Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

May 16, 2017 by  
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Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke has profited from offshore drilling . But now the businessman, who started as a fisherman, wants to give back with a colossal yacht for marine research . The vessel will be able to scoop up around five tons of plastic every day, and then melt it down – all in yet another private effort to help clean up the ocean . Røkke, who’s worth around $2.6 billion , owns almost 67 percent of shipping and offshore drilling conglomerate Aker ASA . But now he’s contracted a 595-foot Research Expedition Vessel (REV) to be built by VARD and designed by superyacht designer Espen Oeino . Scientists and marine researchers will be invited aboard to study and innovate around issues like climate change , overfishing, plastic pollution, and extraction, according to owner Rosellinis Four-10 , a subsidiary of the Røkke family company TRG. Related: The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic Rosellinis Four-10 will collaborate with none other than World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Norway , who will manage the ship. Aboard, scientists will have access to laboratory space, sea and air drones, an auditorium, two helipads, and an autonomous underwater vehicle. 60 scientists and 40 crew could travel aboard the immense ship. According to Yacht Harbour, the REV will be largest yacht in the world – it will narrowly beat out the 592-foot Azzam yacht rumored to be owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. You may be wondering about the carbon footprint of such a massive ship. According to VARD , environmental performance was important in the vessel’s design. The REV will be equipped with an “energy recovery rudder system, medium speed engines, a direct drive diesel-electric propulsion system with battery package, and an exhaust cleaning system.” An energy management system will also help the crew lessen the REV’s carbon footprint. Røkke told Oslo’s Aftenposen publication, “I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of it…sea covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and much is not researched.” He’s given WWF Norway total independence over the REV’s mission. WWF Norway Secretary General Nina Jensen told Aftenposten they may disagree over oil, and the organization is willing to challenge Røkke when they disagree, “but in this project we will meet to collectively make a big difference in the environmental struggle.” The REV should be ready to go around 2020. + Rosellinis Four-10 Via Time Money and Yacht Harbour Images via VARD

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Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

5 Ways to Save the Earth on a Budget

May 16, 2017 by  
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We all want the environment to be a safe and healthy place for our children and our children’s children. We want to be sure they have the best air quality, the healthiest foods and a nontoxic living environment. Sometimes it feels like you need to…

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5 Ways to Save the Earth on a Budget

Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

May 15, 2017 by  
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Over 7.5 billion people now reside on planet Earth , according to the World Population Clock . But with more people could comes less access to resources like food and energy . A global population of 7.5 billion people has far-reaching repercussions – including increased greenhouse gas emissions , strained food supplies, and increased total consumption, according to Charity organization Population Matters . Population Matters says that population growth could keep some countries in poverty , and it intrudes on land needed by wildlife . Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie told edie.net , “We will see cutthroat competition for shrinking resources which will include not just fossil fuels but productive land and water, pushing prices up not just for consumers but for the businesses and industries which need them too. Huge potential markets like much of sub-Saharan Africa will be stuck in poverty and we’ll see political instability arising from population and migration pressures, including conflict over resources.” China has the most people in one country; 1.38 billion people live there. India is next with 1.34 billion, followed by the United States with 326 million. The United Nations thinks our global population will hit 10 billion people by the year 2056. Related: Scientists say the world is “one crop breeding cycle away from starvation” Currie warned that while businesses may see increased global population as the opportunity to gain more customers, too much growth won’t be good for our planet – or business. He said, “Growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet and fewer consumers is ultimately better for all of us. Business must start recognizing and adapting to that reality. With action now, we can limit population growth and eventually reach sustainable levels.” We’re currently using up the resources of 1.6 Earths , and we’ll need 3 Earths by 2050 unless we can alter our consumption patterns. + Population Matters Via edie Images via Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino on Flickr and McKay Savage on Flickr

