Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, & Science News Collection

November 28, 2020 by  
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The Earth911 Reader summarizes the week’s sustainability, recycling, and science … The post Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, & Science News Collection appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, & Science News Collection

You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch

October 2, 2020 by  
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While many people around the world worry about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest , to most of us, it’s still remote. Most people have never visited the Amazon, and many have no idea what they can do about deforestation. But a new online tracking system relies on citizen scientists to help monitor the Amazon via satellite. “You don’t have to be a climate scientist, you don’t have to be a data scientist, you just have to be a citizen that is concerned about the issue of deforestation,” said Elliot Inman, a researcher at systems analysis company SAS, as reported in Huffington Post . SAS worked with Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis to create an app that depends on humans to look at images and help train artificial intelligence to spot deforestation. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife World Resources Institute oversees the resulting Global Forest Watch tracking system. First, a computer algorithm scans incoming images. When it identifies a place where trees have recently disappeared, it flags that image. Human eyes are needed to help discern what might have caused those missing trees. Volunteers scan the images for signs of human impact, such as roads, farm plots or tree lines that are suspiciously straight. This human input helps train the artificial intelligence , so that eventually the system will be able to digest images more quickly on its own. The system relies on consensus from multiple users. Sometimes it’s tricky to determine whether a brown patch on an image is due to humans burning trees to clear land for agriculture versus a natural forest fire . With a bit of training, citizen scientists are better able to notice small things that the computer might miss, such as a thin line that indicates a primitive road leading to the burned clearing. Data gathered by the system will help conservation organizations and governments identify when they should intervene to protect ecosystems. In the future, Global Forest Watch may even help predict where deforestation will happen next. All you need to help is an internet connection and a little bit of free time. + Global Forest Watch Via Huffington Post Image via Sentinel Hub

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You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

Proposed UK law pushes accountability for Amazon products

August 26, 2020 by  
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People around the world have watched with increasing horror as Amazon forest destruction has accelerated in recent years. Now,  U.K.  officials have proposed a law to make large companies operating within the U.K. comply with environmental laws and show where their products originate.  The new law would cover  soy , rubber, cocoa, palm oil and other commodities. According to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) survey, 67% of British consumers want more government oversight on companies, and 81% think businesses should be more transparent about product origin. Related: Indigenous Amazon communities use tech to protect the forest “This consultation is a welcome first step in the fight to tackle the loss of our planet’s irreplaceable natural wonders such as the Amazon and in the pursuit of supply chains free from products that contribute to deforestation ,” said Ruth Chambers from the Greener UK coalition. Additionally, this law could require businesses to publish purchasing details for commodities like soy and  palm oil , to prove the resources were produced following local laws protecting natural ecosystems. Failure to do so would incur fines. Critics say the plan needs ironing out, especially regarding details on penalties. Though delayed, the COP26 climate conference will occur in Glasgow in 2021. In the meantime, the U.K. works to show international leadership on environmental and climate concerns, including deforestation. About 10% of the world’s known species make their home in the  Amazon , which is the largest rainforest and river basin in the world. Already 20% of the Amazon biome has disappeared, and matters are getting worse. At the current rate of deforestation, WWF estimates that more than a quarter of the Amazon biome will be treeless by 2030. The new U.K.  law  remains in the planning stage. Emphasizing the law’s significance, Chambers said, “The evidence linking deforestation with climate change, biodiversity loss and the spread of zoonotic diseases is compelling. A new law is an important part of the solution and is urgently needed.” Via BBC and WWF Image via Pexels

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Proposed UK law pushes accountability for Amazon products

