New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

February 5, 2019 by  
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Climate change may be linked to heart defects in newborns. The Journal of the American Heart Association just released new research that shows how higher temperatures are related to congenital heart issues in babies born in warmer months. With climate change worsening, mothers in the U.S. are exposed to more heat than ever before. Scientists have previously shown that women who are exposed to heat during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a baby born with a congenital heart defect. Every year in the U.S., around 40,000 newborns have heart issues at birth. Related: Follow this diet for both personal and planetary health According to CNN , the number of babies born with heart defects is expected to rise between 2025 and 2035 as temperatures continue to heat up across the U.S. The study predicted that around 7,000 additional cases of heart defects will occur during the 10-year stretch, with the Midwest region seeing the biggest rise. “Our results highlight the dramatic ways in which climate change can affect human health and suggest that pediatric heart disease stemming from structural heart malformations may become an important consequence of rising temperatures,” Dr. Wangjian Zhang explained. Heart problems are among the most common issues doctors see in newborns. Babies who are born with heart defects have poor overall health and can experience issues in early development as well. It is unclear why excess heat contributes to heart problems in newborns. Previous studies conducted on animals have shown that heat is detrimental to fetal cells and can disrupt proteins that are important in development. This could be what is going on in human pregnancies, though more research is needed to confirm. With heat being linked to heart problems, doctors are now warning women to avoid excess heat exposure while pregnant. This is similar to what doctors have been telling people with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease for years. Unfortunately, climate change will continue to drive temperatures up all across the U.S. Locations that will be directly impacted include the Midwest, the South and southeastern states, like North Carolina and Georgia. In addition to heart issues, women exposed to heat are also at a greater risk of giving birth early. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

Reimagine a resilient future with this nature-based tool

January 30, 2019 by  
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Most Americans have personally experienced a federally declared, weather-related disaster in the last decade. In fact, the number is 96 percent of the population. Both science and personal testimonies indicate that extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency.  Naturally Resilient Communities  is an interactive website that allows users to explore successful examples of nature-based solutions to reduce risks and re-imagine a resilient and connected future for their own communities. The guide, launched in 2017, provides case studies and funding suggestions for urban planners interested in learning how to implement specific ecosystem-based strategies that address pervasive challenges such as flooding, sea level rise and coastal erosion. Naturally Resilient Communities is a partnership between the American Planning Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Association of State Floodplain Managers, the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, the National Association of Counties, The Nature Conservancy and Sasaki Associates, with funding from the Kresge Foundation. What are nature-based solutions? Nature-based solutions, according to the site, are strategies that “use natural systems, mimic natural processes or work in tandem with traditional approaches to address specific hazards.” Ideally less expensive and destructive than “over-engineered” infrastructure, such as concrete sea walls, natural solutions protect and restore ecosystems that effectively filter and redirect storm water while providing additional benefits to nearby communities. For example, a healthy coastal marsh can reduce storm waves by up to 50 percent, and therefore provides a protective buffer for homes, businesses and infrastructure along the coast. In addition, marshes are an important habitat for birds , fish and other wildlife and can be used for recreational biking and walking trails. In turn, access to urban parks increases property values. It’s a win-win-win for the community, nature and the economy. “Investing in nature is both a viable way to adapt to climate change and a good way for the community to create the kind of future they want to live in,” Nate Woiwode of The Nature Conservancy told Inhabitat in an interview. “It is smart investing across the board.” Related: Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements Naturally Resilient Communities provides more than 20 suggestions of natural solutions and 30 case studies from cities and towns that successfully use them. The target audience is urban and rural planners or decision makers and the teams that support them. The guide has been utilized throughout North America and the world to engage residents and visualize smart climate action that takes nature and communities’ needs into account. Other examples of solutions include preserving floodplains and upstream watersheds, rather than paving and developing within feet of a river. Healthy river ecosystems allow space for natural, upstream flooding in times of heavy rain and reduce catastrophic flooding in urban areas downstream. The online tool allows users to specify and filter their searches based on hazard, region, type of community (eg. rural or urban) and implementation price range. Users can click on various solutions displayed on a visual coastal landscape graphic to learn more about the benefits. Nature-based solutions include: Parks and preserves Restoration of marsh, reef, sea grass, beach or mangroves Relocation of homes and businesses in flood-prone areas Flood bypass Horizontal levees Flood water detention basins Trees and vegetation throughout streets, parking lots or roofs Bioswales Rain gardens Horizontal levees , for example, integrate marsh land with a below-ground concrete wall. This alternate approach to a traditional concrete wall provides a natural buffer zone, reduces the size, cost and maintenance of the hard structure and provides natural habitat with recreational opportunities, such as birding trails. The partnership behind the online tool hopes that by making the benefits clear and accessible, municipalities will feel empowered and motivated to integrate nature into their adaptation and development plans. Green spaces build a sense of community, slow down and redirect storm water, improve water and air quality, sequester carbon and reduce heat radiating from concrete during hot summers. Natural habitats provide shelter for a variety of species, increasing biodiversity, ecotourism and commercially important fisheries. Related: Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline Numerous studies also indicate a profoundly positive psychological impact of nature and access to green spaces, including increased physical activity and health. One study from California indicated that 90 percent of minor crimes occurred in places where residents had no access to vegetated areas. Facing both rising urgency and increasing public support, cities and towns are interested in implementing sustainability measures but almost always lack information and funding. In addition to case studies and links for more resources, the online tool also provides suggestions for different funding strategies. “Counties are on the front lines of emergency response and preparedness,” said Sally Clark, president of the National Association of Counties, in a press release . “And we’re pursuing forward-thinking measures to mitigate risk and foster local resiliency. The Naturally Resilient Communities project helps us leverage natural and other resources to make our neighborhoods safer and more secure.” + Naturally Resilient Communities Images via Robert Jones , Lubos Houska and Free Photos

