Earth911 Quiz #62: Think You Know the Top Environmental News?

June 6, 2019 by  
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Do you know who is making decisions that impact the … The post Earth911 Quiz #62: Think You Know the Top Environmental News? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #62: Think You Know the Top Environmental News?

Summer Reading: Dig Into The Roots of Environmental Nonfiction

June 5, 2019 by  
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Half a century ago, we didn’t know the full impact … The post Summer Reading: Dig Into The Roots of Environmental Nonfiction appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Summer Reading: Dig Into The Roots of Environmental Nonfiction

Maven Moment: Summertime Driving

June 5, 2019 by  
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Summertime driving in New York is a real challenge with … The post Maven Moment: Summertime Driving appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Summertime Driving

Bioclimatic home curves for optimal daylighting and views in Chile

April 29, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the intense Chilean heat without compromising views of Santiago, local architectural firm Biourban Arquitectos has designed a bioclimatic home in La Reina that combines passive solar principles with high energy performance materials. Dubbed the H.D. House, the site-specific dwelling features two floors — each built of different materials with contrasting textures and colors — that are optimized for thermal resistance. The H.D. House’s rectilinear lower floor is built with a structural shell of reinforced concrete , while the walls consist of aerated concrete blocks left exposed. In contrast, the upper level comprises a system of galvanized steel profiles clad in pine with an oak-colored varnish to improve the structure’s thermal resistance. The roof features a triple insulation system, and all windows include the use of thermo panels. “The house uses bioclimatic strategies for the different facades and orientations of the project,” the architects explained. “The main facade faces west toward the city and has a mobile facade with sunscreens that generate a ventilated double skin on the second floor. In addition, there is a double-height interior courtyard that enhances the Venturi effect and cross ventilation, producing air movements that improve the environmental quality of the house. These air flows can be easily controlled by opening or grouping the sunscreens.” Related: Low-budget, bioclimatic home boasts a minimal energy footprint in Costa Rica The best views of Santiago are enjoyed from the second floor, where the master suite and extra bedrooms are located, as is a long curved balcony that faces west. Installing mobile screens across the length of the curved facade proved to be one of the main challenges of the project, as they not only had to provide protection from the sun but also needed the ability to be grouped together in different configurations. The result is a bioclimatic home with an appearance that continually shifts depending on the outside conditions and the needs of the homeowner. + Biourban Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Aryeh Kornfeld via Biourban Arquitectos

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Bioclimatic home curves for optimal daylighting and views in Chile

