A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean

August 2, 2017 by  
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A few months ago, scientists found a new garbage patch in the Arctic ocean . And now, another pocket of plastics, human trash, and chemical waste has been discovered in a newly-explored region of the Pacific Ocean. Like it’s cousin the “ Great Pacific Garbage Patch ,” it’s an environmental burden that shows just how irresponsible humans have become in recent years. The new patch is located between Hawaii and the mainland US, and it was discovered by the Algalita Research Foundation . Charles Moore led the six-month volunteer voyage. Though researchers are still determining the garbage patch’s size, it is estimated to be as big as a million square kilometers (386,100 square miles) — four times the size of the United Kingdom or 1.5 times the size of Texas ! Moore told ResearchGate : “We discovered tremendous quantities of plastic. My initial impression is that our samples compared to what we were seeing in the North Pacific in 2007, so it’s about ten years behind.” Though the vortex of trash is gargantuan, pictures of the patch are somewhat misleading in terms of the size of debris. Initial analyses reveal that the majority of the plastics are the size of a grain of rice. Of course, there are larger pieces of garbage, such as bottles and fishing nets. So far, it looks as if most of the waste was disposed of by commercial enterprises, such as the fishing industry. This means general consumers are less to blame. “We found a few larger items, occasionally a buoy and some fishing gear, but most of it was broken into bits,” said Moore. Small or large in size, plastic debris still poses a serious threat to marine wildlife and terrestrial ecosystems. It’s estimated that by 2050, 99 percent of birds will have plastic in their guts due to the extraordinary amount of goods disposed of by humans. Though you may think you have nothing to do with the problem, that is unlikely – 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from land . Over time, plastic debris breaks up into micro-particles that don’t easily biodegrade and are ingested by wildlife. If animals — such as turtles and fish — don’t die from swallowing the trash, their bodies are likely to become more toxic due to the PCBs and other chemicals found in plastics. This, in turn, makes them unsuitable for consumption by humans and other creatures. Related: Shocking study reveals 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic As IFLScience reports, garbage patches in the ocean result from giant systems of circulating currents (gyres) sweeping debris up from ports, harbors, rivers, docks, and ships. The trash then becomes trapped and oftentimes accumulates for years before it is spotted. Though this new vortex of trash is bad news, it doesn’t mean hope is lost. Humans still have time to adopt sustainable habits and prevent climate change from worsening. As innovations are developed to clean up the oceans, individuals and families can reduce their burden on the environment by eating more unpackaged whole, unprocessed foods, bringing recyclable bags to the grocery store and boycotting plastic whenever possible. Via Research Gate Images via Pinterest , Charles Moore, YouTube

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A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean

Stefano Boeri unveils Amatrice Food Village in town devastated by earthquake

August 2, 2017 by  
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Tourists used to flock in droves to the historic town of Amatrice for its famous pasta and scenery—until a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy in August 2016 and reduced it to rubble. One year later, the town finally has reason to rejoice. Stefano Boeri Architects recently completed the Amatrice Food Village, a new facility built entirely of innovative and low-cost timber construction, which marks a post-earthquake turning point as a new tourist attraction and job generator. Built in collaboration with Corriere della Sera and TgLa7, the Amatrice Food Village was completed with pro-earthquake victim funds through the “Un aiuto subito Terremoto Centro Italia 6.0” initiative. Architect Stefano Boeri designed the new Food Village as an innovative 100 percent timber project that was built in record time to help Amatrice bounce back from the earthquake as soon as possible. The Food Village is part of the “Amate Amatrice” project and was presented alongside the “AMA AMATRICE Rose Garden” that symbolizes the rebuilding process. The Amatrice Food Village is a major turning point in the reconstruction process and gives all restaurateurs the opportunity to return to their restaurants for the first time since the earthquake. The facility comprises one coffee bar and seven restaurants outfitted with large windows that overlook the Monti della Laga mountain range. The Food Village will draw tourists from around the world and give jobs to dozens of Amatrice families. Related: Why Italy’s devastating earthquakes could pile up in a ‘domino effect’ “For me, this is a very touching moment,” said Boeri. “I’m happy that the new area has been delivered after so much effort and a never-ending winter that seemed to want to block us in every way! With the struggles of everyone, we were successful in our undertaking and today everything will begin to work again. Amatrice will finally be able to go back to offering its citizens and visitors the area’s food and wine excellences. It is a small though big sign of revival in a place profoundly wounded in its soul and body, a place that all Italians hold dear to their hearts.” The Amatrice Food Village was officially inaugurated on Saturday, July 29, 2017. + Stefano Boeri Architects Images via Stefano Boeri Architects, pre-earthquake photo via Wikimedia

