Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

June 14, 2018 by  
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Today, at 6 p.m. local time in Moscow , the 2018 World Cup will begin with a match between host country Russia and Saudi Arabia. This year’s tournament will be the first in which FIFA required that all stadiums be built and renovated with sustainability in mind. Despite this requirement, some stadiums, such as Kaliningrad, have been less than environmentally friendly. Kaliningrad Stadium was built on one of Kaliningrad’s last wetlands, a habitat for rare birds, on October Island. “It was a typical delta island, with peat and a wetland reed-bed. It was a little corner of heaven in the city, where birds lived,” local ecologist Alexandra Korolyova told ABC News . “Really, if Russia paid more attention to protecting the environment, it could potentially have become a reservation or national park within the city.” The fate of Kaliningrad’s wetlands was sealed in 2014 when much of the habitat was buried beneath more than a million tons of sand to prepare the grounds for the stadium . While Kaliningrad Stadium was constructed with green materials and features energy efficient ventilation and electrical systems, its impact is not ecologically sustainable, particularly considering how the wetlands once served as a natural cleaner of the nearby polluted river. “We’ve lost a lot, and I don’t see what we’ve gained,” said Korolyova. Related: Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers From the Russian state perspective, not much was lost at Kaliningrad. “Everything was done in accordance with best practice,” chairman of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee Arkady Dvorkovich told the Associated Press . “This place, in my view, was more like wasteland than a place with very good nature. Theoretically, of course, you can call any swamp a very beautiful and environmentally clean place, but it’s not really correct in relation to the city infrastructure and the cities .” Via EcoWatch , ABC News and Associated Press Images via Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia and A. Savin/Wikimedia

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Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

New study shows some LED lights can harm wildlife

June 13, 2018 by  
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Researchers have concluded that certain types of LED lights can be harmful toward a wide variety of wildlife, calling attention to the potential hazards of the rapid expansion of LED light usage. Though LEDs made up only 9 percent of the global market in 2011, that number is expected to rise to 69 percent by 2020. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology , researchers concluded that blue and white LED lighting is the most harmful to wildlife , particularly animals such as sea turtles and insects, while green, amber and yellow are more favorable. As the urbanization of our planet continues, it is essential that policymakers and scientists understand the potential outcomes of altering a space so drastically from its natural state. “Outdoor environments are changing rapidly and in ways that can impact wildlife species,” study leader author Travis Longcore told Phys.org . The researchers incorporated existing ecological data into the study as the team examined the impacts of different kinds of LED lights on animals such as insects, sea turtles, salmon and Newell’s shearwater seabird. Related: New research links LED streetlights to increased risk of cancer LED lights seem to adversely affect species in different ways. Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings can be lured inland by artificial light rather than into the ocean , while migrating juvenile salmon’s attraction to light may leave them vulnerable to predators. To better inform the public regarding the risks of LED, the study includes the first publicly available database that documents how about 24 different kinds of light can impact wildlife. “If we don’t provide advice and information to decision-makers, they will go with the cheapest lighting or lighting that serves only one interest and does not balance other interests,” Longcore said. “We provide a method to assess the probable consequences of new light sources to keep up with the changing technology and wildlife concerns.” + Journal of Experimental Zoology Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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New study shows some LED lights can harm wildlife

New study suggests that plastic waste may be transformed into usable energy

June 12, 2018 by  
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A new study from the Earth Engineering Center (EEC|CCNY) at the Grove School of Engineering of the City College of New York suggests that plastic waste can effectively be converted into usable fuel and energy rather than being dumped in a landfill or polluting the ocean. Researchers found that the addition of non-recycled plastics (NRPs) to a chemical recycling process known as gasification results in the production of crude oil -based fuel. It also reduces pollution, both plastic and emissions, in contrast to traditional methods of disposing of plastic waste, such as incineration or dumping. Plastic is a product derived from crude oil and, as such, contains significant latent energy that can be harnessed using the right technology and technique. “This study demonstrates that because carbon- and hydrogen -rich plastics have high energy content, there is tremendous potential to use technologies like gasification to convert these materials into fuels, chemicals and other products,” study co-author Marco J. Castaldi told Phys.org . As concerns rise over plastic pollution, scientists are looking to reframe plastic as a resource rather than waste . “Plastics have an end-of-life use that will be turning waste into energy, which is something we all need and use,” study co-author Demetra Tsiamis told Phys.org. Related: UN releases first “state of plastics” report on World Environment Day Gasification uses air or steam to heat plastic waste. This results in the creation of industrial gas mixtures called synthesis gas, or syngas. This syngas can either be converted into diesel and petrol or burned directly to generate electricity . This process is preferable to incineration of plastic waste because it allows for the storage of potentially usable energy that otherwise would be wasted through incineration. Gasification is also better for air quality, producing much lower levels of sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions. + Earth Engineering Center Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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New study suggests that plastic waste may be transformed into usable energy

Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

June 12, 2018 by  
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A new survey of baobab trees throughout southern Africa has shown that most of the two dozen largest and oldest trees in the region have died in the past decade or are currently very ill. While human-caused physical damage to individual trees may explain specific die-offs, researchers believe that climate change, which is occurring faster in southern Africa than many places on Earth, may be the most significant factor in the trees’ poor health. “Such a disastrous decline is very unexpected,” chemist and survey organizer Adrian Patrut told NPR . “It’s a strange feeling, because these are trees which may live for 2,000 years or more, and we see that they’re dying one after another during our lifetime. It’s statistically very unlikely.” The iconic baobab are culturally important for many communities. A common myth explains the baobab’s unique shape as a result of gods punishing the tree for its vanity in its extraordinary size, with the baobab being uprooted and flipped upside down with its “roots” facing upwards. Baobabs can be cultivated for their nutritious leaves and fruit and may prove to be a source of economic development . The trees are also ecologically significant, providing habitat and food for a wide variety of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Related: Can this tree provide financial security for 10 million people in Africa? Because of their unique shape and growth patterns that distort their tree rings, accurate dating of a baobab is difficult. Despite some questioning of Patrut’s methods, researchers nonetheless recognize that baobab die-offs is an unsettling trend that deserves more study. As southern Africa likely faces intense temperature increases and drought , the urgency to understand and better protect the baobabs is clear. “The decline and death of so many large baobabs in recent years is so tragic,” ecologist David Baum told NPR . “It is heartbreaking that any should die — but even worse that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of all the giant baobabs on the planet.” Via NPR Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

June 11, 2018 by  
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Pope Francis hasn’t been quiet about the urgency of combating climate change . Most recently, during a two-day conference in Vatican City, he took oil company executives to task and called for clean power as climate change continues to threaten people and the environment . The pope said, “Civilization requires energy , but energy use must not destroy civilization.” The conference gathered experts, investors and oil executives who support scientific opinion that human activity has caused climate change. The 50 participants included ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP  group chief executive Bob Dudley and Equinor (formerly Statoil) CEO Eldar Sætre. Pope Francis said it was worrying that searches for new fossil fuel reserves still continue, and said, “There is no time to lose.” Related: Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels Pope Francis said, “We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it. But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” The pope called for attendees to comprise the core of leaders “who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.” Pope Francis said our situation is dire, and even after the 2015 Paris Agreement , carbon dioxide emissions are still high. The New York Times quoted him as saying, “We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator. Let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.” Via The Guardian , Reuters  and The New York Times Images via Aleteia Image Department/Flickr , Depositphotos

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Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

The US just experienced its hottest May on record

June 11, 2018 by  
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It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today . The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl. While climate change contributed to the record warmth, two significant tropical storms brought heat and precipitation north from the Gulf of Mexico. While more than a quarter of the contiguous U.S. remains in drought, some states, including Maryland and Florida , experienced their wettest month of May on record. As a result of heavy winter snow melting rapidly in a warm spring, locations in Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming have experienced significant flooding. Related: Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades Beyond the average monthly temperature, more than 8,590 daily warm temperature station records were either broken or tied throughout May. “This was 18 times more than the approximately 460 daily cold temperature station records during the month,” NOAA wrote. “Several of the daily records were noteworthy, including 100°F on May 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota  — the earliest such occurrence on record.” + NOAA Via Ecowatch and  USA Today Images via NOAA

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The US just experienced its hottest May on record

India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022

June 6, 2018 by  
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Big news from India : the country aims to abolish single-use plastic in about four years. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the goal on World Environment Day , and The Guardian said it’s the most ambitious commitment out of the actions to combat plastic pollution happening in 60 nations. The move could dramatically reduce the flow of plastic from 1.3 billion people. India is resisting plastic pollution with what United Nations Environment head Erik Solheim called a phenomenal commitment. The country’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan said single-use plastics will be banned in all of the country’s states by 2022. Solheim said the move would inspire the planet and “ignite real change.” Related: Kenya introduces world’s harshest law on plastic bags “It is the duty of each one of us to ensure that the quest for material prosperity does not compromise our environment ,” Modi said. “The choices that we make today will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live.” UN Environment released  a report providing “the first comprehensive global assessment of government action against plastic pollution,” including case studies from over 60 countries. The report included a list of states and cities in India that have banned plastic bags or disposable plastic products, and the selected case study in the country highlighted beach cleanup efforts in Mumbai; Inhabitat covered the initiative started by local lawyer Afroz Shah earlier this year. Volunteers have cleaned up around 13,000 tons of trash, largely plastics , according to the case study, and this year people spotted Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings on the beach for the first time in more than 20 years. + United Nations Environment Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Juggadery/Flickr

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The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

