This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change

November 7, 2019 by  
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Just in time for your conscious holiday shopping, Veldt, Inc. is unveiling its newest luxury smartwatch, the LUXTURE AARDE, designed with sustainability and wellness in mind. Possibly its most interesting feature, the Climate Action Reminder is a tool that shows how global warming has quickly increased temperatures compared to just 10 years ago along with other climate-related notifications. Aimed at giving the user the ideal level of alerts at the appropriate times, this luxury watch is not designed to bombard the wearer with too much information or to groom an over-reliance on technology. Unlike other modern smartwatches, the LUXTURE AARDE watch uses a combination of LED lights embedded into the watch face, vibrations and colors to convey messages rather than words, providing a less-intrusive, more subtle approach. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle The watch comes with alerts connected to typical apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as well as notifications for emails and calls. It also includes the ability to connect up to three different calendars and customize up to five VIP contacts. Yellow lights around the perimeter of the analog indicate moon phases, and the Pomodoro timer reminds you to take breaks during your workday. Additionally, LUXTURE AARDE takes data from your smartphone to help track health indicators such as activity level and steps on the connecting app. The Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch comes in three styles: rose gold-toned with the “Birch” strap, stainless steel with the “Stone” strap and black with the “Calf” strap. Wearers will enjoy a wireless charging dock and an estimated battery life of three days. The watch connects to Bluetooth and is water-resistant as well. The collection ranges from $650 to $1,150 depending on the watch style. Perhaps the most alluring feature of the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch is its Climate Action Reminder. Aimed at promoting the personal well-being of the wearer, the feature offers information on UV radiation exposure, ocean wave levels and weather. The Climate Action Reminder calculates the daily average temperatures of the specific countries under the Paris Agreement. It also compares the temperature of your current location against the temperature a decade ago. This original function created by VELDT developers is directed at bringing awareness to the impact of climate change , hopefully providing the wearer with daily reminders to do their part in protecting the planet. + Veldt Images via Veldt

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Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

October 29, 2019 by  
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Five new Russian islands have emerged from the mass melting of glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic region. The islands were first spotted in 2016 by the Russian Navy via satellite imagery and were recently confirmed and mapped during an expedition this past August and September. Frequency of ice melt glaringly warns of climate impacts that are hitting harder and sooner than anticipated. Temperature changes stemming from global warming have adversely affected the Arctic. According to a September United Nations report , glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are diminishing “and will continue to do so.” Similarly, Arctic sea ice has declined every month, “and it is getting thinner.” If greenhouse gas emissions levels continue to rise, the UN anticipates that around 70 percent of permafrost could be lost by 2100. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Of the five yet unnamed islands, the smallest measures 900 square meters, and the largest measures 54,500 square meters. Their emergence highlights the UN’s warning that the period from 2015 to 2019 registered the most glacier loss of any five-year timespan. “Mainly this is, of course, caused by changes to the ice situation,” confirmed Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, who was the expedition leader. “Before, these were glaciers; we thought they were part of the main glacier. Melting, collapse and temperature changes led to these islands being uncovered.” The new islands are located in proximity to the Vylki glacier , off the coast of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, just northwest of the Russian mainland. Video footage provided by the Russian expedition revealed seabirds, walruses and polar bears already populating the islands’ shores. Interestingly, the shrinking northern ice cap has opened up sea lanes in the Arctic, making them more navigable. The discovery of these five new islands amidst the accelerated receding of the ice caps will therefore have geopolitical and consequent environmental implications, since the Arctic may well become, in the future, a much-contested highway and natural resource center of oil, natural gas , mineral deposits and even immense fisheries. Via CNN Image via Christopher Michel

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Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

