Corporations could be the best weapon in combating climate change

January 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Now that the capitalist system is sufficiently motivated to address climate change, it can become a powerful force to accelerate progress.

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Corporations could be the best weapon in combating climate change

These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife

January 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Animal poaching is on the rise as people find interest in ivory,  fur , skins and more for their financial value. Previous technologies have tried to capture poachers in the act, but often failed because the poachers could ping cell towers and find (and avoid) the tracking technology. Now, Intel is debuting a smart system of cameras that relies on radio frequencies and artificial intelligence to catch the criminals and save the wildlife. We gave this technology a go at CES 2019, and here is how it works. Intel’s new TrailGuard uses “ AI for social good.” This technology is powering cameras with artificial intelligence to stop illegal poachers in their tracks. Each camera is hidden in natural areas where wild animal poaching is common. The cameras use motion sensors that, once triggered, turn the cameras on to start recording nearby activity. Related: Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants Because the cameras use artificial intelligence, they can tell the difference between the movement of, say, an animal or wind and specific human activity, such as poacher’s body language or clothing. At CES 2019, these cameras were installed in a dark area designed to mimic nature. Even if you walk carefully, you are no match for these smart cameras. In the low light, it’s nearly impossible to find the cameras, and because they run on radio frequencies, poachers cannot pinpoint and avoid them. But the recordings capture a clear view of poachers, making it easier for authorities to end these activities and save more animals’ lives. Related: This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you In addition to being showcased at CES 2019, the TrailGuard technology is also being deployed in the Congo. + Intel Photography by Inhabitat

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These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife

These are the most endangered species in the world

January 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

As 2018 ended, it brought to light the reality that some  animals — after existing on Earth for millions of years — are gone for good. At the end of last year, scientists announced that three bird species went extinct, and there are even more species that could vanish in 2019. Unlike past mass extinctions , which were the result of things like asteroid strikes and volcanic eruptions, the current crisis is mostly caused by human activities. The Earth is currently losing animal species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate, meaning we could see 30 to 50 percent of the planet’s species going extinct by 2050. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration According to the Center for Biological Diversity , we are in the middle of the planet’s sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, and this latest wave of species die-offs is the worst we have experienced since the loss of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. “Our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging,” Birdlife chief scientist Stuart Butchart told USA Today . We have an abundance of animals that help the world’s ecosystems thrive, but what will happen when more animals become endangered and go extinct? Eco2 Greetings has created an interactive map that highlights the animals that have recently become endangered and critically endangered, and it also shows where their natural habitats are based. The world’s most critically endangered species include Vaquita (population 30), Javan Rhino (63), Sumatran Rhino (80), Amur Leopard (84), Cross River Gorilla (250), Malayan Tiger (295), Sumatran Tiger (400), Mountain Gorilla (880), Yangtze Finless Porpoise (950) and Sumatran Elephant (2,600). The world’s most endangered species are North Atlantic Right Whale (325), Indochinese Tiger (350), Black-footed Ferret (370), Amur Tiger (540), Borneo Pygmy Elephant (1,500), Ganges River Dolphin (1,500), Indus River Dolphin (1,816), Galapagos Penguin (2,000), Bengal Tiger (2,500) and Sri Lankan Elephant (3,250). The existence of these animals is in our hands. So now the question is what can we do to boost these numbers and save these species? + Eco2 Greetings Image via Bernie Catterall

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These are the most endangered species in the world

