Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution

January 25, 2019 by  
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With ocean habitats being degraded by plastic pollution and replaced with seawalls, more than half of the shoreline in Sydney, Australia , is now artificial. Scientists say that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean is so massive, removing it all simply isn’t possible. So, instead of hosting more beach clean-ups or tearing down seawalls, Volvo is taking a more modern, creative approach to the problem — a Living Seawall. Volvo has teamed up with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create the Living Seawall. The Living Seawall is designed to recreate the structure of native mangrove trees and provide a habitat for marine life , according to the company’s website. The automaker also claims that Living Seawall will aid biodiversity and keep the water clean by attracting filter-feeding organisms that can absorb and filter out pollutants such as heavy metals. Related: Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste Volvo’s commitment to sustainability goes far beyond the Living Seawall and Volvo Ocean Race, a beach clean-up initiative, as the company is also in the process of removing all single-use plastics from offices, cafeterias and events and replacing them with sustainable, eco-friendly options by the end of the year. It also has the goal of “putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2025” and wants its manufacturing operations to be carbon neutral.  Volvo says that when it designs its cars, reduction of environmental impact is a top priority. The sales revenue from the Volvo V90 Cross Country is what funds the Volvo Ocean Race and Science Program, which measures ocean microplastics levels with sensors on boats. Volvo said it will continue to support research and thrive with its “radical and divergent style of thinking” that isn’t just what the company focuses on, but rather what defines it. + Volvo Images via Volvo

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Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution

6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

December 31, 2018 by  
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Global carbon emissions may be on the rise and poised to reach an all-time high this year , but that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive climate news to talk about. If you are looking for some uplifting stories about the environment as we close out 2018 and head into the new year, here are six reasons to be hopeful in spite of  climate change . Plant-based meat The carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels is still the main greenhouse gas , but methane and nitrous oxide are more potent, and the levels are rising. Livestock farming is the main source of methane and nitrous oxide, and because the world loves meat and dairy, these gases are a huge factor in the battle against climate change. Simply put, if we don’t radically curb our meat consumption, we can’t beat global warming . Related: Look out meat industry — flexitarianism is on the rise People all over the world are switching to vegetarian, vegan  and flexitarian diets, and that is a step in the right direction. Bill Gates has invested in two plant-based burger companies that make food from plants that looks and tastes like meat. Major companies like Tyson, Danone and Nestle are also investing in plant-based products that have a tiny carbon footprint, so the market will continue to grow and offer a wide variety of plant-based foods. The renewable energy revolution Renewable energy is quickly becoming the new normal. Thanks to the cost of solar panels and wind turbines plummeting over the last decade, renewables are now cheaper than coal. There are already systems in place to shift from gas and oil to renewables. Companies all over the world are committing to renewable energy, and now more than half of the new capacity for generating electricity is renewable. Many parts of the world are already installing the cheapest electricity available. Last year, there was so much wind power in Germany that customers got free electricity . Even in the U.S., despite President Trump’s rollback of key climate legislation, there has been $30 billion invested in renewable energy sources. “We Are Still In” movement As a response to President Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement, thousands of America’s CEOs, college presidents and politicians have declared that the U.S. is “still in” the climate change fight with the We Are Still In movement. Over 2,600 leaders from across the country are standing together and committed to delivering the goals from the Paris Agreement. They also want to make sure that the U.S. continues to be a world leader in reducing emissions. More than 1,800 businesses and investors, 18 states and tribes and 335 of America’s colleges and universities are also part of the movement. More than half of the country’s Fortune 500 companies have the goal of cutting pollution . The death of coal Production of fossil fuels seems to have peaked in 2013, and since then, the demise has been shocking. Five years ago, the IEA anticipated a 40 percent growth in coal burning by 2040. But now, it only expects 1 percent growth. Bankruptcies are taking over the coal industry, and plans for many new coal plants are now dead and buried. China has halted plans for 151 coal plants, and in the U.K., coal has plummeted from 40 percent of the power supply to just 2 percent. This is all happening because solar and wind are now cheaper, but there is still more that can be done. When it becomes cheaper to build renewable energy sources compared to running existing coal plants, there will be zero reasons to keep digging coal out of the ground. Electric cars Oil is responsible for providing one-third of the world’s energy, so figuring out how to reduce this usage is a big challenge. One of the most promising options for reducing oil usage is battery-powered cars. They are starting to make a dent in the market, and China is leading the way by selling more electric cars every month than the U.S. and Europe combined. Just about every car manufacturer has  plans to go electric , and some will be doing it sooner rather than later. Both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to end production of pure fossil-fueled cars by 2021, and Tesla has already rolled out its Model 3. If current growth rates continue, EV-volumes.com analyst Viktor Irle said  that 80 percent of new cars will be electric by 2030. Batteries A big piece of the renewable puzzle is batteries. The big issue is how to deliver solar power when it’s cloudy or how to provide wind power on a calm day. New battery technology is now making it possible to continuously store renewable power, even when the sun is behind the clouds and the wind stops blowing. With battery technology improving so fast, the price of battery storage is expected to drop in half by 2030. The price of lithium-ion batteries has already dropped by 75 percent over the last six years. The latest battery technology is also contributing to the rising demand for electric cars. Via Grist , The Guardian and WWF Images via Appolinary Kalashnikova , KMW737 , Andreas160578 , Jon Tyson , Benita Welter , Stefan Schweihofer and  Sabine van Erp

