Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

July 1, 2020 by  
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While many species are enjoying a break from humans during the pandemic, Florida’s manatee death rate is up this year. Increased boating activity, rollbacks on emission caps and delays in environmental improvements all put these defenseless giants in the crosshairs. “There are several troubling factors coming together during the pandemic,” Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club , told The Guardian . “Manatees were already facing accelerated habitat loss, rising fatalities from boat collisions and less regulatory protection. With COVID, we’re seeing manatees at an increased risk, both from policies that undermine environmental standards and from irresponsible outdoor activity, such as boaters ignoring slow-speed zones.” Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Now with pandemic-related problems, manatee deaths were up almost 20% for April through May compared with 2019 figures. June exceeded the five-year death average. However, officials haven’t been able to establish causes for all manatee deaths because the Fish & Wildlife Commission isn’t doing necropsy — the word for “autopsy” when performed on animals — during the pandemic . Some manatees have undoubtedly been killed or injured by boat collisions. According to Rose, boat ramps remained open in March when other recreational options closed, leading to an uptick in dangerous boating activity. Slow-moving manatees often fail to get out of the way of boats. Injuries are so frequent that researchers tell the animals apart by their scar patterns. Regulatory changes also threaten manatee habitats. The marine mammals, which are most closely related to elephants, will reap the consequences of the EPA’s decision to suspend water and air pollution monitoring requirements during the pandemic. COVID-19 is also delaying environmental initiatives. In-person meetings have been postponed, including talks about providing more warm-water manatee habitat by breaching the Ocklawaha River dam. “We’ve lost tens of thousands of acres of seagrass over the past decade,” Rose said. “The power plants, which currently supply artificial warm water , will also be closing in the coming years, making our fight to protect natural warm springs habitat all the more critical.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
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Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

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Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

Green-roofed villa blends into a Costa Rican jungle landscape

May 27, 2020 by  
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Hidden in the lush mountains of Costa Rica is Atelier Villa, a green-roofed residence that Czech architecture firm Formafatal created as part of the boutique retreat Art Villas Resort. Designed to blend in with the surroundings, the minimalist home was built primarily of natural materials. It also features weathered aluminum wall panels that open up to provide a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience. The Atelier Villa is one of four structures in the Art Villas Resort located on a 2-hectare hill above Playa Hermosa. Masterplanned by Formafatal, the resort comprises the Art Villa, a concrete structure designed by Refuel; the Coco Villa, a set of five egg-shaped houses designed by Archwerk studio; the Wing, a tropical multifunctional pavilion ; and the private Atelier Villa. The property can host small-group retreats of up to 24 people and is open for rent via Airbnb. Related: Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica Elevated off of the ground, the Atelier Villa appears to float above the landscape and uses its raised position to take in views of the distant ocean and green hills. “The first and foremost priority is not only the idea of ‘erasing boundaries between interior and exterior’ but also highlighting constructional simplicity and pure lines (pura vida >> pura arquitectura),” the architects explained of the minimalist, steel-framed design. Formafatal wrapped the boxy, 26-meter-long home in operable, perforated aluminum panels, which don’t heat up in the sun and are rust-resistant, as well as Shou Sugi Ban -treated timber. A minimalist design approach was also applied to the interior, which is largely open-plan to provide uninterrupted sight lines of the outdoors throughout the home. Natural materials were used for the interior surfaces as well as the furnishings, which, aside from the lounge and dining chairs, were custom-made for the villa. Many of the furnishings were made with help from local craftsmen. + Formafatal Photography by BoysPlayNice via Formafatal

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Green-roofed villa blends into a Costa Rican jungle landscape

Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

May 26, 2020 by  
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For those lucky enough to keep their jobs during the global pandemic, a large portion have been working from home — a privilege that could become a permanent way of life for many. In response to how COVID-19 continues to reshape our lives, Paris-based architecture firm Studio BELEM has proposed Aula Modula, a conceptual live/work urban housing scheme that emphasizes flexibility, community and sustainability. In addition to providing individual workspaces for work-from-home setups, Aula Modula would also offer plenty of green spaces as a means of bringing nature back to the city. Envisioned for a post- COVID-19 world, Aula Modula combines elements of high-density urban living with greater access to nature. According to Studio BELEM, the concept is an evolution of traditional western architectural and urban planning models that have been unchanged for years and fail to take into account diminishing greenery in cities, rising commute times and the conveniences afforded by the internet. Related: Architects design COVID-19 mobile testing labs for underserved communities “Aula Modula chooses to free itself from the standards and codes of traditional housing,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The Aula Modula brings back a natural environment to the city, promoting new commonly shared spaces and social interactions between its residents.” In addition to providing individual home offices to each apartment, the live/work complex includes communal access to a central courtyard and terraces to promote a sense of community — both social and professional — between residents and workers. The architects propose to construct the development primarily from timber to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Aula Modula is also envisioned with green roofs irrigated with recycled and treated wastewater, a series of terraced vegetable gardens and a communal greenhouse warmed with recovered thermal energy from the building. The apartments would sit atop a mix of retail and recreational services, such as a grocery store, craft brewery and yoga studio. + Studio Belem Images by Studio Belem

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Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

Local: A glimmer of hope for a post-pandemic world

May 5, 2020 by  
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Local food, manufacturing and retail could see a revival as we strive for community resilience in the new normal.

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Local: A glimmer of hope for a post-pandemic world

Local: A glimmer of hope for a post-pandemic world

May 5, 2020 by  
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Local food, manufacturing and retail could see a revival as we strive for community resilience in the new normal.

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Local: A glimmer of hope for a post-pandemic world

How COVID-19 changes perceptions of trade in wildlife

May 5, 2020 by  
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Between the COVID-19 pandemic and Netflix’s hit series “Tiger King,” wildlife trade is occupying our collective psyche at a level never been seen before.

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How COVID-19 changes perceptions of trade in wildlife

Reducing global supply chain reliance on China won’t be easy

May 5, 2020 by  
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It’s unsustainable when nearly all supply chains from consumer goods to medical gear lead back to a single nation.

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Reducing global supply chain reliance on China won’t be easy

Are we prepared for the next big crisis?

May 5, 2020 by  
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The next major crisis facing the American people may be larger than the current pandemic. Here are five steps to take.

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Are we prepared for the next big crisis?

Are we prepared for the next big crisis?

May 5, 2020 by  
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The next major crisis facing the American people may be larger than the current pandemic. Here are five steps to take.

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Are we prepared for the next big crisis?

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