The threatened Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth $42 billion

June 26, 2017 by  
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Our unsustainable habits are propelling climate change , and as a result, the Great Barrier Reef is under immense environmental stress.  Coral bleaching has reached record levels and no one knows if or when the coral will ever recover. This is concerning not just from an environmental perspective, but, as a new report by Deloitte Access Economics shows, that loss of the reef would represent an “economic catastrophe” as it is estimated to be worth $56 billion (AUS), or $42 billion (USD). As water temperatures rise, the coral expels algae living within, causing it to turn ghostly white (a phenomenon known as coral bleaching). Though consumers everywhere are changing their habits to reduce greenhouse emissions and prevent global warming from worsening, no one knows for sure how long it will take — or even if — the bleached portions will bounce back. To determine that the Great Barrier Reef’s economic worth, the report took into consideration a few factors. All in all, it was concluded that $29 Billion (AUS) is generated from the tourism industry — including the creation of 64,000 jobs, $24 billion (AUS) to indirect or non-use value (describing people who have heard of the reef but haven’t yet visited) and $3 billion (AUS) from recreational use, such as boating. Commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the report is the first in the world to calculate the economic value of the reef.   Survey answers from 1,500 Australian and international respondents from 10 countries were taken into account and ended up revealing the extent to which some people have come to depend on the Unesco World Heritage Site. Said U.S. politician and environmentalist Al Gore in the report , “This timely report is a much needed, holistic view of the incredible economic value and opportunities provided by the Great Barrier Reef. Any failure to protect this indispensable natural resource would have profound impacts not only to Australia but around the world.” Related: Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death According to Great Barrier Reef Foundation director Steve Sargent, the report “sends a clear message that the Great Barrier Reef—as an ecosystem , as an economic driver, as a global treasure—is too big to fail.” He added that at $42 billion (USD), “the reef is valued at more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses.” Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the largest coral reef system in the world isn’t just affected by warming waters. As Gizmodo reports, farming runoff, urban development. cyclic outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and boating accidents are also damaging the reef at an increasing rate. Experts are presently collaborating to find solutions which will preserve the Great Barrier Reef. Ideas so far include the construction of coral nurseries, increasing the efficiency of starfish culls and cutting greenhouse gas emissions to prevent a further increase in sea surface temperatures. + Deloitte Via Gizmodo Images via Pixabay  ( 1 , 2 )

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The threatened Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth $42 billion

Norway’s Fleinvaer cabins offer the ultimate in off-grid living on a remote island

June 13, 2017 by  
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These isolated cabins built on a remote island in Norway take off-grid living to new heights. Located on the country’s Arctic archipelago and only reachable by ferry, the Fleinvaer Cabins offer the ultimate in solitude. The retreat consists of four cabins designed for sleeping, plus bonus accommodations in a nearby cave. The island’s cluster of cabins are supported by four dedicated structures that house a kitchen, studio, sauna, and a bath. The rest of the cabins are built for sleeping. For those looking to go a step further into nature, there’s also a cave near the sauna’s pier that can be slept in. Technically, the cabins offer enough space for 12 people, but according to the Fleinvaer website, the experience is really designed for those looking for true solitude, “Here are no shops, and no cars. Here is no stress, and no dangerous animals.” Related: Rugged eco-friendly cabins offer off-grid lodging in Norway’s wilderness To get to the island of Fleinvaer, guests must take a ferry from downtown Bodø. Basic necessities like food are organized with the hosts before arrival because there are absolutely no shops on the island . Additionally, guests are encouraged to pack few items – just some wool clothing and a pair of shorts. The cabins are also a welcome retreat for creatives . Every year, the island hosts six, week-long “Artist in Residences” programs in collaboration with the Nordland county council’s culture department. + Fordypningsrommet Fleinvaer Cabins Via Uncrate Photography by Kathrine Sørgård & Fredrik Asplin via Fordypningsrommet

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Norway’s Fleinvaer cabins offer the ultimate in off-grid living on a remote island

