Supervolcano in Italy is "becoming more dangerous" as magma builds beneath the surface

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park , experts have been preparing for the eruption of the Campi Flegrei volcano near the Bay of Naples, in Italy for some time. Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports has renewed fear that it could erupt very soon. Reportedly, the area has been “restless” since minor eruptions began in the 1950s, and now experts have pinpointed magma building up beneath the surface. The eight-mile-wide circular formation, known as a caldera, last erupted in 1538. Researchers with the University of Aberdeen, the INGV Osservatorio Vesuviano, the RISSC lab of the University of Naples and the University of Texas at Austin used seismological techniques to determine when the volcano may erupt again. After scores of tests, they learned that there is a hot zone under the Italian city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea . While the implications of this finding are not completely understood, it is suspected that the low amount of seismic activity in the area since the 1980s may mean pressure is building within the caldera, making it more dangerous. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight Said Researcher  Luca De Siena  of the University of Aberdeen, “During the last 30 years the behavior of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera.” De Siena’s main concern is that the entire region around Naples would be impacted by its eruption. This is because the underground network of chambers that feed magma into the volcano extend more than 100 square kilometers outside of suburban areas in Naples . “Whatever produced the activity under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has migrated somewhere else, so the danger doesn’t just lie in the same spot, it could now be much nearer to Naples which is more densely populated,” De Siena said. “This means that the risk from the caldera is no longer just in the center, but has migrated. Indeed, you can now characterize Campi Flegrei as being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface,” De Siena added. “What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous.” Volcanic area #CampiFlegrei around Naples Italy. Not just Mount Vesuvius. https://t.co/5H00AD6Jz6 pic.twitter.com/6B2xuQpDPa — Blynne Olivieri (@BlynneO) September 13, 2017 Co-author Dr. Christopher Kilburn , director of the University College London Hazard Center , is certain an eruption is imminent. He said, “By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.” Researchers say citizens should make emergency preparations in case the Campi Flegrei volcano erupts again. + Scientific Reports Via Phys  Images via Pixabay  and Deposit Photos

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Supervolcano in Italy is "becoming more dangerous" as magma builds beneath the surface

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?

Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Hurricane Maria , which is forecasted to slam into Puerto Rico and neighboring islands within hours, has officially strengthened into a Category 3 storm. This means that within the past 24 hours, it has doubled in strength and sustained winds of 120 mph. In preparation for the storm, Puerto Rico’s government has declared a “state of emergency” and is calling for citizens and to evacuate to safer locations. The hurricane is only expected to strengthen up to 150 mph until it makes landfall. CNN reports that as of 11 a.m. ET, the hurricane was approximately 60 miles east of Martinique. Maria is expected to make landfall at about 8 p.m. ET in the northeast Caribbean Leeward Islands — particularly St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Martinique. This is the first time in 85 years Puerto Rico is expected to suffer a direct landfall from a Category 4 hurricane . As a result, the country’s government has declared a “state of emergency” and governor Ricardo Rosselló has ordered evacuations. Said Rosselló, “Our call is for people to evacuate areas that are prone to floods and landslides, in addition to vulnerable structures. It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend, or move to a state shelter because rescuers will not go out and risk their lives once winds reach 50 miles per hour.” The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned, “A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet above normal tide levels near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands.” Some areas are expected to receive up to 20 inches of rain, others approximately 12 inches. “Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” said the NHC. Related: New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse Puerto Rico was the haven thousands fled to in preparation for Hurricane Irma . Now, those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are preparing to be slammed by another devastating storm. If Maria is as damaging as forecasted, it will be “more dangerous than Hugo and Georges.” Hurricane Hugo took the lives of five people in Puerto Rico in 1989, and Hurricane Georges went down in the textbooks for causing more than $1.7 billion in damage to the island in 1998 . Via CNN Images via Pixabay , National Hurricane Center , NASA

