Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death

April 10, 2017 by  
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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef offers dramatic evidence of the reality of climate change . Scientists have found an astonishing two-thirds of the reef undergoing mass coral bleaching as warmer ocean temperatures are basically boiling them to death. James Kerry, a scientist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies , told CNN when ocean temperatures are hot for long periods of time, corals don’t simply bleach but “cook and they die very quickly.” 2016 saw a bleaching event that was the worst coral die-off we’ve ever recorded, and now a 2017 event makes matters worse. ARC Centre director Terry Hughes said the impact of back-to-back bleaching sprawls across 900 miles; only the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef is unharmed. It’s the second time in only 12 months scientists have recorded mass bleaching in the reef after aerial surveys. Related: Great Barrier Reef bleaching is the “worst coral die-off” in recorded history And 2017’s bleaching can’t be explained away by El Niño . Hughes said the bleaching “is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming .” The Great Barrier Reef has experienced severe bleaching in 1998, 2002, and now 2016 and 2017, according to scientists. Kerry said bleached corals don’t always die, but take at least a decade to make a full recovery, so with back-to-back bleaching they expect coral loss. Tropical Cyclone Debbie didn’t help either. The storm may have left damage in its wake when it hit part of the Great Barrier Reef at the end of March. Hughes said in a statement, “Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts. Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events: one degree Celsius of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years. Ultimately we need to cut carbon emissions , and the window to do so is rapidly closing.” Via the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and CNN Images via Bette Willis and Ed Roberts/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

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Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death

Earth-like planet with atmosphere discovered just 39 light years away

April 10, 2017 by  
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In a development that has astronomers giddy with excitement, a new study published in Astronomical Journal has confirmed the existence of the first “Earth-like” planet with an atmosphere. The planet, known only as GJ 1132b, is about the size of Earth, with the same small, rocky composition as our own. Unlike our solar system , GJ 1132b orbits a dim red dwarf star so close to its sun that its atmosphere is likely more like Venus than Earth. Not only is the average temperature of the planet likely about 700 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s also probably tidally locked – which means that gravity causes one side of the planet to constantly face its star, while the other side is in a state of permanent night. The exoplanet was first discovered in 2015, but the existence of an atmosphere wasn’t certain until very recently. It’s unclear exactly what the planet’s atmosphere is made of, although it’s likely to be rich in either water vapor or methane. Further observations will have to be done to clarify. Related: Astronomers announce the closest earth-like planet is just a star away Though the exoplanet is clearly unsuitable for human life, the discovery has some far-reaching implications. Exoplanets orbiting red dwarves appear to be incredibly common throughout the known universe, so there could potentially be a huge number of planets with atmospheres that might harbor life. Via the Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Earth-like planet with atmosphere discovered just 39 light years away

Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels

April 10, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk’s solar roof tiles won’t fit the bill for every home. Some homeowners won’t want to replace their entire roofs , but Tesla , of course, already has a solution. They’re now marketing sleek, low-profile solar panels that are easy to install and better blend in with roofs than traditional panels. Leave it to Tesla to offer an elegant alternative to traditional solar panels. They updated the Energy section of their website over the weekend to include new images of their solar panels. The seamless look of the new technology is thanks to “integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware” according to Tesla’s website. Electrek said these features come from Zep Solar , a mounting equipment company SolarCity acquired before Tesla’s acquisition . Zep Solar engineers designed the rail-less system Solar City employed to slash solar installation times in half. Related: Elon Musk says Tesla’s solar roof will be cheaper than ordinary roofs Tesla says their panels “exceed industry standards for durability and lifespan” on their website. Panasonic will be manufacturing the exclusive panels at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. There aren’t many specifics available for the new solar panels yet, but Electrek said they will be 325-watt panels. They noted Panasonic sells other 325 watt panels, and those have a 25-year power output warranty and a 21.76 percent module efficiency. Tesla and before that SolarCity used to install solar panels from multiple suppliers as many solar companies do, but told Electrek once these new panels go into production, Tesla will use them for all residential projects in the future. It seems Elon Musk aims at offering solar solutions with better aesthetics for those who have been hesitant to go solar in the past with the bulky rooftop options. Anyone interested right now can request a custom quote on Tesla’s website . The company told Electrek production should begin this summer. Via Electrek and Engadget Images via Tesla

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Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels

Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens

February 20, 2017 by  
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For a long time we’ve been told to slather on sunblock to protect our skin from harsh ultraviolet radiation, but as an unintended consequence, filters in those sunscreens are washing off into the oceans and likely harming coral reefs . Now one Hawaii lawmaker is taking action. Fearing damage to the state’s fragile coral ecosystem, Senator Will Espero introduced a bill that would ban sunscreen with octinoxate and oxybenzone. Researchers detected concentrations of oxybenzone 30 times higher than levels thought to be safe for coral in Hawaii waters. The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources said last September, “Recent studies have shown that oxybenzone causes deformities in coral larvae (planulae), making them unable to swim, settle out, and form new coral colonies. It also increase the rate at which coral bleaching occurs. This puts coral reef health at risk, and reduces resiliency to climate change .” Related: 40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection Haereticus Environmental Laboratory executive director Craig Downs, whose research influenced Espero’s bill, told KITV4, “Oxybenzone – it kills [coral]. It turns them into zombies if it doesn’t kill them outright.” The bill would ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate unless a user has a medical prescription. Unsurprisingly, sunscreen companies like L’Oréal have fought back, claiming there’s not enough evidence to validate such a ban. But Espero told Scientific American the science is on his side, and many people – from fishers to sailors to ocean sports enthusiasts – are behind the measure. According to TreeHugger, 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash off into oceans every single year, possibly exacerbating the worldwide coral bleaching issue. If you’re worried about sunburn but also want to consider your impact on the environment , check out the Environmental Working Group ‘s safe sunscreen guide . The organization lists several brands whose products meet their criteria. Via TreeHugger Images via Michael Dorausch on Flickr and Pixabay