This T-shirt changes colors in response to water pollution

June 13, 2017 by  
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Ocean acidification isn’t something that most folks lose sleep over. As a side effect of climate change , it doesn’t present a striking image the way a crack in the Antarctic ice shelf or a hurricane-battered coast might. But some problems need to be seen to be believed, so David de Rothschild, founder of the lifestyle brand The Lost Explorer , and Lauren Bowker, the alchemist-cum-designer behind The Unseen , took it upon themselves to draw out the visually indiscernible. They did this by creating a special kind of T-shirt, one that changes colors in response to a water’s pH. No toxic chemicals were used to create the effect. The secret, as it turns out, was cabbage—lots of cabbage. De Rothschild and Bowker dyed their cotton-and-hemp tee using red cabbage, a leafy green that is rich in a class of water-soluble pigments known as anthocyanins . Anthocyanins respond to changes in pH by cycling through a spectrum of hues, which range from red-pink to blue-green. Related: Color-changing syringes can save the lives of millions “Red cabbage juice contains anthocyanin and can be used as a pH indicator,” Bowker explained . “It’s red, pink, or magenta in acids, purple in neutral solutions, and ranges from blue to green to yellow in alkaline solutions.” Changes in the pH of water can happen for a raft of reasons. The more carbon dioxide we spew, the more carbon dioxide the oceans absorb. And since some of the carbon reacts within the water to create carbonic acid, the more acidic they become. Sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions from factories, automobiles, and electric power plants contribute to acid rain, while certain detergents can cause wastewater to become overly alkaline. “So the T-shirts, by changing color, are a really good way of figuring out the state of the local water,” Bowker added. Related: Beautiful Collision tableware uses red cabbage dye to create unexpected pigments The duo didn’t design the shirt to shame people. Neither are they under the delusion that a color-changing garment will save the world. “I like creating experiences that disarm people because if it’s insane, magical and unexpected enough, they might feel safer about asking questions. It’s this convergence of art and activism and creativity and design. It hopefully isn’t telling people what to do,” de Rothschild said. “T-shirts have always been a billboard to say something. In a funny way, the T-shirt doesn’t need to say anything in this instance. Products won’t change the world, people will! What you do as an individual that matters.” + The Lost Explorer + The Unseen Via Dezeen

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This T-shirt changes colors in response to water pollution

This mind-blowing home’s undulating courtyard lifts up to form sheltered spaces

June 13, 2017 by  
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Beijing-based Arch Studio has revamped a traditional hutong into a beautiful complex wrapped in a winding grey and white walkway that seamlessly connects the interior with the exterior. The fittingly-named Twisting Courtyard house features a variety of multi-use spaces centered around a serene open-air environment. Located in Beijing’s Dashilanr district, the hutong featured a traditional Siheyun layout with various historic buildings arranged around a central courtyard. Although many of these centuries-old areas have been demolished to make way for new construction, Arch Studio’s design sought to use the existing layout to create the ultra-modern living space as an homage to the site’s long history. Related: Abandoned alleyway in Beijing reinvented as a stunning private courtyard A traditional gate leads visitors into the central courtyard, where an undulating walkway made of white pebbles and grey-brick paving winds its way around the buildings. The striking pavement even curves upwards over the walls and roofs, creating a seamless connection between the timber-clad buildings . “The design aims at getting rid of the solemn and stereotyped impression given by Siheyuan, and creating an open and active living atmosphere,” explained the studio. “Based on the existing layout of the courtyard, the undulating floor is used to connect indoor and outdoor spaces of different height.” The new complex is designed to be used as a private residence or multi-use space for work or entertainment. The private buildings house a kitchen, office, and bathroom, which are located under the large curved roof. The communal areas all have large floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the serene courtyard while providing the interior with natural light . On one side of the courtyard, built-in furniture is integrated into the timber walls to create flexible spaces that can be hidden when not in use. + Arch Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Wang Ning & Jin Weiqi

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This mind-blowing home’s undulating courtyard lifts up to form sheltered spaces

China opens former secret nuclear plant as ‘world’s largest man-made cave’

