 1990s, he persuaded the villagers to try again. The workers often slept in caves along the cliff side, and the remote location made it difficult to reach them in case of emergency – in fact, Dafa was working in the mountains when his daughter and grandson passed away, unable to reach them before they died. Related: Hundreds of beehives hang off a steep cliff in China to save wild honeybees Finally, in 1995, the new channel was finished, and water began to flow to Caowangba. As if the channel weren’t enough, Dafa’s efforts were also responsible for bringing electricity and a new road to the town that same year, allowing the residents to step into the modern era. Now, the community is thriving, and Huang Dafa is celebrated as a local hero at 82 years old. The channel provides running water to three other villages that happen to cross its path as well, providing water to 1,200 people and allowing them to grow 400,000 kilograms of rice every year. Via Oddity Central Images via VGC , China Daily

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