UK residents enjoying record low emissions

May 28, 2020 by  
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By now, almost everybody has heard about record low CO2 emissions brought on by  coronavirus  lockdowns. But new data shows not only that the U.K.’s emissions are the lowest they’ve been since the 1920s, but there’s reason to hope they might not shoot back up to pre-pandemic rates as soon as life returns to quasi-normal. A recent paper published in the scientific journal  Nature Climate Change examined six sectors known for their climate change contributions: electricity  and heat; surface transport; industry; home use; aviation; and public buildings and commerce. They found that surface transport was notably down, partially accounting for why the U.K. cut emissions by 31% during lockdown, compared to a global average of 17%.  “A lot of emissions in the UK come from surface transport – around 30% on average of the country’s total  emissions ,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the paper’s lead author. “It makes up a bigger contribution to total emissions than the average worldwide.” Since the U.K. reached full lockdown, Quéré said, people were forced to stay home and not to drive to work. Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, reminds us that our problems are far from over. “A 31% emissions drop in April is dramatic, but in the long run it won’t mean anything unless some reductions are made permanent,” Childs told HuffPost UK. “This lockdown moment is a chance to reset our carbon-guzzling economy and rebuild in a way that leaves pollution in the past, to stop climate-wrecking emissions spiking right back up to where they were before, or even higher.” Fortunately, British drivers appreciate the cleaner air and plan to permanently alter their driving style, according to a survey. In the Automobile Association’s poll of 20,000 motorists, half plan to walk more post- pandemic , and 40% aim to drive less. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they planned to work from home more, 25% intend to fly less and 20% to cycle more. The U.K. government plans to spend £250 million on improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. “We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air,” said Edmund King, Automobile Association president. “ Walking  and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air.” + Nature Climate Change Via HuffPost and BBC

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UK residents enjoying record low emissions

New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

May 28, 2020 by  
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Antarctica’s peculiar green snow is spreading, according to researchers who have created the first large-scale map of microscopic algae growing on the chilly, southernmost continent. As the climate warms, snow algae is becoming a more and more important terrestrial carbon sink. “This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” study leader Matt Davey, faculty member of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, said. “Snow algae are a key component of the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature The study’s researchers, from University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, explained the lay of the Antarctic land. “In the limited terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica , all photosynthetic organisms will make a significant contribution to the ecology of their habitat,” the scientists wrote in their paper, which is published in Nature Communications . With only about 0.18% of Antarctica’s continental area ice-free, there’s very little exposed ground for traditional vegetation. Thus, evolution got creative and developed snow algae. Expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s first described the green and red patches on and below the snow surface. Since then, researchers have learned that Antarctica’s diverse algal species are important for nutrient and carbon cycling. “Considering that a single snow algal bloom can cover hundreds of square meters, snow algae are potentially one of the region’s most significant photosynthetic primary producers, as well as influencing nutrient provision to downstream terrestrial and marine ecosystems ,” the researchers wrote. Researchers combined their own measurements on the ground with satellite images taken between 2017 and 2019 to map the algae. They found that algae grows in “warmer” areas along the Antarctica coastlines and west coast islands, where temperatures in the continent’s summer months rise just a hair over 0 degrees Celsius. Marine birds and mammals also influence the algal distribution, as their excrement is a natural fertilizer. More than 60% of algal blooms were within 5 kilometers of penguin colonies. Lead author Andrew Gray explained, “As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae.” + Nature Communications Via University of Cambridge Images via Gray, A., Krolikowski, M., Fretwell, P. et al. / Nature Communications (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License)

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New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