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

May 15, 2017 by  
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When disaster strikes, whether it be man-made or natural, power is the resource people need most. For this reason, Professor Paul Dastoor has been working for decades to develop a lightweight “printed solar ” panel that is capable of generating power . Now, the invention is in its final trial stages at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. The revolutionary solar panels are made by printing electronic ink onto clear, plastic sheets. The final product is lightweight enough it can be quickly shipped to populations in distress – and that is the point. “What we do know right now is that if there’s a disaster the first thing people need is power,” said Dastoor. “Typically that’s generated by a diesel generator and you have to truck in fuel.” Compared to a silicon model, the lightweight solar panels are made from glass, which makes them much lighter. This, in turn, makes them ideal for developing countries. ”If I had 1000 square metres of typical silicone cells, that would weigh the equivalent of roughly three African Elephants . 1000m2 of this material would weigh about 100 kilograms,” said Vaughan, putting the product’s weight into perspective. The panels are also very economical to produce. After doing extensive economic modeling, the research team has concluded that they can produce the printed solar scales for less than $10 a square meter. “Try buying carpet for less than $10 a square metre,” said Vaughan. Related: MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets Based on data collected by the research team thus far, it is estimated that the university’s small printer can produce hundreds of meters of solar cells every day. In Professor Dastoor’s words, this “means that we’ll be able to power using scaled up printers , say thousands and thousands of homes… it’s very exciting.” You can expect to find the printed solar panels available for sale in about three years time. And, they won’t be marketed to just go on roofs . “One of the things about these cells is that they’re not as sensitive to light intensity,” said Dastoor. “Any part of the roof will generate electricity ; even walls, windows, surfaces of vehicles, tents, lightweight structures, roofs that can’t take a heavy conventional silicone solar cells are now accessible to these modules.”The inventor will “massively increase” the area of solar cells so energy can be produced in a variety of new ways. Added Dastoor, “We think it’s going to be a big change to the way in which we think about power being generated renewably .” Via ABC News Images via Kerrin Thomas of ABC News

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Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

DIY: Make delicious homemade yogurt in your slow cooker

May 13, 2017 by  
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Yogurt is one of those all-around fabulous edibles that can be used a thousand different ways. It gets added to smoothies , eaten with cereal, mixed with herbs to create spreads and dips, or just devoured by the spoonful right out of the container. Yogurt exists in many different forms all over the world, and it’s actually ridiculously easy to make at home. Keep reading to learn how you can use your slow cooker to make a bounty of creamy yogurt. Slow Cooker Method This fabulous method for making yogurt in a standard Crock-Pot comes courtesy of That Mama Gretchen . The batches I’ve made have been created with half the ingredient amounts, as I have a teensy little Crock-Pot, and they’ve turned out beautifully. Ingredients and Supplies: 8 cups of milk 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures Slow cooker Bath towel Cheesecloth Strainer STEP 1: Pour 8 cups of milk (or 16 cups which is 1 gallon if you’re doubling the recipe) into a large Crock-Pot . Set to LOW for 2 1/2 hours, then turn off your Crock-Pot let it sit with the lid on for 3 hours. Add 1/2 cup yogurt (or 1 cup for a double recipe), place the lid back on, and wrap a bath towel around the Crock-Pot. Your goal is to make a dark, insulated environment for the live cultures to propagate. STEP 2: Let the Crock-Pot  sit covered (with lid and towel, not by heating it up again) for 8-12 hours. It’s a good idea to start the yogurt process by 3 pm so this 8-12 hour step happens overnight. By morning, your milk should have turned into yogurt! STEP 3: At this point, your yogurt will be a drinkable consistency that’s perfect for smoothies or for pouring over granola, but if you’d prefer to eat it with a spoon or just have a thicker consistency, you’ll want to strain it for 15-30 minutes. To do this, line a strainer with a cheesecloth, place the strainer over a bowl, and let the yogurt drain until it reaches the desired thickness. If you prefer a really thick consistency (like Greek yogurt ), let it drain for at least an hour. Another option is to just set it in the fridge for a few hours: the yogurt will settle, and the liquid whey will rise to the top. You can pour off the excess liquid and use that in drinks, cooking/baking, etc., and the more solid yogurt will be beautiful and thick at the bottom of the container. You can then use the strained liquid in your favorite smoothie, and use the thicker yogurt in whichever manner makes you happiest. You may come across other methods of yogurt production, such as the heating pad method or the oven method, or you might wish to invest in an actual yogurt maker. If you’re so inclined, experiment with a few different methods to see which one works the best for you. *Note: Yogurt made with goat, soy, or almond milk requires different types starter cultures, so your best bet would be to hunt around online to find out which cultures you’d need for which milk, and then use the technique mentioned above to cultivate it. When it comes to flavoring your homemade yogurt, it’s best to add extras to individual servings, rather than the entire container. Store-bought yogurt that has fruit or other flavors added in also have preservatives that can prevent spoilage, and chances are you don’t want to add those into your own. Keep your yogurt plain and well-chilled in the fridge, and stir in the fruit /spices/sweeteners of your choice just before you eat it. Image via the author,  Shutterstock   and Alison Anton