A bivouac is lightly perched on a rocky peak of the Italian Alps

January 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Designed by Italian architects Roberto Dini and Stefano Girodo , the Luca Pasqualetti Bivouac is a prefab mountain shelter that was airlifted to the very peak of the incredibly remote Morion ridge in Valpelline at an altitude of 3290 meters. The tiny bivouac  was built with sustainable and recyclable materials and designed to cause minimal impact to the stunning landscape. The tiny shelter was the brainchild of a group of local alpine guides called Espri Sarvadzo (“Wild Spirit”). Their objective was to attract more adventurous hikers and climbers to the Morion ridge of Valpelline, which, due to its remote location, is often overlooked. The team worked with the parents of Luca Pasqualettie to dedicate the bivouac to their son who passed away in the same area. Related: Tiny alpine hut is a cozy refuge in the harsh yet spectacular Slovenian Alps The rough location and extreme climate (temperatures reach -20°C and winds up to 200 km/h) in the area meant that the shelter had to be incredibly durable and resilient to wind and snow loads. The rugged terrain made building on the site impossible, so complicating the issue further was the fact that the structure had to be lightweight enough to be transported by helicopter to its destination. To bring the project to fruition, the architects designed and built a prefab structure. All of the building’s components, which were chosen for their durability and low-maintenance properties, are also recyclable and ecologically certified. As for the design itself, the shelter is a simple hut with a large pitched roof made out of two composite sandwich panels, wood and steel and can be split into four parts for easy transport. In addition to being sustainable, the design also called for a building that would cause minimal impact on the landscape. As such, the shelter was installed on non-permanent foundations that were anchored into the rock. This will enable the building to be dismounted at the end of its lifecycle without leaving a permanent trace. The interior of the tiny shelter is a minimalist space, optimized to live comfortably in a compact area. A large panoramic window on the main facade was oriented to face the east to take advantage of natural light and heat as well as to provide stunning views. A small solar panel provides additional lighting. As for furnishings, the interior houses a dining table and eight stools, as well as chests for additional seating and storage. There is also a sideboard that folds down for food preparation and various compartments for equipment. At the rear of the shelter ‘s living space is the sleeping area, which is made up of two wooden platforms with mattresses and blankets. + Roberto Dini + Stefano Girodo Via Archdaily Photography by Roberto Dini, Stefano Girodo, Adele Muscolino and Grzegorz Grodzicki via Bivacco Morion

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A bivouac is lightly perched on a rocky peak of the Italian Alps

Californias Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018

January 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

California’s Monarch butterfly population hit a record low in 2018 after dropping a whopping 86 percent from the previous year. According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the total population has declined 97 percent since the 1980s, but this latest one year drop is “potentially catastrophic.” In the western part of the United States, monarchs migrate to California for the winter, traveling from Idaho and Utah. In 2017, the traditional California coastal sites like Pismo Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove hosted about 148,000 monarchs, but in 2018, volunteers counted approximately 20,500. Compare that population to the 1980s, says one of the study’s researchers Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver. At that time, an estimated 10 million monarchs spent their winter in California. According to experts, butterflies are incredibly significant to the state because they quickly respond to ecological changes and warn us about the health of an ecosystem . Plus, they pollinate flowers. According to biologist Emma Pelton, if nothing is done to preserve the western monarchs and their habitat, monarch butterflies could be facing extinction. They require milkweed for breeding and migration, but in recent years pesticide use and urban development have caused the acreage of milkweed to decline. Unusually harsh weather has also threatened the monarch’s existence. Between 2011 and 2017, California has experienced one of the worst droughts on record, and this has caused ecological devastation among forested towns and fishing communities because hundreds of millions of trees have died. Not to mention, the recent deadly wildfires  that have devastated the golden state. However, the declining monarch population can be reversed if citizens and governments act now. Pelton says that gardeners can plant milkweed and towns can help by planting new trees to help monarch butterfiles 20 years from now have a new place to winter. “We don’t think it is too late to act,” Pelton said. “But everyone needs to step up their effort.” Via New York Times Image via OLID56

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Californias Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018