October 28, 2019 by  
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Ever wonder how you’ll survive an apocalyptic climate crisis ? You can now get a simulated preview of your survival chances in a newly released, multiplatform video game, The Climate Trail. Developed by William Volk, the game focuses on a group of climate refugees fleeing Atlanta for Canada as the conditions all around them worsen. Wanting to raise awareness about the climate crisis in hopes of dispelling climate change denial and inaction, Volk charged ahead with creating the game despite having to overcome “the challenge of learning a new development system (Ren’Py) and programming language (Python).” Thus, he released The Climate Trail, which combines visual graphic novel storytelling with simulation game elements. Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to his developer blog , “I’ve self-funded the project because I want to make people care about the climate issue,” Volk explained. “I wanted to create an emotional impact, weave in science information and make a game that makes a difference. I’ve always believed that games can have social value.” Inspired by the iconic game The Oregon Trail, which was a hallmark of elementary, middle and high schools from the 1970s to the 1990s, Volk’s game is as an educational survival foray, wherein players are pitted against hunger, thirst, extreme weather and other cataclysmic disasters in a dystopian future ravaged by the excesses of climate change. Incorporating scientific information about global warming , greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise , Volk hopes the game will be introduced to schools as an instructive tool, teaching the value of resourcefulness in unpredictable and risky scenarios. With education as his top priority for the game, Volk made sure to steer away from gun-toting scenes, even humbly apologizing in his blog, “Sorry, no shooting in this one.” Rather, he chose to focus on knowledge and information, saying he paid “a lot more attention to the science of climate change” to make the game convincing, for the purpose of “catching the conscience of the deniers and doubters, to really take climate change seriously.” Volk shared, “The catch-22 about this game is I started it with a much more optimistic attitude than when I finished it. The more I dug into it, the more it seemed things were actually worse than imagined.” There are three levels of difficulty: moderate, significant and extreme. Available free for download and even free of advertisements, the game can be played with Mac, PC Windows and Linux systems. Mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android Google Play are available as well. + The Climate Trail Via Gizmodo Images via The Climate Trail

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Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

Illegal logging possibly contributes to majority of mislabeled wood in US markets

October 28, 2019 by  
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In a first-of-its-kind study , the World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute and United States Forest Service collaboratively found that a disconcerting 62 percent of the U.S. wood products studied were mislabeled. Mislabeling often signals wrongful supply chain violations — illegal logging and deforestation — that consequently hamper endeavors to promote sustainable wood According to Amy Smith, the World Wildlife Fund’s forests deputy director, “Wood products are intentionally mislabeled, sometimes to pass off lower-value wood for more expensive varieties, and sometimes to cover up the fact it was illegally sourced. We wanted to know how often this fraud occurs, and our study indicates it could be alarmingly common. The wood you think you are buying is not what you get.” Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction How does mislabeling occur? Loggers, for instance, could harvest trees from a threatened or ecologically vital forest ecosystem , then mix wood species to cover up the illegal logging activity. Following transport to the lumberyard, species origin of the timber logs and boards are further misrepresented to allow illegal wood in the supply chain. Distortion persists as the wood is misidentified as a different species, continuing onward to the mill’s processing, the factory’s product manufacturing, and eventually reaching the import and retail junctures as an illegally sourced wood product made available for purchase. Mislabeling of wood is of high concern because illegal logging harms fragile forests, placing them at risk of biodiversity loss . Whether purposeful or not, mislabeling breaches the U.S. Lacey Act , first enacted in 1900 to ban trafficking of illegal wildlife , then amended in 2008 to include plants and plant products, like timber. The U.S. Lacey Act’s landmark legislation continues as the world’s first ban on the trade of illegally sourced wood products. To solve the crisis, the U.S. Forest Service strives to increase training in identifying wood species. Doing so pinpoints supply chain gaps that need measures to combat illegal logging, mislabeling and the sale of fraudulent wood products. It is hoped this will cultivate best practices in verifying sources of wood species to confirm they arrive from sustainable, responsibly managed forests. Similarly, consumers are encouraged to make a difference by pledging to purchase products approved by the Forest Stewardship Council as FSC-certified . The FSC is “the most rigorous, credible forest certification system” that ensures products reliably comply with environmental protection standards before gaining access to markets. “ Deforestation and illegal logging are critical threats to our world’s forests,” Smith added. “It’s our responsibility as consumers to demand legally and responsibly sourced forest products. We do that by purchasing FSC-certified wood and paper and letting businesses and policy makers know that enforcement of our import laws — plus investment in technologies to detect fraud — must be a priority.” + PLOS ONE Image via James Schnepf / WWF-US

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EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

