Elon Musk declares Tesla could rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid

October 6, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk, CEO and co-founder of Tesla , has made clear his company is willing and capable of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid from the ground up. “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world,” said Musk, “but there is no scalability limit so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the Puerto Rico government, PUC (Public Utilities Commission), any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of Puerto Rico.” Most of the island’s power grid was destroyed and there is already discussion of rebuilding infrastructure to be more sustainable and resilient. This future-focused approach seems custom-fit for Tesla. In response to Musk’s offer , Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello tweeted, “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.” Tesla has already begun deploying its Powerpack energy-storage technology in Puerto Rico to bring critical infrastructure, such as emergency response centers, back online. The Powerpacks are paired with solar panels to provide sustainable, resilient on-site power generation and storage. The mission to reenergize Puerto Rico would involve similar technology but on a massive scale. Related: Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia As Musk mentioned, Tesla already has experience building small-scale energy infrastructure using solar panels and Powerpacks on islands including Kauai and American Samoa. However, challenges remain. Although this modern infrastructure may be more resilient, it may still largely depend on power lines, which can be damaged by storms, and physical components like solar panels and wind turbines, both of which were damaged on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Further, the people of Puerto Rico and their government may be more focused on surviving what has proven to be a very grueling recovery than reinventing their energy infrastructure. Nonetheless, proactive thinking now may very well lead to a more resilient Puerto Rico in a future filled with superstorms . Via Electrek Images via Tesla

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Elon Musk declares Tesla could rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid

LEED-seeking brick building in Montreal hides funky geode-like courtyard

October 6, 2017 by  
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Montreal’s ADHOC Architectes  created a beautiful residential building whose ubiquitous brick facade hides a crystalline-filled courtyard—inspired by the geode. Located in the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, La Géode’s many sustainable features are expected to earn the project Canada’s first LEED v4 certification for a multi-unit building. At first glance, the building looks like any other in the area. However, the brick facade – much like a geode – hides a crystalline treasure on the interior. The unique design of the five-unit residential building began with optimizing the footprint to create a layout that would be conducive to a quality living environment, based on maximum efficiency. By blending the street entry and alley space, the architects created a central entryway that leads into the inner courtyard. Related: Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles A small walkway covered in grey and white panels leads into the open-air courtyard , covered in the same facade. The space was strategically designed to create a sense of privacy for the residents as well as a pleasant outdoor space for socializing. In addition to creating a healthy communal space, the courtyard helps provide natural light and cross ventilation of the units, all of which come with private loggias that open up to the exterior. The walls were also built to have high acoustic performance, blocking out a lot of street noise, again enhancing residents’ quality of life. A large part of the design was focused on providing sufficient greenery for the tenants. Various shrub, climbing species and trees were planted to grow freely on the floor and the walls of the inner courtyard, adding to its healthy-living atmosphere. This greenery, along with the building’s high energy performance and various green features, are expected to earn the building a LEED v4 certification , a first for this kind of structure in Canada. + ADHOC Architectes Photography by Adrien Williams

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New Orleans declares state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nate

October 6, 2017 by  
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In the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons in modern United States history, New Orleans braces for impact as Tropical Storm Nate barrels through Central America en route to the American Gulf Coast. Nate, which has already claimed the lives of at least 22 people in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, may make landfall in New Orleans as a hurricane after having gained strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, warned those living in vulnerable areas to relocate to higher ground. “There is no need to panic,” Landrieu said in a statement. “Be ready and prepare. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.” In addition to the state of emergency in New Orleans, evacuation orders have already been issued for parts of Louisiana, including St. Bernard Parish near the city, while storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued for the neighboring Alabama and Mississippi coastal areas. As much as a foot of rain is expected in the region, with storm surges of four to eight feet. Related: New Orleans golf course transformed into city’s biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus As of early Friday morning EST, Tropical Storm Nate was departing from Honduras and rejoining the waters of the Caribbean, with maximum sustained winds of 45 MPH. It is expected to strengthen as it crosses Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH are predicted. Although the storm is passing, parts of Central America are expected to receive up to 30 inches of rain. The storm has already delivered powerful downpours, which have caused mudslides and flash floods. 15 people in Nicaragua and 7 people in Costa Rica have been killed as a result of Tropical Storm Nate. Via ABC News Images via ABC News  and Phil Roeder

