Africa’s first sustainable chocolate brand plans to sell in the US

October 7, 2019 by  
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While Africa grows 70 percent of the world’s cacao, very little chocolate is made on the continent. Instead, most of the raw material is shipped to other countries that then produce delicious chocolates. But De Villiers Chocolate is now working on becoming the first African-made, sustainably sourced chocolate brand available in the U.S. “Once we discovered the cocoa beans of the vibrant Bundibugyo region in Uganda , we began to realize the potential of the journey we had embarked upon,” said Pieter de Villiers, CEO and master chocolatier at De Villiers Chocolate. “It became our mission to create a chocolate brand true to its origin and the exotic taste of Africa .” Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa De Villiers Chocolate currently sells its products at its studio on a historic Cape Dutch estate, online and through an upmarket grocery chain in South Africa. Now, De Villiers Chocolate has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to help bring its chocolate to the U.S. From humble origins in a garage 10 years ago, De Villiers Chocolate has now grown into a Capetown, South Africa-based business producing chocolate, ice cream and coffee in South Africa’s Cape Winelands region. The cocoa and coffee qualify for three voluntary sustainable standards: Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ . De Villiers ethically sources all ingredients. It does not use palm oil, for the health of rainforests and the planet in general. It does not add artificial flavors, colorants, stabilizers, preservatives or hydrogenated vegetable oils to its chocolate. The company uses unrefined brown sugar as a sweetener, and the De Villiers dark chocolate is vegan. In a press release, De Villiers noted that Africans have not historically profited much from chocolate, despite the fact that most of the world’s cacao crop is grown there. “So how does Africa achieve sustainability ? Not by charity; charity to Africa is not sustainable. The only truly long-term endeavor is to facilitate and allow Africans to do it for themselves,” the press release reads. Through its sustainable sourcing and mission-driven products, De Villiers Chocolate is trying to put Africa on the map as a home to world-renowned chocolate artisans. + De Villiers Chocolate Image via De Villiers Chocolate

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Africa’s first sustainable chocolate brand plans to sell in the US

Ecosistema Urbano designs a digitally integrated eco-campus for the University of Malaga

October 7, 2019 by  
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The University of Malaga in Spain will soon be home to a high-tech campus that will redefine the urban fabric with digital connectivity and renewable energy systems. Designed by Ecosistema Urbano to regenerate the underused Louis Pasteur Boulevard area, the project will not only enhance the city’s infrastructure, but it will also create new spaces where everyday university activities, including classes, can take place in public areas. Spanning a total surface area of 52 acres, the Malaga University Campus planning project will improve the climatic comfort and digital connectivity of currently underused public spaces. The plan targets four main strategies: a Connected Campus strategy for opening the university to its urban surroundings; a Green Campus strategy that seeks to create, restore and enhance existing green space; an Interactive Campus strategy that will allow users to visualize real-time information and manipulate physical aspects of public space with technology; and an Open Campus strategy to make educational meeting spaces and devices in the public areas available for use by both students and local citizens. Using a network of sensors and interactive technologies, the outdoor spaces can be manipulated to support both educational and playful programming, as well as improved outdoor comfort that can be enhanced with solar-powered climate conditioning systems. Related: Ecosistema Urbano’s amazing LED Energy Carousel is powered by play “One of the key aspects of this project is its commitment to using technology as a way of improving the interaction between people and the environment,” explained the architects, who were inspired by the smart cities approach. “It will be the first public space that users can control through an application. In parallel with the construction of the project, the official UMA app will be extended with open source modules that will allow access to an augmented environment of interactivity and information.” To reduce the environmental footprint of the project, the architects have proposed installing photovoltaic panels to power the campus’ bioclimatic conditioning systems, such as evaporative cooling and geothermal air circulation. Passive bioclimatic strategies will also be used, including shading elements like green walls and sculptural canopies. The first construction phase, which covers 17 acres, is planned for December 2020. + Ecosistema Urbano Images via Ecosistema Urbano

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Ecosistema Urbano designs a digitally integrated eco-campus for the University of Malaga

Who will save Africa’s rural farmers when investment and climate change roll in?

May 15, 2019 by  
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With the continent in transformation, there are three key areas to focus on for climate action.

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Who will save Africa’s rural farmers when investment and climate change roll in?

The mixed promise of renewable natural gas to decarbonize fleets

May 15, 2019 by  
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Advocates of RNG are bullish, but are apples-to-oranges comparisons driving the optimism?