Millions of Christmas candles are heading to the landfill this month

January 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

The holiday season has come and gone, but part of our Christmas decorations will be here forever — or at least for the next 1,000 years. Millions of candles are heading to the landfill this January, and when it comes to holiday waste, candles are some of the worst offenders, according to a new report from business waste management service Business Waste . The popularity of candles is soaring. Not only were they on-trend for holiday gifting, but the Scandinavian trend of “ hygge ” is also playing a big part in the candle obsession. The Danish term that means “creating a warm atmosphere” has become a lifestyle goal for many and often includes luxurious blankets and glowing candles. Related: Time to put the flame out — scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality But the environmental impact of this big increase in candle sales can’t be underestimated. The plastic holders for popular tea light candles and the plastic wrap that many candles are packaged in wreak havoc on the environment , because most people aren’t recycling. Instead, the plastic casings and packaging (or the glass and metal casings) are ending up in landfills for up to 1,000 years. Household recycling is on the rise, but most people are focusing on food packaging, so things like candles are still ending up in the landfill. “As relaxing as a candle-lit room in the depths of winter can seem, households need to be aware that their choices as consumers have a direct impact on the environment,” said Mark Hall, communications director at Business Waste. “We see novelty candles flood the shelves throughout the run-up to Christmas, and while they make a nice, cheap gift, their long term impact is just not worth the brief enjoyment they bring.” In addition to the poor recycling rates of the packaging, most candles also have paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum. When you burn these candles, it releases carbon dioxide. If you do choose to burn candles throughout the year, there are beeswax and soy alternatives which are much more eco-friendly. Aim to avoid plastic packaging, and properly recycle or reuse glass or metal components. + Business Waste Image via Pitsch

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Millions of Christmas candles are heading to the landfill this month

Why climate change is going to clobber our economy

January 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Imagine the reaction of lawmakers in Washington if they knew a foreign government was about to inflict a $500 billion attack to our economy.

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Why climate change is going to clobber our economy

Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

January 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Remember the days when anti-fur advocates would sling red paint onto the fur-clad fashion lovers dressed in mink? The fur debate has come a long way since then, with many key players in the fashion world now becoming some of the biggest voices in the anti-fur movement. But, instead of ditching fur altogether, some brands have switched to lavish faux fur options, and that has pivoted the discussion. Instead of focusing on ethics and animal welfare, the spotlight is now shining on its  environmental sustainability. Is it good for the environment? Over the past couple of decades, faux fur has evolved from a cheap, itchy material to a luxurious, affordable option that looks just like the real thing. Faux fur now looks so realistic that consumers can’t tell the difference, but is this option really better for the environment? If you are morally opposed to wearing fur, then it is easy to avoid it. However, if you are just trying to make the best choice for the environment, there are some things you need to know. Just because a piece of clothing might be animal -free, it doesn’t mean it’s not causing damage. Fur industry lobbyists now argue that faux fur is a less sustainable choice because it is made from acrylic, which is a synthetic material made from a non-renewable source that takes centuries to biodegrade. “Petroleum-based faux fur products are the complete antithesis of the concept of responsible environmental conservation,” says Keith Kaplan, director of communications at the Fur Information Council of America. “Right off the top, petrol-based plastic fur is extremely harmful to the environment. It isn’t biodegradable. It’s harmful to wildlife .” Kaplan also points out that trapping wild animals like fox, coyotes and beavers— which is about 15 percent of the fur trade— actually helps manage the wildlife population, and it also provides a livelihood for many indigenous communities. What do the experts say? The research is starting to support this opinion , and we are just beginning to learn about the environmental impact of microfibers— the tiny plastic particles that synthetic fabrics shed when you wash them. A 2016 study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that when you wash a synthetic jacket, it can release an average of 1,174 milligrams of microfibers. And, whatever isn’t filtered out by wastewater treatment plants can end up in waterways, and aquatic animals will ingest them. Many designers, like London-based footwear label Mou, have taken the stance that real fur is a more sustainable option than faux fur because the synthetic is a “non-biodegradable pollutant.” Mou founder Shelley Tichborne says that the faux fabrics don’t “breathe” like natural materials, and that causes unpleasant smells and shortens the product’s lifespan. Related: This couch made from recycled water bottles is built to last a lifetime “In contrast, the natural fiber materials we use such as calfskin, goatskin, sheepskin, antelope, lambskin and rabbit fur are by-products of the meat and dairy industries — all the animals are eaten for their meat, and some produce milk for human consumption,” Tichborne says. “The skins from these animals are naturally beautiful, soft to the touch, warm, bio-degradable and durable, lasting — with care — for up to thirty years.” Anti-fur advocates admit that synthetics like faux fur aren’t the best substitute, but they say the environmental hazards in the fur manufacturing process make real fur the worse option. Advocates claim that CO2 emissions produced from feeding thousands of minks on a single farm, manure runoffs into nearby lakes and rivers and toxic chemicals used in fur dressing and dyeing is evidence enough that real fur is far worse for the environment compared to its alternative counterpart. They also mention that the traps used to hunt wild animals ensnare “non-target” animals like domestic dogs, cats and birds. Which is best? There is a ton of evidence that backs up both sides of the argument, and it is a lot of information to process. But, the reality is that banning fur outright doesn’t solve all of the issues in fashion’s supply chains since the alternatives are petroleum-based textiles. However, the consumer interest in this issue can only be a good thing. We know for sure that cheap, disposable clothing— and our tendency to buy and throw out almost all of it— is terrible for the environment. But, is it really a good idea to wear genuine fur instead of faux fur? Ultimately, it comes down to your own morals and ethics, and the debate won’t be settled anytime soon. Fortunately, with technological advancements happening every day, it probably won’t be long before we start seeing faux furs that have a smaller environmental footprint. Via Fashionista , Refinery29 , HuffPost Images via Shutterstock, Tamara Bellis