Indigenous Amazon communities use tech to protect the forest

August 12, 2020 by  
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Indigenous communities in Brazil leverage technology to protect the Amazon and its resources. For a long time, Indigenous communities have protected the forest from illegal loggers and poachers. As aerial images show, the lush areas protected by Indigenous groups sharply contrast the struggling surrounding regions. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe, located in a remote area of the Amazon, specifically makes strong efforts to protect the forest. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe’s work is not isolated. Hundreds of Indigenous communities across South America help conserve nature. South America serves as home to about 40% of the world’s vegetation. Indigenous groups offer surveillance to areas of forests targeted for developments, farming, mining or logging. As Bitaté Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, coordinator of the Association of the Indigenous People Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, said in an interview, “When they kill a jaguar it is the same as they will do with indigenous people in the future. Killing the jaguar, they also kill us like deforestation , mining, intoxication. It gives me deep sadness to receive the news that a jaguar has been killed. We don’t kill the jaguar. When we see the jaguar in his habitat it is a beautiful thing to see, we just admire the presence.” The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau and other local groups now use drones to survey the forests. Such technology makes it possible for the villagers to monitor large areas of the forest and navigate tough terrain. Communities in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador are quickly adopting this technology for similar purposes. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe first came into contact with the outside world in the 1990s. Since then, the tribe has integrated technology into its forest management practices. Today, one of the nine Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe villages has wifi connection, while four other villages have electricity. The  WWF UK  in association with WWF Brazil and  Kaninde Association of Ethno-Environmental Protection  funded the drones used by the tribes. Kaninde, a Brazilian NGO, works with Indigenous communities to integrating technology into forest conservation efforts. Via Independent Image via Pexels

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Cod are disappearing due to global warming

August 12, 2020 by  
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Cod lovers might have to change their preferences soon. According to new research published in the  Journal of Applied Ecology , global warming may cause a decline in cod populations. Cod thrive in cool water, and global warming pushes the species to the brink of extinction. A group of scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Exter, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquatic Science (Cefas) conducted this research. The researchers used computer models to predict how fish populations may change by 2090.  Research now indicates that cod may need to be replaced by species more resistant to climate change . Cod serves as a favorite for fish and chips, but as cod populations decline, new species may need to step up. Species such as the red mullet, John Dory, and lemon sole rank as possible candidates to replace cod on menus. These species thrive in warm water and are starting to appear more frequently in catches, in contrast to decreasing numbers of cod. “Our results show that climate change will continue to affect fish stocks within this sea region into the future, presenting both potential risks but some opportunities that fishers will likely have to adapt to. Consumers can help fishers take advantage of these fishing opportunities by seeking out other fish species to eat and enjoy,” Dr. Katherine Maltby, marine climate change scientist at Cefas and the study’s lead author, said. Earlier research from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory warned that larger North Sea fish populations may fall by up to 60%. This decline comes alongside reports of the North Sea heating at a rate double that of average world oceans . Last year, the North Sea hit a new record of heating by 1.67 degrees Celsius over the past 45 years.  Reducing global warming’s impacts on the fish in these waters will require new fish management techniques. As Louise Rutterford, co-author of the Cefas study and a postgraduate researcher at the University of Exeter, explained, “We know from working with fishers that warmer water species are appearing in catches more. Bringing together their ‘on-the-ground’ experiences with studies like ours will help inform future management decisions that enable sustainable exploitation while supporting fishers’ adaptation.” + Journal of Applied Ecology Via Independent and The Ecologist Image via Per Harald Olsen

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Cod are disappearing due to global warming

Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

June 29, 2020 by  
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Green design start-up Ottan Studio is committed to producing upcycled decor  out of food and green waste. By collecting materials such as fruit peels, expired grains, vegetable residues, tree leaves and grass, the company can create colorful and trendy furniture with absolutely  zero waste . The process works by first collecting  waste  from places such as local retailer companies, food producers and greenhouses before cleaning, drying and grinding the materials. These materials are then added to green resins and injected into molds to create a range of products. Ottan Studio can turn the pulp from five glasses worth of carrot juice, or the peels from four glasses worth of orange juice, into an entire lampshade. Related: Granby Workshop unveils ceramic dinnerware collection made from 100% waste According to the company, the designers want to stray away from the idea of wood being an absolute sustainable material, as the industry’s consumption habits on a global level are continuing to damage and  destroy forests . If more sustainable consumption and production models aren’t changed, Ottan Studio’s website explains, all of the world’s forests could be wiped out in as little as 100 years. Going even further, the studio pledges to plant one tree for every product sold. By using materials that would otherwise be wasted, such as peels, leaves and cut grass, the company is proving that you don’t need to cut down trees to create stylish products that are perfect for the  minimalist  home. To make its products even more unique, Ottan doesn’t use any additional dyes or colorants, so the original and natural colors of the  upcycled  waste materials are reflected in the final result. Materials such as purple onion, red pepper and pomegranate retain their pinkish-hue, products made using lemon peels and lentils stay yellow and the leaves collected from tree pruning produce a soft green color. Since the products are handmade, no two items are identical and everything is one-of-a-kind.  + Ottan Studio Images via Ottan Studio