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The mixed promise of renewable natural gas to decarbonize fleets

What’s the business case for climate-focused urban development in Africa?

May 8, 2019 by  
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As the continent urbanizes, it faces water shortages and deforestation. The private sector can help.

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What’s the business case for climate-focused urban development in Africa?

Previously stable zones of Antarctica are now falling victim to climate change

August 1, 2018 by  
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Unlike its counterpart, West Antarctica, which has long been decimated by melting ice caps, East Antarctica used to be a safe zone – something scientists could depend on as a constant while they solved the more pressing destruction in the western part of the continent. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. According to  research unveiled last week in the journal  Geophysical Research Letters , despite the higher elevation and colder temperatures found in the eastern portion of the Antarctic continent, warm ocean currents and rising global temperatures are now destabilizing two of its glaciers. The research has chronicled the lives of two glaciers in the coldest region on Earth for the past 15 years. These glaciers shield the Eastern zone’s land ice, descending from the ice directly toward the sea. This creates a naturally formed dam that, if disturbed, would affect the ice that covers the rest of the region by subjecting it to the warming ocean waters. The melting of these two massive glaciers alone would raise sea levels more than 16 feet (five meters), undoubtedly compromising the rest of the territory. In an interview with Earther , Yara Mohajerani, lead expert in the study and PhD candidate at the University of California, explained, “The East Antarctic ice sheet contains much more ice and sea level potential than any other ice sheet by far, making it of crucial global significance.” Past research has shown the disappearance of similar glaciers in the East Antarctic region when carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached levels comparable to those found today as a result of human activities. Related: Scientists uncover giant canyons under the ice in Antarctica Scientists believe that, due to the circulation of warm ocean water under the two glaciers, they’ve been losing mass for quite some time. To help quantify the losses, NASA provided the researchers with its Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, which measures small changes in gravity. GRACE collected data from 2002 to 2017, and the new study reveals that the glaciers are losing 18.5 gigatons of ice each year, or the equivalent of 7.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. While this is minuscule in comparison to losses in the rest of Antarctica, the location of these glaciers makes their survival central to the discussion of East Antarctica’s stability and, therefore, the state of the continent as a whole. + Geophysical Research Letters Via Earther

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Previously stable zones of Antarctica are now falling victim to climate change

The Role of Art in Solving Climate Change ft. DJ Spooky

October 3, 2017 by  
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Art and science intrinsically intersect as DJ Spooky discusses his journeys to Antartica, climate change and demonstrates his “remix” of data and sound taken from the continent.

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The Role of Art in Solving Climate Change ft. DJ Spooky

Planet Vision — Changing Sustainability Behavior at Scale

October 3, 2017 by  
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The renowned earth systems scientist and executive director of the California Academy of Sciences presents an eye-opening talk on his vision for transforming behavior to accelerate sustainability at scale.

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Planet Vision — Changing Sustainability Behavior at Scale

Here’s why African cities could lead in water innovation

April 25, 2017 by  
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The urgency of the continent’s crisis is inspiring a bold new network of organizations, called AfriAlliance, working on new approaches to conservation and recycling.

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Here’s why African cities could lead in water innovation

1.5 billion birds disappear from North Americas skies

September 16, 2016 by  
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A startling survey of North American skies reveals there are 1.5 billion less birds flying about than there were decades ago. Some species’ populations have recently become threatened , while others are projected to be nearly decimated within the next 40 years. An array of factors, mostly human-induced, are responsible for the alarming drop. “It’s the death of a thousand cuts,” stated the survey’s co-author Judith Kennedy, of Environment Canada. “We’re really getting down to the dregs of some of these populations.” Numerous government, environmental, and university-based agencies combined to conduct the most comprehensive, up-to-date Partners in Flight survey, which follows trends in continental bird populations . Related: 9 things you can do to help wild birds this summer 86 species of birds were classified as threatened by habitat loss, climate change , and plummeting population sizes. These include the Canada warbler and evening grosbeak, whose numbers have dropped 92 percent since 1970. Even the beloved snowy owl has experienced a 64 percent dip. Logging of forests, pesticides in grasslands, and an overabundance of cats – who kill an estimated 2 billion birds per year – all contribute to the downfall of the continent’s birds. Birds help human populations by gobbling up pesky insects and pollinating plants. Kennedy stresses the importance of making changes in our behaviors that affect native bird populations, stating, “It’s too late for us to worry when we’re down to the last few hundred.” Via The Star Images via Flickr , Wikipedia

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1.5 billion birds disappear from North Americas skies

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