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Stefano Boeri unveils Amatrice Food Village in town devastated by earthquake

My three wishes for America

August 1, 2017 by  
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Can climate change become the defining characteristic of the next (yes, next) president of the United States?

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My three wishes for America

Two storms are about to collide in rare Fujiwhara dance

July 28, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wondered what happens when two cyclones get a little too close to each other? As we’re witnessing off the coast of Mexico this week, it can be strangely beautiful. Tropical Storms Irwin and Hilary are nearing each other, and when they meet, they will engage in what is called a Fujiwhara dance, where two storms tango around each other until the stronger “eats” the weaker storm. A Fujiwhara dance occurs when two storms get close enough for their circulations to impact one another – about 600 miles apart, depending on the size of the storm. This particular storm looks like bad news for Irwin – scientists expect the two storms to whirl around each other like a giant fidget spinner before Irwin weakens and is consumed by Hilary. Related: Unchecked global warming could bring the worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century Fujiawhara storms are not that common, but this summer we’ve already had two. Last week, Typhoon Noru and the former Tropical Storm Kulap danced it out, resulting in Kalup’s death. The presence of two separate colliding storms is unheard of and it is likely due to the fact that we are having a much higher than average number of storms in the Pacific this year, an instance that many scientists believe is due to global warming . Via Mashable Images via Dr. Ryan Maue/Weatherbell Analytics and earth.nullschool.net

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Two storms are about to collide in rare Fujiwhara dance

Tadao Ando embeds open-air prayer hall around massive 15-year-old Buddha statue

July 28, 2017 by  
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Japanese architect Tadao Ando ‘s amazing work usually impresses, but his latest project is particularly breathtaking. Charged with creating a more serene environment for a beloved 44-feet-tall Buddha sculpture, which had stood as a solitary figure in Sapporo’s Makomanai Takino Cemetery for 15 years, Ando carefully embedded an amazing open-air prayer hall in the natural landscape around the iconic statue, keeping the Buddha’s head above ground as sign of reverence. Holding court on a large sloping hill surrounded by lavender fields, the stone statue is over 44-feet-tall and weighs 1,500 tons. For years it stood as a solitary figure in the field, but locals wanted to create a more harmonious atmosphere. Ando’s vision was to build a prayer hall around the figure without hiding it completely inside an artificial structure. The result is a respectful design of an open-air concrete prayer hall surrounding the Buddha that would leave the sculpture’s presence as it had been for years, but with a more purposeful setting better suited for visitors. Related: Destroyed Buddha statues in Afghanistan stand again thanks to holograms Ando’s design – what he refers to as “head-out Buddha” – comprises a stone rotunda reached by a long tunnel. According to him, the somber aesthetic of the landscape architectural project was intentional: “The design intention was to create a vivid spatial sequence, beginning with the long approach through the tunnel in order to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is invisible from the outside. When the hall is reached, visitors look up at the Buddha, whose head is encircled by a halo of sky at the end of the tunnel.” + Tadao Ando Via Fuzbiz Photography by Shigeo Ogawa and Makomanai Takinoreien Cemetery

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Tadao Ando embeds open-air prayer hall around massive 15-year-old Buddha statue

