The South Pole is warming 3 times faster than anywhere else

July 2, 2020 by  
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The South Pole is getting warmer — in fact, this remote location is experiencing warming up to three times faster than the rest of the planet. Researchers are nearly certain this disturbing trend is due to human activity. Kyle Clem, a research fellow in climate science, explained the trend in an article for The Guardian . “My colleagues and I argue these warming trends are unlikely the result of natural climate variability alone,” he wrote. “The effects of human-made climate change appear to have worked in tandem with the significant influence natural variability in the tropics has on Antarctica’s climate. Together they make the south pole warming one of the strongest warming trends on Earth.” Related: New study sheds light on Antarctic sea ice mystery Because the icy landmass covers 5.4 million square miles, there is a lot of temperature variability.  Scientists have tracked temperatures since 1957 at the planet’s southernmost weather observatory, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. On the Antarctic plateau deep in the South Pole, the coldest region on Earth, average temperatures can dip to -60 degrees Celsius in winter and rise to -20 degrees Celsius in summer. Clem and his colleagues have focused on temperatures in the past 30 years. They concluded that between 1989 and 2018, the South Pole has warmed by 1.8 degrees Celsius. Since 2000, it’s been warming more rapidly. Scientists already knew that the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica were getting warmer. In fact, Esperanza, Argentina’s research station on the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip, reached a new high of 18.2 degrees Celsius, or 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, this February. But scientists are especially alarmed to learn of the temperature increase deep in the continent’s remote, mountainous interior. Clem and his colleagues analyzed more than 200 climate model simulations to gauge human influence on climate change. “These climate models show recent increases in greenhouse gases have possibly contributed around 1? of the total 1.8? of warming at the south pole,” he wrote. Stormy weather and low-pressure systems around the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea partially account for the increased temperatures. But the combination of weather and greenhouse gases are likely the problem. “The observed warming exceeds 99.9% of all possible trends without human influence — and this means the recent warming is extremely unlikely under natural conditions, albeit not impossible,” Clem wrote. Via The Guardian Image via Jodeng

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The South Pole is warming 3 times faster than anywhere else

Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

June 5, 2020 by  
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Last month, news media around the world heralded cleaner skies as a byproduct of the pandemic-induced quarantines. Alas, as lockdowns are lifted, air pollution is climbing back to pre-COVID levels in  China . Several European countries may soon follow suit. Concentrations of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are back to where they were a year ago, according to data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea). In early March, when China was suffering the worst of the  pandemic , the particle count was down by 34%, while nitrogen dioxide levels had fallen by 38%. Related: Air pollution could make COVID-19 more dangerous “The rapid rebound in air pollution and coal consumption levels across China is an early warning of what a smokestack industry-led rebound could look like,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Crea’s lead analyst, in an article from  The Guardian . “Highly polluting industries have been faster to recover from the crisis than the rest of the economy. It is essential for policymakers to prioritise clean energy.” Wuhan, the pandemic’s ground zero, is still experiencing lower than usual nitrogen dioxide levels — 14% lower than last year. However, Shanghai’s NO2 level has soared to 9% higher than in 2019. Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy group, expects that the second quarter of 2020 will see China’s  oil  demand recover nearly to its normal level. European cities are still enjoying significant dips in air  pollution . The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams) shows that 42 of the 50 European cities it tracks had below-average NO2 levels in March. This pollutant, which is largely produced by diesel vehicles, dropped by 30% in Paris and London during the pandemic. How fast and how much European air pollution will rebound depends on the decisions of citizens, companies and government officials. “We do not know how people’s behaviour will change, for example avoiding public transport and therefore relying more on their own cars, or continuing to work from home,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of Cams, told  The Guardian . Environmentalists hope that people will choose to  walk  and cycle more and drive their cars less. + The Guardian Images via Pexels

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Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

