Power and publicity trump protection in large marine protected areas

May 15, 2019 by  
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Nations have just one more year to reach the global marine conservation goal to protect 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020. Although 7 percent is already legally protected, many new declarations are massive, offshore areas. Some conservationists argue these offshore achievements fail to protect more critical coastal waters and may even be aggressive ocean-grabs by colonial powers. The goal to legally protect 10 percent of the ocean was ratified under the Convention of Biological Diversity in 2010, and in 2015 it was added to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. According to the World Database of Protected Areas , although 7 percent of the ocean is protected, only 20 marine protected areas account for 70 percent of that area. Offshore areas have significantly fewer stressors than coastal areas, including fishing, tourism, development and mining and host considerably less biodiversity. By contrast, coastal coral reefs are home to 25 percent of all marine species. Related: Drones — the future of ocean conservation Because of the diversity in both uses and species, governments have a difficult time finding compromises to effectively declare and sustainably manage coastal areas, but they can easily make headlines and reach their targets by sectioning off large areas of deep sea. The colonization of marine protected areas Ecological concerns are not the only issue. Many critics also believe political — and colonial — power dynamics are behind these declarations. In recent years, the United States, Britain and France have declared large protected areas in their island territories, while declaring very few at home. The U.S. has less than 1 percent of continental waters under legal designation, while 43 percent of its colonial ocean territories are under protected status. England has just 2.9 square miles of marine protected areas but controls 1.5 million square miles around its territories. Control and displacement in the Indian Ocean In the 1960s, Britain maintained the Chagos Archipelago islands in the Indian Ocean, even after granting independence to nearby Mauritius. In order to make a naval base, the British forcibly removed 2,000 citizens who have spent decades demanding to be allowed to return to their homeland and continue their traditional fishing practices. In 2010, Britain declared the islands a protected area, and suddenly, peoples’ traditions became a crime. Despite official claims that the protected area had nothing to do with preventing displaced people from returning to their homeland, leaked documents revealed an explicit connection to this motive. In 2019, the International Court of Justice at The Hague declared Britain’s actions wrongful and ordered the island to be handed back to Mauritius. Why prioritize coastal areas? Larger protected areas are praised for their ability to preserve more space for migratory species like whales and tuna and for protecting deep sea areas from future exploitation. The problem, however, is when large offshore declarations distract attention from the harder work of protecting coastal zones. The declaration of protected or managed coastal areas requires compromise from many different stakeholders, including transportation, businesses, hotels, local fishers and coastal residents. Unsustainable development, pollution and competing interests exacerbate environmental degradation in coastal areas and require explicit management legislation and compliance — a feat that many governments lack the capacity to take on. In fact, only 5 percent of all marine protected areas have implemented management plans. Enric Sala, a marine ecologist with the National Geographic Society,  argues that protected area declarations that aren’t accompanied by management plans are “false and counterproductive” achievements that look good on paper but do nothing to protect the long-term sustainability of ocean resources. Money and management The lack of local government resources and investment means that the majority of marine conservation activities are funded and implemented by foreign conservation groups and private philanthropists — the majority of whom are American. According to Fred Pearch, a journalist with Yale Environment 360, “Some see such philanthropists as planetary saviors; others as agents of a creeping privatization of one of the last great global commons.” Again, foreign powers have jurisdiction and decision-making power over foreign waters and what indigenous communities can and cannot do. Many local groups are pushing back against this invasion. John Aini, an indigenous leader in Papau New Guinea explained in an interview with MongaBay about the decolonization of marine conservation: “I’ve basically given up working with big international nongovernmental organizations, basically given up networking with them. And we are doing our own thing now with funding that’s available, and funding from people that understand that we are in touch, that we own the land, the sea, we know the problems of our people better.” What is the right way to protect the ocean? There is no one-size-fits-all solution and no way to make all marine conservationists and ocean users agree, but positive examples of protected areas do exist. Last year, Honduras declared a marine protected area in Tela Bay, which includes 86,259 hectares of coral reef. Although it is relatively small at only 300 square miles, the coastal protected area is a model for its outreach strategy, local management committee and “managed-access fishery” program that supports coastal residents. Belize also became the first country to implement a nationwide, multi-species fishing rights program for small-scale local fishers that is incorporated into the country’s intricate network of protected and locally managed areas. The key to successful legal protections is more science- and community-based conservation, not what New York Times contributor Luiz A. Rocha calls “convenient conservation” to meet numbers, make headlines and ignore realities and power dynamics on the ground — and under the sea. Via Yale Environment 360 Images from Bureau of Land Management , Arnaud Abadie , Dronepicr , Drew Avery , USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems , Daniel Julie and Fred

