Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

May 29, 2020 by  
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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business Sarah Golden Fri, 05/29/2020 – 01:45 In this crazy upside-down world, the line between residential and commercial energy is getting fuzzy.  Everything changed so quickly, it makes sense that climate and energy teams have yet to figure out how to account for the shift. But as companies such as Mastercard , Facebook and Twitter look at long-term remote work policies, working from home (WFH) is adding a new dimension to corporate carbon accounting.  And it’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy.  It’s still early days for companies thinking about WFH energy usages as part of their own greenhouse gas footprint. Right now, commercial energy use is still high , and it’s not clear when or which workers will head back to the office.  It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. According to Noah Goldstein, director of sustainability at Guidehouse, there also aren’t great calculations for what the GHG impact of working from home would be. The guidance is that the company is only responsible for “additional” energy use, but that is hard to determine without baseline calculations.  “I can foresee some companies accounting for WFH in their 2020 or 2021 footprint, but very, very few in number,” said Goldstein in an email.  Five companies with residential energy programs for the COVID era With people hunkering down at home as we enter a hotter than normal summer , residential demand response will be critical to keep energy affordable and clean(er).  The pandemic began in a shoulder month — meaning a time of year where heating and cooling demands are low as most of the country experiences temperate weather. With restrictions on movement still in effect, grid operators are preparing for air conditioners alone to strain our energy infrastructure. Demand response is a promising solution. According to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie, residential demand response would unlock more than 10 gigawatts of additional energy capacity. This would help utilities and states stay on track for clean energy goals and reduce energy bills at a time when households are struggling more than ever to make ends meet.  Here are five companies with updated offerings tailored to the COVID-19 era, designed to make residential energy use smarter as our homes become our office (and bar and restaurant and concert venue and movie theater…) 1. Google Nest partners with utilities Google recently announced its partnership with Consumers Energy to bring smart thermostats to up to 100,000 households in Michigan. According to its release , those who receive a thermostat will be enrolled in the utility’s Smart Thermostat Program, which shifts energy use to off-peak hours.  The partnership is part of Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan, which is striving to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Shifting energy use during peak times is key to staying on track.  This is just the first in a series of Google Nest’s partnerships. The company is expected to announce three more utility partnerships at the start of June.  Google isn’t the only company teaming up with utilities to gamify demand response. Logical Buildings launched its GridRewards campaign last month to encourage residents to reduce energy usage at key times. Logical Buildings partnered with a consortium of municipalities in Westchester, New York.  2. OhmConnect launches AutoOhms Last week, OhmConnect announced AutoOhms , its newest program that offers cash incentives for “timely, smarter energy use.” AutoOhm will power down energy-intensive connected appliances in 15-minute increments during peak energy times. Customers will receive a text message when peak rates are about to kick in and can select appliances to power down through an app. Through this “gamified” experience, the customer can actively see their energy savings.  The program is available for customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.  3. Tesla Energy discusses Autobidder Always a big dreamer, it comes as no surprise that Tesla’s energy division has its sights on becoming a distributed global utility.  Tesla has been deploying distributed energy assets (think solar, electric vehicles, Powerwalls) while investing in grid-scale energy and storage projects. Now the company’s vision is to control these individual assets as one beast on its platform Autobidder . According to the website, Autobidder allows anyone with energy storage assets — be they EVs, solar plus storage, a home battery, anything — to engage in real-time trading and make additional money from the energy asset.  Apparently, Autobidder already has been (quietly) around for a few years, operations at Tesla’s energy storage facility in South Australia. With Tesla talking about the software, the company is likely hoping for wider adoption.  4. Leap Energy develops a demand response marketplace Leap, a newer company in the world of demand response, is working to create a marketplace to better monetize energy resources. Its vision is to engage connected energy resources that aren’t currently participating in grid flexibility — which, according to its CEO Thomas Folker, is about 90 percent of energy assets. “We are an aggregator of other aggregators,” said Folker in a phone conversation last month. “We don’t physically control any hardware, we don’t acquire any customers. We just provide the software that allows for this all to happen.” The platform allows for end energy users to bid on resources and automatically facilitates the exchange. Its users are demand response companies — such as OhmConnect and Google Nest — and works to increase the value of distributed energy resources while providing flexibility to the grid.  5. Span turns homes into microgrids New on the scene with a fresh round of Series A finance, Span bills itself as a smart panel company that works to integrate a home’s solar, energy storage and electric vehicle. It’s kind of like using a home’s energy assets as a microgrid.  Span’s selling point is energy resilience. The system works to keep power flowing to where customers need it in the event of a power outage, which, the company points out in a release , is of growing importance as California is looking at a future where shelter in place could overlap with planned power outages. (The company is initially focusing on California and Hawaii as key markets.) This increased level of control and connected energy assets also means users can rely on their own resources when the grid has more dirty energy.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

