Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok

January 31, 2019 by  
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Officials in Bangkok have closed schools for the rest of the week amid growing concerns of toxic smog . The Ministry of Education in Thailand announced the closing of around 450 schools in Bangkok and the surrounding area this week as the government tries to deal with a massive pollution problem. The air quality in the city of Bangkok has dipped to unacceptable levels. The amount of dust particles — also referred to as PM2.5 — deemed dangerous to health has far exceeded acceptable standards. This fine particulate matter is hazardous to health , because it is tiny enough to enter the body and do considerable damage to organs. Related: Scientists find air pollution leads to a significant decline in cognition According to The Guardian , the massive amount of pollution is caused by poor construction standards, car exhaust, factory fumes and crop burning. The pollution is so large in scale that it is unable to escape the city, leaving people trapped in a toxic environment. To combat the situation, residents in Bangkok have been wearing respirator masks to avoid inhaling the fine particles. The government, which has been under considerable criticism for not actively fighting pollution , has attempted to make it rain in the city by seeding clouds. The rain helps fight pollution by trapping the toxic particles. Officials have also sprayed water in strategic locations to help decrease the amount of dangerous particles in the air . Residents have been avoiding burning incense, which is a popular activity over the Chinese New Year. Despite their efforts, authorities were forced to close down 437 schools in Bangkok. They also declared a “control area” around the city that is over 580 square miles in size. Officials hope that closing schools will help alleviate some of the traffic and reduce vehicle emissions. “The situation will be bad until February 3 to 4, so I decided to close schools,” Aswin Kwanmuang, the governor of Bangkok, shared. School authorities plan to look at the situation next week to determine if the closing should be extended. The air quality index in Bangkok was measured at 171 this week, which is the highest it has been in more than a year. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok

Brilliant home made out of cascading concrete planter boxes grows more than 40 types of edible plants

January 31, 2019 by  
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Built for a retired couple who loves to grow their own food, this home design by Kuala Lumpur-based firm FormZero is comprised of several concrete blocks planted with more than 40 types of edible plants on every floor. With various patio spaces that double as mini home gardens , the Planter Box House oscillates between garden, farm and living space. The home’s overall design was heavily influenced by Kuala Lumpur’s vernacular. Being that the area is a tropical region, the homes are often built with split bamboo, a practice that goes back to the area’s indigenous people. By using bamboo as form work for the concrete cladding, the architects not only paid homage to the local history and culture, but ensured a durable design that would last years. Using the two durable and low-maintenance materials added extra resilience to the design so that the three-story home could withstand heavy rain storms and local pollution. Related: Giant bamboo planters protect a Ho Chi Minh City home from the sun and rain In addition to the home’s resilient features, the architects worked closely with the homeowners to create a design that would enable the couple to grow their own food . Accordingly, the design is a 3,650 square feet building that spans over three stories, with every level outfitted with various concrete planters that provide ample space for growing a variety of plants. A custom-made irrigation system, a joint endeavor between the couple and the architects, enables the boxes to store and reuse rainwater. The cascading design was a strategic feature that helps each box enjoy optimal natural light , but also adds a system of natural air ventilation throughout the interior. On every floor of the home, large sliding glass doors that lead out to the balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows create a strong connection to the exterior. All-white walls and minimal furnishings, along with the abundance of greenery, will allow the homeowners to enjoy a healthy, self-sufficient lifestyle as they age. + FormZero Via Archdaily Photography by Ameen Deen via FormZer

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Brilliant home made out of cascading concrete planter boxes grows more than 40 types of edible plants

Airless tires could help Toyota make lighter electric cars

October 30, 2017 by  
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Airless tires could boost performance and cut down the weight of electric cars – and Toyota is interested. The automaker recently unveiled the hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride concept car fitted with the tires at the Tokyo Motor Show . The Fine-Comfort Ride is about as big as a crossover SUV, but chief engineer Takao Sato said the airless wheels could be used on any electric car. The airless tires on the Fine-Comfort Ride are comprised of a band of rubber around a plastic-aluminum hub, reports Bloomberg . Sumitomo Rubber Industries supplied the tires for Toyota . Sumitomo unveiled their Smart Tyre Concept, which includes the airless component, at the Tokyo Motor Show and said in a press release , “Airless tires contribute to greater safety and peace of mind in transportation by freeing the driver from worries about punctures and the trouble of having to manage tire pressure.” Sumitomo said there’s interest from other Japanese carmakers as well. Related: Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever Sato said, “For automakers, the attraction of airless tires is for electrified vehicles.” At the moment the concept tires still weigh about as much as pneumatic tires, but the technology could develop to trim five kilograms – around 11 pounds – from each tire. That’s around 30 percent of each tire’s weight, and the development could come as early as 2025. Sumitomo airless tire project head Wako Iwamura said he aims to have a commercial product by 2020, according to Bloomberg, and that his tires are already comparable in price with those requiring air. The company has already been testing the tires on golf carts and minicars. Sumitomo also pioneered what they called the world’s first 100 percent fossil resource-free tires using all-natural materials back in 2013, and said since then they’ve been working to create “proprietary biomass materials based on raw materials derived from plants .” Via Bloomberg Images via Toyota