May 28, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled a masterplan to transform South Korea’s Gyeongdo Island into a new, 470,000-square-meter leisure destination that puts the spotlight on nature. The design celebrates the island’s natural beauty by orienting development around carefully framed landscape views — a design approach borrowed from ancient Korean garden design. The high-density development, which ranges from an affordable family resort to private villas, will follow passive solar and bio-design principles to minimize energy use. Commissioned by client YKDevelopment, the redevelopment of Gyeongdo is part of a plan to turn the island into “Asia’s number one marine and coastal tourism destination”. Located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, Gyeongdo sits 2 kilometers southeast of the city of Yeosu, the main tourist hub in the Namhae region that is renowned for beautiful, green islands and ocean views. UNStudio’s masterplan aims to highlight the island’s rich biodiversity by creating three developments along the island, each informed by a distinct garden concept with different trees, flowers and other vegetation. Related: UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwha’s HQ Built on either side of a “green backbone” for conservation, the three developments will be nestled within areas of reconstructed forest. The three neighborhoods include the Gyeongdo Gateway at the island’s main entrance; the Sunrise Waterfront on the east side of the island; and Sea Breeze Coast at the island’s southern point. Gyeongdo Gateway will house the main port, a cable car station, marina and bridge, an entertainment center, shopping mall and a waterside boardwalk. The quieter Sunrise Waterfront will serve as the island’s “leisure heart” and will include a four-star hotel and condos. The Sea Breeze Coast neighborhood is located in the most secluded part of the island and will offer a five-star hotel and a series of private villas. All of the buildings will be thoughtfully embedded into the landscape to follow the natural terrain and passive solar principles. Visitors and residents will have access to a seamless public transportation system to easily and sustainably move about the island. + UNStudio Images by Plomp (NL) and Flying Architecture (CZ) via UNStudio

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Now is the best time to build a home you never want to leave

May 19, 2020 by  
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Whether you are still sheltering in place or your area’s lockdowns are just lifting after months indoors, right now is the perfect time to contemplate what you like about your home and what you’d like to change. Thankfully, Deltec Homes makes it easy to plan your future legacy home. This North Carolina-based builder is known for producing distinctive, resilient round houses and was also featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. Now, it can make your own dreams come true by offering extensive support, from planning to payment, in the home-building process. Many people are taking advantage of Deltec Homes’ tools to remotely design their eco-friendly dream homes. A small deposit gives you access to Deltec Homes’ full resources, including a wealth of experience building houses around the world and start-to-finish support for designing and building a new, sustainable home. Related: Building homes that fight against climate change How to design a home you never want to leave If you’ve never designed your own house — and many people haven’t — you might wonder how on earth you do this remotely, without an architect sitting by your side. Deltec Homes clearly explains its 360 collection of round homes and its Renew collection, which is designed to make it easy to reach net-zero energy goals. The company will work with you every step of the way to create a home better than you could ever imagine. The round houses in the 360 collection are incredibly fun to customize. Now that you have been spending more time at home than ever, you’re probably thinking a lot more about how you want your space to work for you. How many bedrooms do you need? Would you like designated space for a home office? Do you want flexible spaces that can serve as a study room during the day and a child’s playroom or craft room in the evenings? Perhaps you would love a deck, where the family can get together for a breath of fresh air. Do you want your home to embrace biophilic design? Renew has three basic designs: Balsam, a contemporary take on a mountain cabin; Solar Farmhouse, which is a modern farmhouse with solar capabilities; and Ridgeline, the most modern looking of the three. Each of these options allows you to customize features such as windows, siding, air ventilation and porches to make your home as comfortable and eco-friendly as possible. Thankfully, the Deltec Way strives for each home to be a sanctuary that seamlessly blurs the line between indoors and outdoors; think large, beautiful windows and uninterrupted sight lines. At every step, Deltec Homes will help you and your home embrace nature and sustainability — it is just the Deltec Way. Once you decide on your exact floor plan, Deltec Homes prefabricates your house in its factory, then ships it to the building site. Your own builder takes it from there, assembling and finishing your dream home. Deltec Homes has more than 5,000 homes in every state in the U.S. as well as over 30 countries and five continents, so no matter where you choose to call home, you are joining thousands of other people who love their unique Deltec homes. What’s more, Deltec Homes isn’t just helping you build your next house — it helps you build your legacy home. These high-quality, resilient homes are built to last and actually reduce the total cost of ownership over time. Deltec Homes are often comparable to custom homes, but they are built to last much longer by following stringent, precise standards to significantly reduce your energy costs and total ownership costs. Saving energy and designing legacy homes isn’t just good for you — it’s great for the planet and future generations, too. Deltec Homes embraces sustainability and resilient design — it’s the Deltec Way Deltec Homes prides itself on following the Deltec Way, which means connecting customers to nature and our planet while also protecting them from the elements. The planet will thank you for buying a net-zero energy home, which is one of many green design options offered by Deltec Homes. The company’s homes aren’t just sustainable — Deltec Homes embraces this green philosophy in its own factory, which runs on 100% renewable energy and diverts about 80% of its construction waste away from the landfill. In addition to connecting homeowners with nature and the planet, the Deltec Way also emphasizes connecting our homes with the planet. From using only the best materials to working with nature, rather than against it, Deltec Homes ensures each house can withstand extreme weather while also embracing all of the beauty Earth has to offer. Deltec Homes implements a unique, 360-degree design to ensure that wind diverts around the home. This prevents wind pressure from building up on a traditionally flat side of the home — this wind pressure typically leads to damage such as collapsed walls. The added benefit of the 360-degree design is the light-filled, panoramic views of nature that can include dreamy sunrise-to-sunset views. Of course, the round layout is just part of the equation to Deltec Homes’ hurricane-resistant designs. The company uses a comprehensive approach to make its homes more resilient , including special attention to engineering, construction and materials. This approach has resulted in a 99.9% survival rate for these hurricane-resistant homes. In fact, there have been Deltec Homes that have withstood some of the most devastating hurricanes of our time, including Hurricanes Dorian, Michael, Katrina, Harvey, Hugo, Irma, and Sandy. Deltec Homes is actually considered “the original green builder” and has been working on creating high-quality homes since 1968. Along the way, it recognized the need for sustainability to be central to its core mission — Deltec Homes are designed to stringent sustainability standards. Last year, one of its homes even won a Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home housing innovation award . These homes have been designed to stand the test of time and look good doing it. Luckily, these experts are ready to give you a helping hand in designing and building a sustainable legacy home for your family. Deltec Homes offers financial peace of mind Despite the pandemic, right now is a smart time to start planning the house of your dreams, thanks to Deltec’s homeowners assurance plan. Deltec Homes is offering financial peace of mind through its new refund flexibility policy. Any deposit placed in the first half of 2020 is fully refundable if the homebuyer loses their job or has a COVID-19-related health issue during this time. Deltec Homes is honoring those on the front lines of the pandemic by extending its usual 7% military discount to all healthcare and other essential workers who place a design deposit by June 30. Whether homebuyers are working in a hospital, delivering packages or keeping the electric grid or public transportation systems in operation, Deltec Homes recognizes these essential workers. These difficult times have also prompted Deltec Homes to increase its customer service support by extending hours and offering more remote consultations. If spending more time at home has made you yearn for a house that is designed exactly the way you want it, there’s no better time than right now to contact Deltec Homes . + Deltec Homes Images via Deltec Homes