Brother sister duo create tropical tiny home in Hawaii

May 5, 2020 by  
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Tiny homes  are still all the rage within the minimalist and wanderlust communities of the world, and what better place to consider tiny living than in the warmth of the big island, Hawaii? If equatorial location is on your must-have list, this tiny home might be just the serving of simplicity and decadence you’re looking for.  Designed by the brother and sister team, Ellie and Dan Madsen, the Oasis Tiny House lives up to each aspect of its name. Measuring in at just 260 square feet, this tiny home provides an oasis with an abundance of luxury features inside and out. An A-frame ceiling and curved roof leave an airy feeling of space far beyond what is actually there. Complete with a ceiling fan, stained beams and an octagonal window at the peak, the eye is drawn to all the features above. Copious windows provide an abundance of light that embraces the tropical vibe of the home.  Related: 7 tips for decorating a tiny home This theme continues inside the bathroom with a skylight roof above the shower for an outdoor feel, where you just might think you’re actually under a rain shower. The shower design projects out onto the tongue of the trailer for a spacious overall bathroom design. A space-efficient corner shelf holds a vessel sink, and the corner is  lit naturally  and with added track lighting.  The kitchen features stainless steel counters with husky tool drawers and black cabinetry, but the  exotic curly mango wood  windowsill ledge and large pass-through window are the focal points of the space. A subway tile backsplash and mounted shelving round out the accents. This space-conscious design still manages to incorporate a washing machine into the kitchen, a feature many tiny homes lack.  The mango wood laced stairs leading to the bedroom loft offer copious storage underneath, and a row of submarine -style bubble windows offer a 180-degree view. The living room allows space for furniture as well as a multi-functional bar-height table for work, dining or entertaining. Since the tiny house is located in Hawaii , outdoor living is an essential component. The design welcomes this with an outdoor bar located directly below the pass-through kitchen window. Paradise Tiny Homes combined the talents of the two Madsen siblings, who, after having lived in different states for a decade, came back together after the passing of their mother. Feeling reunited by the importance and love of family, they saw that their two different but compatible skill sets could come together beautifully to produce some of the most unique and remarkable homes in Hawaii. + Paradise Tiny Homes, LLC  Images via Paradise Tiny Homes, LLC

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Brother sister duo create tropical tiny home in Hawaii

Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
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Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

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Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

Proposed Florida bill could require prescription for sunscreens in effort to save coral reefs

