Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100

February 11, 2019 by  
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Asia’s Himalayan mountain range is about to undergo some major changes. New research predicts that global warming will melt at least one-third or up two two-thirds of the glaciers in the region by the year 2100, significantly affecting the 2 billion people who call the mountainous area home. The alarming prediction will come to pass if global carbon emissions continue at their current rates. Even more disturbing is that one-third of the glaciers in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush range will still disappear, even if governments far exceed expectations and dramatically cut emissions. Related: NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier According to The Guardian , the threatened glaciers are a life source for the millions of people in the region. They also provide water for around 1.65 billion people who live in China , Pakistan and India. Once these glaciers start melting, communities along the Indus river and waterways in central Asia will experience heavy flooding. “This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” Philippus Wester, who works for the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, explained in the report. “In the best of possible worlds, if we get really ambitious [in tackling climate change ], even then we will lose one-third of the glaciers and be in trouble.” The new report predicts that the majority of flooding will occur between 2050 and 2060. After that point, the excess water will run out, and the rivers in the region will experience a decrease in water flow. This will have severe impacts on the hydrodams in the area, which use water to generate electricity for millions of residents. The melting glaciers also affect the monsoon season, which makes it hard to predict rainfall and water supplies. Farmers are already facing issues as water levels are starting to fall during the time they traditionally plant crops. Monsoons are also becoming more frequent, and the resulting flooding is threatening crop growth. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the glaciers from melting over the next 80 years. Even if carbon emissions are significantly cut over the next 50 years, a large portion of the ice cap will still disappear, leaving billions of people dealing with what could be a global climate crisis. That said, curbing carbon emissions could help preserve over half of the glaciers, which is still a goal worth pursuing. Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100

This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

February 11, 2019 by  
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The Shoreham House in Victoria, Australia was designed in the early 2000’s, but was in need of an update to the overall structure and gardens. The new architects wanted to update the home with sustainability in mind while respecting the original designers and builders. According to Tim Spicer Architects, “The renovation and addition needed a sensitive, well considered approach to create unity between the old and the new, without the obvious signature of new Architects. The design intent was to update what was already a beautiful house, yet make it feel like it had been built at the same time.” The new landscape takes full advantage of the lush surroundings, something that went slightly overlooked in the original design. It utilizes a deep water bore to provide water to the gardens, rather than using the local town water to irrigate. The 50-meter bore has the power to provide the landscape with 20,000 liters of water in a day. In addition to the sustainable garden, the architects also replaced the old halogen lighting in the house with new LED lighting, which is more energy efficient and longer-lasting. The new hot water system is solar-powered, and the windows have new Low-E coating which works to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light without losing visibility. They also installed new eco-friendly high R-value insulation and a new ducted combustion fireplace to make the structure more energy efficient overall. Related: A midcentury warehouse becomes a vibrant office for creatives Designers faced the difficult task of connecting the new guest wing to the master area without compromising privacy. As a result, they created a whole new staircase leading from the dining room and past the master staircase. The project was a challenging feat for the builders who used hand tools to blast through the bedrock under the house in order to construct the second staircase. To connect the master and newly-designed guest wings, the architects created a glazed bridge walkway, make-shifting a courtyard garden area with new meandering paths and green spaces. The house now has new large windows and glazed doors that allow for beautiful, sweeping views of the gardens from the inside. In the original house, the master area deck already had views of the ocean . With the intent of making the view more accessible to guests, the architects installed a “slow stair” between the master deck and ground floor courtyard. Via Archdaily Images via Tim Spicer Architects

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This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution

February 8, 2019 by  
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On February 7, House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) released an official resolution for the highly debated “Green New Deal.” The resolution provides further information on the broad goals of the original proposal, however it remains abstract and nonbinding — and that is only if the House votes to approve it. The resolution delivers a more tangible framework upon which Ocasio-Cortez and her team plan to push for co-sponsors and move the resolution to the House and Senate floors. The summary report indicates that legislators would begin to assemble the “nuts and bolts” of the plan by drafting specific Green New Deal bills. The document specifies five ambitious goals to be completed in 10 years, reduced from the proposal’s original seven goals . Five Green New Deal Goals 1. Ensure net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers 2. Create millions of high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all 3. Invest in infrastructure and industry to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century 4. Guarantee clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment for all 5. Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities While the resolution focuses on an equitable transfer to renewable energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, the Green New Deal is an all-inclusive economic overhaul that also promises broad access to jobs, fair wages and healthcare. NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben breaks down some of the notable and far-reaching objectives that fall under the above-mentioned goals, including: • Attaining 100 percent renewable energy by 2020, including transferring away from nuclear energy • Upgrading “all existing buildings to energy-efficient” • Incentivizing farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions • Investing in the electric car industry and expanding high speed rails to compete with and eventually stamp out the airline industry • Guaranteeing jobs with adequate wages and comprehensive benefits for all Americans • Ensuring “high-quality healthcare” for all Americans The resolution continued to be revised after it was released, with many media outlets updating their published stories throughout the day. Does the Green New Deal have the support it needs? Ocasio-Cortez from the House is also joined by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), who is working to garner support in the Senate. Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need? Though the document’s summary cites that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Green New Deal, the controversial responses do not seem to support this claim. In fact, the current co-sponsors, published by Axios , include “Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.),” all of whom say their support is pending final language. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has been called out for her lack of support for the Green New Deal. On Wednesday, she was quoted in Politico saying: “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” In addition to politicians on both sides of the aisle, journalists and climate experts argue the Green New Deal is wildly ambitious. Environmental Fellow Jesse Jenkins,  interviewed by NPR, contends that reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 is already a major challenge, so reaching zero-emissions by 2030 — as the resolution mandates — will be next to impossible. However, Ocasio-Cortez told NPR’s Morning Edition , “Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us.” Political activists across the country — largely led by a youth organization called the Sunrise Movement — are showing up at congressional offices to pressure their representatives to come out in support of the Green New Deal by the end of February. Even if the resolution does not pass, which many believe will be the outcome, the activists hope that the mounting attention will make climate change a key issue — if not the most central issue — in the upcoming 2020 presidential race. Can Americans curb climate change? The resolution explains that the U.S. contributes an alarming 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is in the position to become a leader in drastic green economy development. Despite the Trump administration’s recent break from global climate commitments, statistics show that the U.S. has already made the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000. Though the data indicates the U.S. has only made an 8 percent reduction, given that the U.S.’s total contribution to pollution is among the highest, this 8 percent reduction equates to 760 million metric tons, nearly as much as the sum of the European Union’s reductions. Though significant, this accomplishment still does not change Americans’ title as the world’s largest polluters per-capita. The U.S. indeed has the numbers to make a difference; what it needs now is for these types of policies to have the support that this vision could be our reality. + Green New Deal Resolution Via NPR Image via SCOOTERCASTER / Shutterstock.com

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution

Fast food industry under pressure to decrease its global footprint stat

February 8, 2019 by  
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Fast food is one of the most popular conveniences of modern society, but it comes at a huge risk to the environment. Amid growing concerns of agriculture and water risks, a group of global investors are putting pressure on the fast food industry to come up with a sustainable model to lower their footprint on the environment. The investors, who manage a combined $6.5 trillion, issued letters to six of the largest fast food chains in the United States. The letters asked the companies to explain their plan to reduce risks associated with meat and dairy products by the spring of 2019. The companies targeted include McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grills, Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut and KFC) and Wendy’s Co. There are over 80 investors who signed on to the initiative, which is also backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). The ICCR has a long track record of talking with fast food chains about environmental issues, such as water hazards and deforestation. Related: Prosecco production is destroying soil in some Italian vineyards “Every day around 84 million adults consume fast food in the U.S. alone, but the inconvenient truth of convenience food is that the environmental impacts of the sector’s meat and dairy products have hit unsustainable levels,” said Jeremy Coller, the head of Coller Capital, in a statement. One of the biggest issues with fast food restaurants is their dependency on agriculture, specifically the beef industry . With fast food continuing to rise in popularity, the demand for more beef has reached unsustainable levels. Not to mention, the severe impact the dairy industry has on the environment. To help combat the situation, the new initiative hopes to work with companies to reduce water waste and deforestation, as well as improve conditions in animal agriculture all across the board. Working together, companies in the fast food industry can improve the environment and help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions . It is unclear how the fast food companies have reacted to the letter. If they choose not to act and better the environment, experts predict the agricultural industry — which includes dairy and meat production — will account for around 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions within the next 30 years. Via Ceres Image via Shutterstock

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Australia will not reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030, claims new study

