2017 Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes 6 activists who risk life and limb to protect the environment

April 26, 2017 by  
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The winners of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize show you don’t have to be a celebrity or politician to make a change. The award, commonly called the Nobel Prize for the environment , recently recognized six inspiring individuals, ranging in age from 32 to 83, who have labored for environmental justice in their various communities . Read their stories after the jump. Rodrigue Katembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the oldest national park in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s still been targeted by oil companies. Central sector warden Rodrigue Katembo, 41, faced down threats when London-based SOCO International pursued oil drilling in Block V of the park. He worked to expose their illegal activities, amassing evidence over a three-year period; in the process he was arrested and tortured in 2013, two days after he refused to allow SOCO officials to work inside the park as they lacked legal authorization. He appeared in the 2014 documentary Virunga , which Leonardo DiCaprio executive produced and helped turn public opinion against SOCO. They were accused of funding violence and bribery and withdrew in late 2015; Katembo now fights illegal coltan extraction in Upemba National Park. Related: This courageous Baltimore teenager shut down America’s largest incinerator Uroš Macerl, Slovenia Uroš Macerl, 48, has been fighting air pollution in his town of Trbovlje, Slovenia for over a decade. He took over his family’s farm in his twenties, but due to environmental degradation couldn’t grow fruit on the land and raised sheep instead. Then French company Lafarge Cement (now Switzerland-based LafargeHolcim after a 2015 merger) took over a cement kiln in Trbovlje in 2002. Macerl began filing legal complaints after Lafarge applied to incinerate petcoke and industrial waste at their facilities, and found out the government had fast tracked Lafarge’s permits without environmental assessments. So he went to the European Commission. Around five years later the European Commission Inspectorate finally shuttered Lafarge’s activities in Trbvolje, but the fight isn’t over – the company keeps applying for permits and according to Goldman Environmental Prize Slovenian government members are trying to change laws to overlook environmental standards. Macerl continues the battle as president of community organization Eko Krog , or Eco Circle. Wendy Bowman, Australia 83-year-old Wendy Bowman is a sixth-generation farmer in New South Wales (NSW), Australia . Bowman has watched coal mining sprawl across the region, with the support of the NSW government, for decades. She began Minewatch NSW in the early 1990’s to gather information and put the government’s technical statements into understandable language. In 2010 Chinese company Yancoal aimed to expand a mine to Bowman’s 650-acre farm, and she said no. With the Hunter Environment Lobby, she filed a lawsuit and the court said Yancoal could move forward only if they owned the land. Yancoal continues to try and appeal. According to Goldman Environmental Prize, 16.5 million tons of coal have not been mined thanks to Bowman’s determination, and she continues to speak out against coal mining in her community. mark! Lopez, United States mark! Lopez, 32, earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz before returning to his hometown in East Los Angeles . There he fought against a neighborhood battery smelter which released arsenic and lead into the community. A 2016 analysis from California’s Department of Public Health found children living near the smelter, owned by Georgia-based Exide Technologies , had higher levels of lead in their blood than children who didn’t live nearby, as reported by The Los Angeles Times . And that’s after Exide finally closed the recycling plant in 2015. That small victory wasn’t enough for Lopez, who’d worked to mobilize the community with the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ). He wanted Exide to pay for cleanup . Last year California Governor Jerry Brown approved $176 million for cleanup and further lead testing – Lopez thinks contamination could have crept further than the 1.7 mile radius tested. Now Executive Director at EYCEJ, Lopez continues to push for safe cleanup and justice. Rodrigo Tot, Guatemala The Q’eqchi people dwell in the Guatemalan highlands, but the land of the Agua Caliente community and other Q’eqchi communities is under threat from corporations who wish to expand the Fenix Project , a nickel mine. First owned by the government, the mine was sold to Canadian company HudBay Minerals , who later sold it to Switzerland-based Solway Investment Group . Security forces for the mine have attempted to evict people, burned houses, and raped women. Agua Caliente community leader Rodrigo Tot, 57, who has labored since 1972 to obtain land titles for his people, worked with the Indian Law Resource Center and Defensoría Q’eqchi in a legal battle to secure official recognition of Q’eqchi ownership, and the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, ruled in their favor in 2011. But the government hasn’t enforced the ruling. In 2012 one of Tot’s sons was killed and another injured in what looked like a staged robbery. Tot continues to fight for the health of his community with a watch group that has held back security forces. Mining has contaminated Lake Izabal, a source of water and food for locals, with toxic metals like cadmium and chromium. Prafulla Samantara, India In India , the Odisha State Mining Company (OMC) and London-based Vedanta Resources reached an agreement on a $2 billion bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills. But they didn’t inform the indigenous Dongria Kondh people, who reside in the hills – along with many endangered species – and hold the land sacred. Odisha native and activist Prafulla Samantara, 65, found out about it. In the face of harassment from state police and Vedanta personnel, he organized the people in non-violent demonstrations and filed a petition with the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court. The legal battle went on for a dozen years, but in 2013 the Supreme Court determined Dongria Kondh village councils should make the decision about Niyamgiri Hills mining. Each of the 12 councils unanimously voted against the mine. OMC petitioned the outcome but the Supreme Court denied them in 2016. According to Goldman Environmental Prize, the case established a precedent in India that village councils should determine mining activities in their localities. + Goldman Environmental Prize Images courtesy of Goldman Environmental Prize