November 1, 2016 by  
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China is now inviting international tourists into a secret underground nuclear plant for the first time ever. Billed as ‘the world’s largest man-made cave,’ the former 816 Nuclear Military Plant in the suburban Chongqing district has been remade into a tourist attraction, where visitors descend far underground to learn about Cold War nuclear weapons. With neon lights and spooky echoes from its nuclear past, the underground bunker offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers in what is most certainly southwest China’s coolest cave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24JbDu3TDh8 The nuclear plant was originally designed to manufacture plutonium in the 1960s, part of a military megaproject that lasted 17 years and involved some 60,000 soldiers. The site was a massive secret, encompassing one million square feet of underground structure. The plant halted operations in 1984 and was officially declassified in 2002. The government opened it briefly for local tours in 2010 before shuttering it once more. It had not been open to the public again until early October, when the plant’s winding man-made caves were outfitted with elaborate light displays, a move designed to target foreign tourists for the first time. Related: America’s most polluted nuclear site is now a national park Reportedly, the expansive underground plant includes 18 caves and 130 tunnel roads, but only one-third or so of the total square footage is open to public tours. One part of the former nuclear plant now acts as something of a museum to its former purpose, with a 100-foot-tall hall where images of atomic weapons and plutonium processing are projected onto neon movie screens. Each room of the underground bunker highlights nuclear weapons in some way, with the added creep-factor of eerie blue and red lights that would look more at home in a nightclub than a former military site. Still, the public seems eager to sign up for one of the two-hour tours being led through the once top secret project. Could China’s latest tourist attraction spark a new trend in ‘nuclear spelunking ’? Via CNN Images via China Daily

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China opens former secret nuclear plant as ‘world’s largest man-made cave’

New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

November 1, 2016 by  
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Researchers are now one step closer to returning sight to the blind with a bionic eye . A University of California, Los Angeles doctor successfully implanted a bionic eye component in a 30-year-old woman, and she was able to see lines, colors, and flashes of light. The ” wireless visual cortical stimulator ” is part of Second Sight ‘s Orion I bionic eye. Second Sight makes the Argus II retinal implant , which can send information to a patient’s brain from a camera and eyeglass system. But it doesn’t restore sight completely and won’t work for some patients, so the company has been working on another device, the Orion I Visual Cortical Prosthesis. A doctor implanted the new wireless system directly on the woman’s visual cortex, and the patient saw light “with no significant adverse side effects,” according to the company. The technology aims to provide sight by bypassing the optic nerve to stimulate the brain’s visual cortex, according to chairman Robert Greenberg. Related: The World’s First Bionic Eye Implant Hits US Market Next Month Second Sight CEO Will McGuire said in a statement, “While we still have much work ahead, this successful human proof of concept study gives us renewed energy to move our Orion I development efforts forward. We believe this technology will ultimately provide a useful form of vision for the nearly six million people worldwide who are blind but not a candidate for an Argus II retinal prosthesis.” He also said the company would continue to develop the Argus II and work to make the prosthesis accessible for more people. UCLA neurosurgeon Nader Pouratian, who implanted the stimulator, seems hopeful about the technology. In a statement he said, “Based on these results, stimulation of the visual cortex has the potential to restore useful vision to the blind, which is important for independence and improving quality of life.” The next hurdle is U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Second Sight needs the agency’s permission to conduct trials of the entire Orion I system including glasses and a camera. Second Sight will submit their application for the trials in 2017. + Second Sight Via Second Sight and Daily Mail Images via Wikimedia Commons and Second Sight Facebook

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New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

