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

Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos

July 21, 2017 by  
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Indoor vertical farming is on the rise, if a recent funding round for San Francisco startup Plenty is any indication. The company just scored what they say is the largest agriculture technology investment in history. Plenty has attracted attention – and quite a lot of money – from well-known tech greats like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Plenty is utilizing technology to improve agriculture. The startup draws on big data processing, micro-sensor technology, and LED lighting in an effort to make affordable, local food available for people around the world. Their system uses less water and space than conventional farms, and grows food more efficiently. Plenty says they can yield as much as 350 times more crops per square foot than a typical farm. Their recent Series B funding round, led by Japanese media corporation SoftBank ‘s Vision Fund, turned out to be quite fruitful at $200 million. Related: 40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, “By combining technology with optimal agriculture methods, Plenty is working to make ultra-fresh, nutrient-rich food accessible to everyone in an always-local way that minimizes wastage from transport. We believe that Plenty’s team will remake the current food system to improve people’s quality of life.” Plenty will use the $200 million to start expanding, and plan to bring their first produce to market later this year. They plan to grow two to five acre indoor farms, which the BBC said is around the size of a Walmart or Home Depot. The company already employs 100 people working in three facilities in Wyoming and San Francisco. Initially, Plenty will provide mainly leafy greens and herbs for distributors that have already signed on, according to co-founder and CEO Matt Barnard. He said in a statement, “The world is out of land in the places it’s most economical to grow these crops. After a decade of development driven by one of our founders, our technology is uniquely capable of growing super clean food with no pesticides nor GMOs while cutting water consumption by 99 percent…We’re now ready to build out our farm network and serve communities around the globe.” + Plenty Via Plenty and the BBC Images via Plenty Facebook

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Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos

Solar-powered Farm From a Box is a compact farm kit that feeds 150 people

December 28, 2016 by  
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Two acres of land is enough to farm a sustainable food supply for as many as 150 people, and now a San Francisco startup is making it even easier to get that farm growing. Farm From a Box is a shipping container kit that holds all the essentials for setting up a two-acre farm (except the land, of course). Founders Brandi DeCarli and Scott Thompson got the idea after working on a youth center in Kenya where shipping containers were being used to substitute where infrastructure lacked. That project didn’t address food insecurity , though, which led DeCarli and Thompson to found their own venture specifically for that purpose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlcijvWRJGU Farm From a Box is a kit designed to make it easier for all types of organizations to start growing sustainable food . Nonprofit humanitarian agencies, schools, community groups, and even individuals can buy a $50,000 kit, which comes with a complete water system including a solar-powered pump and drip irrigation system. Together, those features help conserve water by using it more efficiently, delivering water directly to the roots of growing plants. All of the kit’s components are solar-powered, so the kit also includes 3 kW of solar energy capacity which is enough to power the water pump as well as WiFi connectivity that makes it possible to monitor the farm conditions remotely. Because the built-in solar power technology generates more than enough energy to power the farm’s equipment, the farm is suitable to run completely off the grid. Related: Top 10 cities in the US for urban farming All the prospective farmer needs to have is viable land, of course, and seeds. Luckily, the Farm From a Box team realizes that farming is largely about skill and science, so the kit also includes three stages of training materials on sustainable farming, farm technology and maintenance, as well as the business of farming. In a recent interview with Smithsonian Magazine, DiCarli explained that the farm kit was designed to “act as a template” and that it’s possible to “plug in” components that specifically fit the farm’s local climate and the farmers’ needs. Those options include internal cold storage, to help preserve crops between harvest and consumption or sale, and a water purification system, if needed. So far, Farm From a Box has deployed one prototype at Shone Farm in Sonoma County, California. A project of Santa Rosa Junior College, the farm is part of a larger outdoor laboratory in which students learn how to cultivate crops in drought conditions, and then the harvest is used to supply the farm’s own community-supported agriculture (CSA) program as well as the college’s culinary arts program. DiCarli said the Shone Farm prototype turned out to be “more efficient than we had even planned,” with “really high” production and energy output. Farm From a Box has a number of other potential sites lined up already, in Ethiopia, Nepal, Bhutan, and Afghanistan, as well as additional test farms in California and a veteran-partnered site in Virginia. Via Smithsonian Magazine Images via Farm From a Box

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Solar-powered Farm From a Box is a compact farm kit that feeds 150 people

Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape

December 28, 2016 by  
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Mexico’s booming wine country of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California recently welcomed the chic BRUMA winery , a large complex constructed with a natural materials palette to blend beautifully into its surroundings. TAC Taller de Arquitectura Contextual designed the BRUMA winery as part of a 75-acre masterplan that includes a bed and breakfast, pool, spa, event space, and restaurant. Rammed earth and recycled wood feature prominently in the rustic winery building. Despite its 22,000-square-meter size, the BRUMA winery visually disappears in the dusty red and green landscape of Valle de Guadalupe. Part of the winery is tucked underground to take advantage of the earth’s thermal mass that protects against volatile temperature changes. A large reflecting pool nearby also serves as a natural heat insulator. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier Recycled wood and steel are the primary materials used to construct the winery. The timber slats are naturally weathered and are of varying shades to give the building an interesting and earthy texture and parts of the wooden walls are punctuated by small glass openings for beautiful effect. Pieces of natural unmilled wood are used as seating or decorative objects. Native plants cover the roof of the winery. Curving rammed earth walls also make up part of the complex, further integrating the building into the landscape. + TAC Taller de Arquitectura Contextual Via ArchDaily Images © Humberto Romero

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Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape

An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

December 28, 2016 by  
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Studio Marazzi Reinhardt recently updated an old farmhouse in the quiet Swiss village of Löhningen  with a striking wooden extension that seamlessly melds modern and classic architecture. ‘Haus Zur Blume’ ads extra living space to an existing home while juxtaposing the past against the present. The modern structure is wrapped in a wooden slat facade that filters natural light.