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MVRDV designs solar-powered KoolKiel with Jenga-like architecture in Germany

January 30, 2019 by  
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Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled plans to redevelop a post-industrial city block in Kiel, Germany, into an eye-catching, mixed-use complex that matches the creative spirit of the site’s current tenants. Dubbed “KoolKiel,” the 65,000-square-meter redevelopment project will include the adaptive reuse of the existing single-story W8 Medienzentrum building as well as the addition of a new zig-zagging plinth, office tower and hotel tower. The buildings will also be equipped with rooftop solar panels, rainwater catchment systems, green roofs and other energy-efficient features. Located near the southernmost tip of the Kiel Fjord, the project site is currently home to W8 Medienzentrum, a large, single-story building that was originally used for storing chains for ships and has been converted into an office space housing mostly companies in media and the creative industries. Inspired by the influence of these tenants on the area’s “unique and charismatic” identity, MVRDV has drawn inspiration from the existing community of companies for the KoolKiel design. The proposal will remake W8 Medienzentrum’s existing structure into a mix of commercial units with apartments above, while the new buildings will offer additional office space, a 250-room hotel, more residences, retail and a public event space. Dynamic exterior spaces — from a public courtyard with street furniture to a rooftop park — will connect the various buildings. Creative community input will be key to the project. For instance, the facade, made from fiber reinforced concrete panels, will display icons inspired by creative local businesses and individuals. The flexible design system also gives the community the choice to change many of the interior and exterior elements of the buildings, from the number of cantilevered units on the hotel tower to the size and layout of apartments stacked above the existing W8 building. Related: MVRDV proposes a glowing “Times Square Taiwan” with interactive media facades “In a location with such a dynamic and creative existing community, it’s obvious that the community should have a say in this development,” said Jacob van Rijs, principal and cofounder of MVRDV. “KoolKiel is not only inspired by them, but it also allows them to tailor the proposal to their wishes — we’re presenting them with not just a design, but also a question: ‘how “Kool” do you want it?’” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need?