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Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Even the construction industry can “go green.” A collection of Swiss companies is proving this to be true by developing the world’s largest electric vehicle and in record time. The E-Dumper weighs a whopping 45 tons and has 700 kWh of storage capacity. That’s as much as eight Tesla Model S vehicles. To ensure it is as environmentally-friendly as possible, the E-Dumper’s base is a used Komatsu HD 605-7 dumper truck. The original diesel engine has been removed and replaced with a chassis for battery packs that will power the new E-Dumper. When we say this vehicle is big, we mean big. Its tires measure over 6.5 feet in diameter, and the driver is required to climb nine stairs to reach the cabin. Its size and strength ensure it can transport materials from a mountain ridge to a valley 20 times per day. This is important, as moving materials from the slopes of the Chasseral to the Ciments Vigier SA cements works near Biel is what the e-dump truck will be doing for the next 10 years. Because the vehicle is electric , there is no need to “heat up” the brakes when descending. This is because the enormous electric engine acts as a generator and recharges the battery pack. That same energy is then used to help the vehicle travel back up the hill. Phys reports, “If all goes as planned, the electric dumper truck will even harvest more electricity while traveling downhill than it needs for the ascent. Instead of consuming fossil fuels , it would then feed surplus electricity into the grid.” The costly venture is being spearheaded by Ciments Vigier SA . Lithium Storage GmbH from Illnau and the Kuhn Group have been hired to “get the ball rolling,” so to speak. The project is also backed by Empa; battery expert Marcel Held is in charge of safety assessments. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory The E-Dumper’s battery pack will weigh an incredible 4.5 tons and consist of 1,440 nickel manganese cobalt cells. This is the first time ever a land vehicle has been equipped with such a vast battery pack. “Nickel manganese cobalt cells are also the choice of the German automobile industry when it comes to the next generation of electric cars,” Held said. This is also the first time a vehicle of this performance class has been constructed to ascend and descend slopes of up to 13 percent inclination, all the while charging its battery pack by 40 kWh during a single descent and using electrical currents up to 3,000 amperes while climbing steep terrain. If the E-Dump Truck proves successful, Ciments Vigier SA could potentially power up to eight purely-electric vehicles using long-term. Once this has been accomplished, other companies may start producing large-scale, electric construction vehicles as well. + Ciments Vigier SA Via Phys.org Images via Lithium Storage GmbH ,  SAE International

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World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Even those who despise arachnids can’t help but admire the gorgeous peacock spider . And now there are even more of them to admire. Researchers from Australia have just announced the discovery of four new species and one subspecies, bringing the total number of peacock spider varieties to 65. Dr. Jurgen Otto in Western Australia has been studying peacock spiders for about a decade. Reportedly, four of the species are completely new to science and one is believed to a be a sub-species. “Each new species is a complete surprise — the patterns and colours of each species are so different and so unpredictable, you never know what the next one and its display and courtship dance will look like,” Otto told ABC News . Otto and Hill named 39 of the species and sub-species that have been discovered. Reportedly, the latest species were found in Western Australia , but the peacock spiders are more native to the southern part of the continent. Related: First spider-silk garment to hit the market is this necktie from Bolt Threads To help people easily identify the spiders, Otto has shared incredibly detailed photographs on his YouTube channel . “In most peacock spider species — and the new ones are no exception — the males are strikingly coloured, and the patterns and colours are very distinctive, making it easy to distinguish one from another,” said Otto. “Cristatus has a pattern on its back that resembles the Union Jack and in addition has eight plumes of white setae (hairs) at its back that no other peacock spider has.” “Electricus stands out by its striking pattern of parallel red lines that make it look like a circuit board, and trigonus can be easily recognised by the white crown at the tip of its abdomen that is not present in any known species ,” Otto added. “One could think that the novelty of this would all have worn off by now, but people still get excited when they see them.” These findings were published in the journal Peckhamia . + Peckhamia Via ABC News Images via Dr. Jurgen Otto

