Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

April 17, 2017 by  
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Nuclear energy must be an option as humanity shifts away from fossil fuels , according to a recent article penned by four candidates of Finland’s Green Party , or Green League. The party strictly opposed the controversial fuel source in the past, but these four candidates said we’re running out of time to fight climate change and no longer have the luxury of picking between renewable energy and nuclear power. Humanity should take another look at nuclear power, according to Jakke Mäkelä, Tuomo Liljenbäck, Markus Norrgran, and Heidi Niskanen of the Finnish Greens. They wrote a March 6 blog post, translated by J.M. Korhonen , detailing why Finland should develop nuclear energy. Related: Germany’s massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working Finland’s temperatures are spiking quicker than any other place in the world due to climate change, according to Forbes contributor James Conca. The country has pledged to end coal use by 2030, but they’re also widely utilizing biomass . The four Greens condemned the government’s burning of wood chips for power since it emits carbon dioxide and will destroy forests . The Greens said renewable energy won’t be able to help us wean completely off fossil fuels yet. They said solar and wind work very well up to a point, but on a large scale require lots of raw materials and land. They pointed to Germany, which shuttered nuclear power plants, but the consequence was renewable energy largely replaced nuclear energy and not fossil fuels. The four Greens said we no longer have the option of choosing between renewables and nuclear. They wrote, “Unless we spend a lot more money in all clean energy sources, we are certain to be doomed.” Korhonen notes their viewpoint is not an official recommendation from the Green Party or of the Viite, the technology and science subgroup of which Mäkelä is vice-chairman and the others are members. It’s simply the opinion of the four candidates, who were up for election in Turku. The Green Party won 12 percent of the total vote in the recent elections, gaining seats and winning the largest share in their history. Via J.M. Korhonen and Forbes Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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100-foot spinning sails harvest wind to power ships

March 15, 2017 by  
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For the first time in nearly a century, a ship is about to be fitted with a set of “spinning sails” that harness the wind to help power it across the ocean—a technology that could significantly green up the process of trans-oceanic shipping. As The Guardian reports, the spinning or rotor sail was first invented in 1926 by German engineer Anton Flettner, who installed them on two ships, including one that crossed the Atlantic. The “sails” are actually rotating columns that work with the prevailing winds to generate forward thrust for ships. This modern trial of a new take on old technology is backed by Maersk, Shell ’s shipping arm and one of the largest shipping companies in the world. One Maersk tanker ship will be outfitted with two of the nearly 100-foot-tall spinning sails – which are manufactured by Finland’s Norsepower . How, exactly, do they work? The spinning sails employ a principle known as the Magnus effect , in which wind passing through the spinning rotor sail accelerates on one side, while decelerating on the other. The movement of the sail generates a “thrust force” perpendicular to the wind. Electricity from the ship powers the turning of the sails, and the force generated by the sails lets the ship’s engine throttle back to lower fuel consumption. Using these sails could theoretically cut the fuel consumption of global shipping by as much as 10 percent. Related: Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs in one day Add to that the fact that, when the winds are right, each of these sails can produce about 3 megawatts of power while only requiring 50 kilowatts to operate, and the ships also have a source of renewable energy on board. The rotor sail only failed during its first go-around in the 1920s because it couldn’t compete with diesel power at that time. Now, as the price of fossil fuels is on the rise and climate change is here, this technology could be ready to set sail. Via The Guardian Images via Norsepower

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Libeskind unveils zero-emissions university building designed in collaboration with students