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

Biomega unveils an affordable, lightweight electric car inspired by minimalism

December 5, 2018 by  
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Known for its electric bike designs , Danish firm Biomega is now branching out into the electric car sector. The company has just unveiled its first electric car , called the SIN. Designed for urban environments, the SIN is a low-cost, lightweight electric car that runs on a 14kWh battery pack and is estimated to go up to 100 miles on a single charge. The SIN’s minimalist appearance was inspired by Scandinavian design principles of creating more with less. The body of the  electric car is comprised of modular carbon fiber to reduce its weight and enable optimal battery consumption. Stripped back to provide more space, the interior is made up of perforated mesh seats and an aluminum crossbeam that supports the steering wheel, which is connected to the car’s “info-tainment” tablet. An extra-wide windshield that extends over the roof of the car and transparent side doors were designed specifically to maximize the road views. Related: Biomega’s Boston folding bike: world’s first theft-proof bicycle? As far as power goes, the car runs on four independent engines powered by the main 14kWh battery , which is located under the floor. According to Biomega, the SIN can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in approximately 13 seconds and can reach a top speed of 80 miles per hour. More importantly for drivers, the battery is estimated to let the car run up to 100 miles on a single charge. Biomega founder Jens Martin Skibsted explained that after years of designing high-tech electric bikes, an electric car was the logical next step for the company. “We’ve been focused on urban mobility since the 1990s,” Skibsted said. “Biomega has always been about creating a paradigm shift in the way society imagines transportation . We feel that we are in an extremely strong position to design an electric vehicle (EV) that represents the frontier of the new mobility.” Recently unveiled at the Shanghai CIEE trade fair, the SIN, which is expected to come with a $20,000 price tag, is due to hit the market sometime between 2021-2023. + Biomega Via Dezeen Images via Biomega

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Solar-powered autonomous car could revolutionize travel

