Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

September 19, 2017 by  
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Instead of reconstructing the existing electricity grid, we can leapfrog ahead with technologies that make the Caribbean region less vulnerable to future storms.

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Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

NASA scientists propose to make Pluto a planet again

February 21, 2017 by  
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Alan Stern has never been happy with Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet. Principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission, he told Gizmodo the International Astronomical Union’s new definition of a planet, which excludes Pluto, is “bullshit.” So he and a team of other NASA scientists have submitted a proposal to the IAU to once again refine the definition of what makes a planet, which would not only include Pluto , but also pretty much any round object in space that is smaller than a star. In the introduction of the new proposal , the scientists express concern that Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet diminishes its standing in the public perception. Apparently a lot of people want to know why NASA sent New Horizons to Pluto if it’s not a planet anymore. To mitigate the public’s concern, they propose a “geophysically-based definition of “planet” that importantly emphasizes a body’s intrinsic physical properties over its extrinsic orbital properties.” In this case, a planet would be “a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameters.” Related: New evidence of clouds could make Pluto a planet again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmqDpuDLVYw As Gizmodo points out, such a definition would make a lot more objects in space planets, including Earth’s moon , but the existing definition excludes a lot of space bodies that deserve new consideration. Here are a few of NASA’s concerns with the existing definition of planets, as broken down by Science Alert: “First, it recognises as planets only those objects orbiting our Sun, not those orbiting other stars or orbiting freely in the galaxy as ‘rogue planets’,” they explain. Second, the fact that it requires zone-clearing means “no planet in our Solar System” can satisfy the criteria, since a number of small cosmic bodies are constantly flying through planetary orbits – including Earth’s. Finally, and “most severely”, they say, this zone-clearing stipulation means the mathematics used to confirm if a cosmic body is actually a planet must be distance-dependent, because a “zone” must be clarified. This would require progressively larger objects in each successive zone, and “even an Earth-sized object in the Kuiper Belt would not clear its zone.” While Stern formerly expressed concern that astronomers, not planetary scientists, have control over this definition, the final decision rests with the IAU. Pluto fans stay tuned. Via Gizmodo Images via NASA

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NASA scientists propose to make Pluto a planet again

Inhabitat is giving away an organic Avocado Green Mattress

February 21, 2017 by  
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We spend one third of our lives sleeping, but how many of us have taken the time to learn what’s inside our mattresses? Studies have found that conventional mattresses contain toxic levels of volatile organic compounds that could be the source of many ailments, including chronic allergies, asthma, sleep problems, endocrine problems and even cancer. And once traditional mattresses bite the dust, their synthetic materials resist degradation, resulting in an enduring toxic legacy that would give anyone insomnia. If you’re looking for a new mattress and really want to rest assured, here’s your chance to win the best sleep of your life. We’re giving away your choice of an Avocado Green Mattress made from 100 percent natural latex harvested from tree-­tapped and sustainable sources, 100 percent natural Joma® New Zealand Wool, and certified organic cotton. This completely non­toxic, luxurious mattress, made with chemical-free, biodegradable, and compostable materials, is far better for both you and the planet. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! Win your choice of an Avocado Green Mattress , Standard or Pillow-Top, in your preferred size: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, or California King. a Rafflecopter giveaway Contest open only to residents of the continental U.S. Handmade in sunny California, the Avocado Green Mattress is all about luxury and transparency. Using 100 percent natural hydrated silica as a fire barrier, the Avocado isn’t filled with the dangerous flame retardants or petroleum­-based foams that traditional mattresses contain. Each mattress is made to order and hand-tufted without chemical adhesives, formaldehyde, heavy metals, or other toxic substances. Made with natural and organic materials, the Avocado’s eco-INSTITUT®-certified, chemical­-free design is surprisingly more durable than synthetic materials, nor does it come with that unpleasant, chemical odor most new mattresses carry. And the natural latex , natural Joma® New Zealand Wool and GOTS-­certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic and pesticide-free cotton make this mattress a healthy and sustainable choice. Wool and cotton also naturally regulate temperature and moisture wicking, giving the Avocado mattress superior insulating and cooling properties. Part of Avocado’s hybrid design includes a support layer filled with up to 1,303 ergonomic, individually ­pocketed support coils. This allows for cooler, more durable support than standard foam mattresses. Made from recycled steel, this support system is tuned to three strategically positioned comfort zones that provide incredible support to the hips, back and shoulders. There’s never any need to flip an Avocado mattress – just rotate it. The Standard Avocado Green Mattress is ideal for back and stomach sleepers, characterized by a gentle, yet perfectly firm feel. Its 11-inch-thick base delivers a balanced level of firmness, comfort and support to create a natural sleeping environment. If you want even more luxury, you can instantly upgrade to a plush European-­style feel when the mattress is topped with the optional Pillow­-Top. Its extra 2­-inch layer of 100 percent natural Dunlop latex rubber foam is perfect for side and back sleepers, athletes, and those in need of intense pressure relief. If you aren’t the lucky winner in this giveaway, don’t fret. The Avocado is relatively affordable for a luxury mattress, starting at $959. Each one comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial, 10-year warranty, free shipping and returns, and financing with rates as low as 0% APR. For an extra $99, the company will send someone over to set up your new bed for you. Enter above for your chance to win, and dream of sleep in the lap of luxury. + Avocado Green Mattress

