Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

March 25, 2019 by  
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Close to 300 climbers and explorers have died trying to summit Mount Everest, and the bodies of those that remain on the mountain are starting to become exposed because of  melting glaciers . Around two-thirds of the people who have passed on the mountain are believed to be encased in the ice and snow. Authorities are starting to remove the exposed bodies on the Chinese side of the mountain range, and efforts are picking up as spring arrives. To date, more than 4,800 mountaineers have summited Mount Everest , and more are expected to attempt the feat this year. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting, and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, who used to be the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, explained. It is unclear how many deceased individuals have been removed from the mountain so far, but government officials said that the number of exposed bodies has steadily increased over the years. According to the BBC , one of the challenges with removing these bodies is that government officials are required to be involved in the process. This has made it difficult to remove some bodies from higher elevations. Recent studies have shown that Mount Everest’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, leading to flooding in local lakes and rivers. Scientists attribute the melting glaciers to global warming , and the issue is affecting the entire mountain range. Seeing a few bodies emerge every now and then is completely normal on the mountain, and most climbers are prepared for the situation. A few bodies are even used as landmarks. Still, it costs anywhere between 40 and 80 thousand dollars to remove a body, especially at higher elevations. Officials also have to consider personal issues when they uncover a body as well as how to get in contact with family members of the deceased. While melting glaciers are the main cause of the exposed bodies, movement in the glaciers is also a factor in the number of bodies that become uncovered each climbing season. Via BBC Image via Guillaume Baviere

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Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

Proposed $1 billion underwater pipeline will send fracked gas to NYC

March 20, 2019 by  
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There is a war brewing over the development of a new underwater pipeline in New York City. The proposed project would send fracked gas to the city, a move environmentalists claim would greatly contribute to global warming . An Oklahoma company called Williams has proposed an ambitious plan to construct a 23-mile pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York . The project, which will cost around $1 billion, will connect with an existing pipeline underneath New Jersey, carrying gas all the way to Queens. Related: UN predicts dire future for planet unless people change their ways NOW Supporters of the plan say it will help New Yorkers use gas instead of oil for energy, but several environmental groups argue that the project is a step backwards in the battle against carbon emissions. In fact, environmentalists are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto the pipeline development altogether. “This pipeline would incentivize reliance on gas, which is way more carbon-intensive than renewables,” Robert Wood, who works with the environmental group, 350Brooklyn, explained. “It would be a nightmare happening, not in a rural area, but right here in New York City.” Advocacy groups believe New York City is already on the right path in becoming more energy efficient as it has already gotten rid of the most carbon-heavy oils used for heating. Environmentalists argue that New York City will witness a decrease in energy use as a result of current efforts to improve efficiency standards. Over the past decade, the city has removed old boilers, invested in heat pumps, and increased energy efficiency in buildings. Opponents of the billion-dollar pipeline also worry that the project could harm marine life in New York City’s harbor, including the humpback whale, which have started to resurface in the area. Environmentalists are concerned that the construction will introduce toxins to the water that will be detrimental to the habitat. Fortunately, Cuomo has a history of supporting eco-friendly initiatives in New York. Since becoming the governor, Cuomo has blocked fracking in the state and vowed to decrease carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next three decades. It is unclear where Cuomo stands on the new underwater pipeline, but environmentalists are hopeful he will side with them. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock 

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Proposed $1 billion underwater pipeline will send fracked gas to NYC