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Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The game-changing power of solar energy is a gift to all of the global community. Nations of the world, having recognized the absolute necessity to do so, are slowly shifting towards a clean energy economy while reaping the benefits. These benefits are being particularly felt in the developing economies of the Global South , where communities are making the transition from no electricity access to resilient, local power through solar energy. SOLARKIOSK, a Berlin-based social enterprise, is supporting this movement and empowering local communities by installing innovative multi-purpose structures called E-HUBBs that are powered by the sun and operated by members of the communities they serve. SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge – read on for a closer look at this world-changing initiative. Although similar in appearance to shipping container homes , the E-HUBB is emphatically much more – it’s “an energy-connectivity gateway.” With the energy generated through its solar panels, a single E-HUBB can provide power for phone and computer charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an LED TV, a refrigerator, a printer, interior and exterior lighting, and more. It also offers a display area and storage space, solar products and sustainable consumer goods. “SOLARKIOSK is continuously working on the design of the E-HUBB, in order to make it more efficient in terms of maintenance, implementation and transportation,” said Marija Makejeva, Business Development Manager at SOLARKIOSK. “Over time, the design has evolved across 3 different E-HUBB models from an aluminum to a steel structure, which is more cost-efficient and easier to source. Solar components and remote metering options have also undergone significant improvement as technology has evolved.” Related: Compact OffGridBox provides drinking water and power where it’s needed most E-HUBBs have proven their versatility by serving the needs of different communities. A last-mile distribution retail E-HUBB brings underserved populations much needed products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also a Connected Solar Clinic operated by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, a banking kiosk that offers financial tools to off-grid populations in Nigeria , and a solar school unit for the displaced population at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan . In addition to the tangible impacts of power generation, commercial empowerment, and more, the E-HUBB also has the ability to positively impact and inspire younger generations who will one day inherit these changing communities. “The fascination always surfaces in the eyes of the kids as they gaze upon the site clearly delighted by the atmosphere emitted by SOLARKIOSK,” reads a statement by the company. “Being accepted and loved by the children is a great reassurance for our work directive and personal initiative; a true blessing.” Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty Each E-HUBB is uniquely fitted for the local community’s needs and is operated by members of the community, ninety percent of whom are women . “SOLARKIOSK sees great value in empowering women through job creation within the network of E-HUBBs,” said Makejeva. For its success in supporting localized community development, SOLARKIOSK has been nominated for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. “The Fuller Challenge was established to draw attention to a ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing some of the complex problems facing the world,” said Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Fuller’s hypothesis was that integrated solutions that focus on root cause, and are designed to be models for replication elsewhere, lead to long lasting, transformational change.” The prize winner receives $100,000 in funding as well as inclusion in the Challenge’s Catalyst Program, which offers support in expanding the winner’s work. “Our criteria have been distilled from Fuller’s voluminous writings and talks about the fundamental principles of what he called design science,” said Thompson. “The program set a very high bar for what we are looking for, so the projects selected as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are truly exceptional examples!” If it were to receive this award, SOLARKIOSK would be well-positioned to scale up its operations in the coming years. While the economic empowerment gained in a local community through the support of SOLARKIOSK is exceptional, the mission and impact is more than that. An E-HUBB is a center for the community, a gathering place around which people can share stories, build strong relationships, and find inspiration for a brighter future. + SOLARKIOSK + Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

As more people purchase electric vehicles (EVs) – and countries move to ban sales of gas-guzzling cars – the world will need more charging stations . German company Sortimo plans to build what’s been described as the world’s biggest EV fast-charging station – with 144 charging ports. It is slated for construction near the A8 highway in Germany . 4,000 cars a day could be charged at Innovationspark Zusmarshausen, Germany’s upcoming charging station, according to the company. 24 of the 144 charging ports could be supra-superchargers with charging capacities of 350 kilowatts (kW), which beats out the Tesla Supercharger with its capacity of around 150 kW. According to Sortimo, Innovationspark Zusmarshausen could offer savings of 29.5 million liters, or around 7.8 million gallons, of fuel , and could save nearly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Related: This electric car charging tower can power up a dozen EVs at the same time Innovationspark Zusmarshausen goes beyond the typical vision of a gas station. According to FAZ, the station could also feature offices, shopping, and eateries; Sortimo said people could order food before they arrive so they could eat while their car charges. Commuters might be able to park and charge their vehicles simultaneously in DC parking, perhaps even while working in the offices onsite. Images of the planned station suggest it could be topped with green roofs , and Sortimo mentions in their press release that Innovationspark Zusmarshausen “is very close to nature and architecturally aware of the environment,” so they envision people resting in a park at the charging station as well. As you may have guessed, renewable energy is part of the plan for the massive charging station. Sortimo said solar power can be stored at the station and used during peak times “in a network of surrounding companies and private households.” The charging stations are also integrated into Innovationspark Zusmarshausen’s thermal station management, according to Sortimo, so waste heat can help supply the buildings. FAZ said engineering firm Steinbacher Consult is also behind the design, technology, and operation. A translated version of the German press release suggests the charging station, which is receiving support from the Ministry of Transport, will be constructed in 2018. Via Sortimo , FAZ , and CleanTechnica Images via Sortimo