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DIY: Make delicious homemade yogurt in your slow cooker

Snhetta’s Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion was Inspired by the Robust Landscape

May 13, 2017 by  
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Norway is perhaps best known for its coastal fjords , but the northern landscape has much to offer in its interior as well. Architecture firm Snøhetta took the opportunity to design a robust but low-impact building for visitors to immerse themselves in the Dovre Mountain plateau, home to musk oxen, arctic foxes and reindeer herds which roam amid a rich variety of plants and killer views. The pavilion is elemental in its use of a steel skin, glass walls and an extraordinary wood core which reads almost like a topographical map. The pavilion was commissioned by the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation to allow visitors to behold the range of the reindeer. Snøhetta’s design for the center may have taken a cue from the Norwegian National Tourist Routes Project, which placed a series of Architectural refuges throughout the country. The pavilion is designed to withstand the harsh elements with a steel encasing protecting its wooden core. A bank of windows overlooks the Snøhetta Mountain from Tverrfjellet, a plateau at the elevation of 1,200 meters. The mythical landscape is reflected in part by a tremendous wooden wall inserted into the core of the pavilion. The robust organic quality of the wall was achieved by cutting large wooden beams on a CNC machine. The 25 cm square beams were then stacked and secured with wooden pegs to create the undulating effect. The wall looks as though it is deeply weathered, eroded by eons of wind and water. A bump out provides seating next to a suspended indoor fireplace, and the exterior has a similar seating arrangement. + Snøhetta Architects Via e-architect Photographs via  Snøhetta  and Klaas Van Ommeren

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Snhetta’s Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion was Inspired by the Robust Landscape

Brazil declares official end to Zika virus epidemic

May 12, 2017 by  
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It’s time to pack your bags! For the past 18 months, travelers have been wary of visiting Brazil due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus – and for good reason. One of the defects, microcephaly, results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. Because cases have dramatically dropped in recent months, however, officials have finally declared an end to the threat. Between January and April, 2017, the number of Zika cases dropped by 95 percent, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, zero people have died this year, compared to eight people between January and April, 2016. This development is what prompted officials to declare an end to the public health emergency. The Guardian reports that during the 2016 Olympics , the threat of the Zika virus was at its peak. Athletes and spectators were concerned they would contract the virus, and one female athlete – a Spanish windsurfer – says she contracted Zika while training in Brazil ahead of the Games. In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a campaign targeted at eradicating mosquitos in the country. Those efforts have resulted in a dramatic decline of Zika cases. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its own international emergency in November 2016, Brazil has only now declared an end to the virus – which is transported by mosquitos and sexual contact. Related: Zika virus can remain in sperm for twice as long as previously thought The WHO warns that the virus is “here to stay.” Though a decline in cases is a good sign, the battle will be an ongoing one. Said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance at Brazil’s health ministry, “The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance” to those who are affected. She added, “The health ministry and other organisations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya.” Via The Guardian Images via Business Insider , Alabama Today

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Brazil declares official end to Zika virus epidemic

In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obamas methane rules in place

May 11, 2017 by  
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In a stunning win for environmental activists , the U.S. Senate voted against repealing the BLM methane rule (originally passed during the Obama administration) to limit methane pollution on public land. Overturned with a 51-49 vote , the deciding “No” was from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona . Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), lawmakers can overturn the rules of a previously instated administration within the first 60 days of their enactment. Because of this, Congress has voted 13 times to overturn a selection of Obama rules. Many of these relate to srteam protection, internet privacy and the shooting of hibernating bears, reports BuzzFeed. The outcome of Wednesday’s vote is being lauded as positive news, as the Obama-era rule requires gas drillers to limit leaking, venting or burning methane, which is responsible for fueling climate change . In present-day America, where the President believes climate change is a “hoax” and has ties to the oil industry, outcomes such as this one are rarely witnessed. Politicians including Sen. McCain, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all voted against the repeal to prevent the government from drawing up any future rules that might restrict methane emissions. McCain said in a statement , “Passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government , under any administration, from issuing a rule that is ‘similar’. I join the call for strong action to reduce pollution from venting, flaring and leaks associated with oil and gas production operations on public and Indian land.” McCaine added that the smarter thing the Trump administration could have done was to release an updated rule to improve the one passed during Obama’s time as President. Related: Senate Republicans could save methane rules from Trump Commenting on McCain’s surprising stance, Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund said, “The oil and gas industry gets into power and the first thing they ask for is a repeal of pollution rules, it just doesn’t make people happy. Senator McCain once again demonstrated that he is a voice of common sense and reason.” According to the Bureau of Land Management , enough methane gas is wasted by drillers to supply 6.2 million homes a year. This, in turn, costs taxpayers $46 to $204 million in lost royalties. Considering solar technology is becoming more affordable and countries such as Germany and Costa Rica have already proven populations can thrive on renewable energy , it seems clear the future is green. Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute deemed the outcome “disappointing” and is calling for a review of the rule under a new executive order which was recently released by the White House. However, because of the short time limit on the CRA, it is now too late for another Congressional resolution to take place to repeal the BLM methane rule. Via The Washington Post , BuzzFeed Image via Colorado Politics , Newsmax.com