7 ways to be a sustainable and eco-friendly pet owner

February 28, 2019 by  
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Whether we realize it or not, every choice we make for our furry friends has the potential to impact the environment. While the biggest challenge that eco-friendly pet owners face is the balance between the needs of our animals and the needs of the environment, keeping our pets healthy and happy should always come first. After all, they’re part of the family. If you’re trying to stick to sustainable living, you don’t have to stop with your own footprint — keep your pet’s environmental paw print in mind as well. Adopt, don’t shop Seven million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States, because there is no room for them in shelters. Even more alarming, there are 70 million stray animals living in the U.S. without regular food or shelter. Choosing to adopt a pet already in need of a good home rather than one from a breeder is not only more economically friendly; it also means that there is one less animal out there trying to make it on the streets. When you’re adopting from a shelter, you’re saving a life. Invest in sustainable pet food If buying sustainable pet food doesn’t appeal to you, make your own! Though time-consuming and somewhat controversial , raw diets are a huge fad right now (and they cut down on processed ingredients). You can even make your own dog treats so you know exactly what is going into their bodies. Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Just remember: your pet’s health comes first. Raw diets and homemade treats may not be what’s best for them, so make sure to consult your veterinarian before making a big change in your pet’s diet. Your vet may even be able to suggest some healthy, natural alternatives when it comes to packaged food brands. If you do choose to buy prepared or canned food for your pet, buy in bulk and make sure the packaging is recyclable. Limit plastic toys, or choose toys made of recyclable materials Especially if you have a particularly rambunctious pet who likes to chew and destroy, plastic pet toys can end up in the garbage or landfills where they’ll never decompose. Opt instead for toys made from recyclable materials or natural fibers. There are plenty of companies passionate about eco-friendly pet toys, like West Paw , which uses durable, non-toxic, recyclable plastic, and Harry Barker , which uses earth-friendly fabric like hemp and certified recycled materials. Use non-toxic pet shampoo Feel better about your pet’s least-favorite activity by using organic and natural shampoo during their baths. Make sure it is non-toxic and free of dyes and parabens — it’s not only better for your pet’s skin and hair, but it also it ensures that no excess chemicals end up going down the drain and into the environment. Do your research or ask your vet first, because many companies advertise their products as “all-natural” when they’re really not . Clean up waste properly You may think that leaving Fido’s waste behind after he goes to the bathroom is completely natural, but studies show it may be harmful to the environment if it leaks contaminants into the water supply. When it comes to cat litter, some brands use toxic ingredients or silica dust that can be harmful to humans and animals. Luckily, there are greener options out there. Purina has a kitty litter made from old newspapers, and Cedarific uses soft cedar wood chips that are eco-friendly and smell great. For animals that do their business outside, choose a bag made from plant-based materials that will actually decompose , and throw it away. Take more walks You probably already know that nothing makes your dog happier than a good walk. It’s also a great excuse to skip the carbon emissions from the car and walk your pup to the store instead. Even cats and other indoor pets could use some outside time once in a while, so get out there are enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Spay and neuter This one might seem obvious, but getting your animals spayed or neutered is one of the best gifts you can give to the environment. You never know what kind of mischief your pet might get into, and making sure that there aren’t any resulting baby animals ending up in a shelter or using up environmental resources is important. It will help control the pet homelessness epidemic and gives your animal a better chance of not catching diseases like testicular cancer, prostate issues, uterus infections and malignant breast tumors. ASPCA has an online service that finds low-cost or free spay-neuter programs in your area, so you can still be a responsible pet owner even on a budget. Images via Jowanna Daley , Luisella Planeta Leoni ,  Aqua Mechanical , Julita  and Shutterstock

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NYCs plant-filled Greenery Unlimited is worlds first Biophilic Design Store

February 28, 2019 by  
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An enormous green wall and a 12-foot ficus tree await visitors at Greenery Unlimited , a newly opened retail store that’s been billed by Greenery NYC owners Rebecca Bullene and Adam Besheer as the “world’s first Biophilic Design Store.” Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn , Greenery Unlimited is the first brick-and-mortar location for the botanic design and installation company, which has a thriving online presence and an impressive client list ranging from the likes of TED Talks and Google to The New York Times and Netflix. The retail store will sell plants as well as more complex green installations aimed at improving human wellness indoors. Created as “an evolution of the traditional plant store,” Greenery Unlimited will sell plants in addition to growing systems such as grow lighting, irrigation systems, specialty vessels and tools. With a decade’s worth of experience installing large-scale botanic installations around the city, Bullene and Besheer have learned the best practices for plant cultivation and long-term management and have seen first-hand the restorative effect that indoor plants have on improving human health and comfort, a practice that Bullene and Besheer call “ biophilic design.” “As long time residents of New York, we know that the only way to deal with the chaos of the city is to make your home into a sanctuary,” Adam Besheer explained in a press release. “Plants are an unmatched aid to calm and relaxation, but there’s an inherent stress in trying to keep them alive in the suboptimal conditions of a New York City apartment. We want to provide New Yorkers with the tools and knowledge not only to keep plants alive, but to fully integrate them as part of their home environment.” Related: A London office boasts biophilic design for a healthier, happier workplace Greenery Unlimited will serve as a showcase for green installations and biophilic design concepts, such as a 120-square-foot green wall behind the reception desk and a central seating area integrated with a self-contained irrigation and fertilization system supporting a 12-foot-tall ficus tree. The indoor environment will mimic an outdoor setting with a cloud forest-like atmosphere using a pressurized misting hub and circadian lighting displays. + Greenery Unlimited Images via Greenery Unlimited