September 5, 2018 by  
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There’s finally hope for those tired of waiting on mile-long taxi stands at the airport. Developed by architect Steve Lee of Los Angeles-based Aprilli Design Studio , the Autonomous Travel Suite is a solar-powered electric vehicle that could revolutionize the future of travel and urban design. Lee was inspired to create the driverless  mobile suites to provide travelers with a comfortable door-to-door transportation service, complete with a memory foam mattress, kitchen and mini bar, a washroom and work space. Recently chosen as a finalist in the Radical Innovation Awards , the self-driving hotel suite would be part of an Autonomous Hotel Chain. Conceptualized as a personal rental car and hotel room, the self-driving cars are meant to be an extension of what Lee calls a “parent suite,” offering all of the comforts of a luxury suite while on the road. Related: GM unveils new self-driving car with no pedals and no steering wheel When not in use, the solar-powered cars would charge in a docking facility at the main hotel, of which the mobile unit would serve as an extension. Guests would be able to choose between different room types and sizes at different prices, and they could order custom features, such as a televisions or extra beds. The futuristic design was created with the busy traveler in mind, offering a driverless, door-to-door car service  that would allow guests to work or rest while on the go. The car interiors would include a foam mattress, a wash room and a working space, along with ample storage for luggage. In addition to the comfy living area, the suites would be built with smart glass, which can be dimmed for privacy. At the moment, the driverless hotel suite on wheels is just a concept, but Lee maintains that its real-world cost would be beneficial to travelers. Pricing would be cost-effective, because the solar-powered cars would bundle both transportation and lodging. + Aprilli Design Suite Via Curbed Images via Radical Innovation Awards

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Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

August 28, 2018 by  
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More than a million electric cars can now be seen on the streets of Europe, thanks in part to a sales surge in the first half of 2018. Europe has reached this benchmark more quickly than the United States, which is on track to meet it later this year. Europe and the U.S. have trailed behind China, which reached one million electric vehicle sales in 2017; however, Europe’s achievement is no small feat. Related: The number of electric vehicles on the streets could triple in two years Europe saw 195,000 electric cars sold during the first half of this year, a 42 percent increase from last year. This figure includes electric cars sold in the European Union as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway, the latter of which continues to lead the way, with the highest number of electric vehicles sold. Related: World’s fastest electric car charger offers 120-miles of range in 8 minutes Industry analyst EV-Volumes  estimates that European sales of electric vehicles will reach 1.35 million by the end of the year. The figure includes both fully electric vehicles as well as hybrid plug-in models that switch to conventional engines after their short-distance battery runs out of power. Industry leaders are optimistic about the outlook for environmentally friendly cars, despite plug-in hybrids only accounting for 2% of market share. Viktor Irle, market analyst at EV-Volumes, commented, “a stock of one million electric vehicles is an important milestone on the road to electrification and meeting emission targets but it is of course not enough.” One thing, though, is certain – Europe definitely has the drive to achieve fossil-fuel-free roads. Via The Guardian    

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Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

United Nations recognizes first-ever carbon-neutral soccer club

July 31, 2018 by  
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The Forest Green Rovers , a Gloucestershire-based team in the English Football League that prides itself as “the world’s greenest football club,” has been recognized by the United Nations carbon-neutral – a world first. The team joined the Football League last year in its first-ever debut in the 129-year history of the club and is part of Britain’s  League Two . In addition to receiving the prestigious UN designation, the professional soccer club has signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Climate Neutral Now initiative for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. The Climate Neutral Now initiative was developed in the wake of the  Paris Agreement  to encourage climate action around the world. Related: Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic The club also serves vegan food to its fans and was awarded a vegan trademark from the Vegan Society as well. The Forest Green Rovers came up with the idea because they wanted to create awareness of the “huge environmental and animal welfare impacts of livestock farming.” They also wished to improve player performance all while giving fans “healthier, tastier food on match days.” The Forest Green Rovers stadium uses 100% green energy supplied by the club’s chairman, Dale Vince, founder of renewable energy company Ecotricity . The parking lot features electric car charging facilities, making it easier for eco-conscious fans to attend the games. All rainfall is collected and recycled from the field and stand areas in order to minimize water consumption. And, in true futuristic and sustainable fashion, the club even has a solar-powered robot to mow its beautiful, organic soccer field. Cheers to that! + Forest Green Rovers + UNFCCC Via The Guardian