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Airless tires could help Toyota make lighter electric cars

Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

October 30, 2017 by  
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A leading climate scientist — who has dedicated his career to proving the feasibility of transitioning the world off fossil fuels — walks the walk with his personal home. Professor of civil & environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, Mark Z. Jacobson has built an incredible Net Zero home using energy-efficient features that enable the house to generate all of its own energy from renewable sources . Jacobson is one of the founders of The Solutions Project , an initiative backed by scientific research that aims to show how every state in the USA can transition to 100 percent renewable energy . Using the organization’s ethos and his own research as a guide, Jacobson worked with luxury custom homebuilders, BONE Structure to design and build his ultra-efficient home . Related: This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero Located in Stanford, California, the structure is the epitome of future efficient home design that doesn’t sacrifice on style or comfort. The project’s planning began by creating an ultra-low energy thermal shell that would insulate the home and reduce energy requirements. Next, to generate and conserve energy, the home was equipped with solar panels along with a couple of Tesla Powerwall battery packs for storage. This system meets all of the home’s energy needs, including heating, cooling, plug loads and even transportation charging. Jacobson moved into his Net Zero home last summer and has been monitoring its performance ever since. Not only does his energy system generate enough clean energy to meet his family’s needs, but Jacobson has also been able to sell 67 percent of the clean electricity back to the utility grid. + BONE Structure

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Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change

October 30, 2017 by  
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International fossil-fuel corporations BP and Shell are preparing for a world in which global temperatures will have risen by 5 degrees Celsius, all but assuring catastrophic climate change , while publicly portraying themselves as supporters of the Paris agreement. A 5 degree temperature increase represents more than double the limit of 2 degrees set out and agreed to by most nations on Earth in the Paris agreement. This difference between publicly supported goals and privately pursued plans represent an effort to mislead the public and shareholders, claims investment campaign group Share Action. Because of the disparity in representing risk of catastrophic climate change by BP and Shell, the pensions of millions are at risk. Beyond the financial implications, such a stance may indicate BP and Shell’s commitment, or lack thereof, to the goal of the Paris agreement. In 2015, BP and Shell shareholders overwhelmingly voted to require the companies to make in-depth disclosures regarding climate risks posed by their business model. Although the companies are meeting their legal requirements, reports from Share Action suggest that they are failing to truly invest in a post-carbon business model required if the planet is to avoid catastrophic climate change. For example, the companies have not set emission reduction targets while their investment in renewable energy has fallen since 2005. BP invests only 1.3 percent of total capital expenditures on clean energy projects, while Shell has declared that it will invest 3 percent of its annual spending on clean energy by 2020. Related: Shell predicted the effects of climate change in its own 1991 film Although Shell recently reaffirmed its commitment to the goals of the Paris agreement (“Shell has a clear strategy, resilient in a 2°C world,” it said in a statement), executives at both BP and Shell are still incentivized to pursue new fossil-fuel heavy projects. “Shell and BP want to have their oil and drink it too, by advocating for the landmark Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C degrees, while planning for scenarios that would violate it,” said Michael Chaitow, senior campaigns officer at ShareAction. BP and Shell seem to be “poorly prepared for the speed of technological and economic change now underway in the global energy market ,” said Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction. In response to criticism, BP has said that the company “anticipates a range of scenarios to give us flexibility in our approach.” Via The Independent Images via Depositphotos (1)

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BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change

The circular economy is at an inflection point

September 28, 2017 by  
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Getting there requires walking the fine line between risk and opportunity.

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The circular economy is at an inflection point

A free man in Paris: Reflections on a week at COP21

December 12, 2015 by  
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What an emotionally combustible mix for me.First, the chance to be in the city where the fate of the planet is being discussed. Okay, so I wasn’t rubbing elbows with Lauren Fabius, Narendra Modi and Todd Stern negotiating the fine print of the COP21 accord. But to be in Paris along with 40,000 others dedicated to coming up with an agreement the save the planet, was stimulating.

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A free man in Paris: Reflections on a week at COP21

Japanese Restaurant Fines Diners For Not Finishing Their Meals

February 19, 2013 by  
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Thought your mom was harsh about finishing your meal ? At least she didn’t charge you for leaving food on your plate. The Hachikyo seafood restaurant in Sapporo, Japan will fine diners for not eating every last morsel of tsukko meshi,  a dish that consists of a mountain of salmon roe piled on top of a bed of rice. At around $20 USD, an extra fee might seem ridiculous, but there is a reason for such a penalty. Read the rest of Japanese Restaurant Fines Diners For Not Finishing Their Meals Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: donation , fine , fishermen , hachikiyo , Japan , penalty , rice , salmon roe , Sapporo , seafood , tsukko mehsi

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Japanese Restaurant Fines Diners For Not Finishing Their Meals

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