Will Biden keep his oil promises after COP26?

November 16, 2021 by  
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Now that the world leaders have left the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, citizens around the world are wondering if they will keep their promises to cut carbon  emissions . As for U.S. President Biden, the verdict is mixed. He is trying to protect some of the world’s most sacred and important Indigenous sites at New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon with a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing. On the other hand, critics say he could do more to halt a whopper of an oil sale in the Gulf of Mexico. Chaco Canyon was a cultural hub for  Pueblo  peoples from about 850 to 1250 A.D. The landscape still holds outstanding remains of buildings used for homes, business, astronomy and ceremonies. The Biden administration proposed a 20-year moratorium on any new oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of the  Chaco Culture National Historical Park , which is a National Park Service unit. Related: Bureau of Land Management moves forward with the sale of sacred land “Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high  desert  community,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, as reported by Huff Post. Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the first Native American Cabinet secretary. “Now is the time to consider more enduring protections for the living landscape that is Chaco, so that we can pass on this rich cultural legacy to future generations.” Chaco is not safe yet. The Interior Department will pause new leasing for two years while it assesses  environmental  factors and considers public comments. Meanwhile, drillers are rubbing their hands together in eager anticipation of a ridiculously big area of the Gulf of Mexico the Department of the Interior is opening for lease sales. The 80 million acres could produce over a billion barrels of  oil  and 4.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The  Biden  administration has protested this enormous invasion of the seabed. But in June, a federal judge in Louisiana managed to strike down Biden’s executive order to halt new gas and oil leases in federal waters and lands. Critics suggest that Biden could fight harder if he were willing to take more political and legal risks. Via HuffPost Lead image via Pexels

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Will Biden keep his oil promises after COP26?

Chinese hospital’s biophilic design values patient wellness

November 16, 2021 by  
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B+H Architects has just unveiled their design for the new Jiaxing Kaiyi Hospital in Zhejiang province in China . It is designed with sustainability and patient wellness in mind. Opened in October 2021, the 500 bed hospital sets a new standard for wellness-oriented healthcare and includes natural ventilation, trees to buffer the facility from road noise and biophilic design in the interior, which brings outdoor growing spaces indoors. The hospital is built around the idea that patient wellness doesn’t just depend on good medical care, but on a connection to non-medical wellness , including fresh air, a peaceful environment, good food and a connection with growing things and the surrounding natural environment. Related: Check into Moliving’s mobile hotels Half of the patient rooms in the Integrated Procedures Unit in Jiaxing Kaiyi Hospital face south to maximize natural light. Other features include wider hallways for pedestrian comfort, optimized views of the outdoors , temperature and lighting interfaces that patients and their families can control and calming colors throughout the hospital. There is also more comfortable visitor seating and increased walking space around beds and waiting areas. Additionally, there are spaces specifically designed for families visiting the hospital. A family meeting hub and a lecture hall are designed to foster community in the facility. There are also sunken gardens, rooftop gardens, a restaurant, horizontal and vertical green spaces and a public garden with water features. Gingko leaf prints are used throughout, along with warm colors and tailored fabrics that complement natural wood and stone for an at-home feel. Materials are environmentally friendly and should exceed the energy savings and air quality standards of China Green Building Two Star sustainable standards. + B+H Architects Images via B+H Architects

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Chinese hospital’s biophilic design values patient wellness