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Power and publicity trump protection in large marine protected areas

SCAD students fight food insecurity in Georgia with organic farming and beekeeping

May 15, 2019 by  
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For a break from schoolwork, students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) have been swapping their laptops for shovels and seedlings at SCAD Back40, the university’s new one-acre “farm.” Created as a legacy project to celebrate SCAD’s 40th anniversary, the agricultural initiative features a wide range of seasonal, organically grown crops as well as a growing apiary with 16 beehives actively managed by students. Produce is regularly donated to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, with 1,000 units of leafy greens sent to the non-profit food back in the fall and winter quarters of 2018. Located in Hardeeville, South Carolina across the bridge from Savannah, Georgia, Back40 occupies rural land just a short drive from the bustle of cars and urban life. Back40 Project Manager Jody Elizabeth Trumbull oversees the agricultural initiative with the help of student volunteers from varying backgrounds, ranging from UX design to architecture. Because Back40 employs active crop rotation methods, soil management, companion planting and other natural growing methods —  organic certification is currently in progress — for producing seasonal crops, SCAD prefers to call the project a “farm” rather than a “garden.” The one-acre plot has the potential to grow up to five acres. While Back40 has yet to incorporate livestock and poultry, it does feature an apiary with 16 honey-producing hives and nearly 350,000 bees. Each hive can produce 80 to 100 pounds of honey. In addition to supporting the declining bee population, the apiary fits with SCAD’s image — the university’s mascot is the bee. To provide enough food for both managed and native bees, SCAD has planted a wide range of flowers to support both bee populations. When wild beehives are found on campus buildings, they are safely removed and relocated to the apiary. Related: SCAD artist turns recycled materials into giant puppets to revitalize a historic French village Back40 produced 1,000 units of kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, shard, cardoon and three types of lettuce in the first two quarters of operation. Part of the yield is donated to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia to help fight food insecurity, while the remaining produce is used at SCAD dining venues. As an educational tool for conservation, Back40 offers learning experiences not just for its students, but for local schools and organizations as well. In the future, the urban farm’s non-food commodity items will also be used in SCAD fine arts and design programs, such as the new business of beauty and fragrance program. + Savannah College of Art and Design Images via SCAD

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SCAD students fight food insecurity in Georgia with organic farming and beekeeping

MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

February 14, 2019 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV has won a competition to renovate and expand the historic Palais du Commerce in Rennes, France. The impressive 19th century palace had once served multiple public functions but now suffers from disconnect with current civic life. Working in collaboration with co-architects Bernard Desmoulin for developers Frey and Engie Avenue, MVRDV plans to reactivate the former public building and transform it into an inviting mixed-use destination that will serve as the centerpiece of the city’s main commercial street. The 18,000-square-meter redevelopment project will include not only a building restoration with a modern 6,000-square-meter timber expansion of the Palais du Commerce, but also the reactivation of the surroundings including the transformation of the Place de la République into a pedestrian-friendly public square as well as the conversion of the Rue du Pré Botté into a landscaped pedestrian area. The landmark building will also be updated with a sensitive approach that will be respectful of its iconic 19th-century design while greatly increasing the building’s transparency. In addition to the replacement of existing windows with larger panes of glass, glazed storefronts will be added to the arches of the arcade and a new grand, winding staircase will anchor the center of the facade. “Not only is Palais du Commerce a local landmark, but its transformation will turn the Place de la République into a popular destination and act as a vital catalyst for its surroundings,” says Nathalie de Vries, founding partner of MVRDV. “Our design approaches this task with an appreciation of the building’s history, but also with an eye towards the future, helping Rennes to achieve its urban vision. The additions that we will make are clearly modern in character, clearly showcasing this design as the latest chapter in the building’s storied history.” Related: MVRDV designs solar-powered “KoolKiel” with Jenga-like architecture in Germany The building’s mixed-use program will include new shops, a hotel, offices, a co-working space, a variety of leisure spaces — including a LEGO museum, event space and an electronic music bar — and a school for the kitchen and hotel industry led by chef Thierry Marx. All spaces of the building will be used more effectively, from the basements to the roof, which will include a new bistro in the building’s central dome. Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2025. + MVRDV Images via ENGRAM, diagrams via MVRDV

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MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

February 4, 2019 by  
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Nuclear waste is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest problems. Earth’s growing stockpile of radioactive waste is troublesome, because these chemicals remain in their radioactive state for several millennia — and we have yet to come up with a foolproof storage solution. A new study explored facilities that store nuclear waste in seven locations around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, Britain, Finland and Sweden. Officials discovered that the majority of nuclear waste lacked proper defense mechanisms, like secondary protocols, and are vulnerable to failing in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Storage of nuclear waste is one of the biggest obstacles facing nuclear power plants . It was once thought that deep underground was a good storage option, but that is not the case. According to Greenpeace , all of the storage facilities in the study showed some percentage of radiation leaks, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment. “More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes ,” Shaun Burnie, who works with Greenpeace Germany and led the new study, explained. Even worse, some storage facilities are located in areas prone to natural disasters. For example, the U.S. is in the process of building a major nuclear waste site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain range, which features seismic and volcanic activity, hardly suitable for keeping radioactive waste safe. The building of the Yucca Mountain facility was placed on hold by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Donald Trump, however, has expressed interest in reviving the construction and finishing the site before his term is up. As if that is not bad enough, governments are seemingly turning a blind eye to public concerns. The nuclear waste report comes after it was revealed that the U.S. government secretly moved weapons-grade plutonium across several states, despite passionate opposition from politicians in South Carolina. If scientists do not come up with a better method of disposing of nuclear waste, then it really could become the next global crisis. Fortunately, countries are exploring alternative renewable sources for energy that do not result in radioactive waste and are healthier for the environment. + Greenpeace Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

January 30, 2019 by  
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In the first study of its kind, French researchers have discovered that disposable diapers contain trace amounts of chemicals that are harmful to humans. After testing 23 different diapers sold in France between 2016 and 2018, the researchers found about 60 dangerous chemicals, including glyphosate , which is used in the controversial weed killer Roundup. Now, Ministers have given manufacturers two weeks to put together a “plan of action” to remove the harmful substances. In the report published last week and first reported by The Guardian , no specific brands were mentioned; however, researchers did find the toxins in diapers marketed as “ecological.” They also said that they tested well-known labels. Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, said that some of the chemicals, like perfumes , were added intentionally. Some of them could also “migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.” Related: This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour In the 206-page Safety in Baby Nappies report , researchers said that some of the substances they found had been banned in the EU for more than 15 years, and others were usually found in cigarette smoke or diesel fumes. Agnes Buzyn, the French health secretary, said that “there is no immediate risk for the health of the child,” and parents should keep using disposable diapers, just as they have for decades. She did admit that there could be some long-term risks, and they do want to protect children. Pampers and Joone, two major diaper manufacturers, have already reacted to the report. Pampers said its diapers have always been safe, and it has already put the report’s recommendations in place. Joone’s president Carole Juge-Llewellyn said that the report was “alarmist,” and the company is transparent about the toxicology analysis of its products. The report said that it can’t prove the health effects linked to wearing disposable diapers, but it still recommends eliminating or minimizing the dangerous chemicals. Of course, if parents want to avoid chemicals completely as well as minimize waste when it comes to diapers, they can always opt for cloth diapers , which are now easier to use than ever before. + Safety in Baby Nappies Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach

November 1, 2018 by  
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Surf’s up for a young couple living in the southwestern France surfing mecca of Soorts-Hossegor. Custom-designed by Paris-based firm Java Architecture, ‘Une Maison Pour Surfer’ serves as a home base for the surf-loving couple and their new baby. Keeping within a tight budget and focusing on minimal impact to the environment, the architects created an elongated home using  prefabricated modules . The 1,000-square-foot home was built in collaboration with the homeowners, a young couple who lived in Paris but wanted a vacation home  to relax and spend their time on the coast doing what they love — surfing. Their chosen spot was the idyllic area of Soorts-Hossegor, a popular area for water sports. Related: The Truck Surf Hotel is traveling retreat that hits the best surf spots in Europe and Africa Located on a hilly landscape surrounded by forest, the welcoming family home has a  minimal impact on the natural surroundings. Building on the top of the hill meant that no big trees had to be cut down, and using prefabricated modules allowed the project to have a reduced construction and transportation time, which in return minimized the project’s carbon footprint. Taking on a shed-like appearance, the home is an elongated form with a gabled roof . Clad in thin, dark wood panels, the exterior blends into the surrounding forestscape, virtually camouflaged within the tree canopy. An extra-wide porch serves as the main attraction. Jutting out into the landscape and covered in a corrugated polycarbonate cladding, this space is the most active area for the family. The transparent nature of the structure lets natural light into the home but protects the interior from rain and wind. Although the large porch is the activity center, the interior living space is just as relaxing. Light wooden panels were used to clad the walls and flooring throughout the home. The design scheme uses muted colors and minimal furnishings to create an ultra soothing space that welcomes the family after a long day on the waves. + Java Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Java Architecture

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A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach

Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

September 18, 2018 by  
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At last, the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains have made their global debut in the northern countryside of Germany . As of Monday, two Coradia iLint locomotives have been transporting passengers back and forth to the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude, just west of Hamburg. The efficient trains were produced by French transportation engineers at Alstom, the same manufacturers who amazed the world in the early 1980s with the world-record-setting bullet train. While the TGV captured many people’s attention as the fastest locomotive in production, its true feat was providing a solution to the 1973 oil crisis in France by featuring an electric — not gas — fueled transmission. Nearly four decades later, Alstom has come to the rescue again as European cities continue to struggle with pollution. Replacing diesel powered engines that are stagnating Germany’s fight for the green is the first push. Related: New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the pair of novel trains at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo routine hydrogen refueling. The company leader said, “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production.” The bright blue Coradia iLint trains currently operate on a 62-mile (100-kilometer) course. However, in equal capacity to their gas-gulping counterparts, the hydrogen-powered vehicles can travel the span of 600 miles (1000 kilometers) on one tank of hydrogen. The trains rely on fuel cells that can produce electricity from a combined mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The models are extremely efficient in the conversion — excess electricity can be siphoned into ion lithium batteries stored on board. The only byproducts emitted by this process are steam and water. Many German states have expressed interest in adopting the models to their own transportation lines. The company announced it will be delivering a set of 14 trains to the Lower Saxony region of the nation by 2021. While the zero-emission alternatives are attractive because of their quieter, eco-friendly nature and ability to run without electrified railways, they are not without a high initial price. Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager, said, “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” It’s a price many countries are willing to pay for cleaner air . France plans to rail its first hydrogen train by 2022, with the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Canada eager to follow suit. + Alstom Via The Guardian Image via René Frampe / Alstom

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Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