January 25, 2019 by  
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The media is abuzz with talk of a wildly ambitious proposal to address climate change and transform the economy. A group of progressive, first-term Democrats and youth activists are behind the proposal, called the Green New Deal. Met with doubt, inaction and controversy, these political newcomers argue that this extreme legislation is not only possible but absolutely necessary given the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s recent report , which warns that the causes of climate change must be dramatically addressed within the next decade or the impacts will be catastrophic. In support of the youth activists, Representative Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) drafted a Green New Deal proposal and demanded that a newly selected committee convene to design a viable solution within one year. The ambitious proposal has seven goals: 1. Shift 100 percent of national power generation to renewable sources. 2. Build a national energy-efficient “smart” grid. 3. Upgrade all buildings to become energy-efficient . 4. Decarbonize manufacturing and agricultural industries. 5. Decarbonize, repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, especially transportation. 6. Fund massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases . 7. Make “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major U.S. export. Centered around building a green economy, the plan does not stop at decarbonization solutions; instead, it incorporates economic and social justice programs aimed at drastically reducing inequality. “The activism and enthusiasm, partly triggered by Ocasio-Cortez, seems to tie the climate problem in with a variety of other issues — including jobs for all, living wages, healthcare for all — and that coupling is a new twist in this story, and I think it’s really exciting,” Dan Schrag, professor of climate studies at Harvard, told PRI’s Carolyn Beeler . But this ‘reach for the moon’ approach by the optimistic freshman Democrats has been met with controversy and doubt from both major parties. In a lukewarm response, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), reinstated a previous Climate Crisis Select Committee, headed by Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL). Ocasio-Cortez and the youth activists, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement , argue that Pelosi’s response is insufficient, pointing to inexcusable appointment of committee members who accept donations from, or have existing investments with, fossil fuel companies, including the committee Chair, Representative Castor herself. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration Furthermore, critics of the response argue that the committee is ineffective without subpoena power, or the right to summon witnesses to court. Pelosi and other seasoned Democrats, however, are concerned the plan is naively optimistic, and wary that the environmental proposal includes divisive platforms such as guaranteed employment and universal healthcare . They argue the proposal must focus more singularly in order to receive the support needed to be effective. Opponents also question how the government will afford the aggressive budget. Since the proposal is more of what the Intercept called a “plan to make a plan,” no exact cost-analysis exists, but the green economy overhaul is expected to cost the government trillions of dollars . Watch Rep. Ocasio-Cortez answer the funding question with CNN’s Chris Cuomo: Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, is similarly unapologetic about the price tag. He  confirmed to The Intercept that the Green New Deal deliberately “touches on everything — it’s basically a massive system upgrade for the economy.” Supporters are determined that green energy -related policy and jobs can be the vehicle on which they transform pervasive inequality and unchecked capitalism and respond to catastrophically urgent climate issues. In fact, IPCC’s report states that adequately addressing climate change will require “unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society.” Despite the spike in tweets and Google searches over the past few months, media attention and controversy alone will not save the planet. So when the media’s attention shifts, will the committee be able to make any traction toward the proposed goals? Related: 6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019 Given the Trump administration’s disregard for climate science and refusal to hinder the fossil fuel industry, many believe it is unlikely there will be any legislative impact until 2021 at the earliest. This month, however, Governor Cuomo of New York announced his own state-level proposal , explicitly calling it a Green New Deal and including a statewide goal to become 100 percent renewable by 2040. A recent poll by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication revealed that a majority of respondents from left, right and center political-affiliations support the general goals of the Green New Deal. Among millennials, a group that will soon become the largest voting group in the country, 51 percent of all respondents support the Deal. While the specific legislative promises are uncertain and likely impossible without more controversy and political disobedience , the proposed Green New Deal has politicians and the American public thinking about the need for drastic actions toward climate change and may succeed in turning the tide on inaction just moments before our last chance. Via Vox Images via Makunin and  Mrganso

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Global warming to blame for insect collapse in Puerto Rican rainforest

January 23, 2019 by  
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35 years ago, scientist Brad Lister left the Puerto Rican Luquillo rainforest after studying the arthropods of the region. He left an area that had a thriving insect population that provided food for all of the birds in the national park. But, when he returned in 2018, Lister and his colleague, Andres Garcia, made a shocking discovery — 98 percent of the ground insects had vanished. “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” Lister told The Guardian. “We were driving into the forest, and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.” According to Lister’s study , published in October 2018, 80 percent of the insects in the leafy canopy were gone, and on the ground, 98 percent of the insects had disappeared. The believed culprit? Global warming. Lister noticed the huge decline as insects barely covered the sticky ground and canopy plates in the rainforest, and recalled the long hours it used to take to pick them off.  But now, after twelve hours in the forest, there were maybe one or two insects trapped on the plates. Related: Farming insects too much too fast could create an environmental disaster “It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” Lister said. “We began to realize this is terrible– a very, very disturbing result.” Lister’s study is one of a handful of recent studies about the decline of  insect population, and the results are “hyper-alarming” according to experts. In Germany’s natural reserves, the number of flying insects has plummeted 75 percent in the last 25 years. A lack of insects due to drought and heat in the Australian eucalyptus forest has been blamed for the disappearance of birds. Lister and Garcia also studied the insect numbers in a dry forest in Mexico, and found an 80 percent insect collapse within the last three decades. Scientists call the crash of insect numbers a significant development and an “ecological Armageddon” as they are a vital part of the foundation of the food chain. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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How to teach children about climate change

