Unique Earth Day Traditions to Start as a Family

April 20, 2017 by  
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When it comes to celebrating Earth Day on April 22, there is no shortage of ways environmentally conscious people choose to honor this day. (Check out the coolest 2017 events around the country here.) When you’re trying to raise young…

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Unique Earth Day Traditions to Start as a Family

Conservation group names America’s most endangered river

April 20, 2017 by  
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The Lower Colorado River is one of the United States’ most vital waterways. Besides providing drinking water to 30 million Americans in cities such as San Diego, Las Vegas, and Tucson, the river also irrigates about 90 percent of the country’s winter-vegetable supply. But it’s in danger of being tapped out, according to American Rivers , an environmental group named it the most “most endangered” river in the nation. The reason is a simple case of demand outpacing supply. Coupled with the trend of intensifying droughts, the Lower Colorado is being depleted faster than it can replenish itself. “The Lower Colorado is the lifeblood of the region and grows food for Americans nationwide, but the river is at a breaking point,” said Matt Rice, Colorado Basin director for American Rivers. “It is critical that the Trump administration and Congress support and fund innovative water management solutions.” Related: The EPA just spilled 1 million gallons of mustard-colored mine waste into a Colorado river Proposed federal cuts , plus Trump’s determination to roll back environmental regulations set by his predecessor, offer no recourse. “Americans must speak up and let their elected officials know that healthy rivers are essential to our families, our communities and our future,” Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers, said. “We must take care of the rivers that take care of us” Other rivers under similar duress include California’s Bear River, Washington’s South Fork Skykomish River, and Alabama’s Mobile Bay Basin. Via U.S.A. Today Photos by Denny Armstrong and Sharon Mollerus

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Conservation group names America’s most endangered river

Koch-backed group distributes 25,000 insane climate change conspiracy booklets

April 12, 2017 by  
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The climate change deniers at the Koch brothers-backed Heartland Institute have apparently mailed a lengthy report challenging established climate science to 25,000 educators across the nation. The report, entitled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” has been challenged as climate “propaganda” by the National Science Teachers Association . The goal of the Heartland Institute’s campaign is to continue to mail out the 135-page report until it reaches the hands of 200,000 teachers across the country. If you’d like to read the report, it’s available freely online , but here are a few of the highlights. The report opens by arguing that the science of climate change “is not settled,” despite the fact that multiple studies have found the vast majority of scientists agree that human-caused global warming is real and a serious threat. Study after study has shown that 97% of researchers surveyed are in consensus on this. Related: Fossil fuel-funded study attempts to deny the human causes of climate change It also bashes the science of climate models, claiming that because the certain aspects of the climate are not completely understood, that it’s impossible to predict how global temperatures will change over time. Over at Gizmodo , climate scientist Patrick Brown of the Carnegie Institution for Science explains, “Scientists are constantly working to try to improve these models and reduce uncertainty. This is all done openly and honestly in the peer-reviewed literature.” There’s a lot more inaccurate information packed into this report, including the claim that changing global temperatures are all just part of Earth’s “natural variability” and that global warming could be caused by the sun instead of CO2 emissions (in case it needs to be said, this is not true ). The authors even go so far as to claim that evidence of climate change is “unreliable” and that there’s no proven correlation between melting sea ice and rising temperatures. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation Finally, it closes with conspiracy theories claiming that climate scientists are corrupt and driven by a political agenda rather than accurate science. That’s rich coming from an organization backed by fossil fuel companies like Exxonmobil , although perhaps not terribly surprising. While science teachers who receive the booklet will be able to easily see through the flimsy reasoning and distorted facts, it’s troubling to think of other educators or students who might stumble across the publication without the background to analyze its credibility. That’s why educational organizations are encouraging teachers who receive the report in the mail to toss it straight into the trash . Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Knitty Marie

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Koch-backed group distributes 25,000 insane climate change conspiracy booklets

Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment

March 31, 2017 by  
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A small Colombian town just rejected a $35 billion gold mine project, putting people and the Earth before profit. Around 98 percent of the residents in Cajamarca said no to the mine due to concerns over the environment and water pollution – and Colombian Mining Minister German Arce doesn’t seem too happy with the results. South African company AngloGold Ashanti aimed to build the gold mine, called La Colosa, in Central Colombia, and it could have been the biggest gold mine in South America . The national government was in favor of La Colosa, saying mining is vital as they recover from war with Marxist rebels. But residents of Cajamarca, where the mine would be located, overwhelmingly rejected the project in a recent referendum. According to the BBC, 19,000 people live in the town, and only 76 locals voted in favor of the gold mine while 6,100 voted against. Related: Damage to Peruvian Amazon Caused by Illegal Goldmines Revealed for the First Time Local 21-year-old student Camila Méndez told Mongabay before the results were in, “I voted no for the future generations. I have two nephews of seven and three years old. Even though they do not live in Cajamarca, I know that I want them to enjoy the little I’ve been able to enjoy so far, as it concerns the countryside. If we win…we’d show the complete world that Cajamarca is able to defeat a huge multinational enterprise, a mining monster as AngloGold Ashanti.” But Arce said campaigners misled voters. He said AngloGold Ashanti had been issued an exploration license already, and that license would remain valid. Local authorities may control the land, but Arce said the national government controls any underground riches. AngloGold Ashanti still needs an environmental license, and if that is awarded Arce said it would be up to the courts or the country’s Congress to decide if local or national authorities would win the fight. Locals fear the mine would damage the mountain environment of the area, or pollute water sources. Via The Wall Street Journal and the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

March 21, 2017 by  
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Talk of climate change probably evokes images of rising sea levels or hotter temperatures, but what about algae blooms ? Scientists have made a direct connection between an algae bloom in the Arabian Sea, which has blown up to the size of Mexico, and climate change. The massive bloom has been captured from satellites . 30 years ago, algae in the Gulf of Oman could barely be seen. Now, twice a year, microscopic organisms of the species Noctiluca scintillans turns the gulf green as it sprawls throughout the Arabian Sea towards India. Scientists say conditions produced by climate change are allowing the algae to thrive. Columbia University researchers have even traced the algae blooms to ice melting in the Himalayas. Related: Florida declares state of emergency due to gigantic algae bloom Satellite technology has also allowed researchers to connect algae with greater levels of water and air pollution . NASA ocean carbon and biology projects manager Paula Bontempi told the Associated Press satellite images of the algae are beautiful, like a Van Gogh painting, but in person the algae is smelly and ugly. She said, “We know that our Earth is changing. It may be in a direction we might not like.” The phenomenon threatens local ecosystems ; algae has been known to paralyze fish . The United Nations’ science agency says in rare cases algal toxins have killed humans. Oman faces unique threats from the algae bloom. There, algae can clog pipes at desalination plants providing as much as 90 percent of fresh water for the country. Fisheries in the country could also be harmed by the algae bloom; in 2008 an eruption of a different type of algae beached 50 tons of fish, which were starving for oxygen and rotted along the coast of Oman. Saleh al-Mashari, the captain of a researcher vessel, said this algae bloom has already caused damage. He told the Associated Press, “The fish are migrating. They can’t get enough air here.” Ahmad al-Alawi, a marine ecologist, said blooms are getting larger and lasting for longer periods of time. He said the blooms displace zooplankton, which are the base of the local food chain . Via Phys.org Images via Tristan Schmurr on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Former Patagonia CEO announces largest land donation in history

March 21, 2017 by  
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Land conservation in Chile could reach a new high with a recent pledge to conserve 11 million acres of wilderness as national parks . As part of the proposal, former Patagonia CEO Kris Tompkins gifted one million acres to the country in what her organization, Tompkins Conservation , says is the “largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country.” Tompkins and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed an agreement to add the one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation to around 10 million acres of federal land to create a large system of parklands. Under the pledge the government will establish five new national parks. The land under the proposal is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite together. Volcanoes, coastal areas, and forests will be protected under the pledge. In a speech, the president said, “We are bequeathing to the country the greatest creation of protected areas in our history.” Related: Patagonia launches campaign to protect Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument This historic proposal is a step to start a Route of Parks, or a 17-park network, stretching from Cape Horn up to Puerto Montt to conserve Chile’s incredible wilderness and offer outdoor destinations for travelers. The parks could potentially yield around $270 million each year from ecotourism , and could employ as much as 43,000 people, according to Tompkins Conservation. The organization has also committed to start a Friends of National Parks foundation in Chile to support the Route of Parks. Kris said her late husband, conservationist Douglas Tompkins, who passed away in 2015, inspired the pledge. She said, “I know that if Doug were here today, he would speak of national parks being one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizenry.” Via Tompkins Conservation and The Guardian Images via Tompkins Conservation Facebook

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Beautiful cliffside home ‘split in half’ by landslide rebuilt with wooden pods

