New climate change report underscores the need to manage land for the short and long term

August 16, 2019 by  
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes how human activities have altered 70 percent of Earth’s surface.

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New climate change report underscores the need to manage land for the short and long term

Improving air quality in Europe could reduce asthma cases for children

August 9, 2019 by  
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Asthma among children — close to 67,000 new cases — is hitting home in 18 European countries because of small particulates contaminating the air , according to a new report. But a number of those cases could be prevented yearly if the particulates were reduced to appropriate levels. This study is one of many about how air pollution affects human health. An important landmark study published in April revealed 4 million new asthma cases a year worldwide among ages 1 to 18 were because of levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air. Related: Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries The new research examined asthma diagnoses among more than 63.4 million children ages 1 to 14 and looked at components of toxic air, like fine particulates or PM2.5. Researchers also took note of nitrogen dioxide released by vehicles and other sources. “A considerable proportion of childhood asthma is actually caused by air pollution, particularly PM2.5,” said co-author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health. Overall, the study suggests 66,600 new cases of asthma could be prevented annually by following World Health Organization guidelines: levels of PM2.5 should not exceed an annual average of 10 ?g/m3, and levels of nitrogen dioxide should not exceed an annual average of 40 ?g/m3. But the report said even this might not be enough. The authors believe there is no starting point to the impact of air pollution on human health . “What is clear from our analysis is that current WHO standards are not strict enough to protect against many cases of childhood asthma,” Nieuwenhuijsen said. WHO guidelines are currently under review. Susan Anenberg, a co-author of the related study published in April, said the latest research showed how damaging air pollution can be on public health. “Almost no one on planet Earth breathes clean air,” Anenberg said. “The good news is that there are many ways to prevent children from getting asthma because of their air pollution exposure. Making it easier to cycle , walk or run to get places, for example, has many benefits for society — including improved air quality, increased physical activity and less climate-warming pollution.” + European Respiratory Journal Via The Guardian Image via David Holt

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United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

August 9, 2019 by  
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Humanity is having a hard time feeding itself, and it is only expected to get worse thanks to the climate crisis . This comes from a new United Nations report presented on Aug. 8 that states the globe’s land and water resources are being misused at “unprecedented rates.” Written by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary in Geneva, the report said the time to address the threat is now. Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk The report warned that climate change will make threats worse, as floods, drought, storms and other extreme weather patterns threaten to diminish the global food supply. More than 10 percent of the world’s population is currently undernourished, and some authors of the report said food shortages may result in increased cross-border migration. Other report writers said food shortages will hit poorer communities much harder than affluent areas. Food crises could form on a multiple continents at once, according to Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a lead author of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.” The report mentioned higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, in addition to lowering crop yields and hurting livestock. These obstacles could become overwhelming for farmers, and the industry might fail at adjusting. However, among the negatives, the report offered some hope and presented ways to address the possible food crisis, though a reevaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide would be needed, as well as a change in consumer behavior. Solutions include increasing land productivity, reducing food waste and encouraging meatless diets. “One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.” There is still time to turn things around, but it will require major changes in food production, soil and forest management, food distribution and consumer behavior. + United Nations Via New York Times Image via Pixabay

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United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

A new mural in Italy addresses affordable, clean energy

August 7, 2019 by  
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Italian coffee company Lavazza has commissioned artists to paint murals based on sustainability. The latest, by Barcelona-based artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, now graces a building in Turin, Italy. The eye-catching mural addresses the goal of affordable and clean energy. The United Nations ’ goal of transforming Earth by 2030 inspired Lavazza’s initiative, “TOward 2030 – What are You Doing?” As Lavazza’s website explains, “17 photographic portraits, 17 ambassadors, 17 Sustainable Development goals: the Lavazza calendar becomes an artistic megaphone for the U.N. 2030 planet safeguarding challenge.” Each artist will depict a different U.N. goal . Related: Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C. “I created this mural to bring awareness to the need of ensuring access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all,” he said in a press release. “The girl in the mural touches the icon button for the Toward 2030 goal No. 7 and lets loose a flow of clean energy . The piece alludes to the importance of acting now to assure a positive outcome. We must think toward our world’s future and the environmental conditions that our children will inherit.” The artist notes that three billion people — 41 percent of the global population — still cook with high-polluting fuel . One billion people lack electricity. “Electricity in the first world is still mainly obtained from polluting fuels,” Gerada said. “Our future energy sources must be clean and renewable.” Gerada has been an important artist for the last 20 years. As essayist and curator Ivan de la Nuez put it, “Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada has his own singular space in contemporary art .” De la Nuez has watched Gerada’s work evolve. “His work hasn’t left behind the classical arguments of the urban art practice, but he has moved away from some of its most common mistakes: the egotistical excess of graffiti, the loudness and the invasive aesthetics, to move into a calmer and more reflective space.” Over the last decade, Gerada has completed commissions around the world, from Morocco to Argentina to Texas and now Turin. Other international artists involved in the Lavazza project include Vesod, Zed1, Gomez, The Hula and Louis Masai. + Gerada Art Photography by Alessandro Genitori via Gerada Art