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CX Landscape proposes futuristic coastal park in response to climate change

May 19, 2020 by  
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Australia-based CX Landscape has unveiled designs for Sea Line Park, a conceptual project to link the eastern and western inner suburbs of Melbourne with a linear coastal park. Designed to serve as a new line of defense against rising waters, the Sea Line Park would comprise three islands, two pontoon bridges and undersea roads to provide a new direct connection between Williams Town to the west and Elwood in the east. The fantastical proposal would also draw power from renewable sources, including tidal and solar power. Bookended by two movable pontoon bridges, the Sea Line Park consists of three curvaceous green islands : two “Sports Islands” flanking a central “Art Island”. The Sports Islands would function as public outdoor recreation space for both active and passive programs. The Art Island serves primarily as an events space and would be home to a large north-facing meadow that can host open cinemas, performances, markets and other events. A naturalistic landscape with pedestrian and cyclist paths would be integrated onto all islands. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy The linear parks would also house a live seed bank within a series of pods, the design of which is inspired by the diamond-patterned totem polls of the Wurundjeri tribe. Solar panels would cover the exterior of each pod and — along with the tidal power generation units integrated in the two pontoon bridges — provide energy for the entire park. The islands are also punctuated by bubble-like structures that house seawater purification and freshwater storage systems. To address ocean waste, the designers have proposed using submarine robots to collect plastic ocean debris and repurposing the waste as raw material for 3D printing construction materials. “This park will grow, adapt and innovate with the help of cutting-edge technologies, to be resilient and resistant to natural disasters and climate change ,” the designers said. “A self-sustained living hub is suitable for any coastal cities around the world, which can carry the critical resources and civilizations to create a mobile global village.” + CX Landscape Images via CX Landscape

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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate

May 16, 2020 by  
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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate Barbara Freese Sat, 05/16/2020 – 14:20 Excerpted from ” Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible, from the Slave Trade to Climate Change ” by Barbara Freese, published by the University of California Press. © 2020 by the Regents of the University of California. The above is an affiliate link and we may get a small commission if you purchase from the site. The Hubris of Denial: Risk, Doubt, and the Burden of Proof There are many reasons why the risks of climate change would not fully register in the human mind. In addition to the denial-provoking gravity of the threat, climate change is not the type of risk our minds evolved to detect. It is gradual, and it derives largely from the familiar and widespread practice of burning fossil fuels. It is something we all contribute to and cannot just blame on enemy evildoers. And it manifests as natural phenomena like heat waves, droughts, fires, storms and floods; we need experts, assessing global data and long-term trends, to tell us if what is happening is truly unusual. As such, climate change just does not provoke the sense of threat we would get from a stalking tiger, a hostile attacker or an eerie and unrecognizably novel situation. All these factors surely make it easier for climate deniers to internally deny the risk and to convince others to do the same. But what exactly are they still denying? The Heartland Institute has for years hosted conferences where climate deniers talk to each other and the media (events known to critics as “denial-paloozas”). At one such event in 2014, speaker Christopher Monckton surveyed the room and declared that everyone there agreed that humanity’s “emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have contributed to the measured global warming since 1950.” His point was to make it clear that “we are not climate change deniers.” Monckton also predicted additional CO2-emission-driven warming in the decades ahead, though less than the consensus predictions. (He undermined his bid to appear reasonable, though, when he went on to berate the media for ignoring facts that “go against the climate Communist party line.”) What continues to define these people as “deniers” in my book is their unshaken belief that climate change is simply no big deal and there is no reason to go out of our way to prevent more of it. “There is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and no point in attempting to do so,” as one recent Heartland document succinctly put it. One reason people might be confused about how much climate deniers actually accept about the science is the vitriolic rhetoric of so many of them. Only two years before this conference, Heartland had issued its press release saying that manmade global warming was a “fringe” view (held by mass murderers, etc.) and that still believing in it was “more than a little nutty.” After this conference, in 2016, Heartland’s science director gave a speech titled “Man-Caused Global Warming: The Greatest Scam in World History” (rather than one called, say, “Man-Caused Global Warming: We Agree We’re Causing It But Predict Less Warming Than Others Do.”) [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:0] Charles Koch is among the deniers who accept that our CO2 emissions are causing global warming, but he is confident the climate is “changing in a mild and manageable way.” It is worth noting here that evidence from psychological studies suggests that the experience of power promotes “illusory control” — that is, a belief among power holders that they can control outcomes that are actually beyond their influence. Contrast Charles Koch’s view with that of one of the pioneers of climate science, Columbia’s Dr. Wallace Broecker. He is winner of the President’s National Medal of Science for, among other things, shedding light on the abrupt climate changes of earth’s distant past. The “paleoclimate,” he says, shows that the “Earth tends to over-respond. . . . The Earth system has amplifiers and feedbacks that mushroom small impacts into large responses.” He does not view climate change as mild and manageable. On the contrary, he says, “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.” It is worth pausing here to appreciate the breathtaking hubris of this now-dominant strain of climate denial. These deniers accept that humanity’s pollution has disrupted a fundamental, complex and awesomely powerful planetary system with a history of violent shifts, yet they express complete confidence that the global changes we are inadvertently unleashing will be harmless, even beneficial. It is a bit like a pregnant woman who, after learning that a drug she is consuming causes sometimes devastating chromosomal changes, especially as it accumulates in the body, continues to consume it in ever greater quantities, somehow confident her baby will only benefit from the resulting genetic mutations. Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Sometimes this spin is explicit, like when the Global Climate Coalition argued in 1996 that “the scientific community has not yet met the ‘burden of proof ’ that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to cause serious climatic impacts.” More often, it is implicitly built into the conversation, as it was in so many other public debates, like those over leaded gas, ozone and tobacco. And because there is no discussion of who should initially bear the burden of proof, there is also no discussion of whether to revisit the question and shift that burden once the evidence reaches a certain point. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. The tobacco industry responded to this incentive (“doubt is our product”) as do climate deniers. A recent analysis of decades of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications by Harvard science historians Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes found that while 80 percent or more of the company’s internal documents and peer-reviewed papers acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused, only 12 percent of its paid “advertorials” aimed at the general news-reading public did so. Instead, 81 percent of these ads raised doubts. [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:1] Oil and gas executives were recently reminded of the value of raising scientific doubt by Rick (“win ugly or lose pretty”) Berman, who explained in his secretly taped 2014 presentation that “people get overwhelmed by the science and [think] ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ But, if you got enough on your side you get people into a position of paralysis about the issue. . . . You get in people’s mind a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically insures the status quo. . . . I’ll take a tie any day if I’m trying to preserve the status quo.” Imagine how different the climate debate would be if — after decades of analysis and mountains of data pointing to extreme danger — we now finally shifted the burden of proof and started demanding that climate deniers prove the safety of continued pollution. Where is the proof that we can safely raise atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen on earth for millions of years, since long before humans existed, when the earth was much warmer and seas far higher? What is your alternative explanation for the melting ice, shifting ecosystems, growing extremes and other evidence of warming? Show us the sophisticated computer models that accurately simulate the climate system, that factor in ongoing pollution, and that still show a stable future climate with no significant risk of catastrophic changes. Demonstrate precisely how we can be confident that pushing CO2 levels higher will not trigger the feedback systems that in Earth’s past have repeatedly amplified small changes into extreme planetary transformations. Those urging us to heedlessly continue down our current polluting path would need to show evidence of virtually complete scientific consensus, including assurances from all the major scientific academies and relevant scientific societies throughout the world, that pushing CO2 concentrations ever higher was safe. (We would not, however, insist on agreement from all scientists, even those who were the most financially and ideologically invested in the opposite conclusion, because that would be ridiculous.) And wherever there was a gap in our knowledge — about exactly how our complex climate and life on earth would react to these unprecedented changes — that uncertainty would not make us feel safer. We would understand that it increases risk because what we don’t know can hurt us. Pull Quote Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. Topics Risk & Resilience Books Risk Disaster Recovery Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Anya Douglas Close Authorship