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2017 Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes 6 activists who risk life and limb to protect the environment

Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

April 26, 2017 by  
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We’ve all experienced the nuisance of a dying phone when there’s no outlet in sight, but that moment could become a relic of the past thanks to new technology being developed by an international team of 19 scientists. The group, led by the Institute de Recherche d-Hydro-Québec and McGill University in Canada , want their battery to harvest and store light energy all on its own – without the help of solar panels . Lithium-ion batteries can only hold so much power, and must be recharged often. So researchers are developing a device that can harvest energy from light and store it. They just published a study showing a lithium-ion battery cathode can be sensitized to light by combining lithium-ion materials with dye molecules including solar cell technology. Here’s how study lead author Andrea Paolella of Hydro-Québec puts it: “In other words, our research team was able to simulate a charging process using light as a source of energy.” Related: 94-year-old inventor of lithium-ion cells develops new battery that can store 3 times more energy The cathode is only half of the process. The researchers must develop an anode that can store the light energy. If they can accomplish that feat, they will have created the first 100 percent self-charging lithium-ion battery in the world. And they’re already at work on phase two. “I’m an optimist and I think we can get a fully working device. Theoretically speaking, our goal is to develop a new hybrid solar-battery system, but depending on the power it can generate when we miniaturize it, we can imagine applications for portable devices such as phones,” said Paolella. Phase two could still take years, but co-author George Demopoulos, a professor at McGill University, thinks this passive form of charging could be significant for devices of the future. Nature Communications published the study online earlier this month. Scientists from institutions in Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were also part of the research. Via McGill University Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater

August 28, 2014 by  
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Did you know that only 1 percent of freshwater in the world is available for human consumption? Or that 140 litres of water are required to produce a single cup of coffee? Over 70% of water used in Latin American coffee farms is returned into rivers without being treated, causing severe damage to to downstream communities, aquatic fauna, and flora, due to its organic waste and high toxicity. UTZ Certified, a sustainable farming initiative, is changing that. 19 pilot sites across Nicaragua , Honduras , and Guatemala received tailor-made coffee wastewater and solid waste treatment mechanisms, and the positive impact, both economic and environmental, has been startling. Read the rest of 19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: clean water , coffee , coffee farm , coffee farming , coffee farms , coffee production , drinkable water , Guatemala , Honduras , nicaragua , recycled water , UTZ , UTZ Certified , waste water , wastewater , water initiatives , water issues

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19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater

Guatemalan Protestor Burned Alive for Speaking Out Against Canadian Company GoldCorp

August 28, 2014 by  
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A Guatemalan protestor was beaten and burnt to death after he dared to speak against the Marlin gold mine, which is owned by Canadian company GoldCorp . The man, who was a member of an indigenous tribe, was reportedly killed by workers from the company who doused him with petrol before throwing a lit match onto his body. Read the rest of Guatemalan Protestor Burned Alive for Speaking Out Against Canadian Company GoldCorp Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: environmental destruction , gold mine , gold mining , Goldcorp , goldcorp protests , Guatemala , guatemala gold mine , Marlin Mine , prosestor death , protestor burned to death , protestors

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Guatemalan Protestor Burned Alive for Speaking Out Against Canadian Company GoldCorp

Minnesotan Man Builds World’s First 3D-Printed Concrete Fairytale Castle in His Own Backyard

August 28, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Minnesotan Man Builds World’s First 3D-Printed Concrete Fairytale Castle in His Own Backyard Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3d printed castle , 3d printer , 3D printing , 3d-printed architecture , andrey rudenko , cement , cement layers , concrete castle , rebar

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Minnesotan Man Builds World’s First 3D-Printed Concrete Fairytale Castle in His Own Backyard

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day Tomorrow, May 14

May 13, 2011 by  
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Image: Courtesy of WorldofGood.com World of Good , the socially responsible marketplace that was acquired by eBay in 2010, recently took a trip down to Guatemala to visit some of its artisan suppliers and to get a better sense of the social and political climate in which they operate. I spoke with Siddharth Sanghvi, co-founder of World of Good, about the trip and some of the impacts of fair trade—and since tomorrow, May 14, happens to be World Fair Trade Day , it’s a good time to dig a little dee… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Celebrate World Fair Trade Day Tomorrow, May 14

Release Of Sterile Pests May Help Eliminate Need For Genetically Modified Crops

November 16, 2010 by  
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Pink cotton bollworms on cotton boll. Image credit:excerpted from image on Wikipedia Mass release of sterile crop pests can be a practical control strategy (presumably even for organic farmers). As reported by SciDevNet , ‘release of sterile insects has successfully lowered populations of the Mediterranean fruit fly in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States; screw-worms in Central America, Libya and the United States; and tsetse flies in Za…

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Release Of Sterile Pests May Help Eliminate Need For Genetically Modified Crops

The Path to Lithium Batteries: Friend or Foe?

November 16, 2010 by  
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Photo Credit: Argonne National Laboratory / Creative Commons Fixing America’s infrastructure (and many other countries’) is high on the priority list of greenies and world leaders alike. Two solutions, smart grids and electric cars , are championed by many as the

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The Path to Lithium Batteries: Friend or Foe?

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