Brazil meets a major emissions goal two years ahead of schedule

August 13, 2018 by  
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Brazil has just announced that it has cut 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation to levels far below its 2020 goal. The country originally aimed to reduce emissions from this source by 564 million tons in the Amazon and by 170 million tons in the Cerrado savanna by 2020, in keeping with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord . However, this past Thursday, Brazil’s Environment Ministry reported that CO2 emissions from deforestation in these areas have already been reduced by 780 million tons, in a major win for Brazil and, of course, the Earth. Related: 73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever Brazil has even higher goals for emissions reduction under the 2015 Paris Agreement . According to Thiago Mendes, the Environment Ministry’s secretary of climate change, “The policy message is that we can and should remain in the Paris Agreement (because) it is possible to effectively implement the commitments that have been made.” The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, and Brazil’s Cerrado is the biggest savanna in South America. As such, both absorb high amounts of CO2, making their preservation  paramount in the battle against climate change. Thankfully, Brazil is already exceeding expectations in this battle, and one can only hope it continues to do so as it strives to meet its Paris Agreement goals. Via Reuters

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Brazil meets a major emissions goal two years ahead of schedule

Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

August 9, 2018 by  
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Planning to pull out a bottle of chilled champagne in celebration of your latest accomplishment? Not so fast. The seasonal shifts in temperature that have become more and more extreme over the years are affecting grape production in regions around the world, and that includes the famous Champagne region in France. Champagne grapes depend on a cool climate and chalky soil in order to produce the crisp, fruity taste they are known for. But climate change is making these factors less dependable, and champagne producers in France are worried about the future. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley In an interview with Bloomberg, Antoine Malassagne, co-owner of champagne maker A.R. Lenoble, explained the difficulties now involved in champagne production. “Harvest is two weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “It used to be mid-to-late September. Now harvest often starts in August, as it will this year. But maturity during hot days and nights results in lower and lower acidity in the grapes, which means less freshness in the wines.” The lower acidity is also problematic for producers, given that acidity is what allows champagne to age, creating the wine’s unique taste. A.R. Lenoble has been combating the gustatory alterations to its products by mixing in reserve wines from older vintages. Louis Roederer, another champagne compnay, has begun experimenting with DNA analysis of yeast and biodynamic viticulture to try and head off the impacts of climate change. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, the company’s chef de cave, has spearheaded these efforts in search of a way “to maintain what has made Champagne’s reputation.” Despite the potential challenges facing champagne producers, Lecaillon is optimistic. “We invented bubbles to make up for unripe grapes. As farmers, our job, our life, our passion has been to adapt to climate change for hundreds of years. If the future heats up too much,” he said, “we’ll just have to make Burgundy.” Via Bloomberg Image by  Anthony Delanoix  on  Unsplash

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Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change

August 6, 2018 by  
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Michael Strasser, famous cyclist and the first cyclist to join the  UN Environment’s  Mountain Heroes campaign, has now been cycling for nearly two weeks. His goal? Establishing a new world record by cycling from Alaska to Patagonia through the longest overland route. But the 14,300-mile and nearly 610,000-vertical-foot  Ice2Ice expedition is not just about immense feats of strength and stamina. Strasser also seeks to demonstrate how personal transportation choices can mitigate climate change. Originally an architect, Strasser began his expedition on July 23. The Austrian cyclist is now crossing Canada and has been updating followers and contributors on his journey in real time. His candid memos are paired with a live tracking map that includes the time spent cycling as well as distance and elevation details. He wrote, “Yesterday, for example, that damned smoke was back in the morning for the first two hours,” referring to a forest fire that had broken out close to his trail. “And then, while I was still angry about the very rough roads, a little black bear appeared on the side of the road and put a smile on my lips.” The cyclist hopes to inspire action in order to protect mountain ecosystems , which provide freshwater around the world and are home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Related: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution A rise in pollution and the impacts of climate change have put stress on these delicate mountain ecosystems. The glaciers through which Strasser is traveling have been reduced by nearly a third since the 1960s, displaying a visible amount of loss in ice and snow cover. Along with the fragile biological diversity in these areas, the retreating glaciers serve as one of the Earth’s most reliable sources of fresh drinking water. Climate change is disproportionately affecting these mountainous regions, along with high elevation zones such as the Arctic and Antarctica. “It would mean a lot to me if I could motivate every single person who follows me to sometimes take a bike instead of their car,” Strasser said. “If my attempt is to bike 23,000 kilometers and 185,000 vertical meters, then everyone can manage one or the other kilometer in their daily life too. I think if all of us contribute something even small, something big can come of it.” + Ice2Ice + UN Environment Images via Michael Strasser