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Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Australia’s first carbon positive and zero waste home to achieve a “10 Star” energy rating has popped up in Cape Paterson, Victoria. Designed in collaboration with Clare Cousin Architects , this impressive dwelling is one of the latest projects produced by The Sociable Weaver , an innovative design and build company that creates affordable, beautiful, and sustainable architect-designed homes for the masses. The coastal home, called the ’10 Star Home’ after its energy rating, is naturally heated and cooled thanks to passive solar strategies and maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, even in mid-winter. Built in the green coastal development The Cape, the 10 Star Home is permanently open to the public as a display home to educate architects, builders, and students on sustainable architecture . The Sociable Weaver and Clare Cousin Architects considered all aspects of the home, from the building materials to the bedsheets, to achieve their stringent requirements for sustainability, affordability, and social responsibility. The architects even worked with suppliers to reduce packaging delivered to the construction site, and recycled and reused material wherever possible, such as composting plasterboard off-cuts in the garden. A five-kilowatt rooftop solar panel powers the home, which experiences minimal energy loss thanks to superior under-slab insulation, industrial concrete floors that improve thermal mass, and double-glazed windows. The hardwood used is FSC-certified . Non-toxic materials line the interiors, from natural sealants and paints for the floors, walls, and ceilings, to organic and sustainable furnishings like the organic cotton bedding. The display home is fully furnished and decorated with hand-selected products that are stylish and beautiful, yet meet high environmental standards. Related: A Tiny Timber Box in a Tiny Urban Flat Makes Room for a Couple’s First Child In addition to environmentally conscious building practices, the 10 Star Home is designed to inspire a more sustainable lifestyle. The architects followed Building Biology principles to create an edible garden where occupants are encouraged to compost and grow their own food. To keep the home healthy and non-toxic, the 10 Star Home is also equipped with a “green switch” that turns off all power to the home, except for the fridge, so that occupants can reduce the impact of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) at night. “Through Life Cycle Analysis by eTool, modelling shows that over the lifetime of the home, the 10 Star Home will not only negate its carbon footprint but will positively exceed it,” said The Sociable Weaver, according to Dezeen . “This equates to 203 kilograms of carbon emissions saved per year per occupant, equivalent to planting 9.55 million trees or removing 48 million balloons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” + The Sociable Weaver + Clare Cousin Architects Via Dezeen Images via The Sociable Weaver

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Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The Free Store, a non-profit organization and grocery store based in Wellington, New Zealand, is serving food for free and aiding in the fight against food waste . Originally started as a two-week-long art project by artist Kim Paton in 2010, the store has now grown into a more permanent institution, stocking its shelves with surplus food from bakeries and supermarkets. In redistributing free food that would otherwise have gone to waste, the Free Store has proven to be a valuable community space. “There are no conditions on who can come to The Free Store,” said co-founder and director Benjamin Johnson. “There are no criteria. Anybody can come for whatever reason and take whatever they want.” Food waste is a major social problem in New Zealand , as it is in much of the industrialized world. Kiwis, or residents of New Zealand, dispose of approximately $625 million worth of food (120,000 tons) each year. Globally, it is estimated that total food waste weighs up to 1.3 billion tons. Meanwhile, people still go hungry. “We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry . We could facilitate a connection between the two,” said Johnson. Related: Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods The Free Store is made possible through support from volunteers , donors, and around 65 suppliers, located around Wellington city center eager to put their surplus food to good use. According to Johnson, the Free Store distributes between 800 to 1,500 food items each weeknight between 6 PM and 7 PM, averaging about 250,000 food items; that amounts to $1 million worth of food saved per year. Since its establishment, the Free Store has spread to four locations throughout New Zealand, adapting their model and funding structure to fit each area. “All you need is a space to operate from, surplus food, people who need the food and will come and take it, volunteers, and a committed group of people who can actually do it,” said Johnson. “There has to be local ownership. In every area where there’s a Free Store, there needs to be a deeply rooted community of people.” + The Free Store Via EcoWatch Images via The Free Store

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The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger

New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The presence of water on Earth used to help set our planet apart from others, but not anymore. NASA researchers recently uncovered evidence of water on Vesta, the second biggest body in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars . Essam Heggy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Inverse, “The more we search, the more we find ice and water in the solar system, and the more we realize water is not unique to our planet.” Recent discoveries – like that of water on Mars or hints of water on TRAPPIST-1 planets – have us questioning what we thought we knew about H2O in the solar system. It’s likely found on the dwarf planet Ceres and the moons Europa and Enceladus, too. Researchers used information from NASA’s Dawn mission , which explored Vesta between 2011 and 2012, to uncover the best evidence for water on the large asteroid we’ve found yet. Related: Scientists just discovered snow on Mars Led by Elizabeth Palmer of Western Michigan University , three researchers scrutinized the Dawn data. The probe discovered regions that were unusually smooth; the researchers think the surface variations weren’t only the result of cratering processes, like on the Moon, connecting them with high hydrogen concentrations, strongly suggesting Vesta is home to ground ice. Heggy, who was part of the research, said Vesta was once thought to be a dry body. These findings suggest we were probably wrong about that. The presence of ice in an asteroid belt opens up intriguing possibilities, since asteroids can easily be knocked out of their orbits to other areas of the solar system. Heggy said comets transport water molecules throughout solar systems. Could asteroids play a role in transporting water too? Even if that’s true, Heggy said it’s too early to guess how they might have impacted Earth’s water supply during its primordial days. The journal Nature Communications published the research online yesterday. Via Inverse Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech ( 1 , 2 )

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New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system

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