October 17, 2019 by  
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Coal-fired power plants, vehicle-clogged highways and fossil-fuel spewing factories have contributed to the growing European air pollution dilemma. Industries, households and vehicles all emit dangerous pollutants that are harmful to human health. Indeed, the European Environment Agency (EEA) highlighted the issue when reporting that over 400,000 Europeans met their untimely demise in 2016 due to poor air quality. Air pollution is detrimental to society, harms human health and ultimately increases health care costs. An air quality expert at the EEA and author of the study, Alberto Gonzales Ortiz, warned that air pollution is “currently the most important environmental risk to human health.” Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “Pollutants with the strongest evidence for public health concerns include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).” The presence of air pollutants produced by fuel combustion – whether from mobile sources like vehicles or from stationery sources such as power plants, biomass use, industry or households – above European skies means the continent is in serious need of more effective air quality plans. Current European Union (EU) legislation requires air quality evaluations to assess whether dangerous particulates have exceeded certain thresholds.  As early as 2017, the EU set limits on certain air pollutants to tackle the scourge that is prematurely claiming hundreds of thousands of European lives each year. In fact, this past July, the European Commission asked the EU’s Court of Justice to reprimand Spain and Portugal for their poor air quality practices. More recently, the British government proposed a new environment bill that legally targets the reduction of fine particulate pollution by requiring automakers to recall vehicles with sub-par emission standards. The WHO has repeatedly said that air pollution is to blame for high percentages of global mortality linked to lung cancer (29%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (43%), acute respiratory infection (17%), ischemic heart disease (25%), stroke (24%) and other cardiovascular ailments. Low-and middle-income countries are disproportionately more vulnerable to the particulate pollution burden, especially poor and marginalized populations. Interestingly, air pollution is also the main driver of climate change . Emissions have been among the largest contributors to global warming , accelerating glacial snow melt as well as causing extreme weather conditions that affect agriculture and food security. Ortiz added, “When we fight pollution, we also fight climate change as well as promote more healthy behavior. It’s a win-win.” Via Reuters Image via dan19878

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EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis

September 26, 2019 by  
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The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — which is, in fact, the UN body responsible for communicating on the deteriorating climate — has officially recognized the oceans as a critical component in the climate change crisis. Warming ocean temperatures are becoming commonplace and are melting ice sheets and glaciers and contributing to rising sea levels. Additionally, the warm waters affect the ocean’s oxygen levels. As these phenomena accelerate toward a tipping point, nature’s ecosystems will be disrupted, and human society will be adversely affected. The IPCC’s announcement of its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate — which is based on almost 7,000 peer-reviewed research articles — signals a crucial milestone. If things remain as the status quo, then ecological upheaval is imminent. Related: Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change Our oceans comprise an important habitat that many living things, including humans, rely on for food and sustenance. Oceans also collectively absorb more than a quarter of the human-made carbon dioxide being produced, while simultaneously providing half of the oxygen created on our planet. Similarly, more than 90 percent of the heat generated via greenhouse gas emissions is likewise absorbed by our oceans. In this way, the oceans play a significant role in global climate regulation. But our climate is in dire crisis. Rising global temperatures are making oceans warmer through marine heatwaves. Warm ocean water is less likely to hold oxygen, leading to subsequent ocean acidification. Plus, warmer waters bleach coral reefs and also increase the likelihood of water chemistry disruptions, so that both bacterial and algal blooms become more common, as do red tides. Marine biodiversity is thrown off-kilter, leaving certain ocean regions devoid of life. Mass endangerment and extinctions of particular marine species becomes inevitable, and fishing yields dwindle considerably. Hence, for the 70-member coalition known as the Ocean and Climate Platform, the ocean’s sustainability comes into question. To stem the tide of climate catastrophe, the authors of the report are warning humanity and calling for policy change. If human-induced warming continues, there will come a time when the damage can no longer be healed. Immediate collaborative action is required, before it is too late, to reverse and remedy the climate crisis. + IPCC Image via Oregon State University

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Honda makes largest renewable energy purchase of any automaker

September 25, 2019 by  
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Multinational auto manufacturer Honda Motor Company, headquartered in Tokyo, recently made the largest renewable clean energy purchase by any car maker. The electricity will be utilized to offset emissions from its United States factories, thus enabling Honda to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent in its North American manufacturing plants. With widespread public debate and mounting regulatory pressures, automakers have no choice but to shift their business models to address the carbon dioxide reduction challenge. It is no wonder then that a growing number of automobile companies are turning to renewables, like wind and solar, to achieve sustainable returns. Related: Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes According to Honda, it currently obtains about 21 percent of its North American operations’ power from low- or zero-emission power sources.  But it hopes to improve upon that, thanks to clinching the car industry’s largest renewable energy purchase. Honda’s new clean energy deal involves the purchase of wind power from an Oklahoma wind farm as well as sourcing energy from a Texas solar farm. Projections show that, with this clean energy purchase, Honda can annually offset 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s equal to “100,000 U.S. households’ worth of CO2-emissions from household energy usage,” as described in Honda’s press release. Honda revealed, “Two Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) will secure 320 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power totaling over 1 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable electricity annually.” How do VPPAs operate? Honda explained that VPPAs are “a way for Honda to purchase renewable energy in locations where it is unable to purchase renewables from the local electric utility.” The automaker buys “electricity from a renewable energy supplier, but the clean energy does not go directly to Honda’s facilities; instead, it is sold into the electricity grid where the clean power is generated.” In effect, Honda’s ‘virtual purchase’ of that “renewable energy adds more clean energy into the nation’s grid,” which decreases fossil fuel dependency and any accompanying carbon dioxide emissions. Honda’s VPPA purchase essentially “de-carbonizes” the electricity grid. Analysts say VPPAs are becoming an ever-popular means for large corporations seeking to meet carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.  Tech giants, like Google and Microsoft, for instance, have historically purchased VPPAs as well. Business industry pundits forecast an uptick of VPPA procurements in the next couple of years as renewable energy policy intensifies. Aligned with its revitalized green mission, Honda’s long-term plans go far beyond clean energy purchases, as it continues its commitment to sustainability. The company similarly announced plans to electrify two-thirds of its manufactured vehicular fleet so that they are charged via renewable energy by 2030. + Honda Motor Company Image via Honda Motor Company

