This solar-powered floating farm combines agriculture and dining under one roof

November 17, 2017 by  
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As urban farming becomes increasingly popular, people are finding new, unexpected ways of incorporating agriculture into cities. From rooftops and community gardens, urban farming has descended to waterways and lakes – as in this solar-powered floating farm that doubles as a restaurant. Lotus is designed to grow fresh produce with a vertical hydroponic garden and then serve it in indoor and outdoor dining areas where visitors can enjoy waterside views and learn more about the production of the food. Lotus is a future-oriented farming system that aims to solve problems relating to the production, sale and distribution of crops and produce in urban areas. Its design also addresses the issue of global warming exacerbated by increased emissions of methane and carbon dioxide. Related: Could solar-powered floating farms provide enough food for the entire world? Designers Taeung Kim, Sunae Shin, Sungho An, Seungjun Lee & Mirae Park conceived the structure for client HYDROKOREA, and they were recognized by this year’s K-Design Award – an international design contest held by DESIGNSORI . Via Yanko Design

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This solar-powered floating farm combines agriculture and dining under one roof

Tesla surprises the crowd with a new $250k Roadster

November 17, 2017 by  
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Tesla surprised the crowd last night at the debut of the Tesla Semi by unveiling a new Roadster, which is expected to arrive by 2020. Although lately Tesla has been focused on more mass market electric cars, it hasn’t forgotten where it started. While the Tesla Model 3 focuses on the entry-level electric segment, the new Roadster will focus on the high end of the segment with a $250,000 price tag. What does that get you? For starters, the Tesla Roadster will feature a 200 kWh battery pack that will give it a driving range of 620 miles. Three electric motors, one in the front and two in the rear, power the new Roadster. Even more exciting, Tesla says the new Roadster will be the “fastest production car ever made” with a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds. It will also reach the quarter mile in only 8.9 seconds. Related: Revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck arrives with a whopping 500 mile driving range The Tesla Roadster isn’t a convertible like the original, but features a removable targa top. There’s also room for up to four passengers. Tesla hopes to have the new Roadster ready by 2020, but you can already place your reservation for only $50,000. + Tesla All images ©Tesla

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Tesla surprises the crowd with a new $250k Roadster

Worlds first solar panel mural unveiled in San Antonio

November 17, 2017 by  
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In a world where solar farms are shaped like giant pandas, there’s certainly room for some solar butterflies. Determined to beautify our cities by converting solar panels into creative works of public art , the Seattle-based Land Art Generator Initiative just unveiled the world’s first solar mural installation, called La Monarca, by San Antonio artist Cruz Ortiz. La Mariposa solar mural – recently unveiled at the San Antonio Arts Festival, Luminaria – was created through advanced PV Film technology that lets light easily pass through the printed film that adheres to the panels. The beautiful mural is just the first step in the Land Art Generator’s plan to combine sustainable energy infrastructures with public art. Working with local artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers and scientists, the organization hopes to provide more collaborative platforms that enable cities to put a new artsy spin on their clean energy generation . Related: World’s cutest solar farm in China is shaped like a panda According to the artist, La Monarca was inspired by San Antonio’s status as the National Wildlife Federation’s first Monarch Butterfly Champion City . A fitting symbol to be put on a clean energy installation , the monarch butterfly represents the threat that wildlife faces due to global warming and climate change. After the festival, the solar art mural will be moved to its permanent home inside a pollinator garden on the EPICenter campus in San Antonio where it will be used to generate solar energy directly into the building. + Land Art Generator Initiative Images by Land Art Generator Initiative

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Worlds first solar panel mural unveiled in San Antonio

Durable canvas cloth with embedded solar cells generates 120 watts per square meter

November 17, 2017 by  
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Tents , sun shades, and canopies could generate renewable energy with Norway-based company Tarpon Solar’s solar canvas . They created flexible tarpaulins, integrated with bendy solar cells from Swedish company Midsummer . Instead of simply finding shade from the sun, with Tarpon Solar’s product people could obtain clean power from the sunlight striking a canopy or tent. Tarpon Solar laminated solar cells onto a flexible canvas to create a product with numerous potential applications – shade for a restaurant patio, a swimming pool covering, or canopies in refugee camps are just a few of the possibilities. The company says the canvas can also be included in a passive home design. The product could even open up the possibility of solar power generation in places where traditional solar panels couldn’t easily be deployed, according to Tarpon Solar’s website. Related: New solar canopy provides both shade and clean energy Tarpon Solar utilized Midsummer’s solar cells in a product that recently won first place in the MTI Technology Award competition. The CIGS cells, or copper-indium-gallium-selenium, are made without cadmium, a toxic material Midsummer says is often used in CIGS or thin film solar cells. They listed the benefits of CIGS cells as having high efficiency, low weight, durability, and flexibility. The solar cells generate around 120 watts per square meter. Tarpon Solar technical manager Marius Borg-Heggedal said in a statement each canvas is custom made, so the type of fiber and amount of fabric varies among products. The company’s website says the laminated cloth is that utilized in the sailing industry. Borg-Heggedal said solar cells are integrated during production and “become part of the material.” Midsummer described the canvases as very light, saying in a statement with the solar cells integrated “the weight becomes almost the same as with conventional PVC material and the canvas is also stronger and more durable.” + Tarpon Solar + Midsummer Images courtesy of Tarpon Solar and Midsummer