CA communities sue Exxon, Shell and 35 other fossil fuel companies over climate change

July 27, 2017 by  
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A trio of California communities are standing up to fossil fuel peddlers and holding them to account for their role in climate change . San Mateo and Marin counties and Imperial Beach filed an unprecedented suit against 37 companies, including major players like Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil. The complaint states that these companies have knowingly caused billions of dollars worth of damage and have caused sea levels to climb, putting lives and property in serious danger. The lawsuits state that the 37 defendants are responsible for hundreds of gigatons of carbon emissions – about 20 percent of the total emissions from the mid-1960s to today. The suit alleges that the companies knew about the impact they were having on climate change, and have worked to not just avoid reduce their impact but to deny the threats altogether in a “co-ordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their knowledge of these threats”. Related: Shell predicted the effects of climate change in its own 1991 film California isn’t the first to sue fossil fuel companies. An Alaska community sued after being forced to relocate their village , but the case was dismissed as being a political question, not a legal one. The lawsuits may comprise the first step towards a future that holds fossil fuel companies to account, much like citizens held tobacco companies responsible for their role in peddling dangerous chemicals. Via The Guardian images via Flickr and Depositphotos

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BatBnB unveils line of stylish (scientifically designed) homes for our flying friends

July 26, 2017 by  
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Airbnb disrupted the human housing world, now BatBnB is doing the same for bat housing. We all pretty much know that boxes are a stellar way to attract bats, but let’s be honest, they aren’t exactly good looking. That’s why we’re loving the elegantly designed BatBnB homes, which are attractive enough to display front and center at your home. They’re also designed based on decades of research, so they’re the perfect space for our flying friends. It’s basically like a piece of art for your yard that also boosts conservation efforts. Created by Harrison Broadhurst, architectural designer at Nomi Design and director of customer success at MakeTime   Christoper Rännefors , BatBnB provides a safe place for bats to nest, sleep and stay. Unlike other bat houses, BatBnB is incredibly stylish, so instead of tucking it in some remote corner, you’ll want to display it proudly. There are three style options available in the standard size, plus a mammoth size, so you can find the right one to suit your home. It’s finally the perfect bat house for design lovers. Of course, BatBnB isn’t just snazzy on the outside. It is also thoughtfully designed to be the ultimate space for bats, with grip chambers, proper ventilation and the ideal sizing. It’s so well-designed that it is endorsed by bat experts like executive director of the Organization for Bat Conservation  Rob Mies , who is basically the Beyonce of the bat world. Researchers will also team up with BatBnB owners to collect vital information that will help bats recover from devastating white nose syndrome. Related: 7 Million Bats Killed by White Nose Syndrome: How You Can Help “I’ve studied bats for more than 50 years, led worldwide conservation efforts for bats, and in fact founded the North American Bat House Research Project. With today’s improvements, properly constructed and located bat houses are achieving close to 90% success. I personally helped develop the Bat BnB product line and am delighted to endorse it for its ideal construction and attractive design,” said noted bat expert Merlin Tuttle. Bats are struggling across the US because of habitat loss and  white nose syndrome . It doesn’t help that many people fear bats for being dangerous or diseased, a reputation that is decidedly undeserved. BatBnb is hoping to change that. “We want to help people value bats rather than fear them — those ugly poorly designed models on the market just don’t spark that conversation,” said Rännefors. With climate change making winters shorter, we are seeing more mosquitos all year long, and one of the best ways to naturally control pesky bugs is with predators like bats. Bats are also instrumental in maintaining a healthy environment by helping to fertilize and pollinate plants – in addition to the thousand mosquitoes a single bat can eat every hour . Help BatBnB become a reality, and help change the conversation around bats, by funding the project on Indiegogo . + BatBnB + BatBnB on Indiegogo

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BatBnB unveils line of stylish (scientifically designed) homes for our flying friends

Community is the key to resilience

July 24, 2017 by  
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Four weeks into the job, Josh Stanbro, chief resilience officer of the City and County of Honolulu, discussed confronting the sustainability challenges confronting the city and Hawaii as a state and part of the world at large.”On Oahu, people recognize that there are direct and immediate threats from climate change,” said Stanbro. Forward-thinking Honolulu had recently voted to establish an office of resilience that tackles affordable housing, critical infrastructure and response to natural hazards associated with climate change and sea level rise.  