March 14, 2017 by  
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A new building with exciting geometry and eco-friendly design is inspiring students at Leuphana University at Lüneburg, Germany. Architect Daniel Libeskind recently completed the New Central Building, a landmark university structure designed in collaboration with the students as part of the tradition at Leuphana University to involve students in campus changes. Topped with a green roof and powered by renewable energy, the light-filled sculptural building will operate at zero emissions . Created in the same gleaming and angular aesthetic common to Libeskind’s designs, the 13,000-square-meter zinc-clad New Central Building serves as a major university hub that promotes cross-disciplinary interaction and learning for students and faculty. The massive structure comprises four interlocking sculptural forms, each housing four programs: the Student Center that spans the height of the building; the three-story Seminar Center; the 1,100-seat Libeskind Auditorium; and the seven-story Research Center. Students contributed to the design process in seminars held by Professor Libeskind and other teachers at the university. Student participation spanned a wide spectrum, from the building and landscape design to the way-finding systems and interior design . “The idea for this project was to create a hub that would inspire the students through multiple connected spaces, infused with natural light and exciting new geometries,” said architect Daniel Libeskind. “It was a true creative collaboration by incorporating students ideas about program and design elements into the final design.” Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils spectacularly green physics center at Durham University In addition to aesthetics and a community-oriented design, the new student hub focuses heavily on sustainability. The energy-efficient New Central Building is powered by renewable energy and includes green roofs that can be seen from the interior, a gray water system , and an innovative structural Cobiax system. The zero-emissions building exceeds the EnEV (Energieeinsparverordnung = Energy-Saving Regulation), a standard that sets energy requirements for new buildings in Germany and also serves as a demonstration project of the Bundeswirtschaftsministerium (Federal Ministry of Economy) for energy-optimized design. + Daniel Libeskind Images via TK

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Libeskind unveils zero-emissions university building designed in collaboration with students

How Finland plans to completely eradicate tobacco use by 2040

January 27, 2017 by  
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Finland is looking to set a world standard for anti-smoking campaigns , with an ambitious new plan to make the country largely tobacco-free by 2040. That means the Finnish government wants less than 2 percent of adults in the country to consume tobacco in any form – be it cigarettes, snuff, pipes or e-cigarettes – by that time. According to CNN , smoking rates in Finland have been declining on par with those in other industrialized countries around the world – by and large due to things like bans on advertising and shop displays, as well as the creation of smoke-free public spaces. Still, the Finnish government has its work cut out for it, as 16 percent of 15 to 64-year olds in the country smoked as of 2013. That means they need to achieve a 14 percent reduction in just 23 years. Related: Coffee addict? It’s all in your DNA They’re hoping a “revolutionary” approach to tobacco reduction will help them meet the lofty goal. As CNN reports, instead of just targeting one area at a time, like exposure in public space or cigarette use, the Finnish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs plans to be precautionary in every angle, using a “comprehensive set of policies,” according to Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Kaari Paaso . They’re not going halfway by advocating for milder products that do less harm like e-cigarettes or snuff, as happened in neighboring Sweden. Instead, they’re moving to phase out all products. “We don’t want to fall into the trap of other policies that have less harmful products,” said Paaso, noting that he fears the promotion of other products will just create different problems for the health care system to confront down the road. “We want to phase out all products.” Finland plans to use a method that has worked in many other locations, raising the price of cigarettes, but with its own unique take. It plans to charge a licensing fee for vendors and an annual fee to pay for surveillance officers who ensure compliance with rules – which is sure to drive the price of tobacco up even further. Via CNN Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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How Finland plans to completely eradicate tobacco use by 2040