Antarctica’s only luxury camp for tourists is 100% powered by wind and solar

October 12, 2016 by  
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The camp’s dome cabins, originally designed by Ryan Ashworth, were recently refurbished after being worn down by the harsh Antarctic conditions. Guests pay around $70,000 per person for a seven, eight, or eleven day adventure , during which they’ll spend the nights cozied up in one of the camp’s igloo-shaped cabins, situated on a 200-foot ice fall at the edge of the Shirmacher Oasis in Queen Maud Land, near the Antarctic coast closest to Cape Town, South Africa. Constructed from sturdy fiberglass, each of the six private cabins includes sleeping accommodations, a desk, and private wash area with a composting toilet. Because there is no plumbing, a composting toilet allows the camp operators to pack out all human waste at the end of each adventure, further reducing its ecological impact. Related: Why the discovery of an enormous subglacial lake in Antarctica is especially exciting One of the camp’s communal cabins holds a lush lounge space filled with comfortable couches, occasional tables, and a wood-burning stove for heat. A second shared pod is home to the dining room, where a large round table invites all of the camp’s guest to eat (and drink) together. Finally, a shower room rounds out the camp. Restricting shower facilities to one pod, rather than private showers in each cabin, helps reduce water consumption and is more energy efficient, both important factors for a temporary, remote camp run completely by renewable energy. On top of gourmet meals, sightseeing, and making new friends, the adventure also includes face time with some of the local wildlife, the majestic Emperor penguins living a 2.5-hour flight west of the camp. Additionally, visitors embark on a journey to the geographic South Pole , which requires a seven-hour flight (stopping once to refuel). Guests also spend their days climbing mountains, checking out blue ice caves, and taking in the expansive views while bundled up in expedition-grade gear (which, by the way, visitors must supply for themselves). Camp Whichaway was founded by a trio of adventure lovers, who “wondered why only scientists and the odd polar explorer ever got to see the real Antarctica,” according to the back story on their website. Founder Patrick Woodhead, who led the first east-to-west traverse of Antarctica in 2002, was stuck in a tent waiting out a brutal storm in 2006 with his pals when they devised a plan for a luxury eco camp that would let a few more visitors experience the awe-inspiring beauty and devastating climate of the remote continent. Camp Whichaway opened shortly thereafter, offering a unique getaway for family trips, proposals and weddings, or the ultimate adventure quest for anyone who can afford to embark into the wildest place on Earth. + Camp Whichaway Via Wallpaper Images via Camp Whichaway

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Antarctica’s only luxury camp for tourists is 100% powered by wind and solar

Climate change has doubled the size of forest fires in Western US

October 12, 2016 by  
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Over the past three decades, man-made climate change has doubled the total area burned by forest fires in the Western US. A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the difference from 1985 to now is staggering. 30 years ago, just 2.9 million total acres burned, but in 2015 10.1 million acres were destroyed during fire season. The researchers pointed most of the blame on man-made climate change – which is responsible for warmer, drier weather which allows fires to thrive. However, there are also other factors at play – including natural climate shifts and changes in how humans are using the land. The amount of land burned by fires is only expected to increase over the coming years as global temperatures continue to rise. Related: How Climate Change Fuels Wildfires Explained in 90 Seconds In a disturbing statement, Columbia University researcher and study author Park Williams told Time , “No matter how hard we try, the fires are going to keep getting bigger, and the reason is really clear. “We should be getting ready for bigger fire years than those familiar to previous generations.” While the exact scope of the issue is startling, the general trend itself should come as no surprise: every year in recent memory has gone down as the hottest on record . In the years to come, we will likely have to adapt and find new ways to prevent and extinguish forest fires if we want to preserve our forests and protect nearby communities. Unfortunately, that could prove difficult given the fact that cataclysmic fires in recent years have drained the Forest Service’s budget in the hardest-hit states. Via Time and Slashdot Images via Ervins Strauhmanis and Coconino National Forest

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Climate change has doubled the size of forest fires in Western US

Rehabilitated Longroiva’s Hotel & Thermal Spa blends into the countryside of northeast Portugal

October 5, 2016 by  
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The thermal baths are located in Mêda, a municipality in northeast Portugal, and go back to Roman times. Built in the late 19th century, the existing Thermal Spa was rehabilitated to accommodate 17 rooms and various common areas where guests can meet and socialize. A walkway connects the existing building to the addition, which comprises five room modules built along the slope, with several gathering spaces in between them. Related: Thermal Pool Wrapped With a Living Wall Service areas and 10 new bungalows are located above the rooms. By combining traditional references and modern architecture, the development establishes a dialogue with its natural surroundings while providing its guests with a contemporary facility. + Rebelo de Andrade Via Archdaily Photos by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

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Rehabilitated Longroiva’s Hotel & Thermal Spa blends into the countryside of northeast Portugal

The worlds largest artificial tree rises in Dubai’s massive new indoor rainforest

October 4, 2016 by  
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Dubai’s natural climate is arid and desert-like, but that doesn’t stop the posh city from trying on other ecosystems to wow its tourists. To that end, Dubai opened The Green Planet last month, a massive indoor rainforest housed within a 150-foot-tall glass building. The artificial ecosystem is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, insects, and animals, and the centerpiece is the world’s largest artificial tree, – recreating most of the natural elements of a rainforest in the middle of the Arabian desert.

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The worlds largest artificial tree rises in Dubai’s massive new indoor rainforest

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