Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

November 3, 2017 by  
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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beloved national parks , attracting over four million visitors annually — but President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to care about that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed lifting a ban on new uranium mining near the national park, as part of a broader effort, according to Reuters, to do away with regulations hindering development after a March executive order from the president. The Forest Service , which is under the USDA and manages the land that could be re-opened to uranium mining , prepared a report in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13783 titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” They proposed lifting the mining ban, put in place in 2012 to protect the watershed around the Grand Canyon. Related: Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks Uranium mining pollutes water, and impacts animals and plants as it removes water sources, according to Earthjustice . The Center for Biological Diversity reports past uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area “has polluted soils, washes, aquifers, and drinking water.” They said that according to nonpartisan polls, 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Arizona voters back permanent protection in the Grand Canyon region from new uranium mining. According to Reuters, global demand and prices for uranium are weak. The new report even says uranium mining doesn’t generate revenue for America, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement, “This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it.” Via Reuters , the Associated Press , Earthjustice , and the Center for Biological Diversity Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

October 26, 2017 by  
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We hear about the issue of ocean plastic a lot, but new photographs visually demonstrate just how pervasive the pollution is. Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shared pictures on Facebook taken near the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras, revealing what she calls a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam”. Power said, “This has to stop.” Power shared photographs of waves of plastic garbage floating in seaweed in a part of the world we tend to think of as pristine. Pressure group Blue Planet Society said the trash could have come from the Montagua River in Guatemala. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Power seems to have posted in hopes of prompting people to think about their own consumption of single-use plastic. She wrote in the Facebook post, “Think about your daily lives. How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag. Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?” Power challenged people and businesses to keep their garbage, after sorting out organic and recyclable trash, for a week. She said, “You will be disgusted by how many single-use items you use.” Every single year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans . Plastic pollution isn’t just an eyesore; The Independent quoted statistics saying it’s harming over 600 species around the world. Around 100,000 marine animals and more than one million birds perish because of plastic every year. Surely we can do better? Via Caroline Power and The Independent Images via Caroline Power on Facebook

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Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

Zaha Hadid Architects futuristic KAPSARC named Saudi Arabias smartest building

October 26, 2017 by  
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Despite its name, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) is big on renewable energy, as evidenced by its LEED Platinum certification—the first of Zaha Hadid Architects’ projects to receive the title. Located in the Riyadh Plateau, KAPSARC is a non-profit dedicated to studying energy and their environmental impacts. The crystalline and futuristic campus recently opened to the public for Saudi Design Week 2017; the Honeywell Smart Building Awards program named the project Saudi Arabia’s ‘smartest’ building after its many eco-conscious features. Made up of white hexagonal prismatic honeycomb structures, KAPSARC uses its partially modular system to optimize solar orientation, increase connectivity, and maximize daylighting . The building massing and facade optimization helped the structure achieve a 45% reduction in energy performance (compared to the ASHRAE baseline standards), while the solar array that tops a south-facing roof provides renewable energy with a capacity of 5,000MWh per year. “A research centre is by its very nature a forward-looking institution and KAPSARC’s architecture also looks to the future with a formal composition that can be expanded or adapted without compromising the centre’s visual character,” wrote the architects. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects unveils designs for wave-inspired Melbourne apartment tower The 70,000-square-meter campus comprises five buildings: the Energy Knowledge Centre; the Energy Computer Centre; a Conference Centre with exhibition hall and 300-seat auditorium; a Research Library with archives for 100,000 volumes; and the Musalla, an inspirational place for prayer within the campus. Each building differs in size and is flexible enough to adapt to different uses or changes in requirements. The facade features a strong protective shell to shield the interior from the harsh climate. All KAPSARC’s potable water is recycled and reused onsite while all of its irrigation water is used from non-potable sources. Forty percent of the campus’ construction materials were locally sourced and thirty percent of the materials are made with recycled content. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Hufton + Crow

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Zaha Hadid Architects futuristic KAPSARC named Saudi Arabias smartest building