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The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

August 7, 2019 by  
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The new generation of electric cars is on its way with the Lightyear One, a vehicle capable of using solar energy to charge while on the road. Currently in the prototype phase, the solar panel-covered vehicle is due to hit the streets in 2021. The Lightyear One was developed by a group of designers deeply entrenched in the field of solar vehicles. The prior University of Eindhoven students won the World Solar Challenge race three times with their “Stella” solar cars before focusing on a retail, road-worthy version. Related: Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power The sleek Italian design is sure to draw attention, especially with the 5 square meters of solar panels mounted to the roof and hood, an addition that draws enough power for 12kmh per hour, or about 7.5 miles per hour of additional charge. It doesn’t sound like much, and in travel terms, it’s not, but it’s a step toward a completely solar car. In reality, the solar panel boost isn’t going to be the main source of power, so it can be charged like a regular electric car, except a lot faster. The Lightyear One can handle 60kW of fast charging, providing it 507 km or 315 miles of charge per hour. Perhaps the area where the Lightyear One is really making headlines is the total range of around 450 miles without recharging. That well exceeds Tesla’s current record of around 370 miles with the Model S. Like the Tesla, the Lightyear One hopes to appeal to the sports car enthusiast with a lightweight and sleek design. Then, there’s the fact that it jumps from 0 to 60 in around 10 seconds. The high-performance and efficient qualities mean that any charging station can provide a faster charge in less time compared to the competition. Unlike Tesla and other electric car manufacturers, the price for the Lightyear One is out of reach for many consumers. The initial models are available for pre-sale now at a cost of around $135,000. If you’re not ready to commit, you can expect a $170,000 price tag when it hits the mainstream retail market. + Lightyear One Via The Verge Images via Lightyear One

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The Lightyear One electric car uses solar panels for a boost of energy

Sustainable Personal Care Products for an Earth-Friendly Bathroom

July 23, 2019 by  
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Many of us pack our bathrooms with personal products, from … The post Sustainable Personal Care Products for an Earth-Friendly Bathroom appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Recycle your motor oil, don’t dump it

July 23, 2019 by  
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What connects us all? Nature and our shared relationships through … The post We Earthlings: Recycle your motor oil, don’t dump it appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

July 22, 2019 by  
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Summer visitors to searing São Paulo now have a new “bear cave” to cool off in with a cold, frothy craft brewski in hand. Designed by local firm SuperLimão Studio for Brazilian Colorado Brewery, the Toca do Urso Brewery, which is almost entirely embedded underground, uses several passive and vernacular techniques to create a pleasant microclimate achieved through natural ventilation and light, water collection and reuse, permeable floors and plenty of native vegetation. Located in the São Paulo neighborhood of Ribeirão Preto, the Toca do Urso Brewery offers beer-lovers a serene yet vibrant place to test out a wide selection of craft beers. From the start of the project, the architectural team from SuperLimão Studio knew that to create a comfortable spot that was energy-efficient , it would have to battle the extreme heat and humidity common to the region. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The first step in the design process was to create a space that would be partially embedded into the landscape, adding a natural insulating envelope that would cool down the interior throughout the year. Additionally, in going with a circular shape, the team would be able to create a continual system of natural ventilation. The exterior is made out of gabion walls comprised of rocks found on-site that add to the thermal comfort of the structure. In addition, these rock walls reduce sound levels so that when the hall is crowded, noise is directed to the outdoor area. Additionally, it blocks the traffic noise from the adjacent highway. A large, circular hall was buried almost 5 feet underground to create an ultra-tight earthen envelope. The land that was removed in the process was relocated to the front part of the structure and used to create a sloped entryway. Cold air is swept downward into the building to create a cool microclimate , which is enhanced further by the native vegetation that was planted in abundance to provide shade from the searing heat. Visitors enter the building through the sloped walkway, which leads into a covered patio with plenty of seating. Inside the hall, a massive skylight optimizes natural circulation and bathes the interior in sunlight . In the center of the brewery, there is a mirror of water and a set of canals. These canals lead air and water through grates in the floor so that the interior air is humidified by the water and in constant circulation, cooling down the interior significantly in comparison to the outdoor temps. In fact, the building’s various passive measures enable an internal temperature that is approximately 15? Celsius lower than the outside temps. + SuperLimão Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by Maíra Acayaba via SuperLimão Studio