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Community is the key to resilience

US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change

July 21, 2017 by  
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Is the Donald Trump administration reassigning employees who speak out on the dangers of climate change ? Joel Clement, former Office of Policy Analysis director at the Department of the Interior (DOI), seems to think so. He penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post saying he was moved into an “unrelated job in the accounting office.” He said he’s a scientist and policy expert, not an accountant – “…but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up.” Clement said he began working in the DOI almost seven years ago, and worked with communities in Alaska to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change. On June 15, he received a letter informing him of his reassignment to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration.” He was one of around 50 senior employees to receive a letter, and was shuffled to the role of senior adviser in the Office of Natural Resources Revenue – an office he said gathers royalty checks from fossil fuel companies. Related: Trump launches “witch hunt” for government employees who worked on climate change policy Clement’s background is not in accounting. He has a Master of Environmental Studies degree in Forest Sciences and Canopy Biology from The Evergreen State College . But he said he spoke out on the challenges stemming from climate change that Alaska Native communities face in the months before his reassignment, even bringing the threat up with White House officials. Clement said in his op-ed, “It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.” Indeed, a few days following his reassignment, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that reassignments might be used to eliminate employees. Clement suggested Zinke might think fed-up employees might quit, and said he has colleagues who are being moved to other locations in the country, at taxpayer expense, to jobs that don’t align well with their skill set. Clement said the Kivalina, Shishmaref , and Shaktoolik villages are “one superstorm from being washed away.” He wrote, “I believe that every president, regardless of party, has the right and responsibility to implement his policies. But that is not what is happening here. Putting citizens in harm’s way isn’t the president’s right…The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical. This is not a policy debate.” Read Clement’s full piece here . Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change

This boy accidentally found a 1.2 million-year-old fossil by tripping over it

July 21, 2017 by  
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Sometimes, there are benefits to being clumsy – so discovered 9-year-old Jude Sparks on a recent hike in New Mexico’s Orange Mountains. On a trip with his family, Sparks tripped over an object which he first thought was “just a big fat rotten cow.” Instead, it turned out to be a Stegomastodon fossil from 1.2 million years ago. The young boy told KVIA TV, “I didn’t know what it was. I just knew it wasn’t usual.” His family agreed, which is why they contacted Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, and returned to the site the next day. Sure enough, what Sparks had tripped over was a fossilized tusk belonging to an ancient Stegomastodon . According to The New York Times , the ancient mammal was a cousin to the wooly mammoth and modern-day elephants. Not only are the remains large, they are quite rare, considering prehistoric bones tend to disintegrate quickly after being exposed to the elements. “This is really very unusual to find,” said Houde. Elated to have made the find, the family set up a fundraiser for a formal dig. It took months to organize a team and secure a permit, but earlier this May, an entire skull made of delicate “egg-shell thin” pieces was discovered. Houde hopes to display the remains at the university. “We’re really, really grateful that they contacted us, because if they had not done that, if they had tried to do it themselves, it could have just destroyed the specimen,” he said. “It really has to be done with great care and know-how. Jude — now 10-years-old — says he isn’t as interested in fossils as he used to be but likes the attention that comes with discovering the fossilized remains of a mammal which is slightly smaller than the average African elephant . Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old Believe it or not, this isn’t the first Stegomastadon that’s been “accidentally” discovered. A hiking bachelor party found a 3-million-year-old skull in 2010 while hiking in New Mexico’s Butte Lake State Park. Via The New York Times , All That Is Interesting Images via Peter Houde

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This boy accidentally found a 1.2 million-year-old fossil by tripping over it

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