Study finds pollution is more deadly than war, natural disasters, and disease

October 23, 2017 by  
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Environmental pollution isn’t just inconvenient, it’s also deadly. Every year, more people are killed by pollutants — from toxic air to contaminated water — than by all war and violence. Pollution is also responsible for more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. This disturbing revelation was revealed in a new study published in the Lancet medical journal. Scientists determined that one out of every six premature deaths (about 9 million in 2015) results from pollution; and while life is more important than money, these deaths cause $4.6 trillion in annual losses or about 6.2 percent of the world’s economy. Epidemiologist Philip Landrigan, lead author and Dean of global health at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, said, “There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change. ” Landrigan added that pollution is a “massive problem” few truly comprehend, as what they’re witnessing are “scattered bits of it.” This is the first study of its kind to take into account data on all diseases and death caused by pollution combined. According to the study , developing countries — primarily in Asia and Africa — are putting the most people at risk due to a lack of air and soil pollution monitoring systems. In 2015, one out of four (2.5 million) premature deaths in India and one out of five (1.8 million) premature deaths in China were caused by pollution-related illness. “In the West, we got the lead out of the gasoline, so we thought lead was handled. We got rid of the burning rivers, cleaned up the worst of the toxic sites. And then all of those discussions went into the background,” said Richard Fuller, head of the Pure Earth and one of the 47 scientists who contributed to the report. In Bangladesh , Pakistan, North Korea, South Sudan and Haiti, nearly one-fifth of premature deaths are pollution-related. Based on this information, it should not come as a surprise that the poorest suffer most from pollution-related illness. 92 percent of sickness related to environmental toxicity occurs in low- or middle-income countries. Phys reports, “Environmental regulations in those countries tend to be weaker, and industries lean on outdated technologies and dirtier fuels.” Fuller noted that this safety of the public is being compromised for industrial growth, which has negative repercussions. He said, “What people don’t realize is that pollution does damage to economies . People who are sick or dead cannot contribute to the economy. They need to be looked after.” To determine the global impact of pollution , the study’s authors used methods outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for assessing field data from soil tests, in addition to air and water pollution data from the Global Burden of Disease. Though 9 million pollution-related deaths is a “conservative” estimate, it is still 15 times the number of people killed in war or other forms of violence, and six times the number killed in road accidents . Ernesto Sanchez-Triana, the lead environmental specialist at the World Bank, said, “The relationship between pollution and poverty is very clear. And controlling pollution would help us address many other problems, from climate change to malnutrition . The linkages can’t be ignored.” + Lancet Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Snhetta designs Europes first underwater restaurant

October 23, 2017 by  
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Europe’s first underwater restaurant offshore of Norway will put a new spin on the meaning of “dining with a view.” Snøhetta just unveiled designs for “Under,” a submerged restaurant that will offer spectacular views of the seabed and double as a research center for marine life. Advanced heating pump technology that taps into the seabed’s thermal mass will maintain the restaurant’s comfortable interior temperatures year-round. Under—which translates to “wonder” in Norwegian—will be housed in a monolithic concrete shell that appears to have sunk halfway into the sea. Located by the village of Båly at the southernmost point of the Norwegian coast, the building will rest directly on the seabed five meters below the water’s surface, where it will become an artificial mussel reef as a water-purifying mollusk community attaches to the building’s coarse surface. Meter-thick concrete walls will protect the structure from pressure and shock in the sea, while an 11-by-4-meter panoramic acrylic window frames views of the seabed and wild fauna. Related: Snøhetta unveils spectacular makeover for nation’s second-largest waterfall Visitors to Under will enjoy locally sourced seafood fare prepared by Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen as well as an educational journey thanks to informational plaques mounted along the trail to the restaurant entrance. The interior is fitted out in locally sourced materials and a warm-toned, natural materials palette, as well as muted lighting, to keep the emphasis on underwater views. The restaurant, which seats 80 to 100 guests, will be used as a marine biology research center on its off-hours. Snøhetta writes: “Through its architecture, menu and mission of informing the public about the biodiversity of the sea, Under will provide an under-water experience inspiring a sense of awe and delight, activating all the senses – both physical and intellectual.” + Snøhetta

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Snhetta designs Europes first underwater restaurant