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Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine

February 28, 2019 by  
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Researchers have discovered Glyphosate — an ingredient found in some weedkillers — in name brand wines and beers . Scientists from U.S. PIRG tested 20 different alcoholic brands and found the troubling ingredient in 19 of the labels. Currently, a federal judge is examining the correlation between glyphosate and cancer, as trial has begun against Monsanto, the company behind the popular weedkiller , Roundup, for allegedly causing the plantiff’s cancer. Related: New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers The director of U.S. PIRG, Kara Cook-Schultz, believes this is the perfect time to look at glyphosate and warn people that it is more widely spread than most suspect. “This chemical could prove a true risk to so many Americans’ health, and they should know that it is everywhere – including in many of their favorite drinks,” Cook-Schultz explained. Sutter Home Merlot had the most glyphosate with 51.4 parts per billion (ppb). But many of the wines and beers on the list were well above 25 ppb, including Beringer Moscato, Barefoot Sauvignon, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Budweiser and Corona. The only drink that did not test positive for glyphosate was an organic IPA from Peak Beer. These numbers, while troubling, are below what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) considers the safety threshold. William Reeves, a toxicologist employed by Bayer, noted that the numbers are 100 times less than the recommended maximum exposure limit. For reference, a person would have to consume an entire bottle of Sutter Home Merlot wine every minute for their entire life just to reach the upper limits of what is considered safe. That said, even trace amounts of glyphosate could have negative health benefits. In the study from U.S. PIRG, the group found that tiny amounts of glyphosate, on the order of 1 part per trillion, could cause cancer cells to grow in breast tissue. The active ingredient also wreaks havoc on the endocrine system, though at what levels is still uncertain. It should be noted that the EPA does not consider glyphosate to be a cancer causing agent in humans, though the World Health Organization did label it as possibly carcinogenic four years ago. Via Eco Watch Image via Shutterstock

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Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

February 26, 2019 by  
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Scientists are warning that the proof for man-made climate change is now at a gold standard level. The announcement increases the call to limit greenhouse emissions to help prevent future rises in global temperatures. “Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” a team of U.S. scientists noted in their findings. Scientists say the evidence that humans are responsible for contributing to global warming is overwhelming and is now at the level they term “five-stigma.” This means that there is about a one-in-a-million shot that people are not part of the problem. This standard is the same one scientists used to establish the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012. Related: Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080? The lead scientist in the study, Benjamin Santer, hopes that the conclusions will make people realize that the scientific community understands what is causing global warming at a high degree of certainty. Santer, who conducted the research from California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that narrative about the uncertainty of global warming needs to change. “The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong,” Santer explained. Experts agree that we are witnessing an increase in droughts, flooding, heat waves and higher ocean levels because of fossil fuel emissions. Despite the evidence, some politicians in the United States have tried to argue that global warming is not real and that being a part of the Paris climate initiative is a bad idea. Fortunately, more and more Americans are starting to believe that humans are the cause of climate change. In fact, a poll from last year found that 62 percent of residents in the U.S. believe climate change has a human element. This is a big jump from 2013, when only 47 percent of Americans believed it was true. Some scientists involved in the study, which used data gathered by satellites over the past decade, argue that the level of certainty about human involvement in climate change should be increased to closer to 99 or 100 percent. Via Reuters Images via Shutterstock

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Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

