Hey big tech, history is watching you

September 19, 2019 by  
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While Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google are progressive on some fronts, their overall corporate strategies to avert climate change have sketchy.

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Hey big tech, history is watching you

Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

July 12, 2019 by  
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What do 4,300 birds, 1,500 reptiles, 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 23 primates, 70 truckloads of timber and 30 big cats all have in common? No, they’re not the residents of a new zoo — all of these critical plants and animals were seized in a major international operation that cracked down on wildlife smuggling. Throughout the month of June, international police and customs authorities united for ‘Operation Thunderball’ and rescued an astonishing number of dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, birds, tortoises, parakeets, finches, ivory and rhino horns. The operation was carried out in more than 100 countries and hopefully dealt a serious blow to the $19 billion dollar illegal wildlife trafficking industry. Over 600 suspects have been identified, with 21 arrests in Spain and three arrests in Uruguay. Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said Operation Thunderball “underscores why international cooperation is so important to addressing this deadly criminal activity.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Wildlife trafficking is a major industry that not only hurts the environment and targets endangered species , but it also supports a far-reaching, violent criminal network. Much of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted online to an internet-based black market. For example, in April of this year, Indonesian police officers detained smugglers who admitted to using Facebook for selling Komodo dragons. International animal rights advocates, police and conservationists agree that Operation Thunderball was a massive success for the fight against the illegal animal trade. But some argue that national authorities now need to pick up where the international authorities left off and fully prosecute the detained criminals. This will help set an example and further debilitate the illegal network. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This massive disruption of criminal networks is key to saving endangered wildlife across the globe, but seizures and arrests are only the first step — governments now must follow up with strong, meaningful prosecutions.” + Interpol Via New York Times Images via © INTERPOL

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Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

Facebook is now the proud owner of a massive solar farm

May 31, 2019 by  
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The deal represents another new twist in the corporate renewables movement.

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Facebook is now the proud owner of a massive solar farm

Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

May 31, 2019 by  
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The island-state imports most of its food, but is threatened by crop yields and policy changes around the world.

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Food security is a huge threat to Singapore — is urban farming the answer?

Penalties for protesting pipelines increase in 15 states

May 16, 2019 by  
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At least 15 states have passed or proposed bills that further criminalize trespassing on fossil fuel infrastructure, a trend that environmental and free speech advocates argue unnecessarily targets pipeline protesters and indigenous leaders. In 2018, Louisiana passed a bill that makes trespassing on so-called “critical infrastructure” a more serious offense than existing trespassing laws. While trespassing has long been considered a misdemeanor, the law now specifies that the same act on particular private property is now a felony. Throughout the country, trespassing laws have been edited to define ‘critical infrastructure’ as fossil fuel facilities, including proposed pipeline routes where there is no existing infrastructure yet. Related: For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail “These are people saying, ‘let’s make sure we have something left for future generations’ … and for that we were charged with felonies, we were beaten, we were stepped on, I was choked,” Cherri Foytlin, a pipeline protester in Louisiana,  told the press . Similar laws have passed in Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Indiana and Iowa. The backlash is largely due to the massive 2017 protest of a pipeline at Standing Rock , led by the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. Bi-partisan supporters of the states’ new legislation argue that the intent is to dissuade acts of terrorism; however, many opponents feel the existing trespassing laws were sufficient. For many environmental activists, these new laws are further proof of the government’s allegiance to the fossil fuel industry, and they believe threats of felonies, jail time and high fines will discourage other activists from voicing their opinions against pipeline development. Across 15 states, possible consequences include 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Those who do not trespass themselves but merely support activists verbally or financially are also liable before the law. This month, the Natural Resources Defense Council published an alarming blog post inquiring if merely “liking” a Facebook post about a pipeline protest could be considered illegal under South Dakota’s newest legislation. In Indiana’s Bill 471 , so-called “conspirators” can also be fined up to $100,000. Via Grist Image via Luke Jones

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Penalties for protesting pipelines increase in 15 states

Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline

January 4, 2019 by  
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What started out as a high-profile beachside wedding turned into a useful and long-term solution to beach access issues along the California coastline. When Napster founder and original president of Facebook Sean Parker started planning his 2013 beachfront wedding to then-fiance Alexandra Lenas, he had no idea that he was breaking land usage rules. With a redwood grove in mind, he simply leased the space from the hotel that fringed the area. He then spent months having the perfect set built. It included a 20-foot high fence, Roman pillars, bridges, a faux cottage and rock walls. Things were shaping up for the idyllic wedding when the California Coastal Commission (CCC) showed up and shut down progress. A little known agency, the CCC is responsible for maintaining access to over 1,200 miles of coastline. Enforcing a 1972 voter mandate, the organization aims to regulate the coast so that it is accessible to more people in a responsible way. So when the CCC heard a report of Parker’s construction, it came in with some harsh news — the hotel that Parker was leasing from did not have permission to lease him the space. Not only that, but the site of the wedding was supposed to be a public camping area that had been closed by the hotel six years earlier due to water quality issues without permission from the CCC. Related: California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses Fines for limiting beach access run high, and even though it wasn’t Sean’s fault, he sat down with the CCC to figure out a solution. According to the Coastal Act, violators can be fined $1,000 to $15,000 per day that they are in violation. That added up to a whopping $2.5 million dollars, which Parker agreed to pay on behalf of the hotel. Instead of going to the CCC, however, the funds were used to create hiking trails, fund field trips, reopen the campground, fix the water issues and otherwise promote public access to the Big Sur area. But the story doesn’t stop there. During conversations that eventually resulted in the CCC allowing the wedding to continue at the site, representatives mentioned the idea of developing an app where iOS users could find information about the 1,563 access points up and down the California coastline. Parker jumped on board and agreed to develop the app. Unveiled in December, the YourCoast app spent five years in development with teams from both sides working together. Parker’s team brought the technology to the table and received the decades of detailed information collected by members of the CCC. In the past, the constantly updated spreadsheet of information gathered about each access point was published in a book every few years and was periodically updated on the CCC website. Now, each access is shown on a map within the app, with additional information about each one when you click on it. With the financial and technological resources Parker provided, the public now has up-to-date data on closures, access points and photos of each path. The app also delineates amenities of each beach, such as whether there is wheelchair access, restrooms, off-street parking, lifeguards or fishing . Many of the access points are well disguised by natural overgrowth or less-than-helpful neighbors. Some are merely a small sign, fence or alley access, so without the YourCoast app, most people never know about them. Others are falsely marked with “No Parking” or “No Beach Access” signs to further discourage visitors, which is in direct violation of the Coastal Act. The CCC has a huge responsibility for such a small organization. The creation of the app has brought the commission from an era where it still doesn’t have Wi-Fi in the main office to an online resource available to any iOS user. Plans are in the works to also make the app accessible to Google and other Android users. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires While the information is now front and center to the public, there is still the ongoing problem of policing businesses and residents along the coast who actively restrict access to the beach. In fact, the six- to 10-person violations team has a backlog of thousands of cases. The app allows users to report violations and submit pictures of their own, so that they can help with the problem. Some areas of the coastline are very remote, and with that much territory to cover, it’s difficult for the CCC to monitor it all. For those users that visit the more remote regions, YourCoast allows them to download information for use without cell service. Although it was an unusual course of events that brought Parker and the CCC together, both parties are happy to have found a creative solution that brings great value to the public and facilitates the goals of the CCC in promoting access to state coastlines. Additional sections of the settlement agreement required Parker to safely remove all the infrastructure used in the wedding, and he must produce an educational video for the public and ensure that it goes viral. + YourCoast Via LA Times Images via USFWS , James Smith and Inhabitat

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Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline