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Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

May 15, 2020 by  
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By focusing on climate change and other issues important to progressive voters, Joe Biden is attempting to win over Bernie Sanders’ supporters and unify the Democratic Party. Biden has tapped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry to co-chair a climate change task force. “She made the decision with members of the Climate Justice community — and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process,” Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in an email. Ocasio-Cortez was a staunch Sanders supporter until he dropped out of the race in April. Related: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez serves as representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens. At only 30 years old, she’s Congress’ youngest member and is known for advocating for working-class people and social and environmental justice; Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the Green New Deal. Kerry is known for his work on environmental improvements. He helped orchestrate the 2016 Paris Agreement, which addressed greenhouse gas emissions . Other panel members bring the perspectives of both rural and urban areas. “This is the Climate Dream Team for Democrats,” said Jeremy Symons, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental consultant, according to Inside Climate News . The climate policy panel is one of six task forces Biden convened to unify Democrats after Sanders left the presidential primary race. The other five panels focus on healthcare, immigration, the economy, criminal justice reform and education . The groups will meet before the Democratic National Convention to help set Biden’s campaign agenda. “A united party is key to defeating Donald Trump this November and moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis,” Biden said in a statement. “As we work toward our shared goal, it is especially critical that we not lose sight of the pressing issues facing Americans.” Via NPR Image via Senate Democrats

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Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

Luca Curci Architects designs a zero-energy smart city of the future

May 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations, 5 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2030. In response to the growing challenge of urban populations and their accompanying carbon emissions, Italian design practice Luca Curci Architects has proposed The Link, a self-sustainable “vertical city” with the goal of net-zero energy operations. Designed to accommodate 200,000 people, the futuristic proposal will be presented to cities around the world. The proposed Link project comprises four buildings, the largest of which would serve as residences with apartments, villas, common areas and a variety of green spaces within 300 floors. The 1,200-meter-tall residential tower would be connected to three other buildings that range from 650 to 850 meters tall and house offices, government departments, healthcare facilities, educational institutions, retail and other amenities. The architects want to blanket the vertical city with more than 120,000 trees and 2 million plants of over 150 species to help clean the air, reduce the urban heat island effect and provide residents with a closer connection to nature. Related: Luca Curci Architects proposes a self-sustainable Vertical City of the future “It is the first smart city ‘conscious oriented’ that will prevent urban sprawl , produce and storage energy, improve air quality, increase urban biodiversity and create a healthier lifestyle,” architect Luca Curci said. The city temperatures, humidity levels, carbon dioxide levels and lighting systems would be managed with an AI-equipped urban operating system.  The Link would be powered by several renewable energy systems, including wind and solar. The city would also make room for on-site food production and farming that follow zero-waste policies so that each community can create its own food supply. All transport would be entirely powered by renewable energy systems; external and internal docks for public transit systems would be located in the tower basements. Each tower would also be equipped with drone ports. + Luca Curci Architects Images via Luca Curci Architects