June 3, 2020 by  
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Kids stuck at home due to coronavirus have another opportunity for quality online learning. Earth School, a collaboration between TED-Ed (TED’s youth and education initiative) and the United Nations’ Environment Programme, is releasing 30 short videos to teach children about connections between nature and many aspects of society. The videos started dropping on Earth Day , April 22. Since then, the collaborators have released one video daily. The last video will be posted on June 5, World Environment Day. The videos will remain online and can be viewed consecutively or randomly. Related: Take a virtual dive with NOAA More than 30 organizations helped create the videos. The World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic and BBC contributed high-quality video footage, articles and digital interactive resources. The 30 video lessons fall into six categories: The Nature of Our Stuff, The Nature of Society, The Nature of Nature, The Nature of Change, The Nature of Individual Action and The Nature of Collective Action. The producers designed them to appeal to science-curious kids with topics like the lifecycle of a T-shirt, whether we should eat bugs, where does water come from and tracking grizzly bears from space. A press release stated the program’s three goals: to help kids and parents sort through a myriad of options to find a solid, reliable science source; to keep kids interested in nature even while they’re stuck inside; and to ease the load of harried parents who suddenly find themselves in charge of their kids’ education 24/7. Watching these videos will help children understand their roles as future stewards of our troubled planet. The last two weeks of instruction offer concrete ways kids can improve the world individually and collectively. As the press release explains, “We aim to inspire the awe and wonder of nature in Earth School students and help them finish the program with a firm grasp of how deeply intertwined we are with the planet.” + Earth School Image via Lukas

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Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

June 3, 2020 by  
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Kids stuck at home due to coronavirus have another opportunity for quality online learning. Earth School, a collaboration between TED-Ed (TED’s youth and education initiative) and the United Nations’ Environment Programme, is releasing 30 short videos to teach children about connections between nature and many aspects of society. The videos started dropping on Earth Day , April 22. Since then, the collaborators have released one video daily. The last video will be posted on June 5, World Environment Day. The videos will remain online and can be viewed consecutively or randomly. Related: Take a virtual dive with NOAA More than 30 organizations helped create the videos. The World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic and BBC contributed high-quality video footage, articles and digital interactive resources. The 30 video lessons fall into six categories: The Nature of Our Stuff, The Nature of Society, The Nature of Nature, The Nature of Change, The Nature of Individual Action and The Nature of Collective Action. The producers designed them to appeal to science-curious kids with topics like the lifecycle of a T-shirt, whether we should eat bugs, where does water come from and tracking grizzly bears from space. A press release stated the program’s three goals: to help kids and parents sort through a myriad of options to find a solid, reliable science source; to keep kids interested in nature even while they’re stuck inside; and to ease the load of harried parents who suddenly find themselves in charge of their kids’ education 24/7. Watching these videos will help children understand their roles as future stewards of our troubled planet. The last two weeks of instruction offer concrete ways kids can improve the world individually and collectively. As the press release explains, “We aim to inspire the awe and wonder of nature in Earth School students and help them finish the program with a firm grasp of how deeply intertwined we are with the planet.” + Earth School Image via Lukas

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Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

Off-grid cabins in Brazil offer remote eco getaway

June 3, 2020 by  
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While some people may find social distancing a bit inconvenient, others may have found a new way to live — and vacation. For those who are looking to continue to enjoy solitude, but in an amazingly natural landscape, Brazilian firm  Arquitetura Rural  has just unveiled two off-grid  eco cabins  located deep in a very remote Brazilian forest. Both of the eco cabins were designed for a sustainable farm located in the remote Brazilian region of Rio do Coco. The region is known for its lush forest landscape, meandering river and stunning wildlife. To better accommodate nature lovers to the area, the EcoAraguaia Farm of The Future tasked the team from Arquitetura Rural with designing two  solar-powered  eco cabins that would fit in harmony with the surroundings. Related: Embrace sustainable travel in this solar-powered A-frame cabin The first cabin, the OCA, is 904 square meters. Inspired by indigenous Brazilian architecture, the cabin is a two-story rounded volume with open sides. Made out of  sustainably-sourced local wood  from a native Brazilian tree called Cumaru, the cabin is set off the ground on stilts to protect the landscape and encourage natural ventilation and temperature control. The interior of the space, which features a large open layout, is clad in teak wood. The cabin’s roof is covered in natural palm tree fibers, which also offer optimal protection from inclement weather and provide shade for the interior spaces. The second  cabin design , the TABA, is the smaller of the two. At just 322 square feet, the cabin can accommodate up to two people. However, the farm plans to build several modules of the TABA, all connected by an elevated wooden deck. The cabin design features two large windows, which frame the incredible views. Built by local craftsmen, both of the cabins will operate completely  off-grid . Water used in the cabin is pumped from the local river, called Rio do Coco. Energy is generated by solar panels, which generate sufficient power while the sun is shining. At night, the cabins are illuminated by candles and lamps, which apart from saving energy, also keep the curious wildlife such as jaguars, howler monkeys and birds at bay. The cabins are also installed with green sanitation systems designed to operate on a zero-waste output. There is a special composting mechanism that turns  organic waste  into compost, which is then used as fertilizer for growing food. This system is used to care for the farm’s organic banana trees and papaya and sweet potato plants. + Arquitetura Rural Images via Arquitetura Rural

