Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

November 2, 2017 by  
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In a story that may have come  two days late , a local landowner-farmer in Delaware County, Iowa was shocked to discover over a dozen deceased rabbits, each with their necks broken, scattered beneath wind turbines on their land. The land is leased by RPM Access, a company that owns several wind farms throughout the state. “I don’t understand who would do something like this? I really don’t,” said Linda Slobodnik, an environmental consultant for RPM Access, according to KWWL News . Slobodnik, who has stated that this act of violence is the most disturbing incident she has seen in her 10 years in the wind industry, believes the rabbits were used to lure in eagles or other birds to the turbines, likely to kill them as well. Why would someone seek to lure and kill eagles, using dead rabbits as bait? “There are a lot of anti-wind people. At this time, we are looking at new places for projects, and I am thinking that possibly someone would like us to not build another wind farm in the area,” said Slobodnik. “I think there is a lot of people who will speak against the wind turbines. I think a lot of what they do is out of ignorance,” said RPM Access Project Manager, Kevin Lehs, according to KWWL News . Despite some local resistance, Iowa has made enormous progress towards a clean energy economy, primarily through wind power , which provided more than 36 percent of all electricity used in 2016. As it stands, Iowa is the most wind-powered state in the United States . Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online Although the dead rabbits were deliberately placed, it is true that wind turbines can kill local wildlife. It is estimated that 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year. That may sound like a lot, but it’s important to see these numbers in context. Wind power kills 1/15th the number of birds that fossil-fuel generated power does each year. Glass buildings in cities are also frequent bird killers. And, of course, outdoor and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually. Via Elektrek and KWWL News Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

October 31, 2017 by  
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The United States could obtain 40 percent of its energy solely from rooftop solar (with sufficient political will). But what if solar panels could also boost architectural aesthetics? Dubai -based Emirates Insolaire hoped to do just that with their Kromatix technology, providing an alternative to the blue or black panels that adorn many roofs. Plus, their solar products aren’t limited to rooftops — they can also be integrated in balconies or facades. Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture of Dubai Investments PJSC and SwissINSO , is changing our vision of solar with their Kromatix technology, developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology . Emirates Insolaire offers Kromatix solar glass in gold, green, or terracotta, with an opaque finish that hides the power-generating technology inside. Solar transmittance varies among colors, but Emirates Insolaire said it is always greater than 85 percent. They also offer Kromatix modules manufactured with their solar glass that have an average efficiency of above 15 percent. Related: Discreet new SolarSkin panels completely blend in with their environment The company doesn’t use pigments to color their solar glass, but rather “a complex nano-scale multilayer deposition by plasma process,” and say the color will remain stable as time passes. According to Emirates Insolaire’s website, “The colored appearance results from the reflection of a narrow spectral band in the visible part of the solar spectrum. The rest of the solar radiation is transmitted to the solar panel to be converted into energy .” The thickness of the solar glass is between 3.2 and eight millimeters. SwissINSO says the Kromatix colored solar panels can be integrated on facades and rooftops of all sorts of structures, from private homes to high-rise buildings. Electrek also reported the Kromatix products are affordable; they estimated a 5.5 kilowatt solar system would cost between $1,300 and $1,500 per home. They said not counting tax credits or incentives, the system would cover the cost of coloring in a little over one and a half years. Emirates Insolaire’s products have been installed across Europe, including at this school in Copenhagen . + Emirates Insolaire Via Electrek Images via Emirates Insolaire