Movement to save grizzly bears from hunters scores a victory

July 30, 2018 by  
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Thomas Mangelsen, the animal photographer who brought fame to Yellowstone’s “Grizzly 399,” has been selected to receive a hunting license in Wyoming. Mangelsen was one of 7,000 hopeful lottery applicants to appear on the “Issuance List” released on Thursday by the state’s Game and Fish Department. However, unlike the majority of entrants in Yellowstone’s first bear hunt in nearly half a century, Mangelsen hopes to tag his catch in a photo rather than a body bag. Mangelsen’s application was part of the “Shoot ‘Em with a Camera, Not a Gun” campaign, which wildlife activists launched in an effort to lower the number of hunters granted licenses in Wyoming’s bear permit lottery. The randomly selected candidates were drawn in order of when they will be given access to the hunting grounds; only one ticket holder will be allowed in the zone at a time. Each hunter is given a maximum of 10 days to “tag” – that is to say, kill – a grizzly before the next individual is allowed in. The hunt will last either two months or until the quota of 22 kills is met. Related: Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming Mangelsen was happy to report on Shoot ‘Em With A Camera’s Facebook page that he had drawn the eighth slot in the 2018 hunt and would most likely be able to save at least one bear, or possibly more. “The odds of winning a tag were extremely low considering over 7,000 people applied,” the photographer noted. “There are certain circumstances that would keep me from getting in the field, but if given the opportunity, you can be sure that I will be buying the $600 license and spending all of the allotted ten days hunting with a camera. With only one person allowed in the field at one time, hopefully the ten days I take up will save the lives of some of these amazing animals.” Related: Trump administration wants to allow “extreme and cruel” hunting methods in Alaska The activist group was formed in Jackson, Wyoming on account of the bears’ 2017 removal from the Endangered Species Act list of threatened wildlife and the opening of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana’s hunting seasons. The group has raised just over $40,000 to stop the hunting expeditions through their Go Fund Me page and allied themselves with a network of environmental champions such as primatologist Jane Goodall and the Center for Biological Diversity’s Stop the Griz Hunt organization. + Shoot ‘Em With A Camera + Go Fund Me + Stop The Griz Hunt Via NPR and USA Today

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Movement to save grizzly bears from hunters scores a victory

Cleverly rotated volumes make the most of a tiny Shanghai apartment

July 30, 2018 by  
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With a population of over 24 million, it’s no wonder that apartments are small in the Chinese mega-city of Shanghai . Thanks to clever space-saving techniques and design, however, making life pleasant in small spaces is more than possible, as seen in this recent apartment renovation on Kangping Road. Local architecture practice TOWOdesign transformed a tiny apartment into the 10 Degrees House, a multifunctional abode that uses enclosed volumes to cleverly delineate its various programs while maintaining an open and colorful character. Despite the 430-square-foot apartment’s small footprint , the brief asked for a home that would include a bedroom as well as an office, entertainment area, storage and all other functions necessary in daily living. Rather than walls, the TOWOdesign inserted four “function boxes” with curved edges, each of which services a different program. The four boxes include the bedroom, bath, entertainment space and the centrally placed kitchen with integrated storage. All of the boxes are wrapped in light-colored timber, except for the kitchen unit that is covered in glossy, bright yellow panels. “However, some contradictions appeared after placing the boxes in this small space, especially the box for entertainment; it blocked the entire flow line and view of the whole space,” the architects said in a project statement. “Therefore, TOWOdesign made some adjustment to the previous design. They rotated all the functional boxes by 10 degrees; in this way, said problems were all solved perfectly. What’s more, the 10 degree rotation made some interesting intersections. For example, next to the box for resting, the intersection space happens to be good for installing a staircase with storage cabinets hidden, which is very flexible and practical.” Related: This kitchen in a box makes it easy to cook in micro-apartments and tiny homes The spaces in between the rotated volumes, such as the living room and open kitchen, feel spacious thanks to the use of white walls and large mirrors. Space-saving elements, like the folding dining table and plenty of hidden storage, help reduce visual clutter. + TOWOdesign Images by TOWOdesign

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Cleverly rotated volumes make the most of a tiny Shanghai apartment

Episode 127: The 30 Under 30 speak, ‘recommerce’ is becoming a thing

June 8, 2018 by  
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A mashup of eBay and Facebook evolves, and young sustainability leaders speak.

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Episode 127: The 30 Under 30 speak, ‘recommerce’ is becoming a thing

The data on green data centers is still pretty cloudy

April 24, 2018 by  
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Efficiency gains and clean power investments are adding up for companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, but the pace of digital expansion is making it tough to keep up.

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The data on green data centers is still pretty cloudy

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