For islands, Hurricane Irma is the climate change wakeup call

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Aruba’s prime minister hopes that other small islands will become living labs for rejecting fossil fuels for good.

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For islands, Hurricane Irma is the climate change wakeup call

Google’s search for business value in circular cities

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A new report explains how four technologies can help cities become hotbeds of the circular economy.

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Google’s search for business value in circular cities

Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation?

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Plastic trash is polluting our oceans , and now there’s a garbage patch near Hawaii that is about as large as the entire country of France. The charity Plastic Oceans Foundation and publication LADbible want to have the patch acknowledged as a country called Trash Isles . Why? Two main reasons: to raise awareness of the pollution problem, and to get the area cleaned up. LADbible and Plastic Oceans want to set up the world’s 196th nation: Trash Isles, currently a giant garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean . They’re working to raise awareness, but they also submitted a Declaration of Independence to the United Nations (UN) on World Oceans Day back in June. They’re now collecting signatures of ‘citizens’ on Change.org to submit a petition to UN Secretary General António Guterres. Related: A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean Trash Isles actually could meet country criteria. LADbible says under Article 1 of the 1993 Montevido Convention on the rights and duties of States, a country must define a territory, form a government, have a permanent population – they say that one’s open for interpretation – and be able to interact with other states. Quartz said they can roughly draw borders around the garbage patch and it wouldn’t be hard to create a government and organizations for interacting. Trash Isles can already count former United States vice president Al Gore as their first citizen, and over 107,750 people have signed the Change.org petition. What’s the point of all this effort, besides awareness of an environmental issue? If accepted as a country and UN member, Trash Isles will be protected under the UN’s Environmental Charters. LADbible pointed to a specific line which reads, “All members shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect, and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem .” They interpret that to mean the world’s countries will have to work to clean up Trash Isles. LADbible said people can help out by signing the Change.org petition to become a Trash Isles citizen, or by donating to Plastic Oceans . Trash Isles already has an official flag, currency, and passports created with recycled materials . LADbible Group Head of Marketing Stephen Mai said, “We are just getting started. There may well be a national anthem, general elections, and even a national football team.” + Trash Isles + Plastic Oceans Foundation Via LADbible ( 1 , 2 ) and Quartz Images via LADbible and Mario Kerkstra ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation?

Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Visionary eco-architect Vincent Callebaut has just unveiled images of his latest ecological masterpiece and it’s jaw-droppingly stunning. Nautilus is a futuristic 27,000-square-meter eco-resort designed for Palawan, Philippines. The beautiful self-sustaining complex, which would include various research centers, shell-shaped hotels and rotating apartment towers, is designed to be a shining example of how resilient tourism can allow travelers to discover the world without destroying it. Callebaut designed Nautilus to be a resilient, self-sustaining community that includes a series of rotating apartments and luxury hotels, along with a elementary school and sports center. Also on site would be a scientific research and learning center for travelers who’d like to collaborate with engineers, scientists, and ecologists in actively taking part in improving the local environment. It’s a pioneering collaborative concept focused on using real-world education to foster and spread the idea of responsible ecotourism –  or as the architect describes it – “a voluntary approach to reimburse ecological debt”. Related: Vincent Callebaut’s Twisting Citytree Towers Generate More Energy Than They Consume Using the principles of biomimicry , the design is inspired by the “shapes, structures, intelligence of materials and feedback loops that exist in living beings and endemic ecosystems.” The construction and operation of the complex would work under a “zero-emission, zero-waste, zero-poverty” ethos, using 100 percent reused and/or recycled materials from the surrounding area. All of the materials used in the construction would be bio-sourced products derived from vegetable biomass. Microalgae and linseed oil would be used to manufacture organic tiles, while any wood used would be locally-sourced from eco-responsible forests. Even the luxury lodgings would be self-sustaining, playing a strong role in the design’s net-zero energy profile. The main tourist village would be built on telescopic piles that produce ocean thermal energy as well as tidal energy. This energy, along with photovoltaic cells , would produce sufficient energy for the the village, which will also be installed with vertical walls and green roofs to increase the buildings’ thermal inertia and optimize natural temperature control. To the west, twelve small spiral towers with a total of 164 units are designed to be built on rotating bases that turn on their axis according to the course of the sun, fully rotating 360 degrees in one day, providing optimal views of the surrounding environment and taking advantage of a full day of natural light. On the east side, the complex would have 12 small snail-shaped “museum-hotels” constructed with recycled concrete . The hotels will feature various exhibition spaces on the bottom floors and guests rooms on the upper floors. At the heart of the resort will be Origami Mountain, slated to house a scientific research center and nautical recreation area. The building would be constructed using a Cross Laminated Timber framework that would be layered to create a number of undulating ramps that fold out like a massive origami structure. + Vincent Callebaut + Nautilus Eco-Resort Images via Vincent Callebaut

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Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers