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

June 1, 2018 by  
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Even as the U.S. turns away from clean energy, California continues to charge ahead. Empowering the largest investment in the U.S.  by the electric industry to transform a transportation system, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a collective budget of $738 million for four utility companies to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” This move, required by a 2015 clean energy law in California, marks an important step toward developing comprehensive infrastructure to switch transportation from fossil fuels to clean electric power. The unprecedented investment follows the recent approval of 15 pilot programs that, with a collective budget of $43 million, aim to electrify transit buses , school buses, cranes, agricultural trucks, delivery trucks, airport equipment and other vehicles. The pilot programs will run over the course of a year, while the major initiative will unfold over several years. These programs specifically look to benefit communities that have historically suffered under hazardous levels of air pollution, a public health threat that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will alleviate. The initiative will fund, among other things, new charging stations, related infrastructure and services for installing new charging stations in homes. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires These new initiatives in California have received broad support from stakeholders in the state, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and the Sierra Club. Although the link between transportation and utility companies may traditionally seem weak, the Commission under California state law determined that the electric vehicle programs serve the utility customer’s interests by offering more reliable, less expensive service. With its most recent investment in the future of transportation, California seems poised to be a leader in clean energy for many years to come. Via NRDC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

June 1, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong is the biggest trading hub for shark fins in the world. Although they’ve taken steps to halt illegal trading, conservation group Sea Shepherd recently uncovered a shipment with fins from endangered sharks that arrived via a Singapore Airlines flight for a Hong Kong dried seafood company. Sea Shepherd said the fins came from whale sharks and possibly oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered shark fins arrived in a 2,150-pound shipment marked ‘Dry Seafood’ for Win Lee Fung Ltd . The shipment came from Colombo, Sri Lanka by way of Singapore. Singapore Airlines bans shark fin cargo and said they’d sent a reminder to all stations to administer sampling checks on shipments with such a label. They also said they blacklisted the shipper. Sea Shepherd Asia director Gary Stokes told Reuters , “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so [it] didn’t flag any alarms.” Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Shark fins can be imported in Hong Kong, but for species listed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), there must be a permit. The species discovered in the shipment were CITES Appendix 2 species and were concealed among legal fins. Sea Shepherd said smugglers operate by utilizing a vague description — and as Hong Kong Customs is barely able to check 1 percent of containers arriving in the territory, a shipment with a label like ‘Dry Seafood’ could easily escape notice. “Sea Shepherd Global have asked the Hong Kong Government for a mandatory use of the international Harmonized Shipping Codes for all wildlife products at time of booking for any goods destined to Hong Kong,” Sea Shepherd said in its statement. “Only then would Hong Kong Customs and [Agricultural, Fishers & Conservation Department] stand a fighting chance to have more effective inspections on containers when they know the contents before they arrive.” As of now, shark fin smugglers only have to declare what was in a shipment 14 days after it has arrived in Hong Kong or pay a penalty of around $10. The World Wildlife Fund said around 100 million sharks could be killed every year, and they’re frequently targeted for their fins. + Sea Shepherd Via Reuters Images courtesy of Sea Shepherd Global

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Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

June 1, 2018 by  
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Following Congress’s move to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production, a long-sought goal of the Republican Party, fossil fuel companies are moving forward with their plans to develop the wilderness and hope to survey the region by winter. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, two Alaska Native companies, as well as one oil company have applied for a permit to begin seismic surveying on the refuge’s coastal plain. However, despite promises that the process would be as environmentally sensitive as possible, documents obtained by the Washington Post indicate that the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the initial plan as “not adequate,” noting its “lack of applicable details for proper agency review.” The area the companies hope to explore for oil is also the location of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, from which the local Gwich’in First Nation community finds food and cultural significance. In fact, the prospective area where two teams of 150 people are proposed to survey isn’t even visited by the Gwich’in people out of respect for its importance. The speed with which the companies have pushed to begin oil drilling has concerned the locals. “Why can’t they just wait to have more information?” Gwich’in Steering Committee executive director Bernadette Dementieff told Earther . “The oil isn’t going anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. It makes no sense to rush.” Perhaps the oil companies are concerned that the U.S. may, under a different Congress, return to its long-held status quo of banning oil drilling in the refuge. Related: Spending bill would open the world’s largest intact temperate forest to logging Although the nearby Native town of Kaktovik supported oil and gas drilling in 2005, more recently, the mayor sent a letter to Congress to oppose opening the land to industry. The process has moved forward so quickly since the bill opening the refuge to oil drilling was signed into law that Dementieff was not even aware of the drilling application until she was contacted by Earther. “That is completely insane and disrespectful,” she said. Dementieff believes that Native communities in Alaska will rally together to stop the drilling from ever occurring. “We’ll go to every courtroom. We’ll go to every community meeting. We’re not giving up. We’re not going to allow them to destroy the calving grounds.” Via Earther Images via  Depositphotos and Bob Clarke