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An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

44-year-old British man could be first to receive HIV cure

October 3, 2016 by  
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A 44-year-old British man may be the first person to receive a cure for HIV through a therapy developed by researchers from five universities. Scientists from the University of Cambridge , the University of Oxford , King’s College London , University College London , and Imperial College London designed the two-stage therapy. Now they say the virus can no longer be detected in the man’s blood. The first stage of the therapy is a vaccine that assists the body in identifying cells infected with HIV. The second stage involves a novel drug, Vorinostat, which works by activating dormant T-cells. This is a crucial step; many past therapies didn’t target dormant T-cells, so a person’s body would keep producing the virus and couldn’t be fully cured of HIV. Once the dormant cells are activated, the immune system can find them. 50 people are part of the trial. Related: Did these scientists just cure HIV/AIDS? The man is a ” social care worker ” who said , “I took part in the trial to help others as well as myself. It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease . The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible.” Imperial College London consultant physician Sarah Fidler warned there is a long way to go – they plan to continue medical tests for five more years – but depending on trial results, aim to keep exploring the treatment that could be revolutionary. It is not yet known how the other 49 people responded to the therapy, or if the virus will return in the British man, but researchers appear hopeful. National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure managing director Mark Samuels said , “This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable.” Via The Telegraph Images via CDC/Amanda Mills and Wikimedia Commons

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44-year-old British man could be first to receive HIV cure

New rainwater-filled public pool just one feature planned for Cologne’s historic harbor

October 3, 2016 by  
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Danish architects COBE have designed the transformation planned for Cologne , a 2000-year-old city in Western Germany – from an old industrial harbor into an eco-friendly neighborhood organized around a huge waterfall and a large public pool . The architects won the recent competition organized by Cologne-based urban development company, Moderne Stadt . COBE collaborated with German engineers Transsolar and German firm  Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl  on the design of the project, resulting in a development that features an innovative water strategy and rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater is collected to sustain the pool and waterfall, the centerpieces of the masterplan connected by an innovative transportation network. The architects had to address the strong tides from the Rhine River and incorporate them into the design. They envisioned different zones, some of which are intended to flood while others remain dry. Related: COBE Architects to transform Copenhagen’s Paper Island into a bustling cultural hub “COBE is very smartly questioning which of the existing buildings to keep and how to translate the old structures into a new harbor district. Out of all the insights gained in the public process, COBE has developed highly specific answers for the harbor development,” said Franz-Josef Ho?ing, director of urban development in the municipality of Cologne and chairman of the competition jury. + COBE Architects Images by Beauty and the Bit

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New rainwater-filled public pool just one feature planned for Cologne’s historic harbor

KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners

October 3, 2016 by  
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Made primarily of concrete, the portable KODA prototype is constructed with factory-made components selected for their strength and energy efficient properties. Its sturdy structure allows the tiny home to be assembled on different surfaces without the need for foundations. Quadruple glazing and vacuum-insulated concrete walls minimize energy demands and help maintain a comfortable internal temperature. All finishing materials are non-toxic. The homes are modular and can be connected to create a larger living space. KODA maximizes its 25-square-meter footprint with an open-plan living area bathed in the natural light that pours through a glazed front facade. The full-height glazing is slightly set back to make room for a built-in terrace and to shield the interior from harsh solar gain. The kitchen, bathroom, and loft bedroom are located near the rear of the home for more privacy and are lit by LEDs at night. Rooftop solar panels power the KODA unit and are capable of generating more energy than the home needs. While the prefabricated home was designed with water, sewage, and electricity hookups, it can also be used off the grid for short periods of time. A built-in IT system also enables the home to learn from and adjust to its different surroundings. Related: Luxurious tiny home lets owner live off-grid and rent-free “In our minds KODA can become whatever you want: a city centre home, a lakeside summer house, a cosy café, an office, workshop or studio or even a classroom,” writes Kodasema. “Its clever design provides the inspiration to make best use of every square inch of space and envisage how the built-in components, even the walls, can be adjusted to meet their purpose most effectively.” Kodasema has plans of selling the home in Estonia later this fall at 85,000€ (VAT not included). The price, which is dependent on add-ons, includes the furniture and technical systems, such as the automated IT functions, heating and ventilation, electricity, and water. The design collective has not yet announced plans to sell KODA internationally. + Kodasema Images via Kodasema , lead image © Paul Kuimet, other images by Tõnu Tunnel

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KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners

Horn-shaped sculptures let you listen to the music of the environment

November 4, 2015 by  
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Dutch artist Jeroen Bisscheroux’s latest installation engages one of the senses that we often take for granted: hearing. Located on the Vincent van Gogh College in Assen, the Netherlands, the artwork, called TOON, comprises three giant maroon-colored conical horns. The horn-shaped acoustic structures are connected together by tubes and joined at the center by a seat, where the listener can sit and listen to different sounds emanating from three different locations on campus. There are sounds of people playing from the nearby sports fields, passersby from the adjacent park and gymnasium, as well as the sounds of people and children leaving school. + Jeroen Bisscheroux The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Horn-shaped sculptures let you listen to the music of the environment

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