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Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

June 9, 2020 by  
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Recently opened in the Brazilian city of São Paulo and designed by local architecture and design practice VAGA, the Cajuí Restaurant offers a menu of vegan , organic and natural ingredients supplied by small farmers from different regions of Brazil. Cajuí was named after the native species of cashew found in the Cerrado biome grasslands in central Brazil. Lesser known yet right next door to the Amazon rainforest , the Cerrado biome encompasses almost 800,000 square miles of savannas and grasslands — roughly the size of Alaska and California put together — and is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and many of the country’s indigenous people who live there rely on the ecosystem’s resources for sustainable livelihoods. According to the World Wildlife Fund , deforestation in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; this is the same amount that 53 million cars would emit in one year. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan Cajuí Restaurant is the brainchild of plant-based chef and São Paulo-native Natalia Luglio, who wanted to open an accessible restaurant in her hometown that prioritized organic , local ingredients. The unique biome of Cerrado serves not only as inspiration behind the name but also as an inspiration behind both the menu and the ambiance. Because of this, the designers wanted to pay special attention to the vibrant interaction between color, light and material in ways that alluded to the Cerrado. The architects concentrated on creating ample natural light in between the exterior and the interior spaces by attaching an additional wooden structure to the body of the main building, which had been renovated. VAGA also added translucent roof tiles lined with organic jute on the ceiling so that the sunlight could shine through and influence the color depending on the time of day. The red pigment in the cement floor of the restaurant mirrors the color of the Cerrado soil. Large plant beds were added to the staff area to hold some of the ingredients used on the menu. To keep the construction as sustainable as possible, almost all of the waste generated from the renovation was reused for additional projects, such as the waiting area deck, floor leveling and the bamboo ceiling in the back of the building. + VAGA Photography by Pedro Napolitano Prata via VAGA

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Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

"Wither" artistically represents deforestation in the Amazon

May 27, 2020 by  
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While all eyes are on the national and international headlines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears no one is watching and protecting the rainforest, which is experiencing a “newly deforested area” that is “71% larger” than previous records, according to The Wall Street Journal . When the data regarding this rapid increase in deforestation came to light, Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker created a digital art installation titled, “Wither,” to visually represent the disappearing landscape in Brazilian rainforests. Related: Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon Taking the form of a plant  with a variety of leaf styles, the electrically-powered piece brings to light, quite literally, the roughly three football fields-worth of rainforest that is lost each second . Well, technically Biersteker brings it to dark, as the lights of each petal fade and become transparent to represent “the loss of 250m2 of rainforest,” according to the artist. Each light that is snuffed out matches real-time data coming in from a variety of rainforest watch groups who monitor the deforestation progression.  Biersteker and his team from Woven Studio planned to reveal the artwork later on, but the recent acceleration of deforestation during this pandemic added a sense of urgency to the message, so they decided to launch now to drive awareness around the topic. The art was commissioned by Daily Paper, a popular Amsterdam-based fashion and lifestyle brand. As Biersteker said, “It is interesting that while we dream, talk, videocall, and post about a new post-Covid-19 world, an old system is destroying our future more fiercefull than ever. This artwork turns deforestation facts into something you can feel. Hopefully it will provoke people to spend their time inside, to think about the world they want to go back to outside. I often wonder when we are allowed back into the world, what will we find, and what will we have lost?” Biersteker is the founder of Woven Studio, a sustainable art studio focused on helping research groups, universities, museums and architects present data through visual art. + Woven Studio Images via Thijs Biersteker

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"Wither" artistically represents deforestation in the Amazon

Kellogg’s bows to pressure on palm oil, deforestation

February 24, 2020 by  
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The activism was inspired by a petition created by two pre-teen sisters.

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