January 22, 2019 by  
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As the saying goes, children are our future. Because they will be the next voice in striving toward a sustainable planet, they must first be aware of the problems and possible solutions. But implying that the earth will eventually burst into a fiery ball and there’s little we can do about it might not be the best approach. When educating children about climate change , it’s important to make sure the information is age-appropriate, you use positive, empowering language and you remember to revisit the conversation often. Here are a few pointers to get you, and your potentially earth-saving discussion, headed in the right direction. Make it age-appropriate Children are both imaginative and literal, so a phrase like, “We’re killing the planet” can set the conversation off on the wrong path. Remember that those developing minds are a blank slate when it comes to climate change. They don’t have decades of knowledge, facts and fallacies from which to work. For children under the age of eight, keep the conversation focused around a love of nature . Impress upon them the beauty around them. Talk about the importance of picking up garbage, helping animals and growing plants. With an understanding of nature, children will have a better comprehension of climate change down the road. Around the age of nine or 10, children are able to consume more abstract concepts. This means that they can absorb information through discussion and hands-on activities. Related: 7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint Make it tangible Although children become capable of engaging in the discussion, it’s always better to help them see the problem through hands-on activities. The goal is to visually express the point. For example, create a science experiment in your kitchen where you grow plants in an aquarium and add chemicals to the water. Show them images of environmental pollution and talk about how the food chain is affected by the loss of a species. When thinking about examples that will resonate with your child, keep in mind his or her interests. Are they passionate about a particular animal? What about babies, trees, bugs or food? Meet them where their interests lie for the best results. Be factual, not inflammatory For children to have an understanding that might lead to change, they must first understand the facts. Using fear tactics is not likely to net the result you’re looking for. Instead, focus on facts that are easily digestible. Don’t worry about statistics and hard data. Instead, discuss things that interest them. Make it a regular conversation. While washing the vegetables at the kitchen sink, discuss where the water comes from, how it’s treated and where it goes after it heads down the drain. Explain how chemicals in that water end up back in the system. When planting the garden, talk about how the plants benefit from sunlight and water, and how that ultimately brings energy into our bodies. Remember that the conversation regarding climate change will be ongoing. As they get older, discuss reports, news and articles. Educate them about how the fossil fuels  that plastic is made from affects the planet, and challenge them to think about changes you could make as a family to eliminate plastic in your home. Your children will have questions. When they do, admit if you don’t have the answers. Empower them by showing them how to perform effective research and find the answers together (within the allowed boundaries of internet usage in your home). While you’re online, track down a carbon footprint calculator and have your children complete it with you as a measurement of your electrical and water consumption. Find resources for every age The idea of climate change is certainly not new, and generations of teachers and parents have found interesting ways to discuss the issues with children of all ages. Books and videos that cover the effects of climate change on our planet are prevalent and allow you to preview material before sharing it with children. Read books that are engaging and informative. Start with “The Magic School Bus” or “Bill Nye the Science Guy” for digestible and entertaining content. Related: Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought Keep it positive Although a virtual dark cloud sometimes goes hand-in-hand with discussions around climate change, try to focus conversations around positive actions. Discussing the topic by showing your child news reports of other children picking up plastic trash or businesses aimed at sustainable practices. This shows them that many, many people are making tangible changes already and offers encouragement that they too can make a difference through small or large actions. Do as you say The most powerful statement you can make to your child is living the life that you talk about. Although children hear what you say, when they see you taking your own shopping bags to the grocery store and they understand why, it drives home the message. Work with your children to avoid single-use plastic by making your own yogurt and applesauce, taking a reusable water bottle everywhere you go and declining straws at the restaurant. Recycle at home and explain the process as you go. Nurture their environmentalist tendencies by signing up for a beach clean up day or a community tree planting event. Via Rainforest Alliance , NASA , Scholastic and Study Images via Shutterstock