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In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obamas methane rules in place

Only 25 glaciers remain in Montana’s shrinking Glacier National Park

May 11, 2017 by  
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Our warming climate is ravaging the storied glaciers of Montana’s Glacier National Park . The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Portland State University recently released data revealing the devastation of climate change on the area over 50 years. The park’s glaciers shrunk by 39 percent on average, but some dwindled by up to 85 percent. An estimated 150 glaciers filled the park in 1850; today there are around 25. The researchers tracked two glaciers on United States Forest Service land and 37 glaciers in Glacier National Park . But now just 26 glaciers in the park are bigger than 25 acres, the benchmark for a body of ice to be correctly termed a glacier. Geologist Andrew Fountain of Portland State said, “While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the U.S., it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale.” Related: The Glaciers of Glacier National Park May All Disappear by 2030 The researchers scrutinized digital maps from satellites and aerial photography to measure the outer edges of glaciers in the late summer, when seasonal snow has disappeared and it’s easier to tell how large a glacier truly is. Site visits added to the data. The researchers looked at glaciers in 1966, 1998, 2005, and 2015/2016 to track 50 years of climate change in Glacier National Park. The news isn’t good; it shows visually how the mountain ecosystem has altered in the northern Rocky Mountains. Lead USGS scientist Daniel Fagre said, “The park-wide loss of ice can have ecological effects on aquatic species by changing stream water volume, water temperature, and run-off timing in the higher elevations of the park.” The loss of glaciers in the park named for them could also hurt tourism in the area. The research is intended to help park management and inform the public; according to USGS it will assist scientists in their understanding of the effects of large scale climate patterns on glaciers in distinctive mountain environments . Via United States Geological Survey Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Only 25 glaciers remain in Montana’s shrinking Glacier National Park

SolarGaps’ new solar blinds shade windows and generate clean energy

May 11, 2017 by  
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What if your window blinds could power your home in addition to shading its rooms? That’s the idea behind SolarGaps’ new solar blinds. These smart blinds designed to track the sun can be controlled via an app , and the company says their product will slash energy bills by as much as 70 percent. SolarGaps’ smart solar blinds, created by Ukrainian inventor Yevgen Erik, could revolutionize how we live our lives indoors, and obtain the energy we consume in our homes. The company says the blinds are extremely efficient can generate 100 watts of power per 10 square feet of a window – enough energy for three MacBooks or 30 LED light bulbs, according to the company. Related: National laboratory scales up quantum-dot solar windows that can power entire buildings The company also says the installation process is simple enough for homeowners to do themselves using SolarGaps’ instructions – and after the blinds are plugged in, the renewable energy they generate begins to power home devices. Their app allows users to change the angle of the blinds, lower or raise them, or check out how much energy they are generating. The blinds are made with solar cells from SunPower and come with a 25 year lifespan. The outer part is made with Aluminum . SolarGaps says they’ll work in a wide variety of climates and temperatures, from negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The company also markets their groundbreaking blinds as affordable, and able to generate more electricity than competing smart blinds currently on the market. They’re currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter; a XS Sized Set is $390, 50 percent off the retail price, and measures 36 by 36 inches, or 32 by 36 inches. SolarGaps is also offering small, medium, large, extra large, and extra extra large sizes, as well as two custom bundles. You can check out the campaign here . + SolarGaps Images via SolarGaps Facebook and SolarGaps

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SolarGaps’ new solar blinds shade windows and generate clean energy

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