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Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement

May 22, 2020 by  
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A new nationwide right-of-way agreement aims to protect migrating monarch butterflies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) signed the agreement, which involves more than 45 transportation and energy companies and many private landowners in creating protected corridors across the country. These promised lands are mostly along roadsides and utility corridors. The agreement allows participants to dedicate parts of their land as monarch conservation management areas. In exchange, the USFW assures landowners that they won’t have to take additional conservation measures on the rest of their land if the monarch butterfly later is listed as endangered. This change in status could happen as soon as December 2020, when the USFWS plans to decide whether the monarch meets criteria for being listed as an endangered species . Related: What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? “Some companies wanted to wait to see how the listing would play out,” Iris Caldwell, a program manager at the Energy Resources Center at UIC and part of the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group , told Mongabay . “But if you are following what’s happening with the butterflies , you know we really can’t wait. We need to be creating habitat on a variety of different landscapes, as much as we can.” The working group included 200 energy, transportation, government and nonprofits who tried to determine a win-win solution for butterflies and landowners. “How can you incentivize a regulated entity or a utility to do this voluntary proactive work,” Caldwell asked, “and still give them kind of the flexibility and the certainty that they need and be able to, in fact, invest in that work without kind of a fear of repercussion?” Under the new agreement, landowners may alter some of their practices, including timing mowing to avoid times when monarch larvae are developing, not using herbicides on the conservation corridors, replanting if the land is disturbed by construction and planting more beneficial native plants the butterflies will enjoy. UIC’s role will be to coordinate efforts between all partners and to be an intermediary between the USFWS and landowners. Monarchs are one of the most popular and recognizable butterflies on Earth, with their bright orange wings, black lines and white dots. Every year, millions of these butterflies migrate from the northern and eastern U.S. and Canada to spend winter in southern California and Mexico. Monarch butterflies are native to North and South America, although they’re no longer found south of Mexico. They’ve followed milkweed to expand their range as far as Portugal, Spain, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. In the continental U.S., they fall into two categories: western monarchs — which are found west of the Rockies and spend winter in southern California — and eastern monarchs, whose breeding grounds are Canada and the Great Plains and who migrate to Mexico in the winter. Both populations have plummeted more than 80% in the last 10 years. Via Mongabay and National Geographic Image via Jessica Bolser / USFWS

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Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement

U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

May 22, 2020 by  
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Wildlife  officials recently announced outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) ravaging Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. The  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  deems RHDV2 as seriously contagious and nearly always fatal amongst domestic and wild rabbit species and their close relatives, hares and pikas. RHDV2 is not zoonotic, so it won’t infect livestock, pets or humans, asserts the  California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) . Still,  Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW)  advise against pets consuming rabbit carcasses. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is the viral agent causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Science Direct  says RHDV belongs in the calicivirus family, which infects many  animals  including pigs, cattle, cats and even humans. Norovirus, for example, is a human calicivirus. But humans seem unaffected by RHDV.  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? There are two worrisome strains of RHDV — RHDV1 and RHDV2.  House Rabbit Society ,  Veterinary Practice , as well as both the Vaccine and Veterinary Research  journals document RHDV1 as first emerging in China back in 1984, when, in just one year, 140 million rabbits were decimated. China claims that the outbreak started in Angora rabbits imported from Europe. Eventually, RHDV1 spread to over 40 countries and hit the U.S. in 2000. Given its estimated 95% mortality rate, Australia and New Zealand notoriously introduced RHDV1 into their wild rabbit populations as pest biocontrol. RHDV1 mutated, begetting RHDV2, which was first identified in 2010 when domesticated rabbits in France showed clinical signs of RHD despite being already vaccinated against RHDV1. By September 2018, RHDV2 reached the U.S., manifesting among domestic rabbits in a rural Ohio farm, documents the  Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service . The USDA considers both RHDV1 and RHDV2 invasive pathogens, as they are not native to North America. A  joint paper  put forth by the Center for Food Security & Public Health , Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA revealed RHD can be difficult to eradicate. Not only can the virus strains survive over seven months on rabbit carcasses, but they also withstand temperatures below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  House Rabbit Society  cites several differences between RHDV1 and RHDV2. Incubation is two to 10 days for RHDV1, but three to nine days for RHDV2. Rabbits with RHDV2 can be asymptomatic yet spread the virus for up to two months. There is no known cure for either strain. While a vaccine exists for RHDV1, there are currently no USDA -licensed vaccines for RHDV2. That RHDV2 can “potentially surviv[e] more than 3 months without a host” has prompted some U.S. veterinarians to import RHDV2 vaccines despite a convoluted process. The  USDA  and  VIN News Service  warn RHD is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact with rabbit excretions and secretions — saliva, sweat and biowaste. Sharing food, water, bedding, fomites and vehicles spreads RHD. Other vectors are infected rabbit meat, pelts, even insects. Besides farmers and pet owners, biologists and  conservationists  are worried about this virus. As declining rabbit populations have repercussions in  habitat  food chains, RHDV2 could cause severe consequences down the line. + Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service Via USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and House Rabbit Society Images via Pexels

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U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

Have Pollution Levels Decreased Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown?

May 22, 2020 by  
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Does it take a pandemic to reduce pollution? The Earth … The post Have Pollution Levels Decreased Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Have Pollution Levels Decreased Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown?

Earth911 Inspiration: In Awe of Mother Nature

May 22, 2020 by  
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This week’s quote comes from longtime “Jeopardy” host and actor … The post Earth911 Inspiration: In Awe of Mother Nature appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Rebuilding recycling to go circular