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

October 31, 2017 by  
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Scientists warn that if climate change continues at its current pace, oceans may lose their ability to reduce atmospheric effects from volcanic sulfur and aerosols as they have done in the past. This means that volcanic eruptions in the future may lead to “years without summer,” as occurred in 1815 after the April eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia . New research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US both confirms that specific eruption’s role in altering the global climate and the role that future eruptions might play if the ocean’s temperature continues to be affected by melting sea ice and rising global temperatures. The researchers used data from Community Earth System Model’s (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble Project, which provides simulations of Earth’s climate based on the geological record from 850 through 2005, to determine that the Mount Tambora eruption caused a notable cooling event on the global climate. Sulfur dioxide sent into the atmosphere became sulfate particles known as aerosols and reflected light away from the Earth. This resulted in a so-called “year without summer,” in which crops across North America and Europe suffered tremendous losses due to cold temperatures and blocked sunlight. Related: Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera The oceans played an important role in returning the climate to relative normalcy through a process in which the colder water of the ocean sinks while warmer water rises to the surface, helping to warm the surrounding land and atmosphere . However, due to changing ocean temperatures resulting from climate change, if an eruption similar to Mount Tambora were to occur in 2085, the ocean would be less able to bring about climate stabilization. Study author Otto-Bliesner wrote, “The response of the climate system to the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora gives us a perspective on potential surprises for the future, but with the twist that our climate system may respond much differently”. + Nature Communications Via Alphr Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

October 31, 2017 by  
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When trying to get pregnant, many women adopt a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables . But it turns out they may be compromising their chances — unless the produce is organically grown. According to a new study published in  the journal JAMA Internal Medicine , women who ate 2.3 servings or more of high- pesticide -residue fruits and vegetables had an 18 percent lower probability of getting pregnant and a 26 percent lower probability of giving birth to a live baby. 325 women between the ages of 18 and 45 participated in the study. CNN reports that they were already undergoing infertility treatment with assisted reproductive technology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers gave the women diet questionnaires and recorded their height, weight, overall health, intake of supplements, and residential history. They then analyzed each woman’s pesticide exposure by determining whether the fruits and vegetables she consumed were treated with high or low levels of pesticides — chemical concoctions that are sprayed on fruit to protect plants (and humans) from mold, fungi, rodents, insects, and weeds. The scientists analyzed the pesticide levels based on reports from the US Department of Agriculture’s  Pesticide Data Program . Strawberries typically top the list as the #1 sprayed fruit, whereas avocados , onions, dried plums, corn and orange juice are typically low in pesticide residue. The results were disturbing: compared to women who ate less than one daily serving of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables, those who ate more than 2 servings were 26 percent more likely to have a miscarriage. “Most Americans are exposed to pesticides daily by consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Yu-Han Chiu, first author of the study and research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “There have been concerns for some time that exposure to low doses of pesticides through diet, such as those that we observed in this study, may have adverse health effects, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women and their fetus, and on children. Our study provides evidence that this concern is not unwarranted.” Related: Facial deformities in Ugandan apes linked to pesticide use The researchers also determined that consuming low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables was associated with increased odds of pregnancy and giving birth. “Although we did find that intake of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables were associated to lower reproductive success, intake of low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables had the opposite association,” Chiu said. The researcher concluded: “A reasonable choice based on these findings is to consume low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables instead of high-pesticide-residue ones. Another option is to go organic for the fruits and vegetables known to contain high pesticide residues. It is very important to keep in mind that, as far as we are aware, this is the first time that this association is reported, so it is extremely important that our findings are replicated in other studies.” + JAMA Internal Medicine Via CNN Images via Pixabay ,  Reader’s Digest ,  HerFamily.ie

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New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels

October 30, 2017 by  
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Boston , Massachusetts recently announced specific infrastructure projects and policies that must be implemented for the low-laying, water-surrounded city to adjust to expected sea level rise in the coming decades. A comprehensive report outlines short-term and long-term solutions in hopes of protecting communities from what is expected to be a three-foot sea level rise by 2070. “Climate change is here. It’s happening now,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “It’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead.” Two potential measures outlined in the report include raising a section of Main Street in Charlestown and building a seawall in East Boston, both of which are in neighborhoods that have experienced increasingly frequent and severe flooding in recent years. Founded in 1630, Boston, the only state capital in the contiguous United States located on the ocean, was built to take advantage of its marine location. Boston Harbor’s depth and relatively protected location thanks to dozens of harbor islands helped Boston to become a major port city in the British Colonies and later the early United States. As the city grew in population, landfill taken from nearby hills was used to cover the marshland surrounding the narrow peninsula and create new land, including the Back Bay neighborhood. Although Boston has tackled environmental challenges in the past, including a massive late 20th century clean-up of the harbor and nearby rivers, sea level rise of up to three feet in only 50 years time represents an unprecedented threat. Related: Boston man crosses harbor in a pumpkin boat If Main Street in Charlestown, historically a working-class community and now one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, were to be elevated, it would cost at least $2-3 million. This project would block all but the most extreme storm surges from flooding the area, protecting 250 residents and 60 businesses. In total, the mitigation projects for Charlestown alone could cost up to $62 million, though the report estimates that they would offer $201 million in economic benefits. In contrast, a retractable seawall in East Boston would protect 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and cost only $100,000. Although not included in the recent report, Boston is also considering a massive sea wall across Boston Harbor to protect the entire city against rising sea levels. Will other cities follow suit? + Coastal Resilience Solutions Via WCVB Images via Depositphotos (1)