No more neglect: Mongolia says rangelands are a global priority

April 12, 2019 by  
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When most people think of conservation , they often picture the large, hallmark mammals (think pandas) or key ecosystems like coral reefs and rainforests. Few people think about or even understand rangelands as a priority for land restoration, even though rangelands cover more than 50 percent of all land on earth. In March, Mongolian community-conservation leaders persuaded the United Nations to acknowledge the importance of rangelands and commit to global action to fill glaring gaps in data. As a result of their efforts, the United Nations adopted a resolution to recommend an official “Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists” and to center rangeland restoration within the already declared Decade of Ecosystems Restoration (2021-2030). In Mongolia, leaders have also submitted a “Rangeland Law” to parliament, which would ensure that herders have legal land rights and are named the primary protectors of their land. What are rangelands? The International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) defines rangelands as land that is covered with grass and shrub species and used as a primary source for livestock grazing. Rangelands are also recognized for their ability to provide other environmental services, including carbon sequestration, eco-tourism opportunities, biodiversity, ranching and mining. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields and more money — China’s agricultural breakthrough ICARDA estimates suggest that nearly 50 percent of all land surface is considered rangeland, which includes grasslands, savannas and marshes. Why is Mongolia on the forefront? Herding has been a defining part of Mongolian culture and tradition for more than 4,000 years . Up to 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product comes from sheep, cattle and other livestock. However, economic, environmental and migration changes have caused much of Mongolia’s rangelands to become degraded. The United Nations reports that nearly 57 percent of all rangeland in Mongolia is degraded and 13 percent is so degraded that it is believed to be impossible to restore. Despite this, Mongolia still has some of the world’s last remaining natural grasslands, and people there are committed to preserving these diverse ecosystems and their traditional way of life. “If nothing is done now, we face the danger of losing this beautiful land, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of nomadic herder families,” said Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei , a sustainable rangeland expert from Mongolia. Research shows that indigenous and local communities are some of the most effective stewards of natural land. However, these same groups rarely have legal land rights, making them vulnerable to dislocation and exploitation. According to the World Resource Institute’s  land mapping tool , indigenous and collectively-managed lands store about 25 percent of the world’s above-ground carbon , which means land restoration in these areas is essential to reducing climate change , and that indigenous people are the rightful leaders. We don’t know enough about rangelands The UN resolution aims to elevate awareness, earmark funding and increase collaborative action to improve the  protection and restoration of rangelands. The resolution also amplifies the role of community leadership and traditional management practices. Most critically, however, the resolution calls for increased research, pointing to major gaps in current scientific knowledge about the “status, conditions and trends in rangeland, pastoral land and pastoralism.” Another UN report from March suggests that current data on agriculture and livestock within rangeland regions and societies are insufficient to inform effective policy. The report, “A case of benign neglect: Knowledge gaps about sustainability in pastoralism and rangelands,” recommends further collection and disaggregation of data to highlight different needs and opportunities for locally based, sustainable management. For example, the report warns that some governments have misconceptions of rangelands and even consider them to be “forgotten” or “barren.” Seemingly environmentally progressive programs have implemented afforestation projects — meaning large  tree  planting initiatives — in rangelands. This can actually devastate rangeland biodiversity and have a negative impact on existing carbon sequestration. Pastoralism and marginalization Nearly 500 million people are considered pastoralists, yet these communities are among the most marginalized societies in the world. Herding, nomadic and pastoral groups face challenges such as land degradation, biodiversity loss, vulnerability to climate change, low investments, inequity, low literacy, inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to markets, lack of legal ownership and exodus of youth. Related: One of the last remaining communities still farming like the Aztecs If March is any indication of the next few years — and hopefully the next decade — pastoralists might have the attention, investment and collective action needed to make meaningful advancements in land restoration and community management. Deputy Director General of Integrated Sciences at the International Livestock Research Institute, Iain Wright, praised the efforts of governments and partners so far. “In my 35 years’ experience working on rangelands and pastoralists, this is the first real progress I am seeing,” Wright said. “The lack of data up to now has been critical, and this report forms one of the building blocks in getting this issue into the political and international agenda.” Via UN Environment Images via Jeanne Menjoulet , Ludovic Hirlimann , Sergio Tittarini ,  Christopher Michel , and Paulo Philippidis

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No more neglect: Mongolia says rangelands are a global priority

Restaurant UNDERs handcrafted tableware celebrates natural materials

April 12, 2019 by  
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When Snøhetta designed the spectacular concept for UNDER, the world’s largest underwater restaurant located along a rocky Norwegian shoreline, the renowned architecture firm wanted to reference the local landscape in all aspects of design, including the tableware. That’s why the Norwegian brand MENT was chosen as the main supplier for the design and manufacturing of the tableware for the restaurant’s 18-course menu. Founded by sisters Ingvild and Sidsel Forr Hemma, the Fåberg-based design brand designed a unique series of bowls, plates, mugs and other items all crafted by hand from natural materials and Norwegian minerals. Since June 2018, MENT has worked in close collaboration with UNDER head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard to design, research, test and produce products evocative of the restaurant’s overall concept of celebrating nature, craft and sustainable sourcing. “Getting to work with such a thought out concept — and implementing it further in our design has been incredibly inspiring!” the designers said in a press statement. “For this project, MENT have made items in porcelain, stoneware, wood and clay, and in most products the colors used are made from Norwegian minerals. All items are handmade in MENTs workshop at Fåberg.” For the 18-course menu, MENT created approximately 500 products with 17 different unique designs that include bowls, plates, water jugs, toothpick holders, coffee and tea mugs, a milk-and-sugar set and large snack bowls. Several of the designs also vary in size, material and color. The tableware gets its earthy colors from iron pigments processed from natural magnetite sourced from the area of Nordland in Norway. The color and shapes of the products take inspiration from the Norwegian coast — from the different seaweed, sand and coastal rocks — defined by beautiful textures and a color palette of browns, grays and greens. Related: Europe’s first underwater restaurant opens its doors in Norway Because all of the tableware is handmade and created with natural magnetite with techniques that “are impossible to control,” each product has its own unique features. Although UNDER has already opened to the public, MENT will continue to work in collaboration with the restaurant and the head chef. + MENT Images via MENT

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Restaurant UNDERs handcrafted tableware celebrates natural materials