Norway wants to give Finland a mountaintop for its birthday

January 26, 2017 by  
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What do you give the country that has everything? The peak of a 4,500-foot mountain, naturally. As U.S. President Donald Trump continues to spew protectionist invective about walls both literal and figurative, the good people of Norway want to ring in Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence from Russia by giving it the top of Mount Halti, a feat of topography that would require the country to nudge its border 130 feet up the mountainside. Bjørn Geirr Harsson, a retired Norwegian geophysicist, arrived at the idea during gravity survey back in 1972. “I saw that the highest point in Finland was on a hillside and for Norway on a mountain, so I wrote a letter to the foreign ministry and proposed that a gift from the Norwegian people to Finland should be a mountaintop,” he said in Battle for Birthday Mountain , a new film about the proposed gift, and the legal and political debates it has generated in its wake. “All over the world you find countries that fight or make war to enlarge their countries, but in this case Norway is willing to give away a small part without anyone asking for anything return,” Geirr Harsson said. “It is a gift from the heart of the Norwegians to Finland so we don’t expect anything back; we just want to give them something really nice when they celebrate 100 years as a free nation.” Despite the idea’s widespread popularity—a Facebook group about the unusual present has rallied more than 17,000 likes—proponents of the idea face an uphill climb, so to speak. Norway’s constitution, as Prime Minister Erna Solberg notes in the film, stipulates that the country should remain “indivisible and inalienable,” meaning it can’t go around parceling out parts of its territory. “This creative proposal has received a very positive response from the public,” she said in October. “I welcome this and I see a clear sign that Norway and Finland have a close relationship,” adding that “the alteration of borders between countries causes too many judicial problems that could affect, for example, the Constitution.” Related: Norwegian Mountaineering Centre mimics a dramatic snow-covered mountain “We will think of another worthy gift to celebrate the occasion of [the] Finland centenary,” Solberg added. Despite the rejection, Geirr Harsson is not giving up, and neither are his supporters. “While we witness the rising tumult along international borders – from Ukraine and Russia, to the South China Sea, to Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico – the idea behind Birthday Mountain is a rare international gesture worth admiring,” David Freid, the film’s director, told The Local . “On the surface, this is a cute film about a very unique kind of gift between nations. But at its heart is something real and relevant.” Via the Independent

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Norway wants to give Finland a mountaintop for its birthday

Finland’s ‘School of the future’ prioritizes collaboration and interaction

January 10, 2017 by  
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Finland is well known for its innovative, personalized education system that is regarded among the best in the world. Now the country is also giving attention to the school buildings themselves, and how they could better engage young learners. Of note is the Saunalahti school in the city of Espoo. The fluid space designed by Verstas Architects looks more like a contemporary art space than a basic, if not dreary, brick and mortar public school building. All of the elements are purposefully designed in order to create a more positive learning experience for both children and the community. The school’s atmosphere, both inside and outside, is one of a warm welcome and connection with nature . The large windows mean that students need not feel disconnected or far from the outdoors. The brickwork was intentionally arranged in different building methods and in random patterns to help encourage the children’s learning. Each hallway is a distinct color, to help avoid getting lost. Notably absent are any fences.The unconventional learning space lends itself toward the inclusive, collaborative approach Finland’s education system is well known for. Related: Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income Across this 10,500 square meters of the school, students are invited to have open discussions, and sit comfortably as they choose. The cafeteria, shared by both teachers and students, doubles as a theater . The school’s open spaces are intentional-to inspire students to walk around and engage with one another. The school also plays a role in the wider community, and is open to all citizens of the community after school hours. The overall affect is one of learning without walls. The school, thanks to its design, sets a tone for students to thrive. + Saunalahti School Via Arch Daily

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Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income of 560 Euros a month

January 3, 2017 by  
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As of January 1, 2017 Finland is providing 2,000 unemployed citizens with a basic income of 560 Euros every month for two years. The nation hopes that the experiment will improve quality of life for its citizens while opening up new jobs. Helsinki University social policy professor Heikki Hiilamo told The New York Times : “Basic income is kind of a symbol that we believe in your capacity and we think that you are actually able to do things which are beneficial to you, and also for your community. It’s built on a kind of a positive view of human beings. People want to be autonomous. They want to improve their well-being.” If you currently collect unemployment in Finland, you risk losing your benefits if you start to bring in side income. The country has discovered that the regulations behind this safety net effectively deter people from seeking part-time jobs. Starting a new company or joining a startup is also risky, and many people need the reliability of an unemployment check. In contrast, those receiving basic income under the new experiment won’t risk losing a steady income if they start making money on the side. Related: Ontario is rolling out a basic income test for citizens living under the poverty line Over two years, the Finnish government will watch how people utilize basic income. Will they take a risk in business , or will they pursue higher education to secure better jobs? Will they sit on a couch at home playing video games? The government will randomly choose unemployed citizens to receive 560 Euros, or around $580, each month. The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) will implement the experiment. Kela’s research department head Olli Kangas told The New York Times, “Some people think basic income will solve every problem under the sun, and some people think it’s from the hand of Satan and will destroy our work ethic. I’m hoping we can create some knowledge on this issue.” Via The New York Times Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income of 560 Euros a month

