"We are not prepared" for climate changescientists issue bleak warning

February 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers have determined that countries around the world are failing to fulfill their greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement , inevitably subjecting the world to unpredictable extreme weather. In a study published in the  journal  Science   Advances ,  scientists concluded that extreme weather, such as drought, flooding, or heat waves, will increase across 90 percent of North America, Europe and East Asia if countries maintain their current pace of climate action. “We are not prepared for today’s climate, let alone for another degree of global warming ,” study author Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University professor of earth system science, told Time . The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with an ideal goal of less than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That extra 0.9 degrees will make a significant difference in how extreme weather manifests in the coming decades. The study documents the specific differences built into that temperature divergence, including the number of record warm or wet days. Following an extraordinary hurricane season in North America and a year that was once again dubbed the hottest on record, the urgency to address this challenge is clearer than ever. Related: Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research Unfortunately, the Paris Agreement has a math problem. Each country in the agreement was encouraged to create their own pledges individually tailored to their political and economic situations. Though the goal remains less than 3.6 degrees of warming, the cumulative impact of all these pledges, if they were all fulfilled, would still result in a global temperature of 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the modest pledges made in the agreement are proving difficult to achieve. Some countries, most prominently the United States , have expressed interest in ignoring the consequences of climate change and are actively encouraging the growth of fossil fuels . In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb while the weather gets weirder. Via Time Images via Depositphotos (1)

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"We are not prepared" for climate changescientists issue bleak warning

300 artificial islands in Dubai, ‘The World,’ may get another chance

February 16, 2018 by  
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The World , an archipelago of 300 islands in Dubai , has sat largely vacant for around 10 years. But construction is underway once again. The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright reported , “After a decade in limbo, The World is back – with more ambitious plans than ever before.” The World was dreamed up in 2003, with Nakheel as the master developer, and 320 million cubic meters of sand and 25 million metric tons of rock were put into place, according to The Guardian. Workers laid the last rock in the breakwater in January 2008. The development sprawls across over 5,000 hectares and stands, in the words of Wainwright, as a “mind-boggling monument to the spectacular hubris of a moment in time when anything seemed possible.” Related: Dubai’s World of Islands is Sinking Into the Sea But construction is beginning again. Josef Kleindienst, of real estate company Kleindienst , talked to The Guardian about his plans for The Heart of Europe , saying he wants to make it snow there throughout the entire year. The Kleindienst website describes The Heart of Europe as “a first of its kind, breathtaking hospitality development, spanning six of the islands on The World in Dubai, with each island taking inspiration from some of Europe’s most captivating locations.” Swiss chalets, Austrian castles, and Russian palaces are among the plans. Kleindienst told The Guardian the development will be finished in time for Expo 2020 in Dubai. Other island owners seem to have been inspired by Kleindienst, according to The Guardian. Emirati developer Seven Tides aims to finish a 100-villa resort on one of the 10 islands they own in the South America portion by the end of this year. And actress Lindsay Lohan said she’s designing an island in The World. It remains to be seen whether or not the projects will ultimately come to life. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 ) and The Heart of Europe

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300 artificial islands in Dubai, ‘The World,’ may get another chance

Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

February 16, 2018 by  
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Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio completed a beautiful new home for artists in Sicily complements its Mediterranean environment using natural materials and landscaping. The home, called Casa ECS, was also created with a major focus on sustainability. Powered by renewable energy, the building is topped with a green roof and built with thick earthen walls that ensure effective insulation. . Located in the town of Scicli, the 230-square-meter Casa ECS is set atop a series of terraces that gently cascade down towards the Mediterranean Sea. Olive and carbon trees grow atop the dry stone retaining walls that visually tie the structure into the landscape. Solar and wind studies informed the placement of the building for the optimization of natural daylighting and ventilation. The large roof overhang shields the interior from solar heat gain and a pool on the south side of the home also helps cool the home. The architects wrote: “The central idea focuses on the construction of a retaining wall covered with the local stone, reproducing the typical receding terrace, which generates a natural step that allowed to plan the insertion of the building into the environment, creating a noticeable continuity with the country-side view and the traditionally cultivated land.” Related: Charming Italian farmhouse hides a surprisingly modern interior in Tuscany The main living areas are arranged linearly, while two courtyards are placed to the north of the main structure. The master en suite is located in the center of the home and separates the living room on the home’s east end from the kitchen on the opposite side that also extends to a covered outdoor dining area to the north. A secondary bedroom is placed on the far west end. The use of simple natural materials throughout ties the building into the landscape. + Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Filippo Poli

