The threatened Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth $42 billion

June 26, 2017 by  
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Our unsustainable habits are propelling climate change , and as a result, the Great Barrier Reef is under immense environmental stress.  Coral bleaching has reached record levels and no one knows if or when the coral will ever recover. This is concerning not just from an environmental perspective, but, as a new report by Deloitte Access Economics shows, that loss of the reef would represent an “economic catastrophe” as it is estimated to be worth $56 billion (AUS), or $42 billion (USD). As water temperatures rise, the coral expels algae living within, causing it to turn ghostly white (a phenomenon known as coral bleaching). Though consumers everywhere are changing their habits to reduce greenhouse emissions and prevent global warming from worsening, no one knows for sure how long it will take — or even if — the bleached portions will bounce back. To determine that the Great Barrier Reef’s economic worth, the report took into consideration a few factors. All in all, it was concluded that $29 Billion (AUS) is generated from the tourism industry — including the creation of 64,000 jobs, $24 billion (AUS) to indirect or non-use value (describing people who have heard of the reef but haven’t yet visited) and $3 billion (AUS) from recreational use, such as boating. Commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the report is the first in the world to calculate the economic value of the reef.   Survey answers from 1,500 Australian and international respondents from 10 countries were taken into account and ended up revealing the extent to which some people have come to depend on the Unesco World Heritage Site. Said U.S. politician and environmentalist Al Gore in the report , “This timely report is a much needed, holistic view of the incredible economic value and opportunities provided by the Great Barrier Reef. Any failure to protect this indispensable natural resource would have profound impacts not only to Australia but around the world.” Related: Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death According to Great Barrier Reef Foundation director Steve Sargent, the report “sends a clear message that the Great Barrier Reef—as an ecosystem , as an economic driver, as a global treasure—is too big to fail.” He added that at $42 billion (USD), “the reef is valued at more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses.” Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the largest coral reef system in the world isn’t just affected by warming waters. As Gizmodo reports, farming runoff, urban development. cyclic outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and boating accidents are also damaging the reef at an increasing rate. Experts are presently collaborating to find solutions which will preserve the Great Barrier Reef. Ideas so far include the construction of coral nurseries, increasing the efficiency of starfish culls and cutting greenhouse gas emissions to prevent a further increase in sea surface temperatures. + Deloitte Via Gizmodo Images via Pixabay  ( 1 , 2 )

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The threatened Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth $42 billion

Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

April 27, 2017 by  
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Groundbreaking research from scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Florida State University could help in the fight against climate change . The researchers were able to trigger photosynthesis in metal-organic frameworks (MOF) with a little help from blue light , and the process turned carbon dioxide (CO2) into solar fuel . UCF assistant professor Fernando Uribe-Romo described the find as a breakthrough. Scientists have been seeking such a breakthrough for years. The trick is getting visible light to set off the chemical reaction; ultraviolet rays can do it but only comprise four percent of the light hitting Earth from the sun. Most materials that can absorb visible light to set off the reaction are too expensive or rare. The Florida scientists, however, found they could use the common nontoxic metal titanium added with organic molecules that can be designed to absorb certain colors of light. Uribe-Romo set them up to absorb blue light. Related: MIT Scientists Create Artificial Solar Leaf That Can Power Homes The team tested the MOF inside a photoreactor – or glowing blue cylinder lined with LED lights to mimic blue wavelengths shining from the sun – and the resulting chemical reaction turned CO2 into solar fuel. Uribe-Romo said, “The idea would be to set up stations that capture large amounts of CO2, like next to a power plant . The gas would be sucked into the station, go through the process, and recycle the greenhouse gases while producing energy that would be put back into the power plant.” He said it may even be possible for the material to be put in rooftop shingles to both clean the air and generate energy usable for homeowners. He aims to keep working with the synthetic material and see if different wavelengths of visible light can set off the reaction. The Journal of Materials Chemistry A published the find online earlier this month. Via The Independent and EurekAlert! Images via UCF: Bernard Wilchusky and University of Central Florida

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Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years