7 countries vow to end new oil and gas exploration

November 12, 2021 by  
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Yesterday at  COP26 , seven countries and one Canadian province joined forces as the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. BOGA members committed to stop exploring for and producing  oil  and gas. Since none of the seven is a major oil or gas producer, the pledge seems more symbolic than practical for solving the climate crisis. But  Costa Rica , Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales and Quebec are bravely taking the lead as BOGA’s core members. Portugal, New Zealand and California were dubbed associate members for their “significant, concrete steps” in reducing oil and gas production. Related: Will promises from world leaders at COP26 actually happen? “If we want to address the climate crisis, we need a managed but decisive phase-out of oil and gas production,” said Andrea Meza, the minister of environment and energy of Costa Rica, in a statement. Costa Rica — which doesn’t produce oil or gas — and Denmark founded and are co-chairing the new alliance.  Denmark  is the European Union’s biggest oil producer, but that’s not saying much, as they produce less than 1% of the United States’ 2019 oil output. In addition to ending exploration and oil drilling, BOGA members have promised to decrease all fossil fuel production in line with the  Paris Agreement  timeline. Lars Koch of ActionAid Denmark said BOGA presented a test for oil-producing countries. “If they don’t become members of this alliance, what they are actually saying is, ‘We don’t mean what we say about 1.5,’” he said, as reported by Grist. “It is just pure, deep greenwashing.”  Despite a lot of nice words in Glasgow, most of the world’s major economies are still on track to produce way more oil, coal and gas than the Paris Agreement  global warming  target can bear: about 110% of that target, according to a report the United Nations released last month. In the U.S., the Biden administration plans to open 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling next week and to lease huge tracts of public lands for new gas and oil development early next year. So, uh, how are we cutting  emissions  in half by 2030? Via Grist Lead image via Pixabay

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Leaded gasoline finally phased out worldwide

September 1, 2021 by  
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Leaded gasoline is no longer used anywhere in the world, according to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Algeria, the last country left using leaded gasoline, finished its stockpile in July. The campaign to end the use of leaded gasoline started in 1924, just a few years after the practice of adding lead to gasoline started. Leaded gasoline was used to improve engine performance, but concerns over its health effects began following the death of five workers at a Standard Oil refinery. Dozens of other workers were also hospitalized for convulsions. Related: Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations Studies later revealed that lead harmed both humans and the environment at large. It can contaminate the air, degrade soil quality and pollute water, among other effects. Those affected by lead are at risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Research shows that lead may also cause brain development issues in children. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed the discontinuation of leaded gasoline, saying, “Ending the use of leaded petrol will prevent more than one million premature deaths each year from heart disease, strokes, and cancer, and it will protect children whose IQs are damaged by exposure to lead.” Although lead’s negative health effects were discovered early, many countries continued using leaded gasoline. The campaign to put an end to leaded gasoline intensified in the 1980s, when most wealthy countries had stopped using it. By the early 2000s, only 86 countries still used leaded gasoline. In 2016, North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan stopped selling leaded gasoline, leaving only a few countries (including Iraq, Yemen and Algeria) still producing the gasoline. Since 2002, UNEP has helped governments phase out the substance. “Leaded fuel illustrates in a nutshell the kind of mistakes humanity has been making at every level of our societies,” Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director, said. The end of leaded gasoline use shows that “humanity can learn from and fix mistakes that we’ve made,” Andersen added. Thandile Chinyavanhu, climate campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, continued by saying that “if we can phase out one of the most dangerous polluting fuels in the 20th century, we can absolutely phase out all fossil fuels.” Via BBC and NPR Lead image via Pixabay

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The ocean is on fire after Gulf of Mexico gas pipeline leak

July 7, 2021 by  
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It takes a lot to start a fire in the ocean. After all, water usually extinguishes flames. But as Pemex demonstrated last week in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the right set of conditions — a leak in a gas  pipeline  plus an electrical storm — can set the ocean on fire and be very difficult to extinguish. ? Sobre el incendio registrado en aguas del Golfo de México, en la Sonda de Campeche, a unos metros de la plataforma Ku-Charly (dentro del Activo Integral de Producción Ku Maloob Zaap) Tres barcos han apoyado para sofocar las llamas pic.twitter.com/thIOl8PLQo — Manuel Lopez San Martin (@MLopezSanMartin) July 2, 2021 The gas leak started in the Campeche Sound early Friday morning, according to Petróleos Mexicanos, aka Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company responsible for the ill-fated pipeline. Before workers could repair it, lightning struck. Voila, a subaquatic fireball. Related: Pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 91 and counting Pemex swung into action on the ocean and PR cleanup fronts. Firefighting vessels closed the pipeline’s valve and sprayed in nitrogen; they managed to extinguish the fire in about five hours. Pemex claims no  oil  was spilled, and the environment was unharmed. The company says it is investigating what caused the gas leak. But  Greenpeace  Mexico isn’t ready to let it go and move on. The environmental group stated that the fire “demonstrates the serious risks that Mexico’s fossil fuel model poses for the environment and people’s safety,” as reported by  ABC Chicago . A person might wonder if the world wouldn’t even know about this disaster if not for people like journalist  Manuel Lopez San Martin , who posted a video of the disaster that went viral on Twitter. The video shows ships spraying water on a fire in the ocean. A surreal image, indeed. San Martin wrote that the fire was only 400 meters from an oil platform.  This reporting stands out considering the dangerous conditions for journalists in Mexico.  Mexico  outranks Iraq as the  most dangerous country for journalists , with eight killed in retaliation for their work in 2020 alone. Pemex has a less than stellar record, with several leaks and fires in its recent past. A January 2019 explosion in one of its Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo fuel  pipelines killed 137 people during a massive gas heist gone wrong. Via CBS News , Bloomberg Business Week Lead image © Manuel Lopez San Martin

