How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

December 28, 2017 by  
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We might have just 1,000 days left to save the world.

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How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

December 28, 2017 by  
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We might have just 1,000 days left to save the world.

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How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels

December 27, 2017 by  
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Looks like San Francisco’s beautiful Bay Area could be in for a major ecological makeover. SCAPE Landscape Architecture has unveiled Public Sentiment, a living infrastructure proposal that aims to create a visitor-friendly buffer zone around the bay’s most vulnerable ecosystems – made up of marshes, mudflats, and coastal edges – that would protect the low-lying zones from the imminent threat of rising sea levels . Scape’s proposal was developed for the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge , an open design competition that calls for innovative solutions to the many issues facing the Bay Area due to climate change . According to the architects, their inspiration for the proposal is based on using sediment as a core building block to create a nature-based resilient system around the bay. Related: EPA Grant Will Help Protect New York’s Salt Marshes The plan is comprised of three projects: Pilots for a Future Bay, The Bay Cushion, and Unlock Alameda Creek. Pilots for a Future Bay involves various pilot programs that would include the local community in participating in the planning process of making the area more resilient. The plan includes working with local students as environmental stewards that would help design and monitor various scientific experiments geared towards protecting the Bay Area’s ecosystems . The Bay Cushion calls for expanding on the ongoing South Bay Salt Pond initiative. Building on the project, which seeks to reduce tidal extremes around the bay, the proposal calls for creating a massive sediment reserve that links ecosystems, wildlife, and visitors to the area. The reserve would include viewing towers, outdoor mudrooms and various “sensing stations” that would run along the existing Bay Trail. Unlock Alameda Creek, which involves unlocking the sediment flows of Alameda Creek, is also an essential part of the proposal. This would include redesigning the creek’s water flow in order to restore the breeding grounds of the native steelheads. Once again, the area would be outfitted with a trail of viewing platforms to enable visitors to take in the infinite value of the bay’s valuable ecosystems. + Resilient Design Bay Area + SCAPE Landscape Architecture

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Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels

This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

December 26, 2017 by  
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Steve Berman is perhaps best known for winning a $206 billion settlement from tobacco companies in the 1990s, although he’s also taken on big companies like Enron and Volkswagen. Now he’s setting his sights on fossil fuel companies. Vice spoke to Berman about a lawsuit demanding five of the most powerful oil companies in the world pay for causing climate change . Berman, the managing partner of Hagens Berman , is one of the attorneys representing San Francisco and Oakland in two lawsuits filed against BP, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman. Related: UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers The case suggests Big Oil borrowed moves from Big Tobacco, which researched cancer even as tobacco companies denied cigarettes were harmful. Berman has evidence that Exxon , for example, knew burning oil leads to global warming in the 1950’s – and oil companies worked to protect Arctic pipelines and offshore oil rigs from the impacts of climate change even as they denied the science. Vice pointed out no one has yet won a similar lawsuit. A Chevron spokesperson told Vice, “Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities.” Berman failed to win a lawsuit like this one in 2012, when he attempted to hold fossil fuel companies including Exxon responsible for the sea level rise threatening Kivalina, Alaska. A federal court dismissed the case; United States District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong wrote, “There is no realistic possibility of tracing any particular alleged effect of global warming to any particular emissions by any specific person, entity, group at any particular point in time.” Leaps in climate science since then could help Berman in this new lawsuit. Researchers have calculated nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gases emitted during the past 150 years can be connected back to 90 companies; BP, Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Shell are in the top ten, according to Vice. Berman told the publication, “We have better science . We think causation will be easier to prove.” Via Vice and Hagens Berman Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

Canadas newest funicular makes one of North Americas largest urban parklands more accessible