May 19, 2020 by  
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Rebuilding recycling to go circular Keefe Harrison Mon, 05/18/2020 – 18:18 This article is part of our Paradigm Shift series, produced by nonprofit PYXERA Global, on the diverse solutions driving the transition to a circular economy. See the full collection of stories and upcoming webinars with the authors  here . After the coronavirus pandemic has passed, the world will need solutions to repair our economy in a way that protects both the planet and its people. The circular economy is a solution for our future health and wellness and recycling has a vital role to play. A circular economy is not possible without recycling, yet it can’t happen through recycling alone. As companies ramp up their circular economy goals, they’re often based on the concept that recycling will be the workhorse and catch-net of a bigger system. The truth is, that system is not yet a reality. Recycling isn’t just a thing you do when you’re done drinking your bottle of water or reading the morning paper. It’s a system supported by hundreds of thousands of employees, generating billions of dollars in economic activity, and conserving precious natural resources. However, while it can feel as though it’s a singular service, in fact it represents a loosely connected, highly interdependent network of public and private interests. The U.S. census tells us there are about 20,000 local governments, each independently responsible for deciding what to recycle, how to recycle, or whether to offer recycling services at all. This collection of disaggregated waste management decisions is a challenging start of the “reverse supply chain” that is recycling. The Recycling Partnership’s 2020 State of U.S. Curbside Recycling Report addresses a system that is causing some communities to abandon their programs, but also shows an overwhelming majority of communities across the country still committed to providing household recycling services. Americans continue to value and demand recycling as an essential public service according to The Recycling Partnership’s 2019 Earth Day survey. A circular economy is not possible without recycling, yet it can’t happen through recycling alone. The time to transform the way we think about and manage waste is now. Conceptually, recycling is and has been the “gateway” for a circular economy worldview to take hold in our society. In this transition, it’s critically important to seize on the cultural momentum that recycling has inspired, because behavior change takes so much longer than many other solvable challenges in the transition from linear to circular. Citizens can feel disheartened by the realization that our efforts to recycle are often in vain. Consider the following statistics: More than 20 million tons of curbside recyclable materials are sent to landfills annually Curbside recycling in the United States currently recovers only 32 percent of available recyclables in single-family homes If the remaining 20 million tons were recycled, it would generate 370,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs It also would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 96 million metric tons of CO2  equivalent AND conserve an annual energy equivalent of 154 million barrels of oil OR the equivalent of taking more than 20 million cars off U.S. highways While recycling feels universal, only half of the American population has access to curbside recycling . Before we can implore a public to recycle, they need to be guaranteed the ability to do so. Many communities increasingly pay more to recycle , sometimes double the cost of landfilling  — and many more programs lack critical operating funds. Policy can and should help community recycling programs to improve by addressing challenging market conditions, providing substantial funding support and resolving cheap landfill tipping fees that make disposal options significantly less expensive than recycling. A truly circular economy — one that takes us off the perilous take-make-waste path — can’t be built on the shaky foundation of the current U.S. recycling system just described. It needs to be shored up, supported, rebuilt and reinvigorated. Most important, it cannot work properly without the aligned efforts from all members of industrial supply chains. Recycling is not just something that citizens do to feel good about buying something — it also provides a circular manufacturing feedstock that displaces newly extracted materials. It is needed by manufacturing to make new products, reduce environmental impact and achieve a more positive economic result. This is true for mature industries such as paper mills and aluminum smelters and for developing end markets such as chemical recycling. The fate of current and not-yet-recyclable materials rests in the hands of a broad set of private sector actors who must adapt to support the transition. Strong, coordinated action is needed in areas including package design and labeling, capital investments, scaled adoption of best management practices, policy interventions, and consumer engagement. The fate of current and not-yet-recyclable materials rests in the hands of a broad set of private sector actors who must adapt to support the transition. A three-step plan to ensure recycling supports the circular economy 1. Support for local recycling programs with policies and capital Local political support for recycling needs to be strengthened, such that municipalities are meeting the expectations of most Americans: recycling bins alongside trash cans, the contents of which are being recycled. All this needs to be supported at the federal level with policies that incentivize adoption and reduce confusion around recycling. It also means continued innovation in the collection, sorting and general recyclability of materials, including the building of flexibility and resiliency to add new materials into the system. 2. Significant investment in domestic infrastructure and end markets An extensive series of targeted investments is needed to deliver a deeper integration of circular manufacturing feedstock into the supply chain. This will help provide the carts to collect the recyclables, the trucks to pick them up and the facilities to sort it all out. There also needs to be a deepened commitment to support both existing end markets such as cardboard, bottles and cans, and new end markets, such as chemical recycling, to keep more packaging and materials in the economy and more molecules in motion. As published in The Recycling Partnership’s 2019 Bridge to Circularity Report, $250 million over the next five years could launch an innovation fund to design and implement the recycling system of the future using advanced technology, building more robust data systems and enhancing consumer participation. 3. Broad stakeholder engagement We need more than the involvement of dozens of the biggest companies in the world. When you go to the store, it is not a monolithic experience. We don’t buy all our stuff from one brand, one company or one packaging material. Those leading companies shouldn’t be the only ones taking part in this transition. Every aspect of the recycling system that feeds into the circular economy needs to be involved — from the design of the materials on store shelves for efficient recovery and recyclability to the community, infrastructure and end market components mentioned in the previous two steps. It’s clear that unless stakeholders from across the value chain align and conform to the circular economy, we will not be able to drive the change necessary to move recycling in the United States to that place where no more waste is going to the landfill. It will take bold public-private partnerships and leadership to make lasting improvements. Recycling cannot solve for the circular economy, but the circular economy could solve recycling. Now is the time for action. To learn more from the leaders of the circular economy transition, visit  PYXERA Global . Pull Quote A circular economy is not possible without recycling, yet it can’t happen through recycling alone. The fate of current and not-yet-recyclable materials rests in the hands of a broad set of private sector actors who must adapt to support the transition. Contributors Dylan de Thomas Topics Circular Economy Recycling Paradigm Shift Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock franz12 Close Authorship

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Rebuilding recycling to go circular

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