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

October 3, 2017 by  
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Go, Scotland! After hearing an overwhelming response from the public on the process of fracking , the country’s government put an “effective ban” on the controversial technique. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, told MSPs that the practice “cannot and will not take place in Scotland .” Wheelhouse said there is little economic justification for fracking, and that the ban would deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions. Over 65,000 people showed up to the public consultation on fracking; reportedly, 99 percent opposed the process. The energy minister said allowing fracking would cause “Long-lasting negative impacts on communities,” as well as impact Scotland’s public health and the environment. As a result, the moratorium which was put in place since 2015 would continue “indefinitely.” He said, ”The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” In 2015, the country banned fracking and underground coal gasification. This development followed a series of reports on the potential health, environmental and economic effects of allowing the technique. Once Wheelhouse saw that 99 percent of the public opposed fracking, he realized “there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time”. Related: Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill Environmentalists are celebrating the move. WWF Scotland official Sam Gardner said it was “excellent news.” He said, “the climate science is clear” that dirty fuels should be “left in the ground.” However, some are saying the move did not go far enough. Labour MSP Claudia Beamish, for instance, argued that the ministers were “merely extending” the existing moratorium which “could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister.” The Scottish Green agrees that a permanent ban needs to be instated. Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said ministers should “go further than relying on planning powers” and “instead commit to passing a law to ban the fracking industry for good.” Not everyone is in favor of the move. Scottish Conservatives say Scotland will miss out on a “much-needed economic boost” and high-skilled jobs. Tory MSP Dean Lockhart commented that ministers had “ignored scientific and economic evidence to take a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement.” According to Wheelhouse, MSPs will be given a vote on the issue later this year before a final decision is made. The BBC reports that because only Conservatives oppose the ban, the vote is likely to be a formality and nothing more. Via BBC , The Guardian Images via  Claudia Beamish MSP , Pixabay,   Wikimedia Commons  and DepositPhotos

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BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

Here’s some climate hope: global CO2 emissions stayed static last year

September 28, 2017 by  
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The fall of coal and rise of renewable energy could be reducing global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions . The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) published data this week showing global CO2 emissions remained stationary in 2016. Economist Nicholas Stern said, “These results are a welcome indication that we are nearing the peak in global annual emissions of greenhouse gases .” Every one of the largest emitting nations, minus India, saw their carbon emissions stay the same or fall. While that’s great news, the same can’t be said of all countries: Indonesia, for example, saw carbon emissions rise, as did Malaysia, Turkey, the Philippines, and Ukraine. NEAA attributed the slowdown in increasing CO2 emissions to switching away from coal to natural gas and renewable energy. Related: The world’s CO2 emissions have not increased in the past three years While NEAA said global CO2 emission levels “were more or less stable in 2015 and 2016,” total global greenhouse gas emissions did increase by around 0.5 percent. NEAA said that rise was largely due to an increase in non-CO2 emission levels, from compounds like nitrous oxide, methane , and fluorinated gases. NEAA report chief researcher Jos Olivier said, “There is no guarantee that CO2 emissions will from now on be flat or descending.” There’s still a victory for some major emitters. China saw CO2 emissions fall by 0.3 percent last year. The United States’ CO2 emissions fell by two percent, Russia’s by 2.1 percent, and the United Kingdom’s by 6.4 percent. The European Union’s emissions stayed flat. We need to keep taking climate action ; Stern said in order to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement , nations must accelerate their emissions reductions. But he still seemed hopeful, saying, “These results from the Dutch government show that there is a real opportunity to get on track.” Via Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and The Guardian Images via Petter Rudwall on Unsplash and Antonio Garcia on Unsplash

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Here’s some climate hope: global CO2 emissions stayed static last year

Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

September 28, 2017 by  
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El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest managed by the United States Forest Service, suffered major damage as Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. While Washington faces criticism for its apparently lackluster response to the unfolding humanitarian disaster , scientists are beginning to turn their attention to the ecological devastation wrought by the powerful hurricane. Bill McDowell, an ecologist at the University of New Hampshire who led research missions in El Yunque for decades, described the national forest and center for scientific research as “devastated.” Still, life will find a way and El Yunque, adapted for the hurricane-prone Caribbean, is expected to endure, offering scientists a glimpse into the ecological recovery process. El Yunque National Forest covers nearly 30,000 acres in the northeast region of Puerto Rico and contains a wide range of habitat, from humid lowland rainforests to cool, cloud forests in the Luquillo Mountains. El Yunque is home to sixteen species of coqui frogs , the only species of native parrot in Puerto Rico, and a wide variety of epiphytes, which survive by pulling water from the air in the chilly upland dwarf forests. The National Forest is also known for its uniquely preserved petroglyphs by the indigenous Taíno people. Related: Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season While El Yunque and similar forests in the region have evolved to cope with a sometimes-volatile climate , the unique power of Hurricane Maria presents an unprecedented challenge for the ecosystem . “From a science perspective, this is a test of how resilient the forests and streams are,” said Alan Covich, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Georgia who has studied El Yunque for decades. “I think the biggest question is the intensity of the disturbance and the cumulative effect of two [major hurricanes]. It’s a situation that has taken a century to develop.” Still, researchers are optimistic about the forest’s future. “We think things are pretty resilient and will come back within weeks and months, like they did after Hugo,” said Covich. “Six to 12 months from now, the forest will be in fine shape.” However, Covich noted that in the wake of such a disruptive event, different organisms may emerge as dominant species than before the storm. In addition to its role as an ecological and scientific hotspot, El Yunque has historically supported the people of Puerto Rico in critical ways. After hurricanes , the forest typically prevents debris and landslides from contaminating the headwaters of the Loquillo Mountains. While Puerto Ricans wait for relief from FEMA, El Yunque National Forest protects the much-needed sources of clean drinking water that sustain the population. Via Earther Images via  Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo Santiago/Earther