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Pet food manufacturers are experimenting with insects instead of meat

January 22, 2019 by  
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It is now a well-established fact that there is a link between human meat consumption and climate change, thanks to the CO2 and methane emissions that come from raising and transporting cattle and pigs. Since pets are responsible for 20 percent of global meat consumption, some pet food manufacturers are turning to insects instead of beef to make their products. According to the BBC, one pet food manufacturer says that 40 percent of its new product is made from black soldier flies, which are an excellent source of sustainable protein. The food comes from UK startup Yora, but does it meet your dog’s nutritional needs? Pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani, says that the flies can be a useful part of your pet’s diet, but more research is needed. “Insects can be a very useful source of protein,” Kathrani said. “More studies are needed to show how much of these nutrients can actually be absorbed by a dog’s body— but some studies suggest that insects can provide nutrients for dogs.” Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Since they use a smaller percentage of water and land, flies do produce protein more efficiently than cows. However, the environmental effects of feeding your dog flies instead of meaty food go much deeper. Analysis results showed that when societies become wealthier, people opt to indulge muscle meat rather than meat from internal organs. Those organs, also known as offal, are just as nutritious, so it gets made into pet food. Which concludes that dog food is just as sustainable (or unsustainable) as human meat consumption. And, if we wean dogs off of meat and switch them to insects , what would we do with the offal? Insects in cat food can be a different story as cats tends to be more picky with their food because they can’t make taurine, an essential amino acid. They do get their taurine from meat and fish, but Dr. Kathrani says that there are insects that also contain taurine and could be useful for a feline diet. In addition to Yora, other competitors have popped up in the pet food market that are incorporating fly protein , including Insectdog, Entomapetfood, EnviroFlight, Chippin and Wilderharrier. Via BBC Images via Shutterstock

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Pet food manufacturers are experimenting with insects instead of meat

Connecticut could mandate climate change education in schools

January 22, 2019 by  
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Connecticut state Representative Christine Palm, a Democrat from the town of Chester, has proposed a bill in the state legislature that would mandate instruction on climate change in public schools across Connecticut . If Palm’s proposed bill became law, the study of  climate change  in Connecticut would begin in elementary school. It would also be the first bill in the U.S. to make climate change instruction mandatory via statute. Some people don’t believe the legislation is necessary, because the state already adopted Next Generation Science Standards back in 2015. Those standards include teaching about climate change, Phys.org reported. “A lot of schools make the study of climate change an elective, and I don’t believe it should be an elective,” Palm said. “I think it should be mandatory, and I think it should be early, so there’s no excuse for kids to grow up ignorant of what’s at stake.” Related: Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks The Next Generation Science Standards already make climate change studies a core of science education , but it doesn’t start until middle school. Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said that because the curriculum is already addressing climate change and educators are already teaching the standards set forth by the 2015 legislation, this new proposal isn’t needed. So far, 19 states and  Washington D.C.  have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. However, it does leave the specific curriculum up to individual school districts and only gives indications about what the state wants students to learn. During the last legislative session, a similar bill to Palm’s was introduced, but it did not pass. Some states have also proposed legislation to either allow or require teachers to present students with alternative viewpoints about climate change and other topics. Palm believes that climate change is such an urgent and threatening matter that it should be a top priority in a child’s education. “I’d love to see poetry be mandated,” Palm said. “That’s never going to happen. That’s not life or death.” Via Phys.org Image via Wokandapix

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7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