December 26, 2017 by  
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Edmonton wants you to see it from a new point of view—literally. The Canadian city recently launched a $24 million funicular that links the valley floor to a 20-meter cantilevered lookout with sweeping views of the North Saskatchewan River. Clad in the eco-friendly timber material Kebony, the cable-mechanized incline elevator designed by Canadian firm Dialog Architects taps into an old yet charming transit method in hopes of boosting tourism and access to the Edmonton River Valley, one of North America’s largest areas of urban parkland. Estimated to be approximately 21 times larger than New York City’s Central Park , Edmonton River Valley is a linear park system connecting 22 major parks with over 150 kilometers of trails. The new publicly funded river valley funicular and lookout —formally known as the 100 Street Funicular and Frederick G. Todd Lookout—offers a new way for citizens and tourists to access the green space from the downtown core. The funicular can transport mobility aids, bikes, and strollers, and is complemented by a staircase. There is no charge to use the funicular, which can hold up to 20 people at a time. Related: New Edmonton Freezeway communal ice trail opens in Canada “The project is an entrance to the river valley for everyone, regardless of age and ability, and a focal point that will bring people together in the heart of Edmonton,” said Dialog Architects. “It allows Edmontonians to become tourists in their own backyard. The City of Edmonton has long sought to improve connectivity for the public between urban areas and the North Saskatchewan River valley, and this project is a major step towards greater connectivity throughout the city.” Kebony wood, used for decking, cladding, and seating accents, was chosen for its resistance to rot and ability to last six times longer than pressure-treated wood. + Dialog Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Brock Kryton

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Canadas newest funicular makes one of North Americas largest urban parklands more accessible

Acts of courage in the 2017 sustainability movement

December 21, 2017 by  
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The question remains: Can corporates persist and prevail in their defiance of Trump-era environmental policies?

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Acts of courage in the 2017 sustainability movement

My dad’s a conservative naturalist; I’m an environmental hypocrite

December 21, 2017 by  
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My dad’s a Trump-loving conservative, but also a naturalist with a low-carbon footprint. I’m a high-flying city dweller, trying to save the planet. Who’s the bigger environmentalist?

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My dad’s a conservative naturalist; I’m an environmental hypocrite

Millions of insect species will go extinct before we even discover them

December 14, 2017 by  
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Only 200 years ago did humans begin to systematically categorize the species, and within that relatively small stretch, we’ve recorded about 2 million species of plants, animals, fungi. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. By some estimates, we still have another 2 million to uncover, and by others, there are upwards of 100 million left to be classified. However, with deforestation, sprawl, and, above all, climate change putting the planet in jeopardy, scientists believe millions of species will die off before we will even encounter them. And the implications of this are far-reaching. For several decades, scientists have warned that we are headed into, or may even be experiencing, the sixth mass extinction . As The Guardian notes , there have been five other instances like this in the past, including the end-Cretaceous extinction, which led to the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. However, to know for certain if we’re amidst doom and gloom, scientists need to determine the rate at which species are disappearing, and when human activity is factored in, how by how much this rate increases. Related: Plummeting insect population signals potential “ecological Armageddon” Previous studies have deemed humans to indeed be major drivers, possibly causing animal species to go extinct “up to 100 times” faster because of human activity, as one  team of American and Mexican scientists  found. However, Terry Erwin, a world-renowned tropical entomologist, says that the data that has historically been used in these studies is wholly incomplete and “biased towards a very small portion of biodiversity.” Rather, if scientists want an accurate picture of existing conditions, they need to look beyond vertebrates to invertebrates like worms, snails, spiders, octopuses, and most importantly insects, which account for about 70 percent of the Earth’s living creatures. Indeed, only one in 200 of all known species is a mammal. With that said, to determine the true rate of extinction of species on Earth, you need to determine the scale of the insect kingdom—and this is the biggest challenge. While the scope of the insect population is still being explored, The Guardian does cite a “breakthrough” that’s offered some insight into what we’re dealing with. In 1982, Erwin headed to a rainforest in Panama with the goal of determining how many species of insect lived on average across one acre of forest. He chose one tree, which he draped in sheeting and used blasts of insecticide to fog the bugs out. Over several hours, as the insects evacuated the tree onto the sheeting, Erwin was able to collect 1,200 species of bugs, of which he later determined more than 100 of which were exclusive to that one tree. From those findings, he averaged that there are about 41,000 different species per hectare of rainforest, and in turn 30 million species worldwide. The estimates, however, he now deems conservative and suspects the number could actually be between 80 and 200 million, but adds that tens of thousands of them are probably disappearing annually without us even knowing. Of no surprise, climate change is being pinned as the fundamental driver of the great insect die off. Scientists have even noticed drops in the virgin forests of Ecuador and places where insecticides aren’t being used and humans have not cut down a single tree. As the Guardian writes, based on data collected, Erwin and his collaborators have found that the Amazon rainforest has been slowly dying out over the last 35 years. “[If the forest goes out] everything that lives in it will be affected,” he told the site. The disappearance of insect life on Earth would surely mean the end of all life on Earth. Insects are responsible for the planet’s course of evolution from flowering plants to food chains and are key to keeping those systems functioning. As EO Wilson, a celebrated Harvard entomologist, and inventor of sociobiology, tells The Guardian, humanity would last all of a few months without insects and other land-based arthropods. “After that, most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would go, along with the flowering plants. The planet would become an immense compost heap, covered in shoals of carcasses and dead trees that refused to rot. Briefly, fungi would bloom in untold numbers. Then, they too would die off. The Earth would revert to what it was like in the Silurian period, 440m years ago, when life was just beginning to colonise the soil – a spongy, silent place, filled with mosses and liverworts, waiting for the first shrimp brave enough to try its luck on land.” Via The Guardian Images via MaxPixel and Wiki Commons