New study predicts mass extinction in 140 years

February 25, 2019 by  
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A new study suggests that the old saying about history repeating itself is absolutely true. In this case, history repeating itself pertains to none other than the topic on everyone’s minds— extinction. Researchers believe it’s taken 56 million years for earth to face another mass extinction that can occur in as little as 140 years.  The research, released last Wednesday and published in Geophysical Research Letters , compares conditions in the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) period with our planet’s present warming condition. Back in PETM days, carbon dioxide shot up, increasing Earth’s temperatures by 9 to 14 degrees. The tropical Atlantic heated up to approximately 97 degrees. Land and marine animals died. It took 150,000 years for the planet to recover. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Unfortunately for us, carbon dioxide emissions are rising ten times faster now than they did during the PETM. Back then, wildfires, volcanic activity and methane wafting from the seafloor and permafrost were the culprits. Today, it’s down to us. Last year, emissions in countries with advanced economies rose slightly after a five-year decline. At this rate, the study predicts Earth’s atmosphere will be comparable to the beginning of PETM in 140 years, reaching a peak in 259 years. The result? Mass extinction. Philip Gingerich, the study’s author, did a literature review of previous studies on PETM and the rate of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. Based on eight studies published between 2009 and 2018, he used models to project future emissions caused by humans. Gingerich is an emeritus professor in the University of Michigan’s earth sciences department. He directed the university’s Museum of Paleontology for nearly 30 years. “[It’s] as if we are deliberately and efficiently manufacturing carbon for emission to the atmosphere at a rate that will soon have consequences comparable to major events long ago in earth history,” Gingerich told Earther. As he states in his study, “A second PETM-scale global greenhouse warming event is on the horizon if we cannot lower anthropogenic carbon emission rates.” Via Earther Image via nikolabelopitv

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Art-inspired home sits as an ‘abstract sculpture’ in seaside town in Portugal

February 25, 2019 by  
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Located in the seaside town of Afife, Portugal, a beautiful, minimalist house was designed to pay homage to the traditional type of construction found in the region. Designed by Portuguese firm  Guilherme Machado Vaz , the geometric Afife House is a cube-like volume clad in bright white with golden-hued shutters that, when closed completely, transform the home into a modern “abstract sculpture” surrounded by greenery. Tucked into a green landscape that rolls out to the sea, the home’s design is quite modern. According to the architects, although the bright white facade of the geometric home is certainly eye-catching, the inspiration behind the design was to blend the structure into its tranquil surroundings. Related: A modern vacation retreat is embedded into the rolling hills of southern Portugal Using the local environment to inspire the design, the architects also took into consideration a beloved chapel that is separated from the home by a stone walkway. Not wanting to infringe on the religious site, the designers respectfully restrained the width of the building area to a mere 28 feet. “The chapel stands on a base of granite walls, and it imposes itself in that area. Its presence had an influence on the project, particularly as regards the design of the volume,” explained the Portuguese architects. “The house sought not to disturb the harmony of this religious space, but at the same time it did not want to be submissive to its presence.” The white volume is broken up by a series of square windows in various sizes and covered in flat shutters. The shutters on the south elevation are painted in a glossy gold color, a nod to religious triptych paintings. When open, the windows bring plenty of natural light indoors. The crisp color of the exterior continues throughout the interior living space. The unique layout was inspired by Austrian and Czech architect Adolf Loos’ Raumplan concept, which sees various multi-level spaces being connected by one long staircase that runs through the center of the home. This system helped take the design vertical to make up for its restricted width. The home also has plenty of exterior spaces, including a flat roof that pulls double duty as an open-air terrace. A circular swimming pool also sits in a square, all-white deck, again adding to the strong character of the design. + Guilherme Machado Vaz Via Dezeen Photography by José Campos via Guilherme Machado Vaz

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Art-inspired home sits as an ‘abstract sculpture’ in seaside town in Portugal

Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080?

