How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet

April 17, 2017 by  
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Earth Day is April 22nd, and to get prepared for the big day, here are a few Earth Day facts that you may not know. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first ever Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day not only marks the beginnings of moving toward a more sustainable world, it’s a time to come together and contemplate our global environmental situation, as well as participate in community and global “green” activities. Read on to find out all about this important eco-holiday . Earth Day is one of the most widely celebrated environmental events across the globe. The first Earth Day was focused on protesting an oil spill off the coast of California, but today, the focus is on increasing awareness of the planet and all the issues around its health, from fracking and water pollution to rainforest depletion and animal extinctions. More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day of United States that took place on 22 April 1970, and one of the results of that first celebration was the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. It became an international event in 1971, when UN’s Secretary-General U Thant spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. On that first celebration, NYC’s mayor shut down Fifth Avenue for use on Earth Day, and allowed it to be celebrated in Central Park. Today, over 1 billion people celebrate Earth Day around the world. Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries. This day is a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the Earth, its issues and its problems, and people in different countries take action that will benefit their region the most. For example: On Earth Day 2011, the Earth Day Network planted 28 million trees in Afghanistan. On Earth Day 2012, more than 100 thousand people in China rode their bikes to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. In Panama, in honor of Earth Day, they planted 100 species of endangered orchids to prevent their extinction. In 2014, NASA participated in Earth Day with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event , asking people to take a photo of themselves outside and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. We can all use Earth Day as a time to reflect on our personal impact on the environment. Simply implementing something that promotes sustainability, such as a weekly recycling regimen, can truly make a difference. Let’s use today as a starting point for great change, and make every day an Earth Day. + Vangel The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet

For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

April 17, 2017 by  
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For the first time on record, climate change has completely changed the route of a river. In a shift that researchers called “geologically instantaneous,” a river in Canada’s Yukon territory shifted from draining into the Bering Sea to draining into the Pacific Ocean below Alaska. What makes this particularly concerning is that while shifting rivers aren’t unheard of in the Earth’s history, never before to our knowledge has a river rerouted so quickly, causing an enormous impact on the surrounding environment. The Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada has been rapidly melting. That influx of meltwater choked out the Slims River, depriving the downstream Kluane Lake of water and causing it to drop rapidly. The water shifted to the Alsek River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, where the ocean water will now see a rapid influx of freshwater. The shift began in 2016 when the melting water burst through an ice dam, depriving Slims River of its glacial water source. Now, the Kluane Lake level is dropping rapidly, which will put stress on the environment around the lake and could completely alter the geology of the area. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc Scientists determined that this shift was driven by human-caused climate change after they looked at the Kaskawulsh glacier and calculated that there was only a minuscule chance of it retreating in a stable climate. They also believe that it is unlikely that the Slims River will return to its previous water levels. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience . Via The Washington Post images via Nature Geoscience, Murray Foubister and Nat Wilson

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For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

EPA: Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat on vehicle emissions

January 12, 2017 by  
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Today, the EPA accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating emissions standards in over 100,000 of their vehicles, echoing the scandal that has been rocking Volkswagen . According to the EPA, the company installed software on SUVs and trucks made in 2014, 2015 and 2016 that allowed them to evade standards, allowing poisonous nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. While the current administration has shown it is willing to pursue Clean Air Act violators, the incoming administration could choose not to continue the investigation. The Italian automaker is accused of installing 8 different programs aimed at giving a false emissions picture. If those programs qualify as “defeat devices,” Fiat Chrysler could face a fine of up to $44,539 per vehicle if found guilty of violations of the Clean Air Act. Related: Volkswagen to pay $4.3 billion to US following emissions scandal Fiat Chrysler stated that it had offered to develop software fixes to help ease the problem and that they intend to plead their case to the incoming Trump administration . The company did not disclose the issue, rather, the EPA discovered during testing that the vehicles appeared to be within standards at a moderate speed, but at higher speeds or on longer trips, the emissions violated air quality standards. “FCA US is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation with respect to the emissions control technology employed in the company’s 2014-16 model year light duty 3.0-liter diesel engines. FCA US intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA US customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement. via USA Today images via Petr Magera

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EPA: Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat on vehicle emissions