Rainwater-harvesting pavilions mimic a lush rainforest at the Indianapolis Zoo

October 23, 2017 by  
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Artful rainwater design has taken root at the Indianapolis Zoo. RATIO Architects recently completed the Bicentennial Pavilion, an open-air events space modeled after a lush rainforest with 11 steel-framed “tree canopies.” Built primarily from natural materials, the pavilion is a beautiful example of multifunctional and sustainable design that provides 40,000 square feet of weather-protected events space while collecting and filtering 100% of its stormwater runoff. The Indianapolis Zoo Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade was made possible by a $10 million grant provided by the Lilly Endowment in 2015. The money came with the requirement that the zoo “implement a game-changing initiative that benefits the community institution’s long-term sustainability.” To satisfy the zoo’s needs to expand visitor infrastructure and the Lilly Endowment’s condition, RATIO Architects designed an open-air multifunctional facility that could be used year-round and replace the zoo’s former 400-person events tent tucked into the back-of-house areas. The sustainability angle came from the use of natural materials —each tree-like column is built of 63 individual timber beams, while a hearth of rough-back quarry block limestone rests beneath the canopy—and stormwater management . The pavilion canopy funnels rainwater down the tree-like column’s laser-cut weathered steel rain screens and into planting beds, where it then percolates through a water quality unit and is held in a 14-foot deep water detention bed designed to accommodate 100-year flood events. The angled pavilion canopy is built of translucent roofing materials to let filtered light shine through, just as in a real rainforest canopy. Related: Stunning solar Butterfly House masters resource conservation in California The Bicentennial Pavilion is split up into two main event areas, each of which accommodate up to 400 guests. The pavilion can also be converted into one large event space for up to 800 guests. The pavilion’s north side is designed for the new bird exhibition, Magnificent Macaws, with a custom-designed stage and perch to showcase the birds on their twice-daily flight through the Pavilion. + RATIO Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Susan Fleck

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Rainwater-harvesting pavilions mimic a lush rainforest at the Indianapolis Zoo

FEMA scrubs statistics on Puerto Rico’s lack of water and electricity from website

October 6, 2017 by  
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After Hurricane Maria — a category 4 storm — knocked out power for Puerto Rico ’s 3.5 million citizens, the FEMA website became a major lifeline for Americans to stay informed of recovery efforts. However just yesterday vital details vanished from the agency’s website – including statistics on how many people have access to electricity and clean water . Now, only information that showcases recovery efforts in a positive light is available. As a result, it is difficult to know the true extent of damages in Puerto Rico, and how citizens are coping with the aftermath. On Wednesday, the website clearly stated that 5 percent of Puerto Rican citizens have access to electricity and 50 percent have access to clean water. Later that night, the information was erased. As Gizmodo reports, more “positive” information is now shared, including the percentage of hospitals open (92 percent) and the percentage of grocery stores open (65 percent). There’s no longer any data on water availability – instead, there’s a new section on “Water/Wastewater Impacts,” and the only thing it reveals is that 64 percent of wastewater treatments are functioning. Also, instead of an Infographic detailing recovery efforts, there is now a photo of helicopters delivering relief supplies and another of a soldier hugging Puerto Rican residents. Information on the number of federal staff (14,000) and FEMA personnel (800) on the ground are still available on the website. Information on open airports (100 percent) and miles of roadway cleared in total (20 miles) is forefront and centered on the website, as well. When pressed for question, a FEMA spokesperson told The Washington Post that the information is still available on the Spanish website , which Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló maintains. Reportedly, the FEMA spokesperson had no idea why the federal agency was erasing information from its own site “that made it look bad.” Related: The Puerto Rico nursery still up and running thanks to solar power Some suspect President Trump’s recent visit had something to do with the agency deleting valuable statistics. When Trump visited the island earlier this week, he seemed more concerned with his reputation than actually helping the less fortunate. In fact, Trump “jokingly” told the storm-ravaged people that he was spending too much money on them. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget out of whack,” Trump said. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Puerto Rico .” The President added that Hurricane Maria wasn’t a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina. FEMA spokesperson William Booher told The Washington Post: “Our mission is to support the governor and his response priorities through the unified command structure to help Puerto Ricans recover and return to routines. Information on the stats you are specifically looking for are readily available.” + FEMA Via Gizmodo, The Washington Post Images via Hayales De Coama , FEMA , CNN, The Japan Times