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Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens

Greenpeace releases first images of newly-discovered Amazon reef

February 6, 2017 by  
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  Feast your eyes on some of the first images ever made of a unique coral reef near Brazil that turned a lot of heads in the scientific community –  due to its diversity of new species – when it was first discovered in 2016. Sadly, these photos may be some of the last, as oil drilling nearby may damage the reef if it goes ahead. According to The Guardian , the first images of the reef were recently released by Greenpeace, after being taken off the coast of Brazil at a depth of 220 meters by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. Discovered in in 2016, these are the first images of the 600 mile-long reef that scientists expect will reveal various new species as it is explored further. Spanning the mouth of the Amazon river , from French Guiana to Maranhao State in Brazil, scientists have already found more than 60 species of fish, spiny lobsters and stars in the reef. “This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light,” Nils Asp, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará in Belém, Brazil, told The Guardian . “It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone.” But oil exploration is happening in the area and companies, including Total, BP and Petrobras could start drilling at any point, if they get permission from the Brazilian government. Greenpeace, unsurprisingly, is opposed to the drilling and plans to protect the reef. Related: Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind “We must defend the reef and the entire region at the mouth of the Amazon river basin from the corporate greed that puts profits ahead of the environment,” Greenpeace campaigner, Thiago Almeida told The Guardian . Via The Guardian Images via Greenpeace  

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Greenpeace releases first images of newly-discovered Amazon reef

Artists build treehouse ‘Visitor Center’ at Mexican border

February 6, 2017 by  
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Putting a sardonic, yet poignant twist to typical welcoming centers seen in national parks, Japanese artist collective, Chim?Pom has created a “U.S.A Visitor’s Center” on the Tijuana border. The treehouse shack is perched high in a tree overlooking the border wall that separates Tijuana from San Diego, California. The “Visitors Center” is a rickety wooden structure that sits precariously among the feeble tree limbs located on a family home in Colonia Libertad area. The desolate Mexican neighborhood has seen countless amounts of Mexican migrants pass through on their way to cross the border. The artist collective, (formed in Tokyo in 2005) met the owners, whose self-built house sits adjacent to the treehouse, while visiting Mexico last year. Related: Apartments made out of re-used materials pop-up in protest of the housing crisis in Munich The Japanese team installed the protest art installation last July as a metaphor of the “unreachable USA”. One of the artists in the collective, Ellie, was previously denied entry into the country when working with a Japanese TV crew. In an interview with Hyperallergic, Chim?Pom explained the inspiration behind the project, “National parks like the Grand Canyon have visitor centers to learn about places that you cannot enter. In Tijuana, there are many people who cannot enter the US. So for people like them and Ellie, this is a USA Visitor Center to think about what America is.” In clear view of the treehouse, the artists also placed a white cross on the American side of the border. With a little help from the community, Chim?Pom scaled the border wall to place the cross there as a symbolic gesture to liberty. Next to the cross, the artists dug a circular hole paying tribute to a previous installation. Both of the installations, “Libertad” and “The Ground” represent a place of “in-betweenness and uncertainty”, a state many immigrants can relate to these days under Donald Trump’s immigration ban . Both of the US-based installations will most likely be removed soon by authorities, but the Visitor’s Center is on private land, hopefully ensuring a little longevity. “Since it’s a center to view ‘Libertad’ and ‘The Grounds,’ it’s essentially like an art gallery, but once those two works are removed it won’t have that function,” Chim?Pom said. “But you’ll still be able to look over the US, and if a new wall is built, you would be able to see the construction.” + Chim?Pom Via Hyperallergic Photography via Chim?Pom and MUJIN-TO Production. Lead photo by Osamu Matsuda.

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Artists build treehouse ‘Visitor Center’ at Mexican border

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

The top 7 WTF moments in fashion this year

December 31, 2016 by  
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Has there ever been a year in our lifetime that so many of us have been so eager to kiss good-bye? It seems like there wasn’t a single thing not touched by tragedy: music, art, fashion , (ahem) politics . Check out our roundup of the top 7 WTF moments of 2016 and tell us which was the worst of the worst.

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The top 7 WTF moments in fashion this year

7 articles that made us laugh this year

December 31, 2016 by  
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2016 took us to a dark, dark place, and we needed humor more than ever this year to get us through the seemingly endless barrage of pain. From an “Election cycle” bike that repeatedly slaps you in the face to the tiny wall that was erected around Donald Trump’s Hollywood star to the Kardashians’ hilariously sad architecture mixup , read on for the comedic stories that kept us from completely breaking down and throwing in the towel this year. And voice your choice in our end-of-year poll to let us know which one made you LOL the most! [poll id=115]

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7 articles that made us laugh this year

New underwater hotel in Florida to use profits to protect coral reefs

December 3, 2015 by  
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If being neighbors with Sponge Bob and The Little Mermaid sounds fun, then a new underwater hotel is a dream getaway. The Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel, which is under construction in Key West, Florida , will offer luxury suites for guests who want to sleep with the fishes. Though it may sound like an ecological disaster in the making, the hotel’s mission is “to help fund and implement a worldwide proven coral reef restoration.” Read the rest of New underwater hotel in Florida to use profits to protect coral reefs

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