Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

April 6, 2018 by  
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In his book first published as  Walden; or, Life in the Woods , transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau reflected on living simply in green spaces while cultivating self-sufficiency and carefully observing the natural world. His reflections were informed by his experiences living in a cabin near the edge of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts . Today, Walden Pond remains a cherished local landmark, where people enjoy hiking and swimming. However, since Thoreau’s time, Walden Pond has suffered from climate change,  erosion  and even human pee. In the mid-1800s, Thoreau described the “crystalline purity” of the water in Walden Pond, a characteristic still observable today. However, that may soon change as the effects of climate change take hold. In  a recently published paper on the environmental health of Walden Pond , researchers concluded that major changes in the algal content of the lake began in the 20th century and continue to threaten it today. According to the paper, “The sediment darkening and high percentages of [ algae ] in the recent sediments of Walden Pond … indicate not only that the lake ecosystem is now quite different from that described by Thoreau but also that it may be primed for more severe reductions in water clarity in a warming future.” Related: Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock As global temperatures continue to rise , more people looking for relief from the humid summer weather in Massachusetts may find their way into the pond for a refreshing dip. Researchers concluded that more than half of the phosphorous content in the pond “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers.” The good news is that Walden Pond has seen its environmental health improve in recent decades. However, vigilance is necessary to preserve Walden for future generations. Via The Guardian Images via Ekabhishek , Terryballard and Cbaile19

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Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

The world’s first space hotel could launch by 2022

April 6, 2018 by  
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We’ve all heard of the companies promising to launch humans on trips to space , but have you thought about where you will stay once you get there? Startup Orion Span thinks they have the answer – and they’re planning to launch a luxury space hotel into orbit in the next few years. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, start saving your pennies – a 12-night stay will set you back a mere $9.5 million PER PERSON. But don’t worry, the price includes transportation, food and drinks, and a three-month training course. The Aurora Station hotel will be able to accommodate four guests at a time, plus two crew members. The station will float above the Earth in low orbit (about 200 miles above the planet – 50 miles below the ISS) and the company claims it will be ready to start hosting guests by 2022. That’s extremely soon – keep in mind that other companies have set lofty goals for space hotels that didn’t quite get realized . The company plans to start with one station and expand as demand grows. If you want to book your stay right away, 80k will hold you a spot until the hotel is built and launched. Related: Elon Musk says trips to Mars coming as soon as next year Speaking of, Orion Span hasn’t provided much in the way of details for its space hotel. For instance, the company says it plans to manufacture the station at a Houston facility that hasn’t been built yet. Nor has it disclosed how it plans to transport people to the station – it seems likely that it will team up with one of the companies who is developing private space travel. Even still, it’s a pretty exciting idea, and not a bad price considering that it costs $81 million for an astronaut to hitch a ride to the ISS on a Russian rocket. Via Engadget Images via Orion Span

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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

Futuristic oceanscapers are floating villages 3D-printed from algae and plastic waste

December 28, 2015 by  
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GREEN BUILDING 101: How to Choose the Best Spot for Your Dream Green Home

May 14, 2014 by  
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  We’ve already touched upon ways to keep cool (and warm!) via insulation and home orientation , but what about your home’s location itself? Where would you like to live? Naturally, aspects such as water conservation, sustainable building materials and how to save energy are great, but let’s take a step back and consider steps needed for making an environmentally conscious choice on where to live. We’ll share a few tips below on “Location and Linkages”; a term defined by LEED as a method of sustainable site selection and development. Hopefully these guidelines can help to reduce energy consumed by Americans in pursuit of cheap land and more closet space across the (seemingly) infinite supply of pasture and native habitats. Read the rest of GREEN BUILDING 101: How to Choose the Best Spot for Your Dream Green Home Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “leed” , “sustainable architecture” , building for climate , climate , commute , commuting , ecosystems , green architecture , Green Building , Green Building 101 , Green Building 101: Location and Community , infill , leed certification , LEED tutorials , LL , location , Location and Community , Location and Linkages , passive solar , Sustainability , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , urban sprawl , usgbc

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Phil Gautreau’s Spectacular Salvaged Wood Bowls Win the 2014 BKLYN Designs Reader’s Choice Award!

May 14, 2014 by  
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Brooklyn’s design scene is thoroughly clad with locally sourced and salvaged wood – but no one does it better than Phil Gautreau . That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that Phil is the winner of our 2014 BKLYN Design Reader’s Choice Award ! His beautiful hand-turned bowls and cutting boards are made of chunks of wood salvaged from storm-felled trunks and trees thinned from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden , among other sources. Phil crafts each bowl by carefully carving away at layers of wood, revealing the unique character of each piece as he goes – check out a small sample of his work in the gallery below (and don’t miss his in-progress photos here ). We’d like to wish a big congrats to Phil and all of our BKLYN Designs Award finalists – check them out here ! + Phil Gautreau + BKLYN Designs + Inhabitat BKLYN Designs Award Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable furniture” , green design , green interiors , green kitchen , green products , hand turned wood bowls , locally sourced wood , Phil Gautreau , reclaimed wood , reclaimed wood bowls , recycled wood , repurposed wood , reused wood , salvaged wood , salvaged wood bowls , sustainable design , wood castoffs , wooden bowls

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Phil Gautreau’s Spectacular Salvaged Wood Bowls Win the 2014 BKLYN Designs Reader’s Choice Award!

