Manatees taken off the endangered species list – but that may not be good

April 3, 2017 by  
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Manatees are found in Florida yet beloved around the world for their plodding, languid behavior and slightly dopey appearance. Since the 1970s, clubs and groups have raised awareness and funds to protect these so-ugly-they-are-cute “sea cows”, which reside in shallow, slow-moving bodies of water. Citing a consistently growing population and successful regulations and efforts by the government and local community, the US Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed West Indian manatees from the endangered species list last week. But that may not be a good thing. While “downlisting” these manatees from endangered to “threatened” might seem like a cause for celebration, some animal and environmental groups aren’t quite ready to break out the algae, grass, or mangrove leaves (preferred snacks of the species). The Save the Manatee Club, for example, is concerned about habitat destruction for the manatees and motorboat accidents and deaths as well as as a loosening or reversal of environmental regulations under the current administration. The US Fish and Wildlife Service purports that federal and state protections for manatees won’t change, but certain manatee-minded parties are pushing for a long-term manatee recovery plan that would address the boat- and habitat-related problems. Effects of climate change and chemical runoff ( leading, in the past, to toxic algal blooms ) are also continuing causes for concern. Related| How Climate Change is Killing Hundreds of Endangered Florida Manatees Manatees were put on the endangered species list in 1967. While manatee numbers dipped to a population of only a few hundred in the 1970s, their population has increased dramatically with more than 6,000 manatees counted for the past three years. A survey this year found a preliminary total of 6,620 manatees. Efforts including river habitat restoration and regulations targeting speeders in manatee zones are among the reasons for the manatee population’s recovery. Via CNN Lead image © Carlton Ward Jr. for Visit Florida , Wikimedia , flickr user USFWS Endangered Species

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Manatees taken off the endangered species list – but that may not be good

7 bee hotels for our favorite pollinators

November 8, 2016 by  
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Giant K-abeilles Hotel for Bees pavilion by AtelierD offered resting place for bees and humans For the 2012 Muttersholtz Archi Festival, AtelierD designed the K-abeilles Hotel for Bees. Shaped like a huge honeycomb , the wood pavilion was comprised of hexagonal components, some open and some packed with natural materials where bees could nest. Humans could sit inside the pavilion on hexagonal seats, close enough to marvel at and appreciate the bustling bees. Related: Bees placed on the endangered species list for the very first time Tea company Taylors of Harrogate creates The Grand Beedapest Hotel inspired by Wes Anderson UK tea company Taylors of Harrogate , whose blends depend on fruits pollinated by bees, decided to raise awareness about bee population decline with an adorable luxury bee hotel. They teamed up with Kew Gardens to create the Grand Beedapest Hotel , evocative of the magnificent hotel in Wes Anderson’s most recent film. Details like a peppermint leaf swimming pool and lemongrass ginger bar added to the quirky charm of the bee hotel. PopTarts Works designers utilize laser cut, recycled cardboard to make Beehive Hotel for an entire bee colony The designers of PopTarts Works decided to create their Beehive Hotel to help out the bees of Toronto . Using recycled corrugated cardboard , they made a five-foot-high habitat that resembles wild hives. They installed the hotel and bees speedily began to nest inside. The Beehive Hotel has enough room for a whole mason bee colony, whose members can pollinate as much as 2,000 flowers every day. University student Tom Back created Thrive Hive to imitate bees’ natural habitats While a student at Kingston University , Tom Back of Thumb Designs created his Thrive Hive out of straw and wood. The hive design was meant to more closely match natural habitats of bees than box homes do, and woven straw insulation ensured the bees inside would flourish even in severe weather . His concept is one that has potential for urban areas as it could be used on a balcony or in a small backyard. Back showed his design at the London Design Festival . University at Buffalo architecture students get in on the bee-saving action with steel cylindrical Elevator B bee skyscraper When a bee colony was found dwelling in an old grain mill, University at Buffalo architecture students decided to design them a better home. Courtney Creenan, Scott Selin, Lisa Stern, Daniel Nead, and Kyle Mastalinski created Elevator B , a towering 22-foot-tall bee apartment made with steel , cypress, and glass . The bee skyscraper mimics the silos where the bee colony once lived, and is equipped with insulation to offer the bees space to reside in the city even during cold winters. Tomoko Azumi upcycles UK auction house waste catalogues into colorful Bee Hive UK auction house Phillips de Pury & Company asked creatives from around the world to transform waste packaging and catalogs into habitats for bees, bats , or birds. Tomoko Azumi of tna design studio responded by upcycling the papers into a modern, colorful Bee Hive . 13 other architects, designers, and artists also utilized Phillips de Pury & Company waste materials to create funky homes for pollinators, and the auction house sold the creative designs to raise money for Adventure Ecology, founded by David de Rothschild. MIT Media Lab creates controlled Synthetic Apiary to keep bees safe from pesticides, drought, climate change Even MIT is trying to make a difference for bees. The MIT Media Lab and Mediated Matter created the indoor Synthetic Apiary , where researchers can control conditions to keep bees safe year-round from pesticides, drought , and climate change . While they’re still testing the design, they did record the first ever birth of a bee in an artificial environment . Images via ©Stephane Spach, screenshot , PopTarts Works , Thumb Designs , Hive City , Tomoko Azumi , and Mediated Matter/MIT

