India plans to build the worlds largest solar-wind power plant

December 18, 2017 by  
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When it comes to  clean energy , few nations stand out like India . The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has announced plans to build the world’s largest solar-wind hybrid project in the district of Anantapur in the state of Andhra Pradesh. According to Cleantechnica , the plant will have a capacity of 160 megawatts—120 megawatts coming from solar and the other 40 megawatts via wind. And, in line with a pledge to end investment in fossil fuels , the World Bank is putting up $155 million for the project. The massive solar-wind complex will cover roughly 1,000 acres of land and include a battery storage system that will allow it to function around the clock irrespective of wind and weather conditions. Anantapur has struggled with grid failure and power fluctuations in the past and the hope is that the new system will offer a steady, reliable flow of power to residents through energy storage. Related:  India added more rooftop solar in 2017 than the past 4 years combined If all goes as anticipated, the pilot project will be scaled to serve other areas of Andhra Pradesh experiencing grid failures. And while this is not the first time this sort of technology has been proposed, it is the biggest solar-wind hybrid project on the books. The World Bank will work with the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the renewable energy agency of Andhra Pradesh, NREDCAP, and Andhra Pradesh Transco, to bring it to fruition. The Andhra Pradesh government is shooting for 10 GW of solar and 8 GW of wind by 2022. Hybrid-wind and solar plants are expected to account for 3GW of the total. Via Cleantechnica Images via Pixabay

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Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments

December 6, 2017 by  
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United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended that two more national monuments in the West be reduced in size. The recommendation to shrink Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California and Gold Butte in Nevada comes shortly after the Trump Administration’s decision to remove millions of acres from two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Zinke also stated that President Trump should change the boundaries of two oceanic monuments, Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine in the Pacific Ocean. Rolling back Obama Administration policies and achievements, including the establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument, is apparently a high priority for the Trump Administration. However, these expansive plans have already been met with fierce opposition and legal challenges, casting doubt on when, if ever, these reductions will occur. In a recent call with reporters, Zinke announced his policy recommendations. The Secretary also pushed back against a claim made by outdoor retailer Patagonia that Trump “stole” the land set aside for the national monuments , saying that Patagonia’s message was “nefarious, false and a lie.” “You mean Patagonia made in China ?,” said Zinke. “This is an example of a special interest. I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers.” Related: Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: “The President Stole Your Land” Bears Ears , one of the monuments set to be shrunk, was established by President Barack Obama with the support of five American Indian tribes for whom the site has spiritual significance. The tribes are now mounting a legal challenge to what conservation groups have called the largest elimination of protected land in American history. If President Trump accepts Zinke’s recommendations and also attempts to shrink Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou, he will have added a new front in a legal war that will likely drag on for years, perhaps into a new administration. Via The Guardian Images via Bureau of Land Management and Chris Nichols

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Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments

Why thousands of snakes are invading Bangkok homes

December 5, 2017 by  
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A plunger won’t help you here—unless you have one hell of a swing. As the Times reports, Bangkok officials received 31,801 calls this year alone from frightened residents seeking help in removing snakes from their homes. The jump in calls is said to be in part due to an extra wet rainy season, but at the heart of the issue is something greater: urban sprawl . Indeed, as the city’s population has grown along the Chao Phraya River Delta, snakes have been forced from their natural habitats into the cozy, dry quarters of humans. Worst still, some (including the eight-foot-long variety)  are using the toilet as their primary point of ingress. Bangkok hosts more than 8.2 million inhabitants. The city is also built on more than 600 square miles of delta. The presence of snakes has always been significant, but as humans claim more land for new development, the snakes have no other choice than to try to take some of it back. In fact, most of the 31,801 calls have come from areas with new construction. “When people build houses in their habitat, of course they will seek a dry spot in people’s houses because they can’t go anywhere else,” Prayul Krongyos, the city’s fire department’s deputy director told the Times. Related: This modular orphanage in Thailand was built using local and recycled materials Indeed, calls have jumped from 29,919 in 2016, and 10,492 in 2012. The paper also points out that these figures don’t even include the brave residents who battle snakes on their own, which they says is likely in the thousands. “There’s no way we could survive if there were more fires than snakes,” said Krongyos. That day, his department fielded 173 calls about snakes and just five for fires. As for what happens to the snakes once caught, the punishment is far more humane than one might venture. Snakes captured by firefighters are brought to a wildlife center and later released in the wild. Other individuals have created snake-saving initiatives, including Nonn Panitvong, a leading expert in biodiversity. He set up “Snake at Home,” a message group that seeks to prevent snakes from being killed when discovered. Snake at Home allows those who find a snake in their home to snap a photo and send it to one of the group’s volunteers who can tell them if the snake they’ve found is venomous. The group has more than 29,000 followers. As the Times shares, “Thailand has more than 200 snake species , including about three dozen that are venomous. But most do not pose a threat to people…The reality, though, is that humans cause snakes much more harm than the other way around.” Snakes also keep rat and other vermin populations in check in the bustling city, and many folks consider crossing paths with one a sign of good luck. Via NYT Images via Pixbay and Wiki Commons