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The ocean is on fire after Gulf of Mexico gas pipeline leak

The ocean is on fire after Gulf of Mexico gas pipeline leak

July 7, 2021 by  
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It takes a lot to start a fire in the ocean. After all, water usually extinguishes flames. But as Pemex demonstrated last week in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the right set of conditions — a leak in a gas  pipeline  plus an electrical storm — can set the ocean on fire and be very difficult to extinguish. ? Sobre el incendio registrado en aguas del Golfo de México, en la Sonda de Campeche, a unos metros de la plataforma Ku-Charly (dentro del Activo Integral de Producción Ku Maloob Zaap) Tres barcos han apoyado para sofocar las llamas pic.twitter.com/thIOl8PLQo — Manuel Lopez San Martin (@MLopezSanMartin) July 2, 2021 The gas leak started in the Campeche Sound early Friday morning, according to Petróleos Mexicanos, aka Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company responsible for the ill-fated pipeline. Before workers could repair it, lightning struck. Voila, a subaquatic fireball. Related: Pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 91 and counting Pemex swung into action on the ocean and PR cleanup fronts. Firefighting vessels closed the pipeline’s valve and sprayed in nitrogen; they managed to extinguish the fire in about five hours. Pemex claims no  oil  was spilled, and the environment was unharmed. The company says it is investigating what caused the gas leak. But  Greenpeace  Mexico isn’t ready to let it go and move on. The environmental group stated that the fire “demonstrates the serious risks that Mexico’s fossil fuel model poses for the environment and people’s safety,” as reported by  ABC Chicago . A person might wonder if the world wouldn’t even know about this disaster if not for people like journalist  Manuel Lopez San Martin , who posted a video of the disaster that went viral on Twitter. The video shows ships spraying water on a fire in the ocean. A surreal image, indeed. San Martin wrote that the fire was only 400 meters from an oil platform.  This reporting stands out considering the dangerous conditions for journalists in Mexico.  Mexico  outranks Iraq as the  most dangerous country for journalists , with eight killed in retaliation for their work in 2020 alone. Pemex has a less than stellar record, with several leaks and fires in its recent past. A January 2019 explosion in one of its Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo fuel  pipelines killed 137 people during a massive gas heist gone wrong. Via CBS News , Bloomberg Business Week Lead image © Manuel Lopez San Martin

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The ocean is on fire after Gulf of Mexico gas pipeline leak