April 27, 2017 by  
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Wolves have been taken off the United States government’s endangered species list in Wyoming , and a court decision just gave wolf management back to the state. This means for the first time in four years, according to the Associated Press (AP), Wyoming plans to have a wolf hunt . Wolves are still recovering after their numbers were severely depleted, and environmentalists warn this order could be a step backward for the animals . Wolves will no longer have federal protections in Wyoming. The state will allow a wolf hunt this fall; officials told the AP the hunt will probably be similar to 2012 and 2013 hunting seasons. In 2013 the state allowed for 26 wolves to be killed near the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The AP said the hunting season only applies to the greater Yellowstone area; elsewhere in the state wolves can now be shot on sight year-round. Related: Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West The Wyoming Game & Fish Department put it rather bluntly: “Wolves outside the Trophy Game Management Area are now considered predatory animals as defined in state law and therefore can be harvested.” Back around the beginning of March Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Rebecca Riley told The Washington Post, “Wyoming’s plan to shoot wolves on sight throughout most of the state was a bad idea when it was proposed, and it’s a bad idea now. The court’s decision to lift federal protections for wolves in Wyoming will be a step backward for wolf recovery in the West.” A few hundred years ago some two million wolves lived in the United States; that number has dwindled to around 1,700. Wolves live on just 10 percent of their historic range in the American West. Via the Associated Press , the Wyoming Game & Fish Department , and The Washington Post Images via Pixabay and Jeremy Weber on Flickr

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Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years

NYC mayor announces push to finish 32-mile Greenway linking entire Manhattan waterfront

April 27, 2017 by  
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to finish the biggest gap in the 32-mile Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. $100 million in the mayor’s executive budget will go towards completing the esplanade, allowing people to walk and bicycle on the edges of the city by the water. The new green space and promenade could be finished in around five years. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway along the East River between East 61st to East 53rd Street could be developed with City capital money. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation , United States Coast Guard , and Army Corps of Engineers have already granted initial approval and designs for the esplanade will be sketched out this year. The city hopes construction, carried out by the New York City Economic Development Corporation , will begin in 2019 and end in 2022. Related: Former garment factory next to NYC’s High Line to be topped with new green spaces Mayor de Blasio said in a statement, “We’re jumpstarting the completion of a Greenway linking the entire Manhattan waterfront. The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk, and play along the water. This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.” Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the longer Greenway would help meet the demand in cycling , which has spiked 80 percent during the last five years in New York City. DOT’s new bike lanes and a 1,100-mile bicycle network could also help more people get out of their cars and onto bikes. Mayor David Dinkins started the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway in 1993, and each administration since has added to it. The most recent major piece of the Greenway is a 10-block Riverwalk completing an 11-mile path between George Washington Bridge and the Battery. Over 7,000 cyclists ride on the path every day, making it the United States’ busiest bike path. + Office of the Mayor of New York City Images via the Office of the Mayor of New York City

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NYC mayor announces push to finish 32-mile Greenway linking entire Manhattan waterfront

Scotland reaches gutsy emissions reduction goal six years early

June 14, 2016 by  
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Scotland has made great strides towards meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Their goal was to reduce emissions by 42 percent by 2020. This week, the Scottish government announced in a press release that the country passed the goal in 2014, when they achieved “a reduction of 45.8 percent.” Climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham said between 1990 and 2014, emissions fell by close to 46 percent. Emissions in the rest of the UK since 1990 only fell by 33 percent. Cunningham suggested that individuals turning down the heat may have contributed to the reduction. Related: 57% of Scotland’s energy came from renewables in 2015 Others said the government still needs to step up their commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland spokesperson Jim Densham told The Guardian while it was good the goal has already been reached, showing people don’t have to sacrifice comfort drastically to combat climate change, the government still needs to “lead with the big policies for major emission reductions.” According to Densham, emissions from the transportation sector remain at the same levels as 1990, and in the housing sector, emissions have only been reduced by 1 percent. He said Scotland was able to reach the 42 percent target due to a warmer 2014 winter, heavy industry loss, a “changing share of European emissions credits,” and policies. Green Party Parliament member Mark Ruskell said if the government hopes to set greater targets for 2020, they need to address “home energy efficiency” and fuel poverty. They also need “far more ambitious” transportation policies. Ruskell said to The Guardian, “The real test of action on climate change isn’t how figures get fudged from year to year; it’s whether people across Scotland have real choices to live in warm, efficient homes or a transport system fit for the 21st century. That requires funding and action from the Scottish government.” According to the Scottish government, the target for 2050 is an 80 percent reduction in emissions. Cunningham said since the country has already met its 2020 goal, it will likely pursue more ambitious goals in legislation . Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Scotland reaches gutsy emissions reduction goal six years early