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Could planting 1 trillion trees counteract climate change?

September 20, 2019 by  
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The U.N. suggests that adding 2.5 billion acres of forest to the world could limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. But some researchers aren’t so sure.

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Send your news tips to Inhabitat!

September 19, 2019 by  
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As the climate crisis worsens by the minute, it is more important now than ever to report on the issues that both plague and benefit our world. Inhabitat has long been a steward in reporting the latest environmental happenings, but we need your help in order to further strengthen our reporting and keep readers informed with the latest news. Whether you are an environmental non-profit organization, a company trying to do its part for the planet, a citizen concerned about the Earth’s future, a scientist, a conservationist or anything in between, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us with the latest information related to the environment, sustainability, green technology, etc.  To help us post the most relevant, accurate news, please include any fact sheets, published research, accompanying images and/or contacts for interviews as well as any other related sources and documents for us to review in your tip email. Please note that we will thoroughly review and fact-check each news tip and reach out for more information if we decide to publish a tip. It is important to Inhabitat to fairly and accurately report the news and inform audiences of what is helping and hurting our planet. We are working to report original, exclusive content as much as possible, and your help is extremely valuable. We appreciate every news tip, and we look forward to hearing from you. Please submit tips and relevant, related material for review to tips@inhabitat.com Image via geralt

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Climate fears affecting meat, bottled beverage and plastic production industries

September 16, 2019 by  
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The growing apprehension surrounding climate change is altering consumer behavior. Kantar, a data analytics firm, recently published a report documenting that environmental conscientiousness is shifting consumption choices, particularly on sales of meat and single-use plastic items. Of the 65,000 people surveyed in 24 countries across Asia, Europe and Latin America, one-third expressed worry about the environment. Roughly half of those people, or 16 percent of total respondents, actively take steps to decrease their environmental impact . “We’re already seeing small reductions in spending on meat , bottled drinks and categories such as beauty wipes,” Kantar revealed. “As markets get wealthier, the focus on issues of environmentalism and plastics increases.” Related: Germany proposes a meat tax increase to improve animal welfare and curb climate change The poll further disclosed that Western European respondents were more engaged in reducing environmental impact compared to their Asian and Latin American counterparts. Austrian and German shoppers ranked as the most ‘eco active,’ followed closely by British consumers. But 37 percent of the Chilean respondents proved to be eco-conscious, thus making Chile the environmental nonpareil of Latin American countries. Kantar asserted, “Our study shows there is high demand for eco-friendly products that are competitively priced and readily available.” Just last month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conveyed the urgency that global meat consumption must decrease to help reverse global warming . Furthermore, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions can be accelerated by the rise of plant-based food consumption and production. Consequently, there has been market expansion in plant-based protein and other alternative offerings to meat. Companies like Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and even London-based Moving Mountains Foods have become more mainstream with many of their flexitarian , vegetarian and vegan products appearing on restaurant menus as well as wholesale and retail grocery store shelves. Because meatless protein is still a fledgling industry, competitors are likely to emerge in the near future as a response to the call for cutbacks to meat and dairy. Meanwhile, recent legislative bans against single-use items such as bottles, straws, carrier bags and other plastic packaging have helped. Surging global awareness of the environmental damage wreaked by plastic has hiked restrictions, in turn, denting demand for their production. With recycling efforts and sustainability initiatives gaining momentum in today’s world, both the meat and plastics industries are being called upon to adapt to the changing consumer landscape. + Kantar Via Reuters and TreeHugger Image via Beth Rosengard

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