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On Black Friday, REI encourages nature lovers to #OptOutside

November 24, 2017 by  
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But is there really such a thing as green consumption?

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On Black Friday, REI encourages nature lovers to #OptOutside

Groundbreaking study confirms neonicotinoids are toxic to songbirds

November 10, 2017 by  
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The controversial insecticides known as neonicotinoids don’t just harm bees – according to new research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan , they are also toxic to songbirds. The study shows that the chemicals can directly skew songbird migration . The research was led by Margaret Eng, a post-doctoral fellow. She worked alongside Christy Morrissey, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan . Reportedly, this is the first study to show that imidacloprid ( neonicotinoid ) and chlorpyrifos (organophosphate) — which are two of the most widely-used insecticides — are toxic to seed-eating songbirds. Said Morrissey, “Studies on the risks of neonicotinoids have often focused on bees that have been experiencing population declines. However, it is not just bees that are being affected by these insecticides.” Eng added, “These chemicals are having a strong impact on songbirds. We are seeing significant weight loss and the birds’ migratory orientation being significantly altered. Effects were seen from eating the equivalent of just three to four imidacloprid treated canola seeds or eight chlorpyrifos granules a day for three days.” In the past, farmers sprayed their crops with neonicotinoids. Today, many seeds are already coated with the chemicals. Said Morrissey, “Birds that stop on migration are potentially eating these seeds , but can also mistakenly ingest the chlorpyrifos pellets for grit, something they normally eat to aid in the digestion of seeds.” For the study, Morrissey and Eng captured sparrows which were migrating during the spring. The birds were then fed daily for three days with either a low or a high dose of imidacloprid or chlorpyrifos. At the end of the experiment, they learned that neonicotinoids changed the birds’ migratory orientation and resulted in them losing up to 25 percent of their fat stores and body mass. Related: Neonicotinoid insecticides kill honeybee sperm York University biology researcher Bridget Stutchbury said, “Many small migratory songbirds use agricultural land as a stopover to refuel on long flights. These neurotoxic insecticides are widely used in North America but their effects on migratory ability in birds have not been tested before. Although neonicotinoids were thought to have a lower toxicity to vertebrates, it actually proved to be more harmful to these songbirds than the older organophosphate chemicals.” Following the cessation of dosing, most of the birds survived. But Eng is still concerned about their well-being. “The effects we saw were severe enough that the birds would likely experience migratory delays or changes in their flight routes that could reduce their chance of survival, or cause a missed breeding opportunity,” she said. Morrissey concluded that the research is likely to “have major implications for regulation decisions of these pesticides . Imidacloprid and chlorpyrifos are highly controversial for their safety to the environment or to humans and a decision on a proposed imidacloprid ban in Canada is being considered, with the federal government expected to make a decision on imidacloprid and its use in Canada sometime in December.” + University of Saskatchewan Via Phys Images via PxHere, Pixabay

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Groundbreaking study confirms neonicotinoids are toxic to songbirds

United Kingdom joins Europe in banning bee-killing pesticides

November 10, 2017 by  
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The United Kingdom is joining Europe on a key environmental issue by supporting a total ban on neonicotinoids, pesticides that have decimated bee populations across the world. According to British environment secretary Michael Gove, the United Kingdom has reversed its previous opposition to such a ban after new research has shown that neonicotinoids cause significant damage to bee colonies. Gove was also moved to adopt this new policy position after reading reports of 75% declines in insect populations in Germany . “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” said Gove, according to The Guardian . “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” Although neonicotenoids are the world’s most used insecticide, their use on flowering crops was banned by the European Union in 2013. The United Kingdom nonetheless opposed the ban, though the times have changed. As the EU moves towards a total ban on neonictenoids outside of greenhouses, the United Kingdom’s change in its policy position adds momentum to the European reform effort. Related: “Bee-friendly” plants sold in the UK are coated in harmful pesticides “As is always the case, a deteriorating environment is ultimately bad economic news as well,” said Gove, citing figures that pollinators boost the profitability of UK crops by £400m-£680m each year. Gove also pointed out that, in the face of declining pollinator populations, British gala apple growers are forced to spend £5.7m per year to compensate for the loss of the natural ecological services provided by pollinators. Environmental and science groups are applauding Gove’s decision. “We warmly welcome the UK’s change of position,” said Matt Shardlow, of the insect conservation group Buglife, according to The Guardian . “Brexit will give the UK more control over the health of our ecosystems and it is essential in doing so that we apply the highest standards of care.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Crazy new building in China looks like a giant crab!