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FEMA scrubs statistics on Puerto Rico’s lack of water and electricity from website

Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

August 30, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate homes and businesses – it may also have totaled up to half a million cars. An estimated 500,000 Texan vehicles will likely be scrapped, leading to a massive sales wave of new and used cars in the near future. Compared to the fallout of other major storms, such as Hurricane Sandy , the density of totaled vehicles in Houston is staggering. Cox Automotive — the company behind Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader — told CNBC that nearly 500,000 vehicles are likely to be totaled. Reportedly, “scores” of trucks and cars had water up to their windows and, in some cases, over the hood and roof. Said Jonathon Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, “This is worse than Hurricane Sandy . Sandy was bad, but the flooding with Hurricane Harvey could impact far more vehicles.” 250,000 vehicles were scrapped in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy battered New York and New Jersey. Related: 1,200 dead, millions homeless due to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh Whenever a hurricane hits, it leaves a legacy of damaged property, industrial waste, raw sewage, and oil spills – and the repercussions of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for many months. According to Ryan Maue with Weatherbell, 11 trillion gallons of rain dumped on the state during the actual storm ; by the time the weather dissipates completely, that number is expected to increase to 25 trillion gallons of rain. In total, 30,000 people sought temporary shelter and 450,000 are expected to seek assistance from FEMA . Via Jalopnik , CNN , CNBC Images via Defense.gov

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Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

August 23, 2017 by  
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A new study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion unit has determined that the threat of a supervolcanic eruption to life on Earth may be more pressing than any interstellar collisions. An eruption of a supervolcano, like that found in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, could trigger a collapse of the global agricultural and economic systems and result in the deaths of potentially millions of people. Although NASA scientists can’t predict when such an event would occur, they have already begun preparing a preventative measure: drilling into the magma chamber of a supervolcano to cool it down. Although the potential consequences of a supervolcano eruption would be devastating, earthlings should rest easy knowing that the chance of such an eruption taking place this year is roughly 1-in-730,000. Even then, there is a chance that it could be nothing more than a little lava flow. Nonetheless, NASA scientists are preparing to deal with the problem before it happens. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight Magma eruptions occur only when it is thoroughly melted by intense heat; cooling magma down by 35 percent would prevent a supervolcano from erupting. To do this, the scientists envision using a drill to puncture above the chamber, where hydrothermal fluids are pushed to the surface. Adding water in this highly pressurized environment would be sufficient to cool the magma. To avoid fracturing the surrounding rock and potentially setting off an eruption, NASA scientists suggest drilling into the supervolcano from below. It is estimated that such a plan would cost around $3.5 billion, although governments would be encouraged to think of this as an investment : Excess heat could be captured and transformed into clean energy . Via IFLScience Lead image via Pixabay , others via Laineema/Flickr  and Peter Hartree/Flickr

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NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

August 3, 2017 by  
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An anonymous official revealed two weeks ago that Trump intends to decimate the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system in order to build his border wall. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it would disregard dozens of environmental rules in order to rush construction, which could start as soon as January. Workers have already been on site to prepare for building. The government is allowed to waive environmental requirements in order to build infrastructure, including skirting the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. In order to avoid dealing with private land owners, Trump’s wall is slated to start in the Santa Ana refuge, and while building in any refuge would be awful for the environment, the Sant Ana refuge is particularly devastating because it is home to the endangered ocelot, jaguar and jaguarondi. It is also one of the most cherished bird refuges in the US. “The lower Rio Grande is a national treasure for birds,” said Michael J. Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy . Related: “Crown jewel” wildlife refuge to be decimated as Trump starts building border wall Funding for the wall has already been approved by the House and now it is heading to the Senate for approval. It includes a provision for rebuilding the wall in San Diego, which was built just a decade ago. “Replacing the San Diego border wall only a decade after it was built shows that the border wall has always been stupid, ineffective and incredibly expensive,” Brian Segee, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Trump’s border wall would compound this travesty by dividing and destroying more communities, wildlife and wild places.” Meanwhile, one of the most incredible bird watching refuges in the US stands to be split in half by the wall unless the Senate is convinced to kill funding. Via Grist Images via Flickr , Wikimedia and Wikimedia

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Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

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