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BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change

October 30, 2017 by  
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International fossil-fuel corporations BP and Shell are preparing for a world in which global temperatures will have risen by 5 degrees Celsius, all but assuring catastrophic climate change , while publicly portraying themselves as supporters of the Paris agreement. A 5 degree temperature increase represents more than double the limit of 2 degrees set out and agreed to by most nations on Earth in the Paris agreement. This difference between publicly supported goals and privately pursued plans represent an effort to mislead the public and shareholders, claims investment campaign group Share Action. Because of the disparity in representing risk of catastrophic climate change by BP and Shell, the pensions of millions are at risk. Beyond the financial implications, such a stance may indicate BP and Shell’s commitment, or lack thereof, to the goal of the Paris agreement. In 2015, BP and Shell shareholders overwhelmingly voted to require the companies to make in-depth disclosures regarding climate risks posed by their business model. Although the companies are meeting their legal requirements, reports from Share Action suggest that they are failing to truly invest in a post-carbon business model required if the planet is to avoid catastrophic climate change. For example, the companies have not set emission reduction targets while their investment in renewable energy has fallen since 2005. BP invests only 1.3 percent of total capital expenditures on clean energy projects, while Shell has declared that it will invest 3 percent of its annual spending on clean energy by 2020. Related: Shell predicted the effects of climate change in its own 1991 film Although Shell recently reaffirmed its commitment to the goals of the Paris agreement (“Shell has a clear strategy, resilient in a 2°C world,” it said in a statement), executives at both BP and Shell are still incentivized to pursue new fossil-fuel heavy projects. “Shell and BP want to have their oil and drink it too, by advocating for the landmark Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C degrees, while planning for scenarios that would violate it,” said Michael Chaitow, senior campaigns officer at ShareAction. BP and Shell seem to be “poorly prepared for the speed of technological and economic change now underway in the global energy market ,” said Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction. In response to criticism, BP has said that the company “anticipates a range of scenarios to give us flexibility in our approach.” Via The Independent Images via Depositphotos (1)

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BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change

Berlins famed brutalist Bierpinsel tower hits the market for $3.8m

October 30, 2017 by  
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You can now live in one of Berlin’s most iconic examples of brutalist architecture – for the price tag of $3.8 million. The famous Bierpinsel tower was originally built in 1972 as a restaurant, but it has sat vacant for years – and now it’s officially for sale . Soaring 150 feet over the cityscape, the tower has a whopping 12,765 square feet of space – and it could be repurposed into one very funky home or a sweet boutique hotel in the sky. Designed by architects Ralph Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte, the tower holds court over Schlossstrasse – the second biggest shopping street in Berlin . It was originally a restaurant before converting into a nightclub and cafe, but it has been vacant since 2006. Related: 1970s Berlin Restaurant Transformed into Graffiti Art Tower In 2010 four street artists created vivid artwork on the Bierpinsel tower’s exterior , but it has failed to find any commercial use. Although the work has faded over the years, the art by Honest and Soyzone Gonzales is still visible. Sotheby’s Real Estate lists the tower as a “four-bedroom home”, but it could be put to many uses. Of course, potential tenants will have a large renovation on their hands. The interior of the tower has already been gutted, but it would take quite a bit of work to turn it into a home or hotel. + Sotheby’s Real Estate Via The Spaces Lead image by Jan M / Creative Commons

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Berlins famed brutalist Bierpinsel tower hits the market for $3.8m

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