November 10, 2017 by  
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China may have decided to steer away from “weird architecture” , but bizarre new buildings continue to pop up throughout the country. The new Ecology Center in Kunshan is one of the strangest we’ve seen – it looks a giant crab, complete with hairy claws and white pincers! The building is located on Yangcheng Lake’s eastern shore and it references the area’s famous crab-based delicacy. The outer shell is crafted from dark stainless steel , with pincers and claws resting on the ground. The crab’s durable exterior can supposedly withstand strong winds and typhoons . Related: 21 of China’s Quirkiest, Craziest and Most Fantastical Buildings Work is still underway on the building’s interior, which is expected to open to visitors in 2018. Via Archdaily

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Crazy new building in China looks like a giant crab!

Hundreds of sea turtles found dead near El Salvador

November 9, 2017 by  
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Why did hundreds of sea turtles perish near El Salvador ? The country’s ministry of environment and natural resources found 300-400 dead turtles in Jiquilisco Bay, so they took samples to try and determine why the animals died. National Geographic floated fishing and algal blooms as two reasons for the sea turtle die-offs. Around 300 to 400 sea turtles died near El Salvador, according to MARN . Locals began seeing the turtles the end of October; MARN announced the die-off on Twitter in early November. Several turtle species reside in the area, but so far it looks like ridleys have been the species most hit. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies ridleys as vulnerable. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry A red tide , or harmful algal bloom, led to turtle deaths in El Salvador in 2006 and 2013. Turtles can die after ingesting the blooms. But it’s not yet clear if a red tide caused these deaths. On November 3, MARN said they collected samples from seawater and the turtles’ tissues, and also took blood samples from a living turtle. The fishing industry has been to blame for turtle deaths in the past during shrimp trawling, as turtles can get caught in the nets. But a month-long moratorium began October 17, so the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative ‘s Mike Liles said fishing probably didn’t cause the 300 to 400 turtles to perish. Liles did say the practice is still dangerous for the creatures. This recent event is one of the biggest turtle die-offs El Salvador has experienced. Liles said large-scale die-offs could just get more common as industrial agriculture runoff worsens red tides. Conservation Ecology Lab ecologist Alexander Gaos agreed and said more conservation programs are needed. Via National Geographic Images via MARN El Salvador on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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Luxury private-island resort in the Maldives aims for minimal site impact

November 2, 2017 by  
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A new paradise destination has surfaced on the waters of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Maldives . Singapore-based WOW Architects recently completed the St. Regis Maldives, a luxury hotel that extends out of a private island. In hopes of minimizing the resort’s impact on the landscape, WOW architects implemented prefabricated timber systems and uses local labor and materials whenever possible. Covering 16,000 square meters across land and water, the St. Regis Maldives comprises 77 villas divided into four experiential zones—lagoon, beach, coastal, and jungle—each defined by different anchoring activities connected via a meandering art trail. The hut-like building forms and spaces take inspiration from nature, with maximum use of cross-laminated wood and minimal use of concrete and steel. Landscaping focuses on conservation of existing island flora and fauna, as well as replacement of displaced plant material with native species. Related: World’s largest underwater restaurant installed in the Maldives “The local people live in a delicate balancing act with nature, and are totally dependent on trade, technology, and tourism to sustain themselves,” wrote the architects. “Thus, when we were given an opportunity to design a Maldivian resort hotel, we chose to delight the senses through education, creating awareness, and new paradigms of interacting with the physical environment. Here, paradise is emotionally and intellectually experienced and enjoyed, but with a profound awareness of the complex relationships of the eco systems being inhabited.” + WOW Architects Images 2018 copyright WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design

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Luxury private-island resort in the Maldives aims for minimal site impact

73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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