June 6, 2018 by  
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Swedish fast food chain Max Burgers (MAX) made headlines around a decade ago when it started labeling menu items with carbon footprints. Now, the company is launching what it describes as climate-positive burgers . MAX says it  plants trees to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the total emissions of its products. MAX CEO Richard Bergfors said in a statement, “We know that we are part of the problem and together with our guests, we can now be part of the solution.” Climate-positive burgers will pop up this month in just over 130 restaurants around the world — MAX, founded in 1968 in Sweden , now boasts joints in Norway, Denmark, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Here’s how the company plans to make its menu offerings good for the environment . First, it measures all product emissions, including waste from meals and emissions generated when employees and guests travel to and from MAX restaurants. The company then works in various ways to lower emissions, such as recycling frying oil into biodiesel , recycling heat in restaurants and introducing a Green Family of burgers made with vegetables, beans or Halloumi cheese. Finally, MAX says it captures at least 110 percent of its emissions by planting trees. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “The reasoning behind the launch of climate-positive burgers is simple: climate change on our planet is out of control, and we need to stabilize it,” Bergfors said. “To meet the two-degree climate goal set out in the Paris Agreement , the world needs to work harder at cutting emissions and start the work of clearing greenhouse gases that have already been emitted into the atmosphere. Just going carbon neutral is not enough anymore.” One out of three of MAX meals sold today don’t have red meat , according to the company, and the goal is that by 2022, every other meal won’t have red meat. The chain thinks that hitting this target could allow it to reduce emissions by 30 percent in seven years. MAX is also behind an initiative called Clipop , with New Zealand car-sharing company Mevo , to register climate positive products from around the world. The team hopes more companies will get on board. + MAX Climate-Positive + Rethink Burgers + Clipop Images courtesy of Max Burgers

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The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

UN creates a new global climate change coalition

June 1, 2018 by  
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Earth has a “30-year window of opportunity” to tackle climate change, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) secretary-general Petteri Taalas. He called for greater urgency in carrying out the Paris Agreement as the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) together with WMO launched a brand-new climate change coalition. Every year 12.6 million people perish due to environmental risks — air pollution in particular — and the group aims to lower that number. Average temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the UN, while global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were greater than 400 parts per million (ppm). Taalas said climate change is impacting developing countries — the cost of natural disasters reached a new record in 2017. The three UN organizations already work together, but under the new coalition will strengthen action on guarding health from climate change- and environment -related risks. Taalas, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNEP executive director Erik Solheim came together to form the coalition and spoke to delegates at the World Health Assembly about opportunities and challenges to come. Related: 95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air Air pollution is one such challenge. Around seven million people die prematurely each year from diseases related to air pollution, such as respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease, or strokes. According to the UN, in many of the world’s major cities, air pollution is higher than WHO air quality standards. Pollutants which threaten human health also contribute to climate change and damage the environment — examples are waste incineration or black carbon from diesel engines. The UN said lowering what they called short-lived climate pollutant emissions coming from agriculture, traffic, industry, or cookstoves, for example, “could help trim the rate of global warming by about 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.” Solheim said, “If we speed up on renewable energy solutions, fewer people will die from air pollution. Let’s create a pollution-free environment.” One of the coalition’s first outcomes will be a Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health , which will take place at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from October 30 to November 1. + United Nations Climate Change Images via Depositphotos

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Hawaii’s Kilauea is creating its own weather

May 30, 2018 by  
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Volcanoes can “make their own weather ,” according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) — and the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii is doing just that. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists have observed what are called pyrocumulus clouds, which could possibly turn unstable and cause thunderstorms, over the Kilauea fissure system in Leilani Estates. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Did you know that volcanoes can make their own weather? #HVO scientists are beginning to observe "pyrocumulus" clouds… Posted by USGS Volcanoes on  Monday, May 28, 2018 Pyrocumulus clouds, or flammagenitus clouds or fire clouds, are often caused by fires. Digging into the science behind the clouds above Kilauea, USGS said they form “when intense heating of the air from the ground induces convection, which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture (which condenses and forms the cloud).” Related: 1,000-foot-long fissure opens on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano amid fears of an explosive eruption USGS shared a photograph on Facebook of a pyrocumulus cloud above Kilauea’s Fissure 8, and said there was another such cloud above the volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone. That cloud rose up to an estimated 3.7 miles, and they said it was described as “tightly roiling and set apart from other stratus clouds.” In a recent status update , USGS said Fissure 8 fountained as high as 200 feet into the air. Volcanic gas emissions from Kilauea are still high due to fissure eruptions. Since trade winds could return in upcoming days, vog — or smog with volcanic dust and gases — could impact the southern and western sides of the Big Island. Everyday, a team of #USGS scientists canvass areas along Kilauea Volcano’s east Lower Rift Zone. #science #KilaueaErupts #volcano pic.twitter.com/wCug0tF8eF — USGS (@USGS) May 30, 2018 The USGS also said Pele’s hair — threads of volcanic glass named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes — “and other lightweight volcanic glass from high fountaining of Fissure 8 are being transported downwind and falling to the west of the fissure…Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.” + USGS Volcanoes Facebook + USGS Kilauea Updates Via Earther Image via U.S. Geological Survey

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Hawaii’s Kilauea is creating its own weather

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