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

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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Former Patagonia CEO announces largest land donation in history

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

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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Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

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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How to nail the rustic modern aesthetic with barn lights

Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

February 27, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy can generate enough power for entire countries–a fact Denmark can confirm. Last week on Wednesday, the nation met all of its power needs via wind energy , according to information from wind power trade organization WindEurope . The group said the energy Denmark produced from onshore and offshore wind was sufficient to power 10 million European Union (EU) households. Denmark produced 27 GWh via offshore wind and 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) via onshore wind on February 23, according to WindEurope. This isn’t the first time wind power has achieved renewable energy feats in the country; 2015 saw several big days for wind energy. By the end of that year, 1,271 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 3,799 MW of onshore wind was installed in Denmark, amounting to a little over five gigawatts (GW) of wind energy. Related: Germany generated so much renewable energy last weekend electric prices went negative The industry did experience a slight slump in 2016, owing mainly to low winds. Before that year, Danish Wind Industry Association CEO Jan Hylleberg said since 2008 they’d “experienced continuous growth in the wind energy production and each year set a new world record.” Although the industry expected the trend wouldn’t continue in 2016, Hylleberg said the fact they didn’t maintain that upward movement was frustrating, but it appears 2017 is off to a soaring start. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind ‘s new nine MW wind turbine already smashed the record for energy generation in a 24 hour period during testing at a test field off Denmark’s coast. Hylleberg described Denmark as world champions at harnessing wind. But the Nordic country wasn’t the only nation to obtain a large amount of power via wind energy last week. WindEurope also reported Germany and Ireland respectively met 52 and 42 percent of their electricity needs with wind. According to the organization, “Wind power in the EU as a whole covered almost 19 percent of the bloc’s electricity needs.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

NASA releases images of the world’s largest solar farm from space

February 24, 2017 by  
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China is home to the world’s largest solar farm , which is so immense, it is visible from space. With around four million solar panels , Longyangxia Dam Solar Park has a capacity of 850 megawatts (MW) – pushing the country closer to its ambitious renewable energy goals. NASA recently shared satellite images of the solar park as seen from space – and they are admittedly impressive. The award for world’s largest solar farm has switched hands rapidly in the last few years. In 2014, California’s 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm was the biggest, but a year later the state’s 579 MW Solar Star claimed victory. The next year, 2016, saw India’s 648 MW Kamuthi Solar Power Project topple the throne, only to be ousted by the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park this year. Related: India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes NASA Earth Observatory’s satellite images of the Chinese solar park reveal immense growth over four years. By early January of this year, the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, which is in the high desert of the Qinghai province, covered 10 square miles. China became the largest producer of solar power in the world after the country’s total installed capacity increased to around 77 gigawatts in 2016, even though other countries like the United States and Germany produce more solar energy per person. Rapid progress has marked China’s renewable energy industry in recent years. According to Climate Central, drawing on preliminary 2016 data released by Greenpeace’s Energydesk , the country “installed the equivalent of one and a half soccer fields of solar panels every hour.” Such advancement means China could hit their 2020 renewable energy targets as soon as 2018. NASA doesn’t expect the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park to retain the crown for long. The Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai is still growing – phase 3 will add 800 megawatts to the farm. And another solar farm planned for China’s Ningxia region in the northwest is slated to have a capacity of 2,000 MW. Via Climate Central Images via Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory

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NASA releases images of the world’s largest solar farm from space

Star-shaped Schneider Electric building in South Africa aims for LEED Gold certification

February 7, 2017 by  
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The Midrand Waterfall Development in South Africa will soon receive a couple of world-class, energy-efficient additions aiming for the highest green certification in the country. The first among them, the Schneider Electric office designed by Aevitas Group is a star-shaped structure optimized for a superior energy performance, targeting a LEED Gold certification . Located on a five-sided site, the building assumes a star-shaped form. It was designed as a perimeter building with a central, enclosed, quadruple-volume atrium flooded with natural light that penetrates the interior through large skylights. The atrium features landscaped elements and planters that double as public seating. Related: BIG’s battleship-inspired LEED Gold office opens in Philadelphia The architects conducted extensive energy performance studies, analyzing thermal loads on the building. As a result, the facades are single glazed, double glazed and clad in insulated aluminium panels . Thanks to low-flow fittings, the water consumption has been reduced by 30 percent, while the efficient drip-irrigation systems reduce water consumption by 55 percent. An efficient waste management plan reduce the amount of waste generated during the construction. Renewable energy systems, lighting control, BMS, daylighting control and HVAC systems add to the sustainability of the design. + Aevitas Group Via solid GREEN

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Star-shaped Schneider Electric building in South Africa aims for LEED Gold certification

Chinese fishery installs immense floating solar farm for extra income

February 6, 2017 by  
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A fishery in eastern China now doubles as a solar power station. An immense array of photovoltaic panels has been installed across 300 hectares to generate not only clean electricity , but additional money for the fishery. Lines of solar panels stretch over the waters of a fishery in Cixi City, which is in the Zhejiang Province in eastern China . People’s Daily Online reports with a 200 megawatt (MW) capacity, it is the biggest solar power station constructed on a fish farm in the country. The panels will be connected to the state grid and will provide the fishery with an annual income of 240 million RMB, which is around $34 million. Fish should still be able to thrive in the waters underneath the panels; People’s Daily Online says the panels will provide shade, but PV Magazine also noted they were intentionally spaced out to allow sunlight to filter through, which is necessary for the fish to grow. Related: $11 million floating solar testbed in Singapore will be the largest in the world The huge station can generate enough power for 100,000 households, and could maybe even replace 7.4 tons of coal, according to People’s Daily Online. The solar panels should generate an impressive 220 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. PV Magazine reports there’s a similar 120 MW installation in China in the Jiangxi Province, but clearly the Cixi City project is much larger. The new solar system certainly wasn’t cheap; it cost 1.8 billion RMB, or $260 million. But Electrek reports the floating solar farm will pay for itself in about seven or eight years. The fishery turned renewable energy plant could offer a model for other fisheries or coastal areas around the world; PV Magazine reports construction just finished in late 2016, so it’s time to see how the fish farm functions with solar panels atop their pond. Via Electrek , People’s Daily Online , and PV Magazine Images via Max Pixel and screenshot

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