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Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change

Abandoned 400-year-old Greek ruins transformed with brilliant bursts of color

August 6, 2018 by  
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Artists Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic of the multidisciplinary German design practice Quintessenz have transformed ancient stone ruins in Kagkatika, Greece into a spectacular work of art that straddles the line between the analog and digital worlds. Commissioned by the Paxos Contemporary Art Project , Quintessenz crafted a large-scale art installation using 120 mesh layers of varying colors. Dubbed Kagkatikas Secret, the colorful artwork flutters in the wind, creating an extra dimension to the surreal piece. Kagkatikas Secret stands in striking contrast to its centuries-old stone backdrop. The mesh panels, strung up with thin wires, were spray painted a variety of colors and then cut into differing sizes. The panels were hung in order of their size—the largest were placed at the rear near the stone windows that frame views of the sea—to create the illusion of depth. This installation builds on Quintessenz’s signature style, which derives inspiration from graffiti culture, graphic design and chromatics. “The work unfolds in an approximately 400-year-old ruin and forms a unique contrast,” explains Quintessenz in a project statement. “It is detached from the usual city bustle and is not in competition with glaring lights or obtrusive advertising. The wind and the sunlight make the installation appear like a digital body in the real world. It forms the interface between analog and digital, between today and then and between old and new. The great contrast makes the installation look almost unreal, as soon as the wind settles in the layers and the sunlight underlines the colors even more, it seems as if there is only one place for this installation. This, in turn, the contrast fits in and creates exciting synergies.” Related: Nendo Unveils Collection of Sculptural Objects Made From Japanese Farming Nets Quintessenz was selected along with seven other artists for the inaugural Paxos Contemporary Art Project, a site-specific artist initiative on the Ionian island of Paxos. + Quintessenz Images via Quintessenz

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Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century

August 1, 2018 by  
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It is no surprise that the world’s most populous country, China , is also the largest polluter on Earth. However, for individuals living in China’s northern plain, the most densely populated region on the planet, it may come as a shock that their homes could become uninhabitable by the end of the century. The region is expected to be subject to aggressive heatwaves that could kill even the healthiest of people in just a matter of hours if carbon emissions are not reduced. In a recent study published by MIT’s Center for Global Change Science , researchers found that China’s northern plain will be the worst spot in the world for future deadly heatwaves. “China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases , with potentially serious implications to its own population,” said Professor Elfatih Eltahir, speaking on behalf of his team who ran extensive computerized climate models to research the unfolding event. “Continuation of current global emissions may limit the habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth.” Related: 6 ways that scientists are hacking the planet This is especially worrisome, because a large portion of the region’s 400 million people are farmers dependent on both the land and outdoor conditions for their livelihoods. According to Bloomberg , Chinese diets are becoming increasingly more like western ones — and it takes about 1 acre to feed the average individual in the U.S. When considering fields that are affected by pollution, which produce mercury-infected rice and milk powder with melamine, China barely has 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen. Pair the degradation of prime land by pollution with the dangerous heatwaves, and China will have a major humanitarian crisis in the near future. Eltahir and his team have previously published global models noting that the key driver to these heat waves is climate change, but that irrigation for farmland is also a serious contributor as water evaporation leads to harmful humidity levels. This combination of heat and humidity is measured in units called “wet bulb” temperature or WBTs. According to the U.S. National Weather Service, WBTs above 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit are classified with an “extreme danger” warning and, “If you don’t take precautions immediately, you may become seriously ill or even die.” WBTs above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will kill even the healthiest individuals sitting in the shade within just six hours. The country will be gambling with the lives of their citizens — not only those living in the northern region — if stricter regulations on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are not adopted. + MIT Center for Global Change Science + Nature Communications Via The Guardian

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Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century