March 21, 2017 by  
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Sometimes beautiful design is just fate. When AR Design Studio decided to add an extension to a cliffside home on the UK’s South Coast, the entire house ended up being split in half due to a major landslide . Fortunately, the architects stayed on to design a replacement house, resulting in a beautiful vacation home called the Crow’s Nest. This time, however, the gorgeous structure, which is made out of four wooden “pods,” was built with highly-engineered technology to stabilize the structure against future land movements. The Crow’s Nest home is built looking over a large cliff on the UK’s South Coast. To secure the new home against future natural disasters , the architects worked with engineers to create an integrated system that could resist major land movements. The system entailed installing dwarfs walls into a massive concrete slat that sits underneath the home. This was strategic to creating an adjustable raft-like structural frame where the walls absorb any major land movement. In this case, mechanical jacks installed underneath the frame would be able to re-level the house afterwards. Related: These 6 extraordinary cliffside homes will give you chills Although the original home was severely damaged by the landslide, the architects managed to use its original cabin design as inspiration for the new one. The team created an elongated structure with a series of four “twisted” pods, creating a unique contemporary cabin character . Clad in beautiful blond larch panels, the home seamlessly blends in with the surrounding landscape. The entryway is made up of the smallest pod , which leads into the main living area. The “tower pod” to the left houses the large master bedroom, along with the children’s bedroom and bathrooms. The remaining pod on the right of the living area is a guest space that can be closed when not in use. The interior comprises a light, airy design with a modern cabin feel. Bold wooden furnishings are found throughout, but the use of various industrial materials give the space a contemporary touch. Large windows offer optimal natural light as well as stunning views of the forest and coastal views. + AR Design Studio Via Design Milk Photography by Martin Gardner

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At least 60 dead in Ethiopian garbage "landslide"

March 14, 2017 by  
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At least 60 people are dead after a mountain of trash collapsed at a dump in Ethiopia on Saturday night. The “landslide” at Koshe Garbage Landfill, which lies just outside the country’s capital of Addis Ababa, claimed mostly women and children, according to officials . With dozens still reportedly still missing, the final death toll could be even higher, they added. Around 150 people were present when the landslide occurred, a resident told the Associated Press . Several makeshift houses, inhabited by some of the landfill’s permanent residents, are now submerged under tons of refuse. Many of those who live at the 50-year-old landfill are scavengers who sort through the dross for items to sell. Others are there because it’s all they can afford. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.” Tebeju Asres, who lived at the site, told AP. Koshe, which means “dirty” in the local Amharic language, has experienced smaller collapses that killed two or three people, but nothing on this scale. Related: Ethiopia announces plans to build massive 1000MW geothermal power plant About 300,000 tons of waste from the capital’s 4 million people are deposited every year at Koshe, officials say. The city has been working to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy since 2013, when it began construction on what will be Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant when completed. The Koshe waste-to-energy center, which has $120 million invested in it, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity. “In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” Diriba Kuma, mayor of Addis Ababa, told AP. Via BBC News Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia Aid

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At least 60 dead in Ethiopian garbage "landslide"

Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

March 6, 2017 by  
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Life without honeybees would be less than sweet – it’d mean a lot fewer fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. But honeybees aren’t the only bees we need to worry about. The future of many Native North American and Hawaiian bee species is also in peril: a new study found that more than half of the region’s native bee species are declining , and nearly one in four native bee species is imperiled and at risk for extinction. Image © Dominik Scythe via Unsplash A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity entitled “Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian bees” outlines the importance of these native bee species by valuing their financial importance as well as their ability to help ecosystems thrive. As fruit-pollinators, native bee species are worth more than three billion dollars, yet their work pollinating wild flowers and plants is equally important in maintaining diverse and colorful flora. As if the information regarding known declining populations wasn’t cause enough for alarm, the author warned that this study and other bee studies simply don’t have enough data on thousands of native bee species – many of which are found in areas of “great environmental degradation” – to determine if they are at risk. Image © Jenni Peterson via Unsplash Related| This could be the United States’ first endangered bee species The study cites loss of habitat due to agriculture, heavy use of pesticides , climate change, and urbanization as large drivers of the native bee populations’ decline and endangerment. Lead author Kelsey Kopec said, “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” The report includes case studies of five distinct bee species around the country that are in great peril, including the wild sweet potato bee, which is the only known species in the world in its genus, and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is the largest and most distinctive leafcutting bee on the continent. While a casual eye might be tempted to group these bee species together, their unique habits and contributions to varied ecosystems highlight their individual importance and fragility. Via Time Lead image © Jenna Lee via Unsplash

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How to nail the rustic modern aesthetic with barn lights