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Healthcare skyscraper wins 2020 eVolo Skyscraper Competition

May 8, 2020 by  
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After receiving nearly 500 submissions from around the world, eVolo Magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 Skyscraper Competition. Established in 2006, the annual award recognizes visionary vertical architecture ideas that push the limits of design and technology. First place was awarded to a Chinese team that designed Epidemic Babel, a rapid-deployment healthcare skyscraper concept for mitigating epidemic outbreaks. Designed by D Lee, Gavin Shen, Weiyuan You and Xinhao Yuan, Epidemic Babel was created in response to the fast spread of COVID-19 that originated in Wuhan, China. Using prefabricated architecture, the steel-framed building can be erected very quickly — the team estimates five days — to create a temporary hospital to bolster a city’s healthcare infrastructure. The modular design allows for flexibility to meet different needs. Related: eVolo announces winners of the 2019 Skyscraper Competition In second place is Egalitarian Nature, a skyscraper by Yutian Tang and Yuntao Xu that reinterprets a high-rise tower as a mountain range. Built around a vertical green space, the skyscraper would serve as a “vertical mountain in the center of a city” that people can hike or climb up; there would be no elevators in the building. Terraces cut into the sides of the building would frame views of the city. The third place winner is Coast Breakwater, designed by Taiwan-based Charles Tzu Wei Chiang and Alejandro Moreno Guerrero. Created in response to rising sea levels, the skyscraper would serve as a “vertical community” for the northwest city of St. Louis in Senegal, near the mouth of the Senegal River. The building would be based on the wooden breakwater system and would comprise modular units that can be easily replicated for a variety of uses, from workspaces for drying fish to a maritime port. The scalability and adaptability of the system would allow the community to largely stay in place and preserve their fishermen lifestyles. + eVolo 2020 Skyscraper Competition Images via eVolo Magazine

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Climate change could lead to dramatic decline in narwhals

May 6, 2020 by  
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Climate change is affecting everybody, even narwhals. These mysterious “unicorns of the sea” may decline by 25% by the end of this century, according to a new study . Narwhals are a type of Arctic-dwelling whale found only in the cold waters of Greenland, Canada, Norway and Russia. Their population currently numbers about 200,000. In winter, most narwhals spend up to 5 months beneath the sea ice. They are recognizable by a single long, spiral tusk, which is actually an enlarged tooth. Related: Arctic shipping routes could threaten “unicorns of the sea” Researchers from Denmark, Canada, Norway, Germany and the U.K. studied tissue samples from 121 narwhals, mostly collected between 1982 and 2012. Some were killed by Inuit hunters in Greenland and Canada. Other samples came from archaeological remains from digs in Russia and northern Europe. Researchers were even able to collect tiny samples from a throne chair featuring narwhal tusks in Denmark. “They had special access to be able to drill little tiny bits of tusk from that throne,” said Steven Ferguson, an Arctic marine mammal research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and one of the study’s authors. These samples helped them learn more about narwhal DNA. Through a combination of DNA information and habitat modeling, the researchers investigated the impact of previous climate shifts on narwhal distribution and estimated what the future might hold for these creatures. Scientists confirmed that the world has three narwhal populations. Most live in two different groups off Canada’s northeastern coasts. The third population of about 10,000 lives off Greenland’s east coast, extending as far as Russia. The researchers were surprised to find that narwhals show the lowest genetic diversity in any marine mammal studied. They weren’t sure why this is. As sea ice melts because of global warming , the narwhals’ habitats will shrink, and the animals will probably move northward. But as they are crowded into a smaller habitat, they’ll become more vulnerable to human encroachment, competition for food, new diseases and orca predation. Unlike other polar mammals, narwhals are only found in very limited locales. “They really seem to have this Atlantic Ocean habitat,” Ferguson said. “So there’s an open question as to what might happen as we continue to lose sea ice.” + Royal Society Publishing Via Forbes and The Narwhal

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