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7 bee hotels for our favorite pollinators

WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

October 27, 2016 by  
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Two-thirds of wild animals around the world could be gone in less than five years , according to a new report compiled by researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London. The latest edition of Living Planet Index (LPI), released this week, warns that loss of habitat due to environmental destruction, global warming, hunting, and pollution will result in a sixth mass extinction. Using 1970 animal population data as a baseline, scientists have measured the state of biological diversity and now warn that the world will have lost 67 percent of its animals by 2020 if major conservation efforts are not implemented immediately. The LPI report measures the condition of the world’s biodiversity by evaluating population trends of animals that live on both land and in the sea. The new report recognizes that dangers to animals worldwide are not new. In fact, researchers point to a 58-percent overall drop in global populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2012. That translates to an approximate 2-percent loss of species each year. Environmental destruction has continued, both directly at the hands of humans in the form of hunting and deforestation, as well as secondary effects such as rising global temperatures, making the threat even more severe. Related: Vanishing land snail signals the 6th mass extinction is well underway The LPI warns that we are approaching a crucial threshold and, without major conservation efforts, the worldwide decline in animal populations will reach 67 percent by 2020. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report. Of all animals on earth, those dwelling in rivers and lakes have been impacted most severely by human activity. Animal populations in freshwater wetlands are down by 81 percent from 1970 figures, which the LPI report says is attributed to excessive water extraction, pollution, and dams. Global warming, which forces animals to adjust their habits, lifestyles, and even territories, amplifies the negative effects of human action and accelerates the loss of life. Via The Guardian Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

August 23, 2016 by  
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Australian researchers are warning of a new, invasive threat to the continent’s native wildlife: goldfish that were abandoned by their owners and released into the wild. Most of us think of goldfish as a small and harmless species, but apparently Western Australia’s rivers contain just the right conditions to allow the fish to grow into two kilo monsters that wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. There are a number of reasons why these fish pose such an environmental hazard. For one, they tend to eat the eggs of native species. But even when they aren’t directly affecting the reproduction of other fish, they’re releasing a nutrient-rich waste into the water column which creates dangerous algae blooms . They’re also carriers of nasty diseases that don’t naturally occur in Australia’s waters. Related: Great Barrier Reef tourist pollution may be causing turtle-specific herpes outbreak It’s believed that pet owners who dump unwanted fish in local waterways are to blame. The practice is called “aquarium dumping.” Once they are released into the water, they breed at a rapid rate, taking over the area. Because they can travel quite far, up to 230 kilometers per year, they’re incredibly difficult to eradicate. In fact, scientists from Murdoch University are calling them “one of the world’s worst invasive aquatic species.” This isn’t the first time pet goldfish have caused an ecological crisis. In 2013, researchers at Lake Tahoe in the US found abandoned goldfish that had grown over and foot and a half long terrorizing the waters. Via Gizmodo Images via Murdoch University

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Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones

August 23, 2016 by  
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The Rio Games may have just ended, but Tokyo is already gearing up for the 2020 Olympics – and organizers want to source materials for the gold, silver, and bronze medals from discarded smartphones and other electronics . The country’s e-waste stream could certainly provide enough precious metals to cover the demand; the problem lies with collecting the discarded devices from the public. In 2014 Japan recovered 143 kg of gold, 1,566 kg of silver and 1,112 tons of copper – an essential component in bronze – from small, discarded electronics, according to Nikkei Asian Review . Judging from London’s 2012 Olympics, only 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver and 700kg of copper were needed to make all the winning medals. Usually cities hosting the games ask mines to donate the materials, but Japan may not have to go that route. Related: Japan promises to make 2020 Olympics a high-tech fest of self-driving cars, 5G networks and more The plan does face some challenges, however – Japan has not fully implemented a system for collecting discarded consumer electronics , and a 2013 law requiring the recycling of home appliances was not as effective as lawmakers hoped. Recycled precious materials are also commonly used to produce new electronic devices, with silver being in especially high demand. A meeting was held on June 10 where Tokyo Olympics officials met with government members and representatives from a mobile phone company, precious metals company, and recycling companies. Proposals are being considered regarding how to increase public awareness of recycling programs and how to streamline the collection process in time for the Games’ arrival in Tokyo. Via Nikkei Asian Review Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones

Our love of Nutella is wrecking the Earth

June 19, 2015 by  
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Nutella is the stuff dreams are made of. OK, well, it’s really just amazing on toast–and almost everything else , but according to Segolene Royal, the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, our love of Nutella (and about half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets ) is wrecking havoc on the environment. Read the rest of Our love of Nutella is wrecking the Earth Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , conservation , deforestation , ferrero , habitat loss , nutella , nutella and deforestation , nutella palm oil , orangutans , palm oil production , species extinction , tigers , Wildlife conservation , zero waste textile factory

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Our love of Nutella is wrecking the Earth

8 Ways that you can help save monarch butterflies

April 9, 2015 by  
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Monarch butterflies are easily recognized worldwide for their gorgeous black and orange wings, but these beauties are in danger of disappearing completely . Their numbers have dropped by 90 percent over the last couple of decades, and if we don’t smarten up, they’ll all die off. Greenpeace has shared eight ways that each and every one of us can help save these vital pollinators from extinction at our own hands, so please read on, and spread the word. Read the rest of 8 Ways that you can help save monarch butterflies Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ban pesticides , Butterflies , endangered butterflies , fsc certified wood , Glyphosate , GMO foods , Greenpeace , habitat loss , milkweed , milkweed flowers , MONARCH , Monarch Butterflies , monarch butterfly extinction , monarch butterfly larvae , monarch habitat , monarchs , native flowers , pesticide use , pesticides , plant milkweed , pollinators

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Modular net-zero net-energy SEED Classroom to debut in Pittsburg

April 9, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Modular net-zero net-energy SEED Classroom to debut in Pittsburg Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: greywater reuse , learning spaces , modular classroom , net-energy architecture , net-zero classroom , Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens , photovoltaics , Prefab , prefab architecture , rainwater harvesting , SEED classroom , SEED Collaborative

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Modular net-zero net-energy SEED Classroom to debut in Pittsburg

Bad news for Santa: Reindeer populations decline as the world’s climate warms

January 7, 2015 by  
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A new study finds that reindeer populations are on the decline, due in part to climate change . This makes bad news not only for Santa, but for all of us, as the grazing habits of reindeer actually help keep earth’s climate in balance and fewer reindeer in the world may contribute to global warming. The study, published this month in the Journal for Nature Conservation , documents the marked decline of China’s reindeer population—a reduction of over 25% since the 1970s. Read the rest of Bad news for Santa: Reindeer populations decline as the world’s climate warms Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Animals , Climate Change , effects of climate change , environmental destruction , global warming , habitat loss , reindeer , reindeer populations decline

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Bad news for Santa: Reindeer populations decline as the world’s climate warms

Orangutan killed over palm oil had 40 shotgun pellets in her body

December 17, 2014 by  
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A female orangutan was shot and killed in Nyaru Menteng, Indonesia last week in the species’ latest struggle with the palm oil industry. Riddled with over 40 shotgun pellets, the orangutan was found with her arms and legs broken on a plantation owned by the Makin Group of Indonesia, a major provider of palm oil to the world market. Read the rest of Orangutan killed over palm oil had 40 shotgun pellets in her body Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cosmetics , deforestation , endangered species , extinction , food , food products , habitat loss , indonesia , Malaysia , orangutans , palm oil

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