Eastern Puma officially extinct, allows for mountain lion reintroduction

February 8, 2019 by  
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The eastern puma, which used to range from Quebec and Manitoba to South Carolina and Illinois, is now officially  extinct , said Officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The government agency has also removed the cougars from endangered species list. Taking the eastern pumas off the endangered list will enable eastern states, such as New York, to reintroduce western pumas, also called mountain lions, into the region. The last eastern puma killed in the wild was in Maine over 80 years ago. Hunters killed off the majority of these pumas in the 18th and 19th centuries. “We need large carnivores like cougars to keep the wild food web healthy, so we hope eastern and midwestern states will reintroduce them,” Michael Robinson, who works for the Center for Biological Diversity, explained. Reintroducing western pumas will cut down on deer population and help decrease tick-borne illnesses that are harmful to humans. Government officials believe there are eastern regions that are suitable for the reintroduction of pumas. These areas include New England, Adirondacks and the Great Lakes. Related: Conchs in the Bahamas could be extinct in 10 years Unlike their eastern counterparts, western pumas have successfully repopulated regions in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Although western pumas and their close relative the Florida panthers have been spotted in eastern states, they have not been able to successfully reproduce because of human intervention and hunting . Deer populations have skyrocketed in the absence of predators like pumas and wolves. Certain kinds of deer populations, like white-tail deer, eat saplings and acorns, which has led to a rapid decline in new tree growth in the region. This also hurts ground-nesting birds as they do not have enough vegetation to protect themselves. Now that eastern pumas have been taken off the endangered list, politicians can start spearheading efforts to reintroduce western pumas into the region. Although it is extremely sad that the eastern puma has gone extinct, experts hope that reintroducing another predator will help the environment in the long run. At one point in time, pumas were one of the most widespread animals in North and South America. Via Biological Diversity Image via Shutterstock

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Eastern Puma officially extinct, allows for mountain lion reintroduction

Flat-pack treehouse offers "extreme wilderness" glamping with a light footprint

February 8, 2019 by  
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British company Tree Tents International has unveiled its most innovative and adaptable glamping structure yet. Meet the Fuselage, a flat-pack treehouse that can be set up almost anywhere, even on the most challenging terrain. Dubbed by the firm as an “extreme wilderness cabin,” the cylindrical dwelling takes inspiration from modern aerospace design for its durable and lightweight structure. Designed with a triple-layer insulated skin, low-voltage radiant heating and a micro wood stove, the solar-powered Fuselage has been precision-engineered for thermal comfort in a wide variety of climate conditions, including the wintry environment of Northern Sweden, where one of Tree Tents’ first Fuselages was installed just a few hundred miles below the Arctic Circle. “I designed the Fuselage to access some pretty extreme environments — allowing people to stay in these amazing locations with a structure that is both lightweight in construction but as tough as old boots,” Fuselage designer Jason Thawley said in a press release. To minimize the environmental impact of the Fuselage, the structures are flat-pack and modular so that no heavy machinery is required onsite for installation. Built from sustainably sourced wood and recycled aluminum , the units can be suspended from trees or mounted on stilted feet without need for large foundations. The firm even uses the waste from the manufacturing process to make camping accessories, such as stools and rucksacks, as part of its commitment to sustainable design. Related: Pinecone-shaped treehouse provides stunning 360-degree views of dense Redwood forest Assembled from a kit, the Fuselage features a fully insulated wood-and-aluminum structural frame with an aluminum outer shell. The interior, which measures 3 by 5 meters, includes quality marine ply hardwood flooring and birch liner as well as a lockable entrance door and double-glazed windows . Each bespoke unit also comes with furnishings and can be upgraded with different custom offerings. The base price for Fuselage starts at £26,000 (about $33,672 USD), not including valued-added tax or installation costs. + Fuselage

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9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day

