Grass-fed beef may be even worse for the climate

October 10, 2017 by  
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Prepare to be cowed by the data.

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Grass-fed beef may be even worse for the climate

Is blockchain the singularity point for the environment?

October 10, 2017 by  
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Applying blockchain to carbon credits to create a “carbon currency” is the key to demystifying and consolidating the carbon market so it can scale up.

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Is blockchain the singularity point for the environment?

How Scott’s Miracle-Gro found value in vulnerability

October 10, 2017 by  
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In response to criticism about its fertilizers, the company sought to step forward as an environmental leader.

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How Scott’s Miracle-Gro found value in vulnerability

MIT engineers devise algorithm to identify warning signs of extreme weather events

September 25, 2017 by  
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Extreme events – like a rogue wave, hurricane , or sudden extinction – often seem to strike with few hints beforehand. But what if we could predict these events before they even form? Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers came up with a framework, a computer algorithm , to spot patterns that come before such an event. According to MIT , their method may help anticipate “hotspots of instability affecting climate , aircraft performance, and ocean circulation.” It can be incredibly difficult to foresee extreme events, since many systems are complex, with many players or factors. The new MIT algorithm can be applied to a large range of systems to search for warning signs. In the past, researchers have tried to predict extreme events by solving mathematical models. But often scientists don’t fully understand the mechanisms shaping complex systems, which can lead to model errors. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: Countries where you are most likely to die from extreme climate events The new algorithm blends equations with available data . Sapsis said, “We are looking at the equations for possible states that have very high growth rates and become extreme events, but they are also consistent with data, telling us whether this state has any likelihood of occurring, or if it’s something so exotic that, yes, it will lead to an extreme event, but the probability of it occurring is basically zero.” MIT explained their algorithm acts as a sieve to catch precursors, or warning signs, that would be seen in the real world. To test their framework, they simulated a turbulent fluid flow and searched for precursors their framework predicted. Those precursors turned into extreme events, according to MIT, between 75 and 99 percent of the time. Sapsis said in a statement, “If you can predict where these things occur, maybe you can develop some control techniques to suppress them.” The journal Science Advances published the research late last week. Via MIT News and Inverse Images via Wikimedia Commons and Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

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MIT engineers devise algorithm to identify warning signs of extreme weather events

Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

September 18, 2017 by  
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Photonic computers could run 20 times quicker than today’s laptops if microchips could process data in speedy photons. Now, they might be able to. For the very first time, researchers from two Australian universities have found a way to store light waves as sound waves in a microchip – a breakthrough that brings us closer to the super-fast computers of the future. Light-based computers could revolutionize computing. They won’t generate heat , or use as much energy as today’s computers. Light-based information sent across cables today is converted into electrons, which are slow, but storing light waves as sound waves allows the information, which computer chips can still read, to travel more quickly. Normally, light would pass through a microchip in two to three nanoseconds, but when it’s stored as sound, it can remain on a chip for an additional 10 nanoseconds, allowing data to be processed. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons The animation above breaks down the process. Photonic data enters the microchip as a yellow light pulse, and interacts with what’s called a write pulse that’s blue. That generates an acoustic wave where the data is stored. Then, another light pulse, called the read pulse, accesses the data stored in the acoustic wave and transmits it as light. Project supervisor Birgit Stiller of the University of Sydney said in a statement, “The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.” Their system also works on a broad bandwidth, so Stiller said they can store and retrieve information at different wavelengths at the same time. The journal Nature Communications published the research online today. Two researchers from Australian National University joined three from the University of Sydney for the study. Via ScienceAlert and Phys.org Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Louise Connor/University of Sydney

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Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

IKEA plans to cut food waste in half by 2020 heres how

August 14, 2017 by  
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You now have one more reason to love IKEA . By 2020, the Swedish company plans to cut food waste by 50% at its stores — including its restaurants and smaller bistros. To accomplish this, employees will use digital scales to record the type and weight of food sent to the bin. In turn, they will learn the cost of the discarded food and its carbon footprint . Over time, the data will help the company make big changes. In the US and UK, between 30 and 40 percent of all food is tossed into landfills . This conundrum persists, despite the fact that 795 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each evening. IKEA’s new initiative will not only reduce the amount of methane pumped into the atmosphere as a result of rotting produce, it will hopefully encourage other corporations to tackle food waste in their own spheres. Said Ylva Magnusson, communications manager for IKEA Food. “Our ambition is to work together to create positive change together with other organizations and companies.” The new food waste system was launched in 2015 and rolled out to stores in December of 2016. By May 2017, 20 percent of IKEA stores had it installed. As a result, there has been a reduction in nearly 80,000 pounds of food waste. IKEA is now in the process of implementing the system in all of its 400 stores, which serve 650 million customers a year. When an employee enters the type and weight of a food into the new system, they are also required to record why it was discarded. Options include overproduced, expired, spoiled or trimmings (such as the top of a tomato). The process takes seconds, but it will ultimately help the company’s restaurants become much more efficient. As a result of the recorded data, IKEA’s menu is likely to change. If a certain part of an entree is regularly documented to be untouched, IKEA will take this into account to reduce food waste . Said Peter Ho, IKEA U.S. food sales leader, “If we do see a significant amount of waste over a specific period of time–let’s say at 2:00 every day we’re wasting so many meatballs–then that says for us that we’re overproducing, and if we’re overproducing , then we can train our co-workers to minimize that waste.” For the initiative, IKEA partnered with LeanPath – the company that produces the digital scale. The company’s CEO, Andrew Shakman, said, “The moment you start measuring with technology you begin to change awareness levels and you cause people to start to think differently. Whereas in the past they could just throw something in the garbage , now they have to stop and for a moment; they have to record something about it. In that moment, you’re not just collecting data, you’re communicating your values.” Related: IKEA is now selling solar panels and home batteries in the UK “What you’re doing is really engaging your front line and enlisting them as the change makers on this hugely important global issue ,” he added. “They are uniquely positioned to resolve it.” In addition to reducing food waste in its own kitchens, the company will also encourage consumers to waste less. This is critical, as the Swedish company estimates that “plate waste” makes up about 50 percent of total food waste. At a later date, IKEA will also work with suppliers to reduce waste upstream. As Fast Company reports, both plans fit in with IKEA’s larger vision to produce more renewable energy than it uses by 2020 and to offer more vegetarian products that have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional options. + Ikea Via Fast Company Images via Wikimedia , Pixabay , IKEA