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Extreme heat wallops US

July 18, 2019 by  
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If you live in the central or eastern U.S., it’s time to fill your ice trays and seek shade as a major heat wave will put 50 million Americans under a heat warning this week. People in Nashville, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C. and many other cities will be fanning themselves as temperatures top 95 degrees. High humidity will intensify the effect. “The prolonged duration of the heat and humidity will potentially become dangerous to those most vulnerable,” the National Weather Service warned. The heat wave will probably last at least three days. Related: Heatwave roasts mussels alive in California Climate scientists predict that by the mid-21st century, Americans will face an average of 36 days annually when the heat index surpasses 100 degrees, and 24 days when it exceeds 105. By 2100, those numbers could rise to 54 and 40. “Our analysis shows a hotter future that’s hard to imagine today,” said UCS senior climate scientist Kristina Dahl, according to Newsweek . In addition to direct health risks of scorching weather , heat waves bring other dangers and inconveniences to cities. More people cranking air conditioners lead to power fails. Places like Manhattan— which is served by underground delivery systems that heat up as the ground gets hot— are especially susceptible to blackouts. Scientists predict that the current heat wave will bring record high overnight lows in many cities, and that this pattern will also continue to rise with climate change. This phenomenon presents a serious health risk, as people’s bodies don’t have a chance to cool overnight. Via EcoWatch Image via NASA Earth Observatory

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The pros and cons of electromobility

July 17, 2019 by  
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To those of us who concentrate on sustainability and green options for travel, electromobility appears to be a godsend — but the increasingly popular electromobility lifestyle still holds good and bad traits. Thankfully, as the market continues to grow, electric vehicles such as e-bikes and scooters only continue to improve since they were first introduced, and electric cars continue to get more and more sophisticated and efficient each year. While there are obvious benefits to using or even owning one of these trendy vehicles, the electromobility industry still has some kinks to work out. Here are the pros and cons to consider before embracing electromobility. Pro: less utilization of fossil fuels Though the extraction of different kinds of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) present different levels and types of impact on the environment, they all have one thing in common: emitting harmful pollutants and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned. These pollutants can include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that contribute to acid rain, smog and soot. While the burning of fossil fuels poses serious issues, it doesn’t stop there. The only ways to extract these fossil fuels from the Earth is by mining or drilling, and both have the potential to generate significant air and water pollution , inflict serious health issues to workers or the local community and alter ecosystems. Offshore drilling poses risks of oil spills that can absolutely devastate ocean life. As the transportation sector as a whole relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels, it is responsible for a majority of the hidden environmental costs that the fossil fuel industry implements on the Earth. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy , “In general, EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles … EVs typically produce fewer life cycle emissions [emissions from vehicles over the course of its life from production to disposal] than conventional vehicles, because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel.” Con: batteries Replacing harmful fossil fuels with electric vehicle batteries comes at a cost. Producing these large lithium batteries requires natural resources from lithium and nickel mines, which can emit pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into the air and pose health risks to workers. Most batteries, especially in smaller EVs like scooters and e-bikes, have a limited lifespan. After disposal, batteries can end up in landfills to release toxins into the environment or in the ocean to harm sea life. Related: We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? Pro: improved air quality The potential to dramatically improve air quality is arguably the biggest draw for electromobility from an environmental perspective. The lack of exhaust systems in electric vehicles means less carbon dioxide emissions and less greenhouse gas buildup in our atmosphere. According to the U.N. , air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths around the world and, “Transport contributes approximately one quarter of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, which is set to reach one-third, growing faster than any other sector.” The majority of car growth in the world is expected to take place in developing countries, most of which don’t have any type of vehicle emissions standards or programs incentivizing low-emission transportation. U.N. Environment is working to sponsor 50 countries and cities around the world to introduce electric cars and electric methods of public transportation. Con: energy use Even though electric vehicles don’t emit as much carbon dioxide, the batteries still need to be recharged regularly. As the demand for electric modes of transportation grows, so does the need for energy — and not all energy comes from renewable sources. For this reason, many owners of electric cars opt to install solar panels onto their homes to charge the vehicles from inside their garages at a much lower cost both financially and to the environment. Pro: decreased expenses Just the knowledge alone that their vehicle is better for the environment is enough for some consumers when it comes to purchasing an electric car, scooter or bike, but the reasons to make the investment into electromobility go far beyond peace of mind. A 2018 study from the University of Michigan revealed that in no U.S. state is it cheaper to use gasoline than electricity. Operating an EV in the United States, according to the study, was $485 per year, while the cost for operating a gas-powered car was $1,117. That means on average, gasoline-powered vehicles cost twice as much as electric ones. Because EVs don’t require oil either, oil changes aren’t necessary, meaning maintenance time and cost is significantly reduced as well. If all that still doesn’t convince you, some EV owners are eligible for a tax break as high as $7,500 depending on the individual tax situation and type of vehicle. The EPA website can help you estimate just how much money you could save by making the switch. Images via Airwheel , Trinity eRoller , RJA1988 and Markus Roider

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