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Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

VIDEO: 60,000-year-old preserved underwater forest discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

September 27, 2017 by  
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When Hurricane Ivan formed in 2004, it did more than devastate regions of the Caribbean and the United States’ coast. According to the new documentary “ The Underwater Forest ,” it also unearthed a fossilized forest of cypress trees which grew more than 50,000 years ago. Located 60 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico , the underwater forest features trees which have intact bark and are still leaking sap. Journalist Ben Raines discovered the underwater forest after conversing with fishermen who reported “unusual” activity in the area. The preserved forest is expected to have been buried by sediment, which protected it from decomposition, as a result of the last ice age which occurred approximately 60,000 years ago. After Hurricane Ivan uncovered the forest, it transformed into a flourishing ecosystem. Said Professor Kristine DeLong, an LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology Associate, “Everything is in place in that ecosystem . It’s just been buried and preserved through time.” The trees were prevented from decomposing due to the presence of thick mud. Without oxygen , decomposition could not occur in the underwater environment. However, the Category 4 hurricane — which had 140-mile per hour winds and 98-foot-tall waves — changed that in 2004. Related: Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico Raines worked with scientists from Louisiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi for the first samples and subsequent investigations. Using advanced sonar machines, the researchers discovered additional trees which are still buried approximately 10 feet below the sediment. The experts also used radio-carbon dating to discern the forests’ approximate age. Reportedly, the trees show signs of “stress events.” This indicates that the trees experienced a rapid decrease in growth, followed by a quick increase, then a swift, final growth decline. The experts agree that the trees soon after died around the same time. Due to pollution — which includes run-off and oil spills — the Gulf of Mexico is becoming more toxic every year. This newly-discovered ecosystem could provide a glimpse of the future of the Gulf coast, say the researchers. “It’s pretty rapid change, geologically speaking,” said paleontologist Martin Becker of William Paterson University. “We’re looking at 60 feet of seawater where a forest used to be. I’m looking at a lot of development, of people’s shore homes and condominiums, etc. The forest is predicting the future, and maybe a pretty unpleasant one.” + The Underwater Forest Via AL , Daily Mail Images via The Underwater Forest/Ben Raines

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VIDEO: 60,000-year-old preserved underwater forest discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

Zealandia drilling unveils secrets of once-hidden continent’s past

September 27, 2017 by  
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Scientists recently gathered more clues into the history of Earth’s seventh continent, Zealandia . The continent that was hiding in plain sight until a new study backed up its existence this year is mostly submerged. But after drilling expeditions, researchers think the landmass was once closer to land level, allowing animals and plants to move across continents. Researchers embarked on a two-month-long expedition to Zealandia in one of the first extensive surveys of the area, according to The Guardian. They recently shared discoveries like fossils and signs of tectonic movements. Stephen Pekar, a researcher aboard the JOIDES Resolution research vessel, said in an August post their drilling allowed them to “say something completely new that basically has improved and in many cases has rewritten our understanding of the tectonic history of Zealandia.” Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight Researchers collected sediment cores by drilling in six locations in Zealandia, finding information of change over millions of years. Gerald Dickens, professor at Rice University, said, “The discovery of microscopic shells of organisms that lived in warm shallow seas, and spores and pollen from land plants, reveal that the geography and climate of Zealandia was dramatically different in the past.” Zealandia is around 1.9 million square miles, and researchers think it might have separated from Australia and Antarctica 80 million years ago. The idea that Zealandia could once have been closer to land level might offer an answer to another question scientists have puzzled over: how plants and animals dispersed in the South Pacific . Rupert Sutherland, professor at Victoria University, said, “The discovery of past land and shallow seas now provides an explanation: there were pathways for animals and plants to move along.” Researchers will keep scrutinizing the sediment cores for information on climate change and Zealandia’s past. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and JOIDES Resolution Twitter

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