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Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

Dreamy cabin is the perfect lakeside escape for large families

February 16, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based YH2 Architecture has given the traditional lakeside cottage a modern refresh in Window on the Lake, a minimalist timber cabin that derives its name from its stunning glazed end wall. Located just steps away from the shores of Lac Plaisant in Quebec’s Mauricie region, the gabled dwelling features a clean and minimalist design so as not to detract from its surroundings. The spacious family cottage sleeps up to 12 across two floors. Built of timber inside and out, Window on the Lake was designed to “capture the essence of cottage life” by creating a sense of warmth and connection with nature. The gabled building is clad entirely in white cedar that will develop a patina as it weathers over time. “The balloon frame, with its exposed wooden studs and joists painted white, gives the building a unique rhythm of shadow and light,” wrote the architects. “This is the cottage as an expression of the art of living: a gentle, simple, pure way of life.” Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The south facade closest to the lake is fully transparent to provide the open-plan living area with stunning lake views. The glazed gabled wall lets in sunlight and warmth during the cold months, while an extended roof overhang and mature trees mitigate solar heat gain in summer. Three large vertically oriented glazed panels punctuate the east and west facades to strengthen the connection with nature throughout the home. The cottage also includes two ground-floor bedrooms and a large, open sleeping area on the second floor. + YH2 Architecture Photo credit: Francis Pelletier

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Wooden home designed to withstand extreme weather assembled in just two days

February 15, 2018 by  
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Borren Staalenhoef Architecten BV bna created this stunning prefab wooden home on the remote Dutch island of Vlieland. Tucked into the rolling landscape, the elegant structure rises out of the dunes with a majestic asymmetrical pitched black roof. Het Kulkje Vlieland was built on location in a mere two days, and it’s designed to blend into its environment and to withstand the extreme weather often found on the island. Considering the delicate nature of the landscape, the building process was a challenge for the architects. Additionally, the project had to overcome a few legal limits as well because new constructions are no longer permitted in the area. Between 1930 and 1970 about 200 holiday homes were built on this part of the island, but further construction had been limited to protect the natural state of the pristine area . Accordingly, the architects had to tear down an existing structure to create a new one, but had to respect the limited construction parameters of the prior structure. Related: Elegant Flying Point home rises gracefully out of restored sand dunes To reduce its footprint, the wooden structure was completely manufactured off-site. Once all of the pieces were on location, the entire construction process took just 2 days to mount, which is shocking considering the rugged landscape. The three-story home has a spacious living area on the first floor, which is surrounded by glazed walls to provide beautiful views of the natural surroundings from any angle. The bedrooms are located on the top floor, which leads up to a large attic space that can be used as an office or guest room. However, it is the lower level of the home, which is sunken beneath the level of the dunes, that is the heart of the design. This “hidden” level of the home is tucked deep into the landscape, virtually obscured from view from the outside. Once on the inside, however, the space is flooded with natural light and provides sweeping views of the dunes. + Borren Staalenhoef Architecten BV bna Via Archdaily Images by Borren Staalenhoef Architecten BV bna  

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Wooden home designed to withstand extreme weather assembled in just two days