About 90% of world’s largest king penguin colony has mysteriously disappeared

July 31, 2018 by  
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Recent satellite images and a new study show that only 200,000 of the two million king penguins who lived on the French island of Île aux Cochons in 1982 still remain. The drastic disappearance of these penguins is a puzzling occurrence that scientists are still trying to piece together, but they are looking at climate change as the likely culprit. The remote Île aux Cochons lies halfway between the tip of Africa and Antarctica and is home to the largest colony of king penguins in the world. Henri Weimerskirch, ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies in Chize, France , first witnessed this colony in the early 1980s and plans to return to the island in early 2019 after three decades of satellite images revealed the population collapse. “It is completely unexpected, and particularly significant since this colony represented nearly one third of the king penguins in the world,” Weimerskirch said. Related: The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary proposed for Antarctica The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is still listing the conservation effort for these creatures under the “least concern” status despite the recent decline in numbers. As for what happened to hundreds of thousands of mated pairs of king penguins, there are several possibilities that Weimerskirch and his colleagues are juggling. The most likely causes are climate change and resulting El Niño weather events, competition for food and avian cholera. Scientists have not been able to examine the penguins for indications leading to a singular cause, but chances are that the factors are intermingled and aggravated by each other. Competition, which can be worsened by climate change, leads to a lack of food, resulting in struggles that are “amplified and can trigger an unprecedented rapid and drastic drop in numbers,” according to Weimerskirch. Another possible factor in the penguins’ decline could be an incident similar to the El Niño event that decimated the Emperor penguin population in Terre Adélie by 50 percent in the late 1970s. Meanwhile, avian cholera has impacted birds on nearby islands, and could be the problem on Île aux Cochons. The news is particularly daunting for the king penguins, because they only lay one egg at a time when nesting. The penguins carry the egg around on their feet, and the mates take turns every few weeks protecting and incubating the chick until it is hatched. This process takes over two months. Because the penguins do not nest year-round, and with food becoming scarcer and scarcer, a rapid rebound in population does not seem likely. + Antarctic Science Via The Guardian,   IUCN and Cool Antarctica Image via Liam Quinn

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About 90% of world’s largest king penguin colony has mysteriously disappeared

How should businesses tackle risks posed by the shift away from plastics?

July 30, 2018 by  
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Solving for plastic doesn’t solve for climate change. Here’s how to address both.

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How should businesses tackle risks posed by the shift away from plastics?

Survey Results: Source for Reliable Climate Change Information

July 18, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Source for Reliable Climate Change Information appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Snhetta designs an energy-positive data center to fight climate change

July 13, 2018 by  
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Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and real estate developer MIRIS have unveiled designs for ‘ The Spark ,’ an urban data center that reuses excess heat to power cities. Framed as a “solution to the global climate crisis ,” the prototype is designed to power cities with up to 18,000 people. The city of Os, located south of Norway’s second largest city, Bergen, will be the first municipality to test the concept as part of a plan to become the world’s first-ever energy positive city. Created in collaboration with Skanska, Asplan Viak and Nokia, The Spark was born from a study that examined the energy footprint of data centers and how they could be redesigned for energy efficiency . According to their research, they found that 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the world could be attributed to buildings, while data centers alone account for approximately two percent of total energy consumption. As digitalization continues to rise, so will demand for more data centers. Although data centers have traditionally been located in remote locations, The Spark would be placed in the middle of a city so that recaptured excess heat could be used to power nearby buildings, which would also be solar-powered to feed energy back to the center and thus slash overall energy consumption by up to 40 percent. “We have developed a cyclical energy concept,” explains Elin Vatn of Snøhetta. “By cyclical, we mean that the heat generated from the data center is looped through the city before it is brought back to the center. This system allows us to heat the buildings in the city, but also to cool down the center towards the end of the cycle. This way we can maximize the utilization from beginning to end.” Related: Snøhetta unveils plans for world’s first “energy-positive” hotel in the Arctic Circle The Spark will be tested in a pilot project in Lyseparken, Os as part of a sustainable business park that will generate at least 4,000 new jobs with thousands of households in the surrounding area. If the pilot is successful, Lyseparken is expected to be the first-ever energy-positive city in the world. The Spark data center would be constructed following the Powerhouse standard—a set of guidelines for plus-energy buildings—and include low-embodied materials like wood instead of concrete. + Snøhetta + Spark City Images © Plompmozes

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Snhetta designs an energy-positive data center to fight climate change

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