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Durable canvas cloth with embedded solar cells generates 120 watts per square meter

7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

November 15, 2017 by  
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Is it too late for us to avert disastrous impacts of global warming ? Maybe not, thanks to megatrends changing the way humans live on a global scale. The Guardian’s environment editor Damian Carrington laid out trends that could turn the tide: renewable energy , electric cars , plant-based meat , energy efficiency , batteries , coal dying, and planting new forests . It’s clear we haven’t yet won the battle – but there could be reason for hope. Even as our world is warming, we haven’t yet lost the fight against climate change . Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief and Mission 2020 convener, told The Guardian humanity still faces serious challenges as the climate turning point is just three years away. She said, “But the fact is we are seeing progress that is growing exponentially, and that is what gives me the most reason for hope.” Related: Here’s some climate hope: global CO2 emissions stayed static last year The seven megatrends outlined by Carrington suggest we could win humanity’s most complex global struggle. First? The development of lab-grown or plant-based meat products. Cows are responsible for emitting methane , a powerful greenhouse gas that traps heat on Earth. And people’s appetite for meat is increasing. But investors from Bill Gates to the Chinese government are starting to back tasty, environmentally friendly alternatives. Then there’s renewable energy: production costs have plummeted and installations have soared. According to The Guardian, renewables comprised two-thirds of new power last year. On the other hand, coal’s grip on the world is slipping: production could have peaked back in 2013. The International Renewable Energy Agency expects a large battery storage increase, as batteries are connected to smart and efficient grids . Meanwhile, if current growth rates keep going, by 2030 80 percent of new cars will be electric, according to The Guardian, which would reduce carbon emissions. Home energy efficiency is also making progress. In the European Union, for example, since 2000, efficiency in houses, industry, and transportation has improved by around 20 percent. The creation of new forests is another megatrend “not yet pointing in the right direction,” according to The Guardian, as deforestation continues apace. But tree-planting in South Korea, China, and India has already scrubbed over 12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich told The Guardian, “We are not going to get through this without damage. But we can avoid the worst.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

This company wants to turn food waste into building materials heres how

October 20, 2017 by  
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What do peanuts, rice, bananas, potatoes, and mushrooms have in common? In addition to being delicious, they could be transformed into building materials. In a report entitled The Urban Bio-Loop , the Arup group proposes to use food waste (something developed nations have an abundance of) to develop low-cost and eco-friendly materials for use in construction. The authors of the report aim to demonstrate ‘that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” Because first-world nations, such as the United States , waste up to 40 percent of all food , the goal is to turn the waste into a resource for the creation of “construction, engineering, and architecture products,” reports Archinect . This could be done by modifying the traditional waste management system. Discarded organic materials that could prove useful include peanut shells, which could be used to create low-cost partition boards that are resistant to fire and ice; rice , which could be turned into ash and mixed with cement to eliminate the need for fillers; bananas, a fruit whose leaves can make rugged textiles as a result of high-strength fibers; mushrooms, which can be used to grow buildings ; and potato peels, which can be cleaned, pressed and dried to produce a light, fire-resistant and water-repellent insulating material. The group argues that using food waste for building would contribute to a circular economy where organic waste is put to use, rather than tossed into landfills . Repurposing food waste would also reduce the amount of methane that is produced when fruit and vegetable scraps slowly decompose. The gas contributes to global warming , a phenomenon which results in warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and worsening natural disasters. Related: The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger Arup’s goal is to ameliorate rising levels of waste and a shortage of raw material. Using the low-cost, low-carbon materials would go a long way towards this goal. + “ The Urban Bio-Loop” Via Archinect Images via Wikipedia , Arup Group

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

October 17, 2017 by  
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Thawing permafrost is set to radically alter the landscape of northern parts of the United States. Roads, homes, and infrastructure built atop permafrost can crack or collapse as it melts. And whole villages may have to relocate. Vladimir Romanovsky, University of Alaska in Fairbanks geophysics professor, told the BBC “by now there are 70 villages who really have to move because of thawing permafrost.” Permafrost covers almost 90 percent of Alaska – so if the thawing keeps up, people will have to leave their homes as building foundations and infrastructure collapse. Sewer and water lines buried in permafrost can also break as the frozen soil melts. Villages that depend on lakes for water can be hit as nearby permafrost thaws and a lateral drain happens. Related: Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change Some people are already seeing impacts. Materials engineer for Northern Region of the Alaska Department of Transportation Public Facilities Jeff Currey told the BBC, “We are seeing some increased maintenance on existing roads over permafrost. One of our maintenance superintendents recently told me his folks are having to patch settling areas on the highways he’s responsible for more frequently than they were 10 or 20 years ago.” United States Geological Survey research indicates that villages, such as Kivalina in the southwest part of the state, will have to move away within the coming decade. Romanovsky said it could cost around $200 million to move a 300-person village. And permafrost holds a large amount of carbon , which stands to be released into the air. Romanovsky said, “Theoretically if this carbon is released to the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 will be three times more than what is in there [in the atmosphere ] now.” And it would be difficult to refreeze permafrost in our lifetime. Via the BBC Images via Andrea Pokrzywinski on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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