February 8, 2019 by  
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While there is no truth to the rumor that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, there is no denying that many people think of it as a manufactured holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and chocolate. Every February 14th, millions of people buy cards and roses, and drop a ton of cash on diamonds, gold and silver. In 2019, Americans are expected to spend almost 20 billion dollars for the romantic holiday, and that breaks down to nearly $150 a person. All of that consumer spending leads to a lot of waste . A holiday dedicated to love shouldn’t be about how much money you spend. You can still do a lot of romantic things that don’t destroy your budget and the environment. Rethink your chocolate choices Instead of picking up a last minute box of chocolates from the nearest convenience store, plan in advance to buy organic or local chocolate. Then, opt for minimal packaging instead of heart-shaped boxes or plastic molds. Go green with your Valentine’s cards Even though everything seems to be digital these days, more than 180 million paper cards are still exchanged on Valentine’s Day. Paper mills use huge amounts of water and emit loads of chemicals, not to mention, the trees that have to die to make these cards. Even recycled cards will emit methane when they decompose in a landfill. This year, skip the traditional paper card and make one yourself out of old magazines or give a card made from plantable seed paper. You can also send a custom E-Card or chalk a sidewalk where you know your significant other will see it. Related: 6 ways to reuse your Valentine’s Day roses Pick organic bouquets The flower industry is surprisingly destructive when it comes to the environment because of the heavy pesticide use. So, minimize your impact this Valentine’s Day by giving your loved one an organic bouquet or pick some flowers out of your own garden or visit the local farmer’s market. If you do visit your local farmer’s market, that is also a great place to find local, seasonal treats instead of buying something that’s been shipped from thousands of miles away. Stick to vintage jewelry There are numerous environmental and human rights problems that come from mining gold and diamonds. So, instead of buying brand new jewelry, opt for a vintage piece that makes a statement. Or, consider something that has been made from recycled metal, paper or other repurposed materials. Skip the restaurant Many of us look at Valentine’s Day as an excuse to dine out at a fabulous restaurant and drop a little extra cash. However, there is nothing more romantic than making a meal together at home in your own kitchen. Not only is cooking a meal at home better for your wallet, but it is also better for the environment because it will mean less food waste and no to-go boxes. Donate to a cause Instead of exchanging gifts or indulging with an expensive night out, you can go eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day by making a donation to an environmental cause or animal shelter in your loved one’s name. Or, you can go further than a donation and save an animal from a shelter by giving a shelter dog or cat as a gift. Just make sure that your significant other actually wants a pet. Related: Green Valentine gifts for Earth-loving sweethearts Make your own bath products A hot bubble bath with your Valentine is a great way to spend the evening, but there is no need to buy bath and body products from chain stores or big box stores. Instead, make your own bath salts, bath bombs, sugar scrubs or bath oils. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and most of them use natural ingredients. Plant a tree Skip the cut flowers this Valentine’s Day and instead plant a tree together as an ongoing reminder of your love and your relationship. If you aren’t ready for a tree, you can opt for a plant. And, if you still want to see beautiful flowers on the holiday, visit a botanical garden or nature reserve and take a romantic stroll. Use eco-friendly protection and undies Go green in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day with vegan condoms from companies like Sustain Natural, Glyde, L. or Lovability. Traditional condom companies aren’t very forthcoming with their ingredients, so we don’t know how long it takes for them to biodegrade. So, to stay eco-friendly this Valentine’s Day, go vegan — at least in the bedroom. Via Sierra Club Images via Sharon McCutcheon , Shutterstock

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Wildlife officials deny mountain lions have returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains

September 15, 2016 by  
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Mountain lions once roamed the continent from west to east, but the spread of human communities have led to a massive reduction in the number of big cat populations in the east. In fact, the only recognized population of mountain lions east of the Mississippi River are southern Florida panthers and DNA testing has confirmed that population is not migrating north. Declining numbers of mountain lions over the past 100 years led wildlife officials in other Eastern states to declare them extinct . However, the growing number of sightings in Tennessee since September 2015 has environmentalists arguing that it’s time to reconsider the species’ status, and work to conserve their habitat to encourage further population increases. So far, wildlife officials do not seem eager to take action. Related: LA lawmakers take steps to create wildlife corridor to protect big cats Are they really mountain lions? A mountain lion is a wild cat ranging from two to three feet tall, with females weighing up to 120lbs and males up to 200lbs, making it the fourth largest cat in the world. They are also known as cougars, panthers, pumas, or catamounts—all are the same animal. While bobcats are considerably smaller (the largest among them are under 20lbs), their similar coloring can lead to cases of mistaken identity, especially from a great distance. What’s more, mountain lion kittens and young bobcats are very difficult to tell apart. Many reports of mountain lion sightings are immediately dismissed as a case of mistaken identity and some, like this alleged sighting of a dead mountain lion on a highway cutting through North Carolina’s stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wildlife officials claim no knowledge of the carcass, but there are any number of alternate explanations, such as scavengers dragging it off the road or a passerby collecting it. The scientific evidence Tennessee wildlife officials admit cougars roam the mountains in that state, after the first cougar in 100 years was photographed there. Despite the mounting number of sightings, videos, and captures over the past year , the state does not recognize the big cats as a permanent residents, because of the lack of evidence of reproducing females. A study from University of Minnesota reviewed 18 years of cougar sightings in an effort to understand the big cats’ activity. The study argues that the increased population in Tenn. suggests that cougars are expanding their Midwest territory in search of adequate habitat to reproduce. Some say the big cats could reestablish their populations in the Blue Ridge Mountains within 25 to 50 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYUQaF3mK_w One of the early sightings caught on video (above) was of this female mountain lion, who was subsequently captured in Nov. 2015 in Olbion County, Tenn. DNA testing revealed the cougar is not related to known populations of panthers in southern Florida , and the notion that the big cats have traveled from western states has been dismissed due to common sense. The remaining logical conclusion points to a slow resurgence of the eastern cougars that once lived all over the Eastern mountains. Alleged mountain lion attack A man injured while hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail near Humpback Rock in Virginia was initially reported as the victim of a mountain lion attack  on Jul. 1 of this year. At that time, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, suggested that was unlikely and issued a statement recalling that “since 1970, 121 sightings have been identified as possible mountain lions, but have not been officially confirmed. Most sightings occur in Shenandoah National Park and in Bedford, Amherst and Nelson County region.” The victim’s mother, who had called 911 on his behalf, later revealed that a miscommunication led her to identify the wrong animal. She said that her son was actually attacked by a bobcat, which he had referred to as a “big cat.” She made an assumption when she told the 911 operator it was a mountain lion. This clarifying piece of information fuels the doubt about the true resurgence of the eastern cougar. What’s next for the eastern cougar? Environmental conservation groups are urging wildlife officials to review the status of mountain lions across several states, including Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, and little progress has been made. The federal Fish & Wildlife Service removed the eastern cougar from the Endangered Species List last year, and reclassified them as an extinct subspecies after a four-year review. Prior to that decision, the Mountain Lion Foundation sponsored a petition to urge the opposite, suggesting FWS work to support the eastern cougar’s repopulation of the Blue Ridge Mountains instead. Just months after the federal agency declared the big cats extinct, the animals began appearing in the Tennessee mountains, leading to a renewed effort to protect the eastern cougar. MLF and other conservation groups argue that genetic testing proves all mountain lions are the same subspecies, so the FWS decision to declare them extinct in the Eastern states is not only irresponsible but unethical. Will it take federal wildlife officials another four years to recognize that eastern cougars are trying to make a comeback in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or will their tracks once again fade into oblivion? Lead image via Wikipedia , additional images via TN Fish & Wildlife , Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 , 3 ), and Eastern Cougar Foundation