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Inhabitat is giving away an organic Avocado Green Mattress

Friends and family help repurpose a concrete carport into an inspiring home for an ALS patient

December 6, 2016 by  
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This temporary residence facilitates both physical and mental accessibility for a client diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). With the help of more than a 100 friends and family of the client, design studio Wim Goes Architectuur repurposed an existing concrete carport, which proved to be more suitable than the existing house, and created an environment that focuses on hope instead of sickness. Once the client no longer needs the space, most of the construction materials can be recycled or reused, celebrating the circle of life. The architects met with the client’s ergotherapist to figure out a solution that would work best for the client’s limiting circumstances. They converted the existing concrete carport into a barrier-free space built with the help of more than 100 friends and family members, and tutoring from professionals experienced with sustainable heating , ventilation, and home automation . Related: Assisted living home replicates a friendly American neighborhood to help treat patient memory loss After demolition, 83% of the project – straw and loam – will be used for fertilizing the landscape. All the technical equipment is returnable, while glass, metal and wood elements can be recycled . The entire project, including its construction, was designed to celebrate the circle of life. + Wim Goes Architectuur Via Archdaily Photos by Filip Dujardin

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Friends and family help repurpose a concrete carport into an inspiring home for an ALS patient

Heres every bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how to switch

December 6, 2016 by  
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People around the world are celebrating the U.S. Army Corps’ decision to block the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, but that doesn’t mean the project is not forging forward in other areas. Locals at Standing Rock fear that this move is just a foil and a way to avoid protesters at the build site. Although many of us can’t join in the fight for tribal rights and clean water, we can make a powerful statement – by switching financial institutions away from banks funding the 1,172-mile-long underground pipeline set to transport crude oil across four states from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois. Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, recently announced that it had sold its assets in the Dakota Access Pipeline and that it is reconsidering its loan, accounting for 10 percent of the total funding for the project. There are 17 banks directly funding the pipeline project, according to Food & Water Watch. They are: Wells Fargo BNP Paribas SunTrust The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Mizuho Bank Citibank (CitiGroup) TD Securities Credit Agricole Intesa SanPaolo ING Bank Natixis BayernLB BBVA Securities DBN Capital ICBC London SMBC Nikko Securities Societe General Related: Sign this petition to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Switching banks is not just a form of protest at this point. While a long shot, a massive movement of money out of the project’s primary lenders could convince these banks to back out. The financial institutions are holding on to the remaining $1.4 billion that is needed to complete the pipeline, pending approval of final permits by the Army Corps of Engineers. After closing your account, you will of course want to open an account at a bank that isn’t financing environmental destruction and the trampling of Indigenous rights. Options include banks that fund renewable energy projects, community banks and credit unions. Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation Banks supporting renewable energy Since the Connecticut Green Bank was founded in 2011 as the first green bank in the United States, green banks have expanded to New York, California and other states. Green banks are great tools for accelerating financing of clean energy projects by using public funds to leverage private capital investment. While green banks should be encouraged at every level of government, you will need a checking account from a commercial bank that invests in clean energy after switching out of one of the 17 banks financing DAPL. A 2014 Bloomberg Markets’ ranking of the world’s greenest banks includes Royal Bank of Canada, Goldman Sachs, Spain’s Banco Santander SA, UniCredit SpA of Italy, HSBC Holdings Plc of the UK, SEB AB of Sweden, Credit Suisse Group AG of Switzerland and JPMorgan Chase. However, it is important to keep in mind that in addition to renewables many of these financial institutions also invest in dirty energy projects. Community banks After big banks brought the economy to its knees during the 2008 Wall Street crash, many Americans rediscovered independent, locally owned and operated financial institutions, otherwise known as community banks . These old-fashioned neighborhood banks are a great way to go. Instead of investing in megaprojects like DAPL, community banks typically finance local projects that benefit the community they are located in. Credit Unions Switching to a credit union is another option. Credit unions are democratically controlled by members, not shareholders. They are not-for-profit institutions funded mostly by voluntary member deposits. Credit unions can also finance community and residential renewable energy projects such as solar PV, solar hot water, geothermal energy and energy efficiency sealing and insulation. Images via Sacred Stone Camp and Rob Wilson , Wikimedia Commons , Duncan Smith/Corbis , and The Street