January 17, 2019 by  
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When it comes to conserving water , making small changes can have a huge impact. But many of us don’t really think about water shortages unless we are in the middle of a heatwave, when temperatures are consistently at 85 degrees or more. Extreme heat or not, the water system is overstretched, and with climate change , we can expect to put even more pressure on the depleting water supply. Here are some ways to do your part in conserving water. According to Friends of the Earth , 97.5 percent of the world’s water is locked in oceans and seas, which means it is too salty for humans to use. The remaining 2.5 percent is mostly in the ice caps, so we are all relying on a tiny amount of freshwater to survive. Water isn’t just for drinking. We use it for bathing, cleaning and producing everything from crops to clothing. It’s time to save water, and we need to do it fast. Here are seven ways that you can start conserving water now. As an added bonus, these ideas can also save you money. Change your diet It takes a lot of water to grow, process and transport food. Raising animals for meat and dairy products is also incredibly water-intensive. To reduce your water footprint , reduce your meat and dairy consumption, switch to shopping local and grow food in your own garden. If more people do these things, they will not only lead to a reduction in total water usage but also in less food waste . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Have a plan for your garden If you do have a garden , water your outdoor plants early in the morning or at the end of the day, so the water doesn’t immediately evaporate in the sunlight. Also, make sure to water the soil, so the roots get the much-needed liquid. If you water your plants manually instead of with automatic sprinklers, it can cut your water use by 33 percent. American lawns consume a large amount of water, so reduce how much you are watering your lawn. Installing rain barrels to capture rainwater can also be a huge help and can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water every year. Related: New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns Turn off the tap When you let the water run while you brush your teeth, you are wasting over 1.5 gallons of water. If you have leaky taps, you could be letting up to 15 gallons a week go down the drain. Every minute you spend in the shower burns 4.5 gallons of water. So turn off the tap water when you are brushing your teeth, set a timer on your shower to keep it short and fix those leaky faucets. Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Leaky outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses and broken lawn sprinklers can waste water, too. Also, monitor your water bill for unusually high usage so you can discover leaks. Save your dirty clothes When you wash two half-loads of laundry, it uses more water and energy than washing a full load of clothes. Wait until you have enough dirty clothes to fill up the washing machine. This will not only save water and electricity, but it will also lead to lower utility bills. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Use the dishwasher It may be hard to believe, but if you fill up the dishwasher every time you use it , you will use less water than if you washed the dishes by hand — even if you fill up your sink and clean your dishes without the water running. If you use water- and energy-efficient appliances, you will save even more. When you have extra-dirty pots and pans, let them soak first instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean. Wash your car at home Instead of going to a car wash, wash your vehicles at home on the lawn, so you can water your grass at the same time. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you are scrubbing your car so you can save up to 100 gallons of water each time you give it a wash. Recycle ice cubes When you have leftover ice cubes in your drink, toss them into a houseplant instead of pouring them into the sink. When you are washing fruits and veggies , save that water as well to use for watering your plants. Via Friends of the Earth Images via RayMark , Jerzy Gorecki , Pierre Gilbert , Charles Deluvio , Steve PB , Conger Design , Sasin Tipchai and Hans Braxmeier

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Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

January 16, 2019 by  
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According to new research from Temple University scientist Blair Hedges, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is undergoing a mass extinction event, and the country is close to losing its rich biodiversity. Hedges — who has spent decades in Haiti’s rain forests — says that the results of his latest study are shocking. In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hedges and his co-authors revealed that Haiti , which was once full of lush trees and teeming with wildlife, has now lost almost all of its virgin forests because of deforestation, and is at risk of loosing more than half of its species by 2035. “Up until this analysis, nobody had any idea it was that bad,” Hedges said. “Haiti is in the middle of a mass extinction, and it’s already lost a large number of species because entire areas where unique species exist are no longer present.” Hedges and his colleagues used NASA satellite imagery to analyze Haiti’s current landscape and found that the country has about one percent of its primary forest left since people have resorted to cutting trees down in order to make way for farming and charcoal production needed for cooking. Related: Deforestation in South America causes extinction of 8 bird species He also explained that no one on his research team expected the forest to disappear so quickly. The team of researchers realize that Haiti is at a forefront of a global mass extinction as the country’s species are disappearing at the alarming rate of 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. Haiti’s loss of wildlife and forestry is largely due to habitat destruction (cutting down trees), but that is just one component in worldwide mass extinction. Other factors across the globe include climate change , invasive species and other human-related activity. Hedges says people often associate deforestation as just removing plants and trees, but in reality everything is being removed. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, says that Hedge’s study is a “tragic and brutal” instance of the lengths of human destruction. Primm added that Haiti’s story should resonate, and should be a lesson that everyone should heed when managing wild areas, watersheds and rivers. Via Whyy.org Image via 753tomas

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