6 amphibious houses that float to escape flooding

January 12, 2017 by  
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Building in a flood zone sounds like asking for trouble, but that doesn’t have to be the case if you use the right construction techniques. The most basic strategy to avoid rising waters is to raise the buildings above the flood level, but we’re more impressed by the houses that actually float off the ground when waters rush in. While this type of automated flood defense isn’t as common as elevated homes , we may see it pop up in more houses as flooding threatens to become a regular occurrence around the world. To take a closer look at these adaptive structures, we’ve rounded up six amphibious houses that float above the floodwaters—keep reading to see them all. Amphibious House by Baca Architects Baca Architects designed the Amphibious House, a flood-resistant home that enjoys gorgeous waterfront views without risk of water damage. Sited on the coveted banks of the River Thames in Buckinghamshire’s town of Marlow, the luxury home, which is described as the UK’s first amphibious house, rests on separated foundations that let the structure float upwards on extended guideposts when the River Thames overflows. The buoyant home has a 2.5-meter-high floodwater clearance. FLOAT House by Morphosis The LEED Platinum -certified FLOAT House is one of our favorite amphibious homes due to its small environmental footprint. Designed by Morphosis for Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the net-zero 945-square-foot home offers a solution for floodwater-prone regions around the globe. The house is built on a prefabricated chassis made of polystyrene foam coated in glass fiber-reinforced concrete that’s lightweight enough to serve as a raft when floodwaters buoy the home up. Bamboo homes by H&P Architects Amphibious homes can also be affordable, as evidenced in H&P Architects’ designs for these bamboo homes in Southeast Asia. Made from locally-sourced bamboo , the thatched homes are built on platforms constructed from reused oil drums anchored in place. The recycled oil drums serve as a float and allow floodwater to buoy the home upwards. Maasbommel’s Amphibious Homes by Waterstudio and Dura Vermeer It should come as no surprise that the Netherlands is home to amphibious architecture given their low-lying landscapes. Dutch firms Waterstudio and Dura Vermeer completed a famous example of amphibious housing in Maasbommel, an area near the Maas River. Though the homes there sit on the river bottom, the architecture is engineered so that the house and foundation will float upwards in the event of a flood. Electrical and sewer lines are kept intact thanks to flexible pipes. Amphibious Container by Green Container International Aid When heavy monsoon rains caused major flooding in Pakistan in 2010, approximately one-fifth of the country’s total land area was affected and 20 million people were directly affected. In a bid to provide relief, Green Container International Aid designed the Amphibious Container, an emergency shelter made from reclaimed shipping containers , shipping pallets, and inner tire tubes that can break away from the ground and float in case of flooding. The Greenhouse That Grows Legs by Between Art and Technology Studio While the above amphibious house examples explore buoyancy, Between Art and Technology (BAT) Studio decided to take a different approach in their design of a flood-resistant structure. Instead of letting the waters push the structure up, the Greenhouse That Grows Legs uses a hydraulic lifting system that can raise the building 800 millimeters off the ground. The homeowners can move the building via remote control .

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6 amphibious houses that float to escape flooding

Prefab ‘Bank in a Can’ delivers banking services to remote areas of Africa

January 12, 2017 by  
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People who live in rural areas of Africa in particular don’t always have access to reliable ATMs or other banking services. To help alleviate this issue, Johannesburg’s A4AC designed new prefabricated banking units called BANK IN A CAN that can be delivered to remote, rural areas. The Bank in a Can project was realized in collaboration between A4AC and FNB (First National Bank) as a banking solution for rural areas where people don’t have access to quality banking and financial services. Each prefabricated container is branded with graphics inspired by different local contexts. Related: World’s tiniest phone repair shops open in London’s iconic red telephone boxes The units are designed to be deployed in any rural or urban community and can be made operational within a few weeks. The foundations and structural infrastructure are prepared on site prior to the arrival of mobile units. The roof structure is then installed over the units. + A4AC

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Prefab ‘Bank in a Can’ delivers banking services to remote areas of Africa

Volkswagen to pay $4.3 billion to US following emissions scandal

January 11, 2017 by  
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The long legal saga over Volkswagen ’s attempts to cheat US emissions tests seems to finally be reaching an end. Not only has one of the company’s major executives been arrested , but the company has negotiated a $4.3 billion draft settlement with the US Justice Department as part of a civil and criminal settlement. The company also plans to plead guilty to criminal misconduct. The amount of the settlement still needs the approval of a judge before it’s finalized. While it’s far short of the $15 billion settlement previously reported in October, it appears that President Barack Obama is trying to rush the final settlement through before he leaves office. With incoming President Donald Trump’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the existence of climate change or the human health impacts of air pollution, it’s probably for the best that the suit is resolved as soon as possible. Related: VW forced to recall nearly 500,000 cars for circumventing smog emission standards The scandal began in 2015, when the company admitted to installing software in diesel vehicles intended to cheat emissions tests. In early 2016, the Justice Department accused the automaker of purposely violating the Clean Air Act and filed suit against the company. Hundreds of thousands of cars in the US were affected, and as many as 11 million worldwide might have similar software installed. Over the next two years, VW will be required to buy back or fix “dirty” US vehicles. There are still a number of unresolved lawsuits from US investors and 20 separate US states, as well. More individual executives may still end up facing charges, a Justice Department source stated to Reuters on Tuesday. The previous CEO of the company, Martin Winterkorn, was forced to resign as a result of the scandal in 2015. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Volkswagen to pay $4.3 billion to US following emissions scandal

Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog

January 11, 2017 by  
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Notoriously smoggy Beijing has created a new police force specifically to crack down on air pollution. The environmental police squad is one of several new plans announced by Beijing’s acting major, Cai Qi to deal with the city’s massive pollution problem . Other measures on Cai’s list include: cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 polluting factories, upgrading 2,500 facilities, phasing out 300,000 older vehicles and getting cleaner gas and diesel to stations as soon as Feb. 15. “Though we have made some progresses, air pollution in winter is still very serious,” Cai told media on Saturday. “That’s why the government must strengthen environmental protection and step up supervision and accountability in 2017. “Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement.” While air pollution is a constant problem in China , it tends to get worse in the winter and often goes beyond WHO safety guidelines. It is so bad it causes school and business closures, flight cancellations, and driving bans. Just one day before making the announcement, the government announced city schools and kindergartens would be equipped with air purifiers. Related: Pollution in China prompts Beijing exodus Strict anti-pollution laws that came into effect in 2014 have taken somewhat of a bite out of the problem, but according to the Christian Science Monitor , an economic slowdown in 2016 dampened the enthusiasm a bit – as the Chinese government supported polluting industries to help drive economic growth. Via Christian Science Monitor Images via Yinan Chen and McKay Savage , Wikimedia Commons

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Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog

Fascinating Earth Day facts that you may not know

April 1, 2015 by  
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Earth Day is April 22 this year, and to get prepared for the big day, here are a few Earth Day facts that you may not know. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first ever Earth Day was held April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day not only marks the beginnings of moving toward a more sustainable world, it’s a time to come together and contemplate our global environmental situation, as well as participate in community and global “green” activities. Read on to find out all about Earth Day . Read the rest of Fascinating Earth Day facts that you may not know Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: #earthdayfacts , clean air act , earth day , Earth Day 2015 , Earth Day facts , Earth Day information , environmental protection agency , Peace Bell Ceremony , reader submissions , Vangel

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Fascinating Earth Day facts that you may not know

PULSE by Live Work Play might be the last charger you’ll ever need

April 1, 2015 by  
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You take your electronics everywhere—even places they’re not supposed to go. Whether you’re hiking, jogging, skiing, surfing, or otherwise adventuring, taying connected is a necessity. PULSE is the world’s first hybrid portable charger that combines the sustainability of solar energy with the reliability of traditional power available whenever you need a charge. PULSE is engineered for two types of charging: conventional charging via a wall outlet or USB (similar to any other traditional portable battery), and charging through the solar panel . Utilizing the integrated solar panels, this device can recharge itself while you enjoy your daily activities in the woods, on the beach or simply enjoying coffee . Inside PULSE is a 5000mAh internal battery which is large enough to make sure that you will have plenty of juice for all of your devices. + PULSE The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: hybrid charger , Live Work Play , portable charger , portable solar charger , PULSE , Pulse by live work play , pulse charger , PULSE hybrid charger , PULSE solar charger , solar charger , Solar Power

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PULSE by Live Work Play might be the last charger you’ll ever need

Hand Over is raising funds to provide sustainable housing in Cairo’s slums

April 1, 2015 by  
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An astonishing 47 percent of Egypt’s slums are in Cairo, where 6 million inhabitants are living in a chronically underdeveloped environment. A group of dedicated engineering students is working to create a sustainable housing project, and right now, they are looking for your help to complete the prototype. The efforts are spearheaded by engineer Radwa Roston who, together with a group of international experts, has developed an education and training program called Hand Over . The program’s goal is to teach locals the skills they need to implement  rammed earth  housing design, a sustainable building option. The program empowers impoverished Egyptians to improve their own lives and communities. The first house is soon to break ground for one family, and the project has a fundraising campaign going on right now to help build houses for even more families. Take peek at the concept after the break and then consider giving the project a hand with a donation. Read the rest of Hand Over is raising funds to provide sustainable housing in Cairo’s slums Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Cairo housing , Egypt humanitarian design , Egypt slum , Egypt urban design , green building slum , Hand Over , humanitarian housing , rammed earth , Rammed earth housing , slum design , slum housing , sustainable housing

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Hand Over is raising funds to provide sustainable housing in Cairo’s slums

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