Finnish gaming company wraps new circular headquarters in solar panels

December 29, 2016 by  
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Finnish gaming company Paf has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by wrapping their circular new headquarters in solar panels . The building, designed in collaboration between architecture firm Murman Arkitekter , interior designer Bettina Ingves and Passive House expert Hans Eek, features an interior layout based on research into optimizing positive human interaction. The main aspects of the building, located in Mariehamn, capital of Åland in Finland, are its energy-saving potential and establishing a healthy work environment that encourages collaboration and increased productivity. Solar cells are integrated into the curved facade, minimizing heat loss . Laminated wood dominates the interior and creates a warm atmosphere for Paf’s 200 employees. Related: Brand New Aarhus Office Building Covered In A Wall Of Solar Panels “The building is designed to suit the variety of forms of collaboration that we need in a complex organization like ours,” said Anders Sims, Communications Director at Paf. “In our new office the workspaces are separated by glass walls to increase visibility. Research shows that people who see each other often tend to work better. This communal atmosphere is central to our work, as it is in all our operations and in Paf’s approach to our customers”. + Murman Arkitekter

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Russia investigating men who brutally ran over a bear with heavy trucks

December 29, 2016 by  
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Russia has launched a criminal investigation after a horrifying YouTube video showed men in Siberia driving heavy duty trucks over a brown bear . One man can be heard yelling for the others to crush the poor animal . Many people are outraged over their atrocious treatment of the bear that ultimately led to its death, and Russia’s environment minister is now calling for tough punishment for the “villains.” In the appalling YouTube video, men ran over the bear in off-road trucks typically operated by mining and oil workers. The video, which looked as it it was filmed on a cell phone, showed the men driving trucks over the bear several times in the snow, as one man yelled “Squash him! Squash him!” The words “It’s still alive,” could be heard as the men prodded the animal using a metal rod, while it struggled to escape before it perished. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China The video has since been taken down, but the crime is too enormous to be forgotten. Russian investigators in Yakutia, a northern region of the country, opened a criminal inquiry. They said the men work for a mineral prospecting company, and they could face up to two years in jail due to sadistic treatment of the animal. Russian media reported on the sickening video, sparking anger from the public. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi posted on social media, “There should be real jail time for this sort of crime! We’ll make sure these villains get the most serious punishment.” According to The Guardian , people working in the oil and mining industries in Siberia come into conflict more often with animals – including bears, which can be dangerous. People in this area of the world are legally allowed to shoot bears if they don’t go into hibernation and wander near villages or towns. But that can never excuse the way these men cruelly treated the bear. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Cozy READER shelter made from plywood offers escape into the world of books

December 29, 2016 by  
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Have you ever fantasized about burrowing into a tree trunk like a squirrel? First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts designed and built this cozy timber shelter that lets you experience something similar without going too far off the ground. Made from curved pieces of plywood , this cavernous installation is ribbed to mimic pages of a book and offers seating perfect for curling up on with a good novel. Developed in 2015 as part of an annual student architecture project, READER was selected out of 15 designs for construction and temporary display in the heart of Tallinn. When viewed from afar, READER appears as a solid cuboid mass. Upon closer inspection however, the shelter reveals itself to be made from individual plywood sheets evenly spaced apart. The project was constructed over the course of five days and is elevated atop nine adjustable legs. Related: Gigantic wooden megaphones amplify the sounds of the forest in Estonia READER can be entered via a round opening that leads to an inner winding path that diverges into two and rises and falls like a small hill. The individual pine plywood panels are connected by spruce logs and are cut to slightly different sizes for an undulating tunnel effect. The student architects invite the public to enter and “escape from the real world of problems into the fictional world of books.” READER is currently on display in a grove in Pedaspea, Lahemaa, North-Estonia as part of an outdoor exhibit that showcases student work. + Estonian Academy of Arts Via ArchDaily Images © Paco Ulman

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