March 6, 2017 by  
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We love the promises of modern design here at Inhabitat. The elegance and efficiency of modernism provides ease and comfort, clearing clutter and solving life’s little problems. However, overly minimalist interiors are often criticized for a lack of personality, warmth and comfort. Happily, we’ve found that you can have your modern cake and eat it too, by combining the best elements of modernism with tried-and-true vintage design classics that bring a necessary dose of familiarity, practicality and comfort into the home. A shining paragon of what we’d call Rustic Modern design is the humble and charming LED barn light . It’s the perfect marriage of the latest energy-efficient LED technology with the vintage aesthetic of the old-fashioned industrial lamp. It evokes a simpler time of family farms and Victory Gardens , and can bring warmth to an overly sterile space. From outdoor walkways to kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, here are ten inspiring examples of how homeowners have used LED barn lights to add a dose of warmth and humanity to modern residential spaces, while lowering their energy bill. There’s a reason that the iconic ‘ barn light ‘ was the shape of almost every inexpensive utilitarian lamp for such a long time – the simple metal design makes for an extremely practical and durable task lamp. The funnel shape of the metal baffle blocks ambient light from escaping in all directions, reduces glare, and focuses the light downward toward a task. The gooseneck that is familiar element of wall-mounted barn lamps allows the light to be positioned where needed. And in outdoor settings the barn lighting prevents light pollution, making it easier to see a path at night. A company called Cocoweb has taken the increasingly sought after barn light aesthetic and merged it with the latest LED technology, providing a futuristic, energy-saving lamp in a charming vintage package. Cocoweb’s Barn Lights are eco-friendly, fully dimmable, low-energy and last for over 20 years without ever needing a bulb change. Energy-saving lighting has thankfully become less expensive and widely available everywhere over the years, but many LED lamps on the market tend to be futuristic. When designers are looking for an old-fashioned aesthetic, through vintage lamps or Edison Bulbs, that charming vibe often comes paired with a doozy of an energy hog. Edison lightbulbs, a.k.a incandescent bulbs and halogen lamps, are extremely inefficient and consume tons of energy, wasting most of their energy input in the form of heat instead of visible light. LED light bulbs are extremely energy efficient, but for the early part of their public career they’ve been mostly associated with futuristic, bluish, 2001-A-Space-Odyssey style lighting. But LEDs can certainly provide a warm glow and work with a more classic aesthetic as well, as exemplified in the above photo. (Yes, those cute vintage lamps are LED lamps). Barn lights in brass or cherry red put a bolder, more vibrant spin on rustic modern design, proving that ‘rustic’ need not be limited to a neutral color palette. These jade pendants add retro flare and stand out as a statement piece in this apartment’s dining room. As shown in the photo above, vintage-looking LED lamps can achieve a distinctly intimate and cozy feeling. These jade LED barn lights shine 1600 lumens for over 50,000 hours (or 20 years), and offer a delightful pop of color and a timeless feel when paired with wide plank flooring, wooden cabinetry and natural stone. This warm meeting room epitomizes modern rustic style. With clean lines, midcentury modern furniture and white walls, this space would feel ultra modern if not for the softening touches of these classic matte black oldage pendants and the vibrantly patterned throw rug underneath the coffee table. These outdoor vintage green gooseneck barn lights were combined with a white washed exterior and farmhouse furnishings, turning a modern patio into a more pastoral setting. The entryway in the above photo maintains a decidedly contemporary vibe, but the subtle matte black LED sconces add a more welcoming feeling. The durable weather-proof coating and MET-listed safety rating make these LED lights equipped for both indoor and outdoor use. These matte black barn light sconces work just as well in the indoors as they do in the outdoors. The barn lights from Cocoweb have over 5,000 combinations of arms, colors and shades to choose from, making it easy to customize for any style space. Especially when combined with a bit of wood, these subtle Blackspot pendants can upgrade even the most modern spaces to exude rustic charm. This bright country interior is quite minimalist and white, but is warmed with the curves and light of the barn light sconce, along with the light wood and plaid patterned furnishings. ABOUT COCOWEB Cocoweb has been operating out of Irvine, California for over 50 years. If you’re itching to start a renovation, the company’s fast and free shipping will deliver to your doorstep as quickly as one business day. And each fixture has a 30 day satisfaction guaranteed return policy and a 2-year warranty. Their Design Corner will connect you with a variety of recommended interior designers and contractors in your area, should you choose not go the DIY route. If want more inspiration and eye candy, check out the Cocoweb blog . + Cocoweb

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