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Heres every bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how to switch

Montreal home expansion adds light and warmth without sacrificing an existing poplar tree

May 27, 2016 by  
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Located in Plateau Mont-Royal, the 1700-square-foot home expansion project was designed with primary consideration to preserving the large poplar rooted in the backyard. The addition would have to maintain respect for the centurion home’s original character while maximizing the space between the existing exterior wall and the root system of the enormous tree , which wasn’t much. It was a tall order, so Microclimat served up a tall solution. The three-level addition rises over the rear garden with two stories of picture windows, forging a strong connection between life inside the home and the world outside. Related: Scale-like brick facades envelop Des Écailles residences in Montreal The new space was integrated into the older part of the home through two new large openings in the existing brick wall. A light steel staircase serves as a filter between the interior and exterior spaces, balancing the new square-footage without sacrificing the home’s cozy feel. The addition creates two sunrooms near the new wooden windows provide a relaxing retreat overlooking the charming backyard and that sprawling poplar. The stairs lead to a mezzanine level, which houses the master bedroom and offers direct access to a new rooftop terrace. In the midst of the city, such connecting with nature can be a challenge. It’s impressive that Microclimat could create such a light, airy design without infringing on the tall poplar tree, especially considering many homeowners would have simply cut it down. + Architecture Microclimat Via v2com Images via Adrien Williams

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Montreal home expansion adds light and warmth without sacrificing an existing poplar tree

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Will Have a Brother on Mars by 2020

December 5, 2012 by  
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NASA has announced that it is building a successor to the Curiosity rover currently roaming Mars . Building on the success of the ongoing exploratory mission on the red planet, the space agency will essentially replicate the existing rover model’s architecture in order to drive down costs and risk. The new rover is expected to launch in 2020 and Curiosity may well be there to welcome it. Read the rest of NASA’s Curiosity Rover Will Have a Brother on Mars by 2020 Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2020 , Curiosity , exploration , mars , nasa , Rover , science , space , Technology

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Will Have a Brother on Mars by 2020

Beautiful Mexican ‘Casa en el Bosque’ Designed to Adapt to the Existing Pine Forest

January 10, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Beautiful Mexican ‘Casa en el Bosque’ Designed to Adapt to the Existing Pine Forest Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Architecture , green materials , locally sourced materials , mexican design , mexico , nature views , stone wall , Sustainable Materials

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Beautiful Mexican ‘Casa en el Bosque’ Designed to Adapt to the Existing Pine Forest

A Green Roof is Evolving at the Museum of London

August 24, 2011 by  
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Photo: B.Alter As part of the Museum of London ‘s massive refurbishment, they have begun to install an ambitious green roof on the top of the building. This will be a long-term research and demonstration project, rather than the sexy public spaces that we have seen on other buildings. By having a number of different habitats, it will show the diversity that green roofs can have. There are plans for wildflower meadows, wetland areas, bluebell wood and planted walls. All using recycled materials from the existing roof. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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A Green Roof is Evolving at the Museum of London

New Fishing Tactic Gains in Popularity Among Dolphins

August 24, 2011 by  
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Photo: creativedc / cc It’s commonly stated that dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on Earth, but the latest research is proving once again that this lofty assessment of their smarts is well-deserved. Researchers studying bottlenose dolphins in West Australia recently discovered the animals employing a remarkably inventive technique, called ‘conching’, to nab their meals — essentially using a conch shell like a baseball glove to catch fish — and that more and more dolphins are ditching their traditional hunting methods for this ne… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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New Fishing Tactic Gains in Popularity Among Dolphins

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