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Millions of insect species will go extinct before we even discover them

Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

December 13, 2017 by  
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Every month the NOAA puts together a climate report , documenting changes in average temperatures across the country. While the agency found in November that much of the U.S. had seen an “above average” or “much above average” climb—it was actually the seventh warmest November on record—nowhere was this upswing more apparent than in Barrow, Alaska, where temperatures jumped so remarkably that the NOAA’s algorithms deemed the collected data to be flawed and omitted it. As shared in the  NOAA’s report , “In early December 2017, due to a sharp, but real, increase in temperature during the 21st century at Barrow (Utqia?vik), NCEI’s quality assurance algorithms retroactively rejected the station’s monthly temperatures dating to late summer 2016.” Related: Video of starving polar bear ‘rips your heart out of your chest’ Indeed, temperatures had jumped so significantly this year that the NOAA’s system believed the data collected was a mistake. As the Denver Post writes, “this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in ‘average’ situations with no outliers.” Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch, described the flub as “an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic.” As reported by NOAA, Barrow, which is the United States’ northernmost city, experienced its warmest November on record with a temperature of 17.2°F, 16.4°F above the 1981-2010 normal, and 1.9°F warmer than the previous record in 1950. The rise has been a result of melting sea ice, which has historically served to reflect sunlight and kept temperatures stable. “The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that,” the NOAA report said. Moreover, the region has seen large swaths of permafrost turn to mud (permafrost contains huge amounts of frozen greenhouse gases) and the spread of non-native plants common to warmer climates across the tundra. The Arctic region overall had its second-warmest year, just after 2016. And the above hasn’t caused you to sit up in alarm, the NOAA’s more exhaustive  Arctic Report Card , a peer-reviewed document that includes the work of 85 scientists across 12 countries, was given the title: “ Arctic shows no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” In other words, say hello to the “new normal.” Via Denver Post Image via Wiki Commons graphs and maps via NOAA

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Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

The World Bank will stop funding oil and gas projects after 2019

December 12, 2017 by  
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One of the world’s leading financial institutions just announced plans to stop financing oil and gas projects. Today at the One Planet Summit , the World Bank officially announced that it will quit financing upstream oil and gas after 2019. The announcement is part of their efforts to assist developing countries in meeting the goals of the Paris Accord . World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, together with French president Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, gathered world leaders at the One Planet Summit to work towards action on climate change . On the occasion, the World Bank Group made several announcements, the first of which was their decision to quit financing upstream oil and gas after 2019. Related: World’s largest sovereign wealth fund could ditch oil and gas stocks The move is meant to help developing nations move closer to Paris deal goals. There may be exceptions for some countries; the World Bank said, “In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments.” In opening remarks , Kim called for incentives for change, such as “removing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing carbon pricing, increasing energy efficiency standards, and implementing auctions for lowest cost renewable energy .” He said, “Every day, climate change becomes a more urgent economic, social, and existential threat to all countries and all people. We need investments in the trillions – not billions – to have any hope of keeping the commitments we made here two years ago. That’s what this summit is all about.” The World Bank also said they’re on track to reach their goal of directing 28 percent of their lending towards climate action by 2020. They also think they’ll meet the targets of their Climate Change Action Plan, which seeks to assist developing countries in adding enough renewable energy to power 150 million houses , or 30 gigawatts. Via the World Bank Images via World Bank on Twitter and Jim Yong Kim on Twitter

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