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Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

May 16, 2018 by  
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Van life can be a creative way to lessen one’s impact on the planet, but many van dwellers are still riding in gas-guzzling vehicles. Nico Nevolo, however, has broken away from that trend and become one of the pioneers of a new paradigm: EV van life. A former Tesla employee, Nevolo quit his job in March of this year to share his experiences living in his Tesla Model X under the name TeslaVanLife , and so far he says it’s been the best decision of his life. Inhabitat caught up with Nevolo to hear more about his journey and vision for TeslaVanLife. Nevolo worked at Tesla for just over three years, beginning in customer service and then moving to headquarters, where he worked as an analyst. He started living in his Model X last October, but the infamously expensive Bay Area rents were only one factor in his decision to live in his car. “It’s experiencing life in a different capacity, and a capacity at which I think is bringing me more happiness as I’ve grown older and seen how I want to live my own life,” Nevolo told Inhabitat. Related: Living out of a van has never looked this good He quit his job to take his Tesla love on the road. “I did love working behind a computer for Tesla, I really did love it, but there was something missing,” Nevolo said. “I hadn’t really seen anyone living in an electric vehicle , let alone a Tesla, and I recognized I had a very interesting experience…I’ve seen the electric vehicle industry grow before my eyes, so I wanted to tell that story.” In his Model X, he can store things in the front trunk and a rear compartment beneath his bed. He didn’t want the inside of his van home to look cluttered, so he doesn’t store anything on his bed. During the day, he folds up his bed and puts his seats up. Nevolo said people always expect him to say one of the hardest things about van life is bathing, but he’s found that facilities are readily available. What is tricky is food. He can keep food cold in an ice chest for around a week, but keeping it at a temperature where it won’t spoil is only possible for about two days. “Managing long term meals is definitely the most difficult thing I’ve encountered,” he said. “Something I’m really going to start experimenting with — and I used to do it even when I lived in an apartment — is buying food and cooking for a day or two. I would just buy enough food for a day or two, which unfortunately doesn’t save you the most money, but you’re getting fresh food.” Battery charging can be another consideration for EV van living, but Nevolo hasn’t found it to be too difficult in California , where he’s spent a large amount of his van life. Supercharging his Model X is free, and he said the Supercharger network is growing exponentially. Also, with the exception of some desolate areas, he found the network connected across the United States on a cross-country road trip to surprise his grandfather in New Jersey with a Tesla Model 3 . The flexibility of van living has opened up new possibilities for Nevolo. “The best thing is honestly being able to say yes to absolutely anything,” he said. “There is no one way of living.” Nevolo took his time taking the Model 3 to his grandfather and traveled around the country for about a month, so he could compare the experiences of living in a Model X versus a Model 3. “The technology in the Model 3: mindblowing,” he said. The Model 3 can charge more quickly because of advanced battery technology . But for long-term van life, the Model X seems to beat out the Model 3. “In the Model 3, you have to bend over like a normal car, it’s very low, and you’re like kinking your back,” Nevolo said. “With the X, I almost have a faux sense of being able to stand up in my home because the door opens up above my head and I actually have two inches of clearance when the door’s all the way up, and I’m six foot one. It feels like I’m in a bedroom.” You can stay tuned for his Tesla adventures by subscribing to TeslaVanLife . Nevolo said, “I want to shed light and entertainment and insight on a whole bunch of communities I’m very interested in, like van life, Tesla, or even music festival communities.” + TeslaVanLife YouTube + TeslaVanLife Patreon + TeslaVanLife Instagram Images courtesy of Nico Nevolo

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Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

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