Over 80 Percent of Earth’s Ecosystems are at Risk Unless Climate Action is Taken

October 9, 2013 by  
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A new study finds that more than 80 percent of ice-free land is at risk of ecosystem transformation by 2100 unless global warming is limited to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels. Even if emissions are cut enough so that global warming doesn’t reach 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, 20 percent of land ecosystems would still be at risk of moderate to major changes. Read the rest of Over 80 Percent of Earth’s Ecosystems are at Risk Unless Climate Action is Taken Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , ecosystems , emissions , global warming        

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Episode 4 of Fukushima Documentary Series ‘We Are All Radioactive’ Goes Live

July 17, 2012 by  
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We’re big fans of Lisa Katayama ‘s ‘We Are All Radioactive’ series of films, an online episodic documentary series that follows the lives of surfers and fishermen as they work to rebuild small coastal towns that were affected by the devastating Japanese tsunami. The series, produced with TED film director Jason Wishnow , is entirely crowd-funded, meaning that if you want more episodes, it’s up to you to keep production going. This week,  Episode 4 of We Are All Radioactive went live, which sees Lisa and Jason meet surfers who are rebuilding Japan after the March 2011 tsunami. Read the rest of Episode 4 of Fukushima Documentary Series ‘We Are All Radioactive’ Goes Live Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agate beach , alien species , asian shore crab , ecosystems , Fukushima , fukushima documentary , japanese tsunami , lisa katayama , lisa katayama we are all radioactive , National Geographic , tsunami , tsunami dock , We Are All Radioactive

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Japanese Tsunami Dock Hits Oregon Beach With Army of Alien Species Attached!

June 19, 2012 by  
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An enormous Japanese dock that was cast out to sea by the tsunami last year has landed on an Oregon beach. While it is not the first piece of debris to reach the US , it has bought with it a veritable menagerie of ‘alien species’ that environmentalist fear could have a devastating impact on local ecosystems. The 66-foot dock dock originated from the Japanese fishing port of Misawa and during its year-long, 5,000 mile journey has picked up a host of sea creatures including Asian crabs, sea stars, algae, urchins, barnacles, snails, and other life-forms. In fact, there are so many creatures on it that the  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates they weigh over 100 tons! The Japanese dock has been likened to an “alien mother ship” full of invasive species that could pose a threat to the native wildlife of Oregon’s Agate Beach . To stop any long-lasting damage, volunteers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been using shovels, rakes and even fire to scrape the dock clean. Speaking to National Geographic , invasive species biologist  John Chapman  said: “We were caught flat-footed. This was a close-encounter-of-the-fourth-kind type of event, where an alien mother ship from outer space lands on our shores.” “Sixty percent of the dock’s surface area was on the bottom when it washed up on the beach, and the [organisms] that were on there were scraped off and washed away,” Chapman said. “It’s like a spectacular, large, dirty needle that just got stuck into our ecological arm, into our ecosystem.” While it is impossible to completely predict the impact the new species will have, Chapman believes they could out-compete native oysters and crabs and devastate the local economy. “On that dock probably 50 or more species that survived the crossing are not species that we’ve seen crossing the globe before,” Chapman said. “And we’ve also already identified three real bad characters that were aboard.” The alien species include wakame seaweed and the  Japanese shore crab , which has already invaded the US East Coast and decimated native shellfish populations. The dock is expected to be towed to Newport once it has been treated, where it will then be scraped. So far, it is estimated that some five million tons of debris were washed off Japan’s coast , and NASA is currently tracking 1.5 million tons of it. + Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Via National Geographic Images: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agate beach , alien species , asian shore crab , ecosystems , Fukushima , japanese tsunami , National Geographic , tsunami , tsunami dock

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Japanese Tsunami Dock Hits Oregon Beach With Army of Alien Species Attached!

The World’s Love Of Coffee Is Causing The Destruction Of Natural Habitats And Ecosystems

June 11, 2012 by  
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Put down that cup of coffee! A new report published in Nature has revealed that one of the main causes for the destruction of natural habitats and the potential extinction of numerous species is the developed world’s “insatiable appetite” for commodities such as tea, coffee and palm oil. Read the rest of The World’s Love Of Coffee Is Causing The Destruction Of Natural Habitats And Ecosystems Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon emissions , coffee , deforestation , destruction , ecosystems , endangered species , extinction , habitat destruction , international trade , Nature , rio+20

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The World’s Love Of Coffee Is Causing The Destruction Of Natural Habitats And Ecosystems

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