Transforming veil shields UAE medical center from thermal fluctuations

June 14, 2016 by  
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This unusual medical center planned for Al Ain, the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates , includes a large tower wrapped in a transforming veil that helps balance the region’s dramatic thermal fluctuations. Architecture firm Philippe Barriere Collective (PB+Co) designed the development as a state-of-the-art combination of Western and alternative medicine , nature preservation practices and technology. The Al Ain municipality wanted to create an iconic project that would embody the idea of progress in environmental sciences, green technology and medical treatment deeply connected to nature. The resulting design includes a Chelation Clinic, Integrated Dental Domes, a Healing Clinic and individual bungalows as patients’ private residences. Related: How design humanizes patients’ experience at the St Charles Bend Cancer Center The complex will overlook Al Ain Lake, the shores of which are planted with a variety of species that attract birds, fish, and reptiles, among other animals, and acts as a model of biodiversity. This area is also meant to be used for patient rehabilitation and healing. The tower is wrapped in a skin-like layer that expands and contracts to control temperature and shading by creating an internal buffer air zone that can increase in size or retract. + Philippe Barriere Collective (PB+Co) Via v2com

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Transforming veil shields UAE medical center from thermal fluctuations

Norway moves up zero emissions target to 2030

June 9, 2016 by  
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From committing to zero deforestation in its public procurement and moving toward banning gas-powered cars , Norway has been making environmental headlines around the world. Now the oil-rich Nordic nation has taken perhaps its most significant climate action by pushing up the target of completely eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 20 years. The parliament’s energy and environment committee  just agreed to move forward the country’s carbon neutral goal from 2050 to 2030. The country had previously set the 2030 target in 2008 but the goal was pushed back to 2050 after a climate deal failed to be reached at the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Norway reconsidered its zero emissions target following the historic agreement reached in Paris last year that was signed by nearly 200 nations. Related: Norway announces plans for Europe’s largest onshore wind farm “This should set an example for others,” said Lars Haltbrekken, chairman of Friends of the Earth Norway . “There is a big gap that needs to be closed to meet the new temperature targets and we need increased ambition by everyone.” Norway already generates more than 95 percent of its electricity from hydropower , so the zero emissions target will likely be achieved in other ways such as purchasing carbon credits abroad and introducing more electric vehicles. Via Reuters Images via Pexels and Good Free Photos

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Norway moves up zero emissions target to 2030

Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung

June 9, 2016 by  
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Set on an 8.5-hectare site with a sunken station plaza, the 182,000-square-meter Kaohsiung Train Station will be a major transit hub serving trains, metros, local buses, intercity buses, taxis, and bicycles. A 35,000-square-meter green canopy sprawls out across the square like an amoeba and extends rounded arms that connect the various forms of transport. The underside of the canopy continues the organic motif with asymmetrical oval-like ceiling sound panels and lights, as well as large rounded skylights. Related: Mecanoo wins competition to design the Tainan Public Library with natural materials “The station’s large curvilinear shaped canopy reaches out to the city in a powerful gesture, acting as a green connector that unifies different modes of transport, and represents Kaohsiung’s vision for the future as a sustainable city,” writes Mecanoo. The landscaped canopy shields a shaded open public plaza from the harsh sun and offers a space for community events such as farmers’ markets and festivals. The architects will also move the colonial Japanese station building to the project site to showcase an interesting juxtaposition between traditional and contemporary design. The project is expected to be complete by 2023. + Mecanoo Via NOW News Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung

Artist advocates worm composting solution to reduce waste and methane emissions

March 30, 2016 by  
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Composting worms are excellent co-habitants that can help us reduce our greenhouse gas output by eating food scraps and waste paper that would otherwise be generating methane in landfills. Local, in-home worms can transform domestic organic waste into a rich, nutritious fertilizer that can be fed to houseplants, food gardens, trees, or lawns. Worms have the potential to play an important role in helping us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but their power to repulse us is a barrier. There is a lot of cultural work to do if we are to develop symbiotic relationships with them. Artist Amy Youngs has begun this work by creating a series of artworks designed to help humans get comfortable with having worms as roommates. Read the rest of Artist advocates worm composting solution to reduce waste and methane emissions

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Artist advocates worm composting solution to reduce waste and methane emissions

State of Green Business: Agriculture plants the seeds of regeneration

March 21, 2016 by  
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Harnessing the genius of soil to draw down greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

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State of Green Business: Agriculture plants the seeds of regeneration

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