February 18, 2019 by  
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The phrase “global warming” gets tossed around a lot, but do we really understand what it means and how it will feel? In the groundbreaking Paris Agreement, 195 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius — but how will those 2 degrees really affect our lives? A new study in Nature links 540 U.S. cities to other cities with a current climate that is similar to how those cities will feel in 60 years. As CityLab’s Robinson Meyer explained , the study takes each city and finds “the city whose modern-day weather gives the best clue to what conditions will feel like in 2080.” The researchers’ goal is to translate what abstract climate science and meteorological changes really mean for people by making them understandable in a modern — and personal — context. For example, Philadelphia will feel more like Memphis in 2080. That equates to summer days that are warmer by an average of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and winters that are warmer by 10 degrees. Memphis, on the other hand, will feel more like College Station, Texas.  Use this web tool to find your city’s ‘climate twin’. The ‘Arkansas-ification’ of U.S. cities “Every place is getting warmer and many are getting drier,” Matthew Fitzpatrick, author of the study, told CityLab. In fact, most cities’ future climate twin is approximately 500 miles farther south and toward the middle of the country. “In the Northeast, you can envision the future as one big Arkansasification,” Fitzpatrick explained. For those who haven’t been to Arkansas, the authors explained that means more humid, subtropical climates typical of the southeast and Midwest. Western cities, however, will start to feel more like the desert conditions of Southern California and the southwest. The cities selected in the study cover 250 million urban Americans. By using a method called climate analog mapping, the authors used different emission scenarios and weather predictions to find all similar cities, and then narrowed down the options to find the best match based on statistical and topographical similarities. The 540 cities selected were those that had the strongest match and the most relatable “twin.” A lot can happen in 60 years, and most are still hopeful that we can make changes to curb climate change. The authors used different examples of carbon emission rates, called Representative Concentration Pathways, to compare the results based on our best- and worst-case scenarios. For example, if progressive policies are put in place soon to curtail carbon emissions, Washington D.C. might feel like Paragould, Arkansas by 2080. If mitigation policies are not put into place, however, D.C. will become more like Greenwood, Mississippi — an additional 200 miles south. D.C. residents are already familiar with hot, humid summers in the low-lying capitol, so the news that their children will face even stickier summers is lamentably relatable. Though the matches aren’t perfect, the authors explained they do give modern-day examples that make abstract climate change realistic and easier to understand. Climate change puts cities at risk Cities are especially vulnerable to climate change, with rapidly increasing populations, urban sprawl, aging infrastructure and limited budgets for forward-thinking climate adaptation. In New York City , where heat island effect (the intensification of heat by concrete, urban environments) is already a major problem, the thought of becoming Jonesboro, Arkansas is daunting. Imagine a stifling hot, underground subway platform well above 85 degrees in July with no breeze. Now add an average of 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Reimagine a resilient future for your city with this nature-based tool But human discomfort isn’t the only problem. These shifts in climate also affect other species. Migratory bird patterns are already changing but so are insect populations . Increased humidity, flooding and temperatures cause an uptick in mosquitoes, ticks and flies. This means an increase in diseases such as zika and dengue that were previously contained to fewer states. Winter freezes that used to kill off larva may no longer be cold enough to have the same population-controlling effect. Climate changes we can understand For most urban dwellers, this alarming news of hotter days and health consequences is not new. However, the authors of the study are hopeful that these results help people conceptualize climate change and make discussions more relatable. Their assessment is “place-based” and aims to use cities that are familiar. Many people have visited these cities, know about them or at the very least have an idea what the weather in their future “twin” city is like compared to where they live. Framing the discussion about climate impacts in a way that is understandable — and in some cases so real you can almost feel it — is critical. Hopefully, these terms and tools help people understand the urgency at a global scale in terms that are meaningful at a personal level. Via CityLab Image via Pixabay

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Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080?

Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

February 12, 2019 by  
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The color of the oceans is about to undergo some major changes. As a result of ongoing climate change , scientists are predicting that the color of the oceans will slowly become bluer over the next 80 years. The color difference is directly connected to microbial phytoplankton , which absorb sunlight near the surface of the ocean. As the acidity and temperature of the oceans rise, the number of phytoplankton is expected to decrease in certain regions. Once the phytoplankton populations drop off, the surface will have a harder time reflecting sunlight, which will ultimately change its color. Related: Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought According to Gizmodo , new research from Nature Communications argues that the subtropical oceans will be most affected by the color change. These regions are particularly susceptible to temperature and pH fluctuations, which will harm phytoplankton populations. Conversely, oceans in the Antarctic and Arctic could become greener, because these areas are not likely to experience significant changes in water temperature. Scientists have been using satellites to monitor the color of the oceans over the past 20 years. The images taken by the satellites are manipulated by a computer algorithm, resulting in a rough sketch of how much chlorophyll is present in the water. The only issue with this tactic is that climate change is not the only force at work here. Natural forces, like El Niño , also affect the color of the oceans. This is why scientists are exploring other methods of detection that will isolate the impacts of climate change. This includes measuring food sources for phytoplankton, looking at patterns of ocean circulation and analyzing growth rates of phytoplankton populations around the world. “Our model can now suggest what such satellites might see in the future world,” MIT scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz explained. Experts predict that by 2100, the temperature of the oceans will have risen by at least 3 degrees Celsius. This difference in temperature is expected to change the color of around half of Earth’s oceans, though the color difference will not be detectable by human sight. Via Gizmodo Image via NOAA

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Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

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