February 5, 2019 by  
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An international group called the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a damaging report on Australia’s energy policies, placing doubts that the government will reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030. Australia previously agreed to cut carbon emissions by around 26 percent by the year 2030. Although the country will likely reach the carbon goals it set by 2020, the OECD claims they will not hit their target in 2030. “The country will fall short of its 2030 emissions target without a major effort to move to a low-carbon model,” the report explained. “Australia should consider pricing carbon emissions more effectively and doing more to integrate renewables into the electricity sector.” The OECD is an international organization comprised of 36 countries that aims to encourage sustainable economic growth. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the group’s climate study contends that Australia is unique in that its greenhouse gases have actually increased over the past 10 years. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline The group also contends that Australia is far from reaching any of its emissions goals by the target date of 2030. The report suggested that Australia should price emissions better and incorporate more renewable energy sources into its long-term plans. Although Australia has an uphill battle if it wants to meet its goals by 2030, it has made some progress over the past few years. This includes using more natural gas instead of coal and relying more on renewable energy sources for electricity. Unfortunately, these efforts have done little to curb the rise in carbon emissions . Despite lowering its reliance on coal, Australia still uses non-renewable energy sources for most of its electricity. The government also supports the consumption of certain fossil fuels, which contribute greatly to carbon emissions throughout the country. That said, use of renewable energy sources is on the rise, which is definitely a good sign. In response to the negative report, Australia’s Environment Minister, Melissa Price, claims that the country is on pace to meet its carbon goals by the year 2030. Even if the current policies are not enough to reduce carbon by 26 percent, the fact that they are scalable has Price convinced that the goal will eventually be met. Via Sydney Morning Herald Image via Shutterstock

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Australia will not reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030, claims new study

It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

February 5, 2019 by  
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Are luxury and sustainability compatible? The Parq Vancouver complex in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia strives to have it all by balancing two luxury hotels, a casino and eight restaurants with LEED gold standards and a host of environmental initiatives, including the option to forgo one common hotel amenity in favor of a greener option. One of the Parq’s newer programs is a twist on skipping housekeeping in favor of an alternative reward, something becoming more popular among hotels . At the Parq , when a guest checks in for more than two nights, they can skip room cleaning and opt instead for either 500 bonus Marriott points per night or having a tree planted. That’s one tree for every two nights. If they stayed at the hotel long enough, soon they’d foster a small grove. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth To personalize the tree planting program, the Parq allows guests to include their names or dedicate the seedling to somebody else. This information appears on a webpage showing a cartoon version of the forest, including where the tree is planted and to whom it’s dedicated. Workers plant the trees in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area near Calgary, Alberta. Cutting down on hotel housekeeping is better for both the environment and the hotel’s operating costs. Less frequent washing of towels and bedding means decreased water usage and fewer chemicals dripping into sewers. “You get the benefit of not using cleaning chemicals in the rest of the room,” Jeanne Marie Varney, who teaches courses on sustainability at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, told the New York Times . “Not running vacuum cleaners saves energy .” The Parq, open since late 2017, also offers an unusual 30,000-square-foot park on its sixth floor, designed by landscape artist Christopher Phillips of PFS Studio. This elevated park combines an oxygen hit from more than 200 pine trees with dramatic views of Vancouver’s skyline. If that’s not enough green space , travelers can visit next door province Alberta to look for the tree that exists because they skipped room cleaning. The Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area welcomes hikers and snowshoers. + Parq Vancouver Via New York Times Images via Heiko Stein

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It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

February 4, 2019 by  
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Nuclear waste is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest problems. Earth’s growing stockpile of radioactive waste is troublesome, because these chemicals remain in their radioactive state for several millennia — and we have yet to come up with a foolproof storage solution. A new study explored facilities that store nuclear waste in seven locations around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, Britain, Finland and Sweden. Officials discovered that the majority of nuclear waste lacked proper defense mechanisms, like secondary protocols, and are vulnerable to failing in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Storage of nuclear waste is one of the biggest obstacles facing nuclear power plants . It was once thought that deep underground was a good storage option, but that is not the case. According to Greenpeace , all of the storage facilities in the study showed some percentage of radiation leaks, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment. “More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes ,” Shaun Burnie, who works with Greenpeace Germany and led the new study, explained. Even worse, some storage facilities are located in areas prone to natural disasters. For example, the U.S. is in the process of building a major nuclear waste site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain range, which features seismic and volcanic activity, hardly suitable for keeping radioactive waste safe. The building of the Yucca Mountain facility was placed on hold by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Donald Trump, however, has expressed interest in reviving the construction and finishing the site before his term is up. As if that is not bad enough, governments are seemingly turning a blind eye to public concerns. The nuclear waste report comes after it was revealed that the U.S. government secretly moved weapons-grade plutonium across several states, despite passionate opposition from politicians in South Carolina. If scientists do not come up with a better method of disposing of nuclear waste, then it really could become the next global crisis. Fortunately, countries are exploring alternative renewable sources for energy that do not result in radioactive waste and are healthier for the environment. + Greenpeace Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair

February 1, 2019 by  
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The recent month-long government shutdown may have caused “irreparable” damage to Joshua Tree National Park, according to former superintendent Curt Sauer. During those 34 days, visitors ruined trails, cut down trees and vandalized the park, and when workers returned, they found absolute chaos. “What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years,” Sauer — who ran the park for seven years — told the Desert Sun . The shutdown reduced ranger supervision, which led to increased vandalism. Officials decided to temporarily close the park on January 8. But the next day, they managed to avoid the closure and stay open with the help of revenue from recreation fees. Related: National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown During the shutdown, many national parks were forced to operate without rangers, and volunteers helped out by hauling trash and cleaning bathrooms. Joshua Tree national park is 1,235 square miles, and the volunteer help wasn’t enough to keep people from ignoring the extra care warnings and damaging the park. Park spokesman George Land said that some visitors had created new roads with their vehicles and destroyed some of the Joshua trees. David Smith, the current superintendent, explained that there were a dozen different instances of vehicles going off-road and into the wilderness, creating two new roads inside the park. People also cut chains and locks to access campgrounds. “We’ve never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping ,” Smith said. “Everyday use area was occupied every evening. Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads.” Many locals were not happy with the park staying open during the shutdown . John Lauretig, executive director of the non-profit group Friends of Joshua Tree, said that the parks shouldn’t be held hostage. He added that having a park open and partially staffed isn’t good for the park, the public or the local community. He also believes that if the government shuts down again, the park should close completely to prevent more damage. Via Desert Sun  and  The Guardian Image via Christopher Michel

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Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair

The geometric Black House captures light and views from multiple angles

February 1, 2019 by  
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When architect Benjamin Heller of Radolfzell-based architectural practice Freier Architekt designed the Black House, he took design inspiration from the project’s location near the boundary of Germany and Switzerland . Created to mimic a boundary stone cut by hand, the Black House is an angular, multifaceted building that appears to conspicuously mark the edge of the small village in which it resides on the German border. More than just an exercise to emulate a distinctive stone, the home’s geometric form is optimized to take in panoramic views of the landscape and natural light as part of the project’s embrace of nature. Located in the charming health resort Öhningen located close to Lake Constance, Germany, the Black House expresses the client’s love of nature in not only its location and framed landscape views, but also with its solid timber construction and energy-efficient technical equipment. For example, the house is sustainably heated with a system that uses a ground collector and heat pump . Spanning an area of 325 square meters, the Black House features two floors with a mix of public, semi-public and private spaces throughout as requested by the client. The home is entered from the east side, where a door opens up to a long hallway that branches off to a variety of rooms that includes sitting rooms, bathrooms and the ground-floor bedroom. Upstairs, an open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area dominate the majority of the floor plan and connect to a south-facing outdoor patio . On the east side is the master bedroom. Related: Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva “The ‘Black House’ is explicitly oriented toward the landscape and the water,” the architect explained of the massing and the large expanses of glass. “The spacious areas and rooms inside the building are extended in southern direction. The clear and restrained interior design directs one’s eye instinctively to the outstanding panoramic view with the beautiful landscape. The light, polished screed and the parquet flooring of dark oak result in a harmonic but also contrasting interaction.” + Benjamin Heller Via ArchDaily Images via Benjamin Heller

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The geometric Black House captures light and views from multiple angles

Ghost gear is haunting our oceans

January 31, 2019 by  
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Fishing gear isn’t just deadly when there’s a fisherman at the other end of the line. Lost and abandoned equipment continues to kill, rampaging beneath the ocean’s surface, tangling fish, drowning seabirds and smothering reefs. This ghost gear haunts common and endangered species indiscriminately. According to a UN Environment and FAO report , another 640,000 tons of ghost gear is added to the undersea dump each year. In Southeast India, workers at the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute have formed a team of ghost-net busters to reverse this damage.  The Gulf of Mannar includes 560 square kilometers of islands and shallow coastal waters. Since being declared a marine park in 1986, the live coral reefs have shrunk from 110 to 80 square kilometers. Between climate change bleaching the coral and destructive fishing practices, the ghost-net busters face daunting challenges. They must manually remove nets, being careful not to further damage the coral. Related: California teen finds golf balls are a major source of plastic waste in our oceans “Through removal of ghost nets, we hope not only to help conserve corals but also to support the small-scale fishermen who depend mainly on the reef-associated fishery resources for their livelihoods,” said Patterson Edward, director of the research institute. Edward is part of a team of nine marine scientists and three support staff who survey, monitor and restore reefs in the Gulf of Mannar. Finding and retrieving ghost nets is one part of their work. The problem goes way beyond the gulf. Ghost nets “are killing megafauna in the Indian Ocean and are a transboundary problem, because nets from India find their way to other countries in the region such as the Maldives and kill many iconic species such as turtles, rays and sharks ,” said Gabriel Grimsditch, an expert in marine ecosystems at UN Environment. While aerial views of floating garbage patches are all too familiar, many people have yet to learn about ghost gear. “It’s not just plastic bags and bottles negatively impacting marine life and the blue economy; it’s estimated that by weight, ghost gear makes up between 46 to 70 percent of all macro plastics in our ocean,” said Grimsditch. + UN Environment and FAO Image via Shutterstock

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