America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

September 19, 2017 by  
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Pittsburgh , once a site of heavy industry, could soon be home to the biggest urban farm in the United States. The 23-acre Hilltop Urban Farm will be located in the city’s Southside, an area underserved by supermarkets , where it could help supply nutritious, fresh produce to those who otherwise would have little access. Coal, steel, and manufacturing once boomed in Pittsburgh, until the city experienced an industrial decline in the 1950s. The healthcare industry has recently helped revive the city, but neighborhoods on Pittsburgh’s outer ring have yet to see a comeback. That’s where the Hilltop Alliance , the group behind the Hilltop Urban Farm, is working. The city is also home to the largest percentage of people living in areas with low-supermarket access for cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of the Treasury. Related: 20 kids transform a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood with solar art & charging station The Hilltop Urban Farm could offer an answer to the issues these Pittsburgh residents face. The farm will occupy space that was once filled with low-income housing – and according to Aaron Sukenik, Hilltop Alliance executive director, the land “was just kind of sitting there, fenced and looking very post-apocalyptic.” Soon it will be home to a farm where people will grow winter peas and other produce. There will be a fruit orchard, and an almost one-acre youth farm. There will be a 3.36-acre farmer incubation program, and a 57 plot community garden . There will also be a 3.31 community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Also part of the urban farm will be a 200-person events barn and a farm market building, where a seasonal farmer’s market will occur. According to the Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook page , green infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, stormwater management , and native plants will be part of the design. Hilltop Urban Farm is slated to open in 2019. Via Reuters Images via Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook

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America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

Surf artist battles massive tides to paint powerful mural in the Bay of Fundy

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Sean Yoro  has a passion for creating art on precarious surfaces , but this time the intrepid street artist – who paints on a surfboard in the water – had to contend with 28-foot tide changes to create his latest piece. Yoro (known as Hula ) has just unveiled a mural of a woman that disappears underwater when the tide rises (about one foot every 15 minutes) in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. Most of Yoro’s work is usually done in undisclosed locations for legal reasons, but this time, the artist was invited by the team behind Discover Saint John to create the mural on Minas Basin, an inlet in the Bay of Fundy. The task was not easy, however, considering the area can have 28-foot tide changes in a single day. Related: Andreco paints climate change mural ahead of COP21 in Paris Needless to say, even though he didn’t have to skirt authorities this time around, it wasn’t easy painting the 30 by 45 feet mural. “It was really challenging to adapt to the tide changes, from the dangerous rip currents to the quick rate of rising and dropping water levels, averaging 1 foot every 15 minutes,” Yoro told CNN . “I had to use several calculated formulas to know the rate of the tides coming in or out every day, and use this information to know what speed I could paint for that tide change, which helped (me) pace myself in order to get the proper details finished in the figure.” Another major challenge was finding paint that would adhere to the concrete wall in such damp conditions. He was determined to use nontoxic paint for environmental reasons, but had to experiment with various types mixed with sealers to come up with a special formula that would dry quickly and withstand the water levels as he worked. Unfortunately, Yoro’s beautiful artwork is sure wash away. The mix of sun, saltwater, and algae will most likely eat away at the paint over time, but Yoro hopes his work will last at least two or three months. + Sean Yoro Via CNN

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Surf artist battles massive tides to paint powerful mural in the Bay of Fundy

Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Instead of reconstructing the existing electricity grid, we can leapfrog ahead with technologies that make the Caribbean region less vulnerable to future storms.

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Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The Montreal Protocol should have nixed the ozone-eating chemicals damaging the ozone layer over Antarctica. 30 years on, atmospheric chemists aren’t so sure.

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The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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

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Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse

September 18, 2017 by  
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Most of the world’s human population, and the health of ecosystems across the planet, could face an existential threat by the end of the century if rapid, forceful action is not taken to combat climate change . According to a new study published in  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , there is now a 1-in-20 chance that climate change will cause an “existential/unknown” warming effect, defined in the study as a global temperature rise of 5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, that would have a devastating impact on humanity while wiping out 20 percent of life on Earth. Even as climate change is apparent in the present, its worst impacts will be felt by future generations. “To put in perspective, how many of us would choose to buckle our grandchildren to an airplane seat if we knew there was as much as a 1 in 20 chance of the plane crashing?” said co-author Veerabhadran Ramanathan of University of California San Diego. “With climate change that can pose existential threats, we have already put them in that plane.” In addition to the 5 percent chance of complete societal, and perhaps species, collapse, the scientists estimate that, if action is not taken, there is a 50 percent chance of a 4 degree temperature rise by 2100, far surpassing the 2 degree goal set by the Paris accord. Related: Caltech scientists speed up carbon sequestration process by 500 times The study is not all doom and gloom. The scientists describe several actions that can and must be taken, including achieving peak global emissions by 2020 and carbon neutrality by 2050, ending the use of short-term climate pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons , and removing carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through sequestration , reforestation and other methods. The study was utilized by 33 policy and science experts in crafting a related report which further details actions that can be taken now. Whether the advice will be taken remains to be seen. Via Scientific American Images via Christopher Michel and Ian D. Keating

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New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse

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