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IKEA plans to cut food waste in half by 2020 heres how

3 maps reveal the impact of global business

December 1, 2016 by  
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Logistics, supply chains and renewable energy adoption appear in a new light with these data-driven visualizations.

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3 maps reveal the impact of global business

Scot Horst: Why the future of green building is data-driven

October 18, 2016 by  
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The USGBC has at least nine green building rating systems. The CEO of the new arc platform explains what you need to know.

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Scot Horst: Why the future of green building is data-driven

New study finds PET bottles of five huge soda brands contain harmful heavy metals

October 7, 2016 by  
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The Indian government just delivered a blow to soda drinkers around the world. They commissioned a study that uncovered five toxins in the PET soda bottles of five major brands, all owned by either Coca Cola or PepsiCo . Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are among the offending toxins. India’s Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) instructed the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Heath (AIIH&PH), based in Kolkata, to conduct the study. AIIH&PH found lead, antimony, cadmium, DEHP, and chromium in Pepsi, Coca Cola, Sprite, Mountain Dew, and 7UP. Coca Cola owns Sprite, and PepsiCo owns Mountain Dew and 7UP. The sugary drinks were all packaged in polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, bottles. Even worse, the researchers found as temperatures rose around the bottles, more toxins leached into the drinks. Related: Big Soda goes to war against proposed Soda Tax in San Francisco For their data, the researchers drew from four 600 milliliter bottles of each brand. In a Pepsi bottle, for example, they found 0.029 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of antimony, 0.011 mg/L of lead, 0.002 mg/L of cadmium, 0.017 mg/L of chromium, and 0.028 mg/L of DEHP. The Indian Express reached out to Coca Cola India, which did not provide an answer, and PepsiCo India for comment. A PepsiCo spokesperson said all their products “conform to Food Safety and Standards Regulations” and they wished to “emphatically reiterate” their products complied “with the permissible limits for heavy metals as laid down by these regulations.” There’s a problem with that – according to The Indian Express, “there are no permissible limits for heavy metals in cold drinks.” Indian government officials reportedly acknowledged India lacks standards for “safe plastic packaging” as some countries have. Exposure to heavy metals can lead to major health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cadmium and lead are two of 10 chemicals of ” major public health concern .” The other three offending toxins also can result in negative side effects. AIIH&PH conducted another study last year that found heavy metals in medicines contained inside PET bottles. Via The Indian Express Images via eddie welker on Flickr and PublicDomainPictures.net

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New study finds PET bottles of five huge soda brands contain harmful heavy metals

President Obama proclaims state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew

October 7, 2016 by  
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President Obama announced a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival in Florida . His declaration includes federal aid and authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security ” to coordinate all disaster relief efforts .” Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew hurtles towards Florida with maximum sustained winds of around 120 miles per hour . Scientists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) call Matthew ” extremely dangerous ” even as the hurricane diminished to a Category 3 storm during the night. NHC said there could be “potentially disastrous impacts.” Florida has not been hit with many storms that have winds as forceful as Matthew’s. About 1.5 million people have left the Atlantic coast, fleeing inland as the hurricane approaches. Around 300,000 homes in Florida have already lost power. Related: How to Prepare Your Home and Family for a Hurricane or Superstorm White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said according to scientists , Hurricane Matthew could be “largest and most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade” and that it is a storm “people should take seriously.” He said if anyone doubts the severity of the storm, “they need only look at the images that are coming back from Haiti.” According to U.S. National Weather Service , Matthew could be the most forceful storm to hit particularly northeast Florida in 118 years. Florida governor Rick Scott urged residents in potentially affected areas to evacuate at once. In a news conference, he said, “You need to leave now. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate…Your safety, not comfort, is the most important thing.” President Obama’s state of emergency applies to Florida, and according to CNBC in phone calls with state governors he also offered federal resources if necessary to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. The hurricane center is likely to move “near or over” Florida’s east coast tonight, according to NHC, and could move over South Carolina and Georgia coasts on Saturday. “Maximum sustained winds” could still be 120 miles per hour. Via The New York Times and CNBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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President Obama proclaims state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew

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