September 17, 2018 by  
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France plans to launch a major endeavor to triple the amount of cyclists on its streets within the next seven years. The action will include building better bike lanes, providing financial incentives for commuters to switch to bicycle transportation and cracking down on bike theft. The plan was announced by the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a speech in Nantes, where he revealed that cycling accounts for only 3 percent of transportation in the country. Despite hosting the acclaimed Tour de France competition, France has fallen far behind other EU nations in bicycle transportation. In the Netherlands, cycling accounts for almost a third of all transportation, backed by a strong cycling culture as well as organized routes and laws that make Dutch riders feel safe on the roads. “Fifty million euros per year will not turn France into the Netherlands, but it is a start,” said Olivier Schneider, head of the French Bike Users Federation (FUB). Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly France’s total fund for cycling infrastructure over the next seven years amounts to 350 million euros ($410 million). “We plan to triple the share of cycling to 9 percent by 2024, when we host the Olympics,” Philippe said. “The discontinuity on the bike lane maps creates insecurity and discourages people from cycling.” Currently, bike lanes in French cities only run short distances and are not safely connected to one another at major intersections or heavy traffic zones. In addition to addressing these incomplete routes, the government will restructure one-way streets to include two-way bike routes, saving commuters inconvenience and time. Converters to cycling will be rewarded yearly with 200 euro ($233) tax-free stipends from the French government, and many private companies are looking to double that amount, providing their own 400 ($467) euro tax-free rewards each year for commuters. Companies are also being mandated by the government to allocate proper bicycle parking facilities for their employees, a feature that train hubs around the country will also boast. To deter bike thieves from suspending the country’s progress, new bikes will be subject to a mandatory identification engraving system, which will make it easier for burglars to be apprehended and fined. The French government will also introduce cycling lessons in all secondary schools by 2022 to ensure that future generations embrace the cycling culture and respect for a clean environment. Via Reuters Image via Veroyama

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France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

How can citizens share responsibility for a polluted river valley basin?

September 15, 2018 by  
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Here’s how France created a system for participatory decision-making for its river water.

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How can citizens share responsibility for a polluted river valley basin?

France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

May 11, 2018 by  
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Earlier this year a viral Facebook photo of a clothing store in France destroying apparel sparked outrage — and Paris-based group Emmaus got involved. The organization working to end homelessness started tackling the clothing dilemma, and a recent Circular Economy Roadmap from the government proposes a solution: banning stores from chucking unsold clothes . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Exposition de la poubelle de Celio, rue du Gros Horloge à Rouen. (Artiste inconnu).Celio jette ses vêtements … Posted by Nathalie Beauval on  Saturday, February 3, 2018 France’s Circular Economy Roadmap calls for applying the main principles of the food waste battle to the clothing industry by 2019; a 2016 law requires grocery stores to donate food instead of throwing it away. The government said in the roadmap they aim to ensure unsold textiles “are neither discarded nor eliminated.” So France could prohibit stores from trashing clothing that isn’t sold. Clothing stores might have to donate unsold wares instead. Related: This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels Emmaus deputy director general Valérie Fayard told local research company Novethic while the details aren’t clear yet, as this is a roadmap presentation, it’s still good news. She said, “The deadline of 2019 will allow the government to launch an inventory of the situation, calculate the number of tonnages discarded, the processes put in place by brands, and difficulties.” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said by 2019, roadmap measures could be translated into legislation, according to Fashion Network . Europe ditches four million tons of clothing every year, according to Fashion Network. Meanwhile, five million tons are placed on the market. France is one of Europe’s biggest fashion markets — but they throw away 700,000 tons of clothing per year and only recycle 160,000 tons. Green Matters said France was “the first country to pass a law” preventing supermarkets and grocery stores from tossing out food nearing expiration. + Circular Economy Roadmap Via Novethic , Green Matters , My Modern Met , and Fashion Network Images via Alp Allen Altiner on Unsplash and Cam Morin on Unsplash

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France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

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