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Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

Tuck into these off-grid meditation cabins proposed for rural Latvia

January 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Bee Breeders and Lauku Tea have recently announced winners of their Silent Meditation Forest Cabins competition, an open international contest seeking designs for off-the-grid meditation cabins in rural Latvia. Launched in search of eco-friendly and cost-effective proposals for compact and easily replicable cabins, the competition asked designers to propose a series of all-season cabins that could comfortably house a single person for nearly a week, have enough room for meditation activities and food storage and incorporate alternative lighting options and a heating system. The winning proposals will be considered for construction. Keep reading to see the top three winning entries. First prize was given to designer David Florez and Stefani Zlateva for the Solo Cabin, a timber-clad building comprising three stacked and staggered 2-by-2-meter spaces symbolic of the “various layers of nature,” namely the forest floor, the understory and the canopy. The tall structure is centered on an atrium that’s flooded with natural light thanks to a roof made from polycarbonate sheets. Further tying the project to the environment, the proposed construction recalls techniques found in traditional Latvian architecture. In second place is Nest, a proposal by Marko Simsiö of the University of Oulu. Designed as a treehouse , the cabin is elevated into the canopy and clad in charred wood to blend it into the bark of the surrounding trees. In contrast, the interior is lined with light spruce and minimally decorated. The jury praised the design for its low-impact approach. Related: 8 cabins that are perfect for a dreamy winter getaway A team from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology took third place with Aesthesia, a proposal that consists of three rectilinear cabins. Each cabin is made up of a series of modules, half of which cater to the basic necessities while the other half are used as a meditation zone with three different rooms. Large windows frame views of the outdoors. + Bee Breeders Images via Bee Breeders

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Tuck into these off-grid meditation cabins proposed for rural Latvia

Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

January 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Hanoi-based design studio Nghia Architect has completed Maison A, a beautiful home that brings to life the cherished childhood memories of the client. Located in Nam ??nh, a coastal village southeast of Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, the house was created for the client’s aging mother and is large enough to accommodate her children and grandchildren who visit during the holidays. Inspired by the traditional countryside vernacular, Maison A is built for comfortable modern living and features a triple-skin facade that brings daylight, fresh air and a beautiful floral appearance to the home. Spread over an area of 78 square meters, Maison A catches the eye with its sculptural red exterior constructed of floral ventilation bricks handmade in the Bat Trang Village. The perforated sections let in daylight and ventilation into the house, while the bricks are customized with hollow interiors that trap air to serve as a heat-insulating layer. The second layer of the triple-skin facade is a layer of plants that provides additional privacy and a pleasant microclimate . The third “skin” is operable glass, which the mother can close during large storms. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home To recall the many banana trees that grew around the client’s childhood home, the architects worked with local craftsmen who used a hand-pressed intaglio method to imprint banana leaves onto parts of the concrete facade. Inside, local stone craftsmen were employed to turn locally sourced laterite stone (called “hive stone”) into the family bedroom wall. “Maison A mixes the countryside traditions with modern comfort in-depth material research to create an ancestral place for the mother and her returning children,” the architects explain. “The brutalist composition of local materials reflects the richness of the surrounding cultures while the design elevates them to higher grounds. From here, the memory of the family is recorded in each brick and passed down through generations.” + Nghia Architect Images by Tuan Nghia Nguyen

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Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

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