Activists protest Biden’s compromised green infrastructure deal

July 7, 2021 by  
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President Biden made big promises about a new, green  infrastructure  plan that would mitigate the effects of climate change. But just six months into his presidency, White House negotiators are already making a deal with senators to backpedal on the big changes necessary to attain climate goals. The new bipartisan deal is going to drastically slow down the transition to a green economy — making it way too slow, according to activists. For example, instead of Biden’s proposed $174 billion for developing the  electric vehicle  market, the new plan allocates $15 billion to electric vehicle infrastructure. Many people aren’t surprised by this reduction, saying it was a long shot that such major climate legislation could ever get through Congress. Many Republicans believe an infrastructure bill should stick to transportation issues without including climate provisions. Related: Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan “We made serious compromises on both ends. … We’ll see what happens in the reconciliation bill and the budget process,”  Biden  said. Young activists from the  Sunrise Movement  aren’t willing to compromise. On June 28, hundreds of them gathered in front of the White House to call for “transformative” climate policy. Missouri Representative Cori Bush and New York Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman joined the protest and spoke on the urgent need to address the  climate  crisis. The activists highlighted the connections between climate action, policing, discrimination and  environmental racism . “They occupy our streets,” Congressman Bowman said at the protest. “They mass incarcerate us, but they leave us food insecure, in transportation deserts, and our buildings and schools falling apart. Fuck that!” Secret Service agents proceeded to arrest several activists for blocking all ten White House entrances. Democrats  are now developing a second attempt to pass Biden’s climate change measures in a separate bill, which might also include programs related to education, healthcare, and child and eldercare. Officials refer to these areas as “human infrastructure.” This bill may pass through a complex budget process known as reconciliation, which would allow it to bypass Republicans. Via The Nation , CNBC Lead image © Ken Schles

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"This House Never Ends" is a sustainable reno in Melbourne

July 7, 2021 by  
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“This House Never Ends” is a sustainable renovation project located in Melbourne, Australia and designed by Steffen Welsch Architects. The project created additional space in an existing building and added visual contrast with a unique combination of textures and colors. Building next to the existing home, a structure that was historic and Edwardian in nature, the designers let the neighborhood’s eclectic vibe inspire the renovation . The building was stretched over the entire length of the site, rotated 45 degrees and pulled apart to create a sequence of interconnected spaces. Related: Residential building from the ’60s gets an energy-efficient remodel As a result, moving throughout the house creates a marriage of old with new while revealing complex vistas through the rooms and outdoor spaces . “This is a house with a sense of discovery,” said lead architect Steffen Welsch. “It has no clearly identifiable building form but a series of almost equally sized rooms both inside as well as outside that each relate differently to each other. As a result, this home is experienced not as an object but a journey that doesn’t want to end.” Welsch chose to change the main entry point to a north-facing courtyard formed with three walls of three separate materials, including the weatherboard from the old house, recycled brick and a link clad in a timber screen. Specifically, the new house was actually designed for arrival via bicycle. The first floor patio is accessible from the lounge, and a private study provides views over the neighborhood. Upstairs, a private terrace extends views from the neighborhood to the rest of the city and nearby mountain range. The design applies passive solar principles, including solar control, thermal mass, insulation and cross ventilation. The efficient, double-glazed timber doors combined with thermal mass provided by the recycled brick adds to the insulation. Outside, a 4.75 kilowatt interactive photovoltaic system powers the house, while a heat pump and induction burner negate the need for gas. + Steffen Welsch Architects Via ArchDaily Photography via Shannon McGrath and Peter Clarke Steffen Welsch Architects

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"This House Never Ends" is a sustainable reno in Melbourne

Humans have caused so many earthquakes that scientists had to update their maps

March 30, 2016 by  
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Those at the United States Geological Survey have noticed such a spike in manmade earthquakes they had to change their maps. For the first time ever, researchers have begun producing earthquake hazard maps with manmade earthquakes alongside natural seismic activity. Between this, the collapse of bee colonies, and climate change in general we can say with confidence that humans seem too be hellbent on destroying the planet. Read the rest of Humans have caused so many earthquakes that scientists had to update their maps

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Drone video shows damaged Palmyra after ISIS occupation

March 30, 2016 by  
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Now that ISIS has been pushed out of Palmyra , archaeologists are starting to assess the damage done to the UNESCO World Heritage Site . Many expressed relief that more damage wasn’t perpetrated, yet there were still significant losses: both the Temple of Bel and the Temple of Baalshamin were blown up . There are some landmarks, such as the Roman amphitheater, that remain intact, although worse for the wear. Read the rest of Drone video shows damaged Palmyra after ISIS occupation

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