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Ford is working on cars that harvest water from thin air

September 15, 2016 by  
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What if accessing fresh water on the go was as easy as turning a dispenser in the front of your car? That was the vision Ford engineer Doug Martin laid out in this week’s Further With Ford trend conference in Detroit, Michigan. Inspired by a water-dispensing billboard in Lima, Peru, Martin wanted to create a system that would recycle the condensation produced by vehicle air conditioning to produce clear, drinkable water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxmjdx_Rg_c&ab_channel=FordMedia Martin unveiled his prototype on Monday, a system called “On-The-Go H2O.” Using a simple kitchen pan (helpfully provided by his wife), Martin collected the droplets of water that would normally fall to the pavement below the car as the air conditioner removes humidity. The water in the pan is then pumped through a filtration system to get rid of any contaminants. Then, it’s stored in a tank inside the car, ready to be dispensed from a faucet between the driver and passenger seats. Related: Ford’s self-driving car will have no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brakes With the air conditioner running, Martin found his invention could produce more than 64 ounces of water per hour. That’s the equivalent of nearly four average-sized water bottles : not an insignificant amount. The new invention could help provide water in remote locations, as well as reduce plastic waste by making water bottles unnecessary. The technology is still in the prototype phase, so it’s unclear when we’ll actually see it in action inside Ford vehicles. Martin hopes that this technology could be repurposed to help provide access to clean drinking water in regions where it would normally be scarce. This isn’t Martin’s first invention at Ford. The engineer has been with the company for 22 years, and in that time he’s managed to amass around 70 auto-related patents. + Further With Ford Images via Ford Motors

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Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

September 15, 2016 by  
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Pittsburgh Uber riders now have a chance of being greeted by a self-driving car . Uber just rolled out a fleet of autonomous cars to test the technology in the real world. They’ll also watch how passengers and other drivers respond to the autonomous vehicles . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmofgf-Y3Mc Uber’s self-driving cars are outfitted with a Lidar unit, which is provides a 360 degree view, and cameras so the cars can respond to the unexpected along the road. While the technology is advanced enough for fully autonomous driving, for now a human driver will ride along, poised to take the wheel if necessary. Related: Uber confirms rumors they are testing a self-driving car Testing how the self-driving cars respond to obstacles and how humans respond to the cars are both important aspects of Uber’s real-world research. Carnegie Mellon University robotics researcher Aaron Steinfeld told TechCrunch, “Autonomy – typically people are a little bit nervous about it. But once they experience it they tend to build up familiarity and become accepting of it.” What about all the drivers who could lose their jobs? While Uber says technology can be ” disrupting ,” they also said self-driving cars could open up new employment opportunities. Self-driving Uber cars ultimately could cruise around cities 24 hours each day, and thus would require more maintenance than the average car which may only be driven for a few hours daily. According to a statement from the company, “Of course, we can’t predict exactly what the future will hold. But we know that self-driving Ubers have enormous potential to further our mission and improve society: reducing the number of traffic accidents, which today kill 1.3 million people a year; freeing up the 20 percent of space in cities currently used to park the world’s billion plus cars ; and cutting congestion, which wastes trillions of hours every year.” + Uber Via TechCrunch Images via Uber

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