It might be time to let your garden grow wild

April 12, 2019 by  
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Think of a formal yard or garden, and you likely envision rows of neatly trimmed bushes along meandering walkways and sitting areas. Homeowners spend a ton of money, time and resources in an attempt to recreate that image. But another equally beautiful option for your home is a wild garden . What is a wild garden? A wild garden can carry a variety of definitions. For some, it means limiting the amount you tame your plants , letting them become what others might define as overgrown and unsightly. Others might associate wild with the types of plants you choose for your space. If you think about your walks in the fields or forests where Mother Nature is the only landscaper, plants are “overgrown and unsightly” around every corner. So, it might be time to change your definition of what makes a desirable garden space. The idea of a wild garden is to create a more naturally flowing space with less rigid lines and rules. Related: This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy Reasons to set it free There are many benefits to allowing your garden to go wild. Consider the nature of the plant and remember that pruning is something we do in our backyard, but it is not the norm in a plant’s natural habitat. We feel we need to confine plants, because that’s what the magazines show. Allowing your plants to become shaggy around the edges means a whole lot less maintenance for you, which is a huge advantage if you prefer not to spend every waking moment tending to your garden. Another benefit of a wild garden is that it becomes a more natural garden. We spend time in nature because we connect with the sights, smells and surroundings that nature provides. Somehow, we lose those same feelings when we bring plants into our yard and then contour them into something they’re not. Instead, allow your plants to take a more natural growth pattern and retain the essence of nature in your yard. The benefit of native plants Plants that are native to your area are going to grow the best. Careful selection of your plants in the beginning will allow for a worry-free space as your garden grows. Talk to the local nursery owner. Stop by the garden center. Read books and scour the internet. After you hunt down the plants indigenous to your area, create a plan on paper or using a graphic design program on the computer. Be sure to allow for the maximum growth of the plants, so you don’t have to continually trim them back. In addition to low-effort growing success, native plants also do not require chemicals to fight off insects and disease. Plus, they often don’t need fertilizer, because they are naturally suited for the native soil. You can even source your native plants directly from nature by selecting seeds or small plants. Check with your local authorities before harvesting from forests or other areas. If nothing else, observe the plants in your area and purchase the same type of ferns, sunflowers or wildflowers that you see growing naturally. Natural elements in the design Another way to bring the wilderness into your yard is through natural elements . Think of an eroding cliffside with protruding rocks and plants that have rooted themselves in the unstable soil. Bring that idea into your yard with stone walkways or tiered river rock stairways surrounded by plants. Mix pristine with savage, manicured with wild The goal of creating a wild yard doesn’t mean you have to have a completely untamed space of rambling branches and invasive blackberries. Instead, segment your yard into areas that provide for the naturally wild look combined with more traditional or formal spaces for sitting or strolling. Bring in the pristine yard if that’s your thing, and mingle it with some savage plants. Manicure the stone patio, but allow the bushes behind the arbor to go wild. The point is that wild doesn’t have to be neglected. Simply work the look into your design. Related: This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden Advantages of wildflowers Wildflowers are often seen as invasive in the restrictive confines of a yard, and they are. But they are also an amazing way to bring the colors and calming visuals of nature into your space. Grab a seed packet and spread the colorful joy throughout your yard, or mostly confine them to one area with a border. Remember that wildflowers are seasonal, so you’ll also want to incorporate other plants that will fill the space when the wildflowers aren’t in bloom. Rethink the spacing Traditional gardens are tightly focused on spacing. We don’t want the fruit tree to overshadow the plants below it. Those daylilies might get too big and push up to the hyacinth next door. Oh no! Again, envision the way plants grow in nature, and replicate it in your yard. Plants have a way of naturally providing for one another or pushing out unwelcome invaders. If you copy what you see in nature, your plants will thrive in a natural way, meaning that they will overlap, procreate and become entangled one into another. Although this goes against our structured (and separated) image of a neat garden, the wildness of an unregimented garden allows nature to show her best self. Images via Shutterstock

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It might be time to let your garden grow wild

Earth Day: 10 More Thought-Provoking Environmental Quotes

April 9, 2019 by  
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Every Earth Day, we turn to great quotes and comments … The post Earth Day: 10 More Thought-Provoking Environmental Quotes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth Day: 10 More Thought-Provoking Environmental Quotes

Eco-Friendly Pet Toys

April 9, 2019 by  
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They offer you unconditional love, don’t your pets deserve the … The post Eco-Friendly Pet Toys appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eco-Friendly Pet Toys

ESG loans broaden access to sustainability-linked financing

March 6, 2019 by  
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Betting they’ll reduce future risk, banks cut interest rates for corp borrowers that improve their environmental and social outcomes.

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ESG loans broaden access to sustainability-linked financing

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