Norway rejects wind farm in favor of wild reindeer

February 7, 2018 by  
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Nearly 35,000 wild reindeer make their home in the southern mountains of Norway – “the last remaining viable populations in Europe,” according to Reuters . And the country recently prioritized the animals over energy , rejecting construction of a 120 megawatt (MW) wind farm over concerns it could harm the animals . The wind farm had the potential to boost business in the Bygland municipality, a sparsely-populated area. But it also would have been located in a designated national reserve where reindeer live, according to the country’s energy ministry; subsequently, Norway nixed construction. Related: Snøhetta’s Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion was inspired by the robust landscape Other pressures on the herds of wild reindeer include holiday cabins, roads, reservoirs, and railways. In November 2017, eight freight trains killed around 110 reindeer in Norway over a period of one week. TreeHugger said development has encroached on reindeer habitat, and the creatures are suffering. That’s not to mention climate change ; more frequent winter pasture freezes and thaws have also had a negative impact on the reindeer population, particularly in the Arctic north, according to Reuters. The outlet reported around 99 percent of Norway’s domestic energy needs are met by electricity generated in hydropower dams. Generating more power than they can utilize, the country is a net exporter to other Nordic nations and the Netherlands. In 2017, Norway licensed construction for two wind farms with a 141 MW combined capacity in the south of the country, as that region has grown more interested in wind energy in the last few years. So perhaps it wasn’t too difficult to make the call to prioritize reindeer over clean energy. TreeHugger referred to it as an inspiration: having enough renewable energy infrastructure that a country can decide in favor of wildlife when considering a new project. Via Reuters and TreeHugger Images via Espen Faugstad on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists uncover hidden Mayan city of 10M people in Guatemala

February 5, 2018 by  
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An international team of researchers have identified tens of thousands of previously unknown Mayan structures using a high-tech aerial mapping technology known as Lidar. Discovered in the jungles of Guatemala , the ancient structures include homes, pyramids, defense installations, large-scale agricultural fields, and irrigation canals, suggesting that up to 10 million people lived in the area at its peak. “That is two to three times more [inhabitants] than people were saying there were,” Marcello A Canuto, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, told The Guardian . Those that did live there clearly altered the landscape far more dramatically than previously thought. The research team, which includes scientists from the United States , Europe, and Guatemala working in collaboration with Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation , used Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging, to virtually cut through the thick jungle . Lidar works by bouncing pulsed laser light off of the ground to unveil contours otherwise hidden. In addition to its use in archaeology, lidar also serves to assist the control and navigation of self-driving cars. Further areas of lidar application include seismology, laser guidance, and atmospheric physics. Related: Hidden passageway discovered at ancient Mayan ruins The recent discoveries in the Peten region of Guatemala have shown that in some areas of the now-thick jungle, up to 95 percent of land was used for agriculture . “Their agriculture is much more intensive and therefore sustainable than we thought, and they were cultivating every inch of the land,” Francisco Estrada-Belli, research assistant professor at Tulane University, told The Guardian . To do so, the Mayans drained swampland that even today is considered unfit for farming. The large scale of the projects demonstrates the coordinated effort required to complete them. “There’s state involvement here, because we see large canals being dug that are re-directing natural water flows,” Thomas Garrison, assistant professor of anthropology at Ithaca College in New York, told The Guardian . Despite the discovery’s massive size, it would have likely remained unknown without Lidar technology. “I found [an ancient road],” explained Garrison, “but if I had not had the Lidar and known that that’s what it was, I would have walked right over it, because of how dense the jungle is.” Via The Guardian Images via Ithaca College and Depositphotos

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Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought

February 5, 2018 by  
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We’ve long known climate change will cause trouble for polar bears in the wild, but a new study reveals their metabolic rates are higher than we thought, and a changing environment is making it harder for them to snare enough food to satisfy energy needs. As they struggle to find prey, The Guardian reported they could go extinct faster than scientists previously feared. A team of scientists led by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) studied nine polar bears over three years during a time period in April, in the Beaufort Sea near Alaska . They discovered the bears required three juveniles or one adult ringed seal every 10 days. But five of the nine polar bears didn’t reach that goal during the study, and their body weight plummeted as a result – up to around 44 pounds, during one study period of 10 days. Related: Video of starving polar bear ‘rips your heart out of your chest’ USGS biologist Anthony Pagano told The Guardian, “We found a feast and famine lifestyle – if they missed out on seals it had a pretty dramatic effect on them. We were surprised to see such big changes in body masses, at a time when they should be putting on bulk to sustain them during the year. This and other studies suggest that polar bears aren’t able to meet their bodily demands like they once were.” Metabolic rates the scientists measured in the field averaged over 50 percent higher than previous studies predicted. Combined with other studies on drops in the numbers of polar bears recently, and their body condition, scientists say this new study, published this month in Science , reveals the bears are in a worse plight than we thought. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, per The Guardian. Polar bears hunt for prey on sea ice , but as that ice diminishes, many polar bears must resort to foraging for food on land – like in garbage bins of remote towns, according to The Guardian. + University of California, Santa Cruz + Science Via The Guardian Images via Jessica K. Robertson, U.S. Geological Survey and Anthony M. Pagano, USGS

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Tesla inks deal to turn 50,000 Australian homes into solar power generators

February 5, 2018 by  
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50,000 homes in South Australia will soon receive solar panels and Tesla batteries as part of a groundbreaking plan to transform homes into grid-connected power generators. This latest collaboration between the state of South Australia and Tesla seeks to create an interconnected energy system in which homes can share energy through a smart-grid system. Select homes will receive solar panels and rechargeable batteries for free, while the project will be funded by the sale of excess energy produced by linked, energy-producing homes. The recently announced plan is only the latest renewable energy initiative in South Australia, which began its comprehensive efforts towards clean power after a state-wide blackout in 2016. “My government has already delivered the world’s biggest battery, now we will deliver the world’s largest virtual power plant,” said state Premier Jay Weatherill in a statement . “We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with participating households benefiting with significant savings in their energy bills.” To be fair, South Australia’s big battery was a collaborative effort with Tesla, one that began with a bet in which Elon Musk offered to offer the battery for free if it was not built within 100 days. Related: South Australia to host world’s largest thermal solar plant Musk won that bet, but South Australia is reaping the victorious benefits of clean energy. The latest plan will begin with a trial phase in which 1,100 public housing projects will be equipped with a 5kW solar panel system Tesla battery. This will then be followed by similar installations at 24,000 public housing projects, with further accepted homes over the next four years. With up to 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt hours of battery storage, the clean energy potential of the interlinked 50,000 homes will be invaluable as Australia seeks to turn away from coal, the country’s main energy source. Via Phys.org Images via Tesla

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Tesla inks deal to turn 50,000 Australian homes into solar power generators

Organic spa was renovated with all-natural materials to capture the essence of the nearby Alps

January 23, 2018 by  
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Those seeking a bit of serenity from the chaos of everyday life should head straight to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in northern Slovenia. Local Enota Architects have recently renovated a beautiful wellness center for the boutique Hotel Plesnik . Located in a verdant valley, surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, the spa was built with organic materials and includes a natural swimming pool , which is filtered by aquatic plants. Located in arguably one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe, the Logarska Valley is an idyllic center for anyone looking to seek refuge from the daily hustle and bustle of life. According to the architects, the views of the alps in the distance was a strong inspiration for the renovation of the wellness center, propelling the team to exclusively use natural building materials in the renovation. Related: Red Mountain Retreat captures the essence of the rugged Icelandic landscape The center is divided into three sections: the sauna, the wellness space, and the entrance portal. On the interior, undulating pebble-lined walls lead guests to the sauna cabins. From the sauna area, guests can relax in the indoor/outdoor lounge area centered around a large fireplace. However, the heart of the spa can be found in the exterior spaces. To revamp the old space, which included an existing pool, the architects extended the amount of outdoor space. The former whirlpool was converted into a sunken circular resting area, surrounded by water and featuring a fire ring. The new sun deck was then installed with a new natural swimming pool , which is naturally filtered by aquatic plants, and offers jaw-dropping views of the mountain range in the background. + ENOTA Architects Images via ENOTA Architects

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Organic spa was renovated with all-natural materials to capture the essence of the nearby Alps

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