October 18, 2019 by  
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In a bid to protect the Sunshine State’s reefs from coral bleaching , a new legislative bill has been proposed that requires a physician’s prescription for sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, on grounds that these chemicals are harmful to marine coastal environments. The two ingredients are found in roughly 80 percent of all commercially available sunscreens. Discouraging their widespread use can help protect Florida’s fragile coral ecosystems. Following in the footsteps of Hawaii and Key West , all over-the-counter sunscreens will need to be free of both oxybenzone and octinoxate to be deemed safe enough for use, because both chemicals contribute to coral reef bleaching and the compromised health of reef aquatic life. If approved, the bill will take effect in 2020. Related: Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions Coral reefs are a valuable asset to the Sunshine State. They are beneficial for environmental and economic reasons, such as protecting coastal communities from wave action and storm surges, providing ecosystem biodiversity, serving as a food resource and offering commercial tourism opportunities. What’s more, Florida is “the only state in the continental United States to have extensive coral reef formations near its coasts. These reefs extend over 300 miles,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) . Coral reef activities promote tourism and businesses that “generate $3.4 billion and support 36,000 jobs in the region each year.” Reputed to be the third-longest coral barrier reef in the world, Florida’s celebrated reefs, sadly, have not been faring well in recent years due to a combination of factors: warming ocean temperatures, acidification, rising sea levels, erosion, pollution, coastal development, offshore oil and gas drilling, dredging, boat groundings, propeller and anchor damage, unsustainable fishing activities, invasive species and infection and disease. Because the coral reefs are left at a delicate tipping point, a patchwork of restoration efforts, largely from marine conservation groups, have attempted to revitalize them. It is hoped this bill can help save the fragile ecosystem. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are harmful to corals. As documented by a NOAA study published in the journal Environmental Contamination and Toxicology , they damage coral DNA, beget aberrant growth and defective development in young coral, exacerbate coral bleaching vulnerabilities and ultimately prevent the coral from reproducing properly. Because both oxybenzone and octinoxate accumulate in coral tissue, the coral become highly susceptible to infection and disease, likewise culminating in reef degradation. Critics complain the new legislation will increase skin cancer risks; however, the bill’s proponents argue for a shift toward “reef-friendly” alternative sunscreens. The National Park Service , for instance, recommends “titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which are natural mineral ingredients.” Neither titanium oxide nor zinc oxide have been found to be harmful to coral reefs, making both appealing as eco-friendly substitutes. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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Use texture, height and variety to create pizzazz in your small garden this fall

October 18, 2019 by  
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As the crisp, misty mornings of fall greet the day, autumn colors emerge across the landscape. Meanwhile, your garden and flower pots begin to look barren and colorless as annuals die off and perennials go dormant for the upcoming winter. In most areas, though, there is still plenty of life left in the fall, even in the smallest spaces around your home. With a bit of planning, you can bring a new season of life to your porch, patio or balcony, even during the short days of fall. To get started, follow these tips for color, variety, texture and height variation. Color Fall is synonymous with falling leaves and bare trees, leaving a trail of red, orange and yellow along the roads. You can match the colors associated with the season using pumpkin decor, rusty red or gold mums, plants that produce berries, ornamental grasses and plants that retain their colorful leaves until late into the season. Grab a journal and list some plants common to your area that offer complementary colors. Then, add in some accents, like prolific white mums, silver-leaved herbs such as sage and evergreens like boxwood for a stable green color. On that note, remember that evergreens are a delightful option for every season and make a nice backdrop to seasonal plants that you can swap out every few months. This gives you a lot of options year-round, even with limited space. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Variety Along with the plan for color comes a blueprint for variety. Your preference might be to have window boxes full of a single varietal. If so, great! If not, choose plants that contrast each other throughout the space. Include plants with different types of leaves, heights and lifespans. Put some in the window box, but surround it with potted plants, shrubs, trees and even an ever-changing vase of fresh wildflowers. Just be sure to choose options that can be pruned to stay small or are naturally compact. Even your planters can add to the variety in texture and color. Use galvanized buckets or watering cans mixed with colorful ceramic pots and a miniature wheelbarrow. Insert a glass vase with bamboo , surround plants with an old tire or carve out a pumpkin for a naturally-compostable planter. Use bronze, terracotta or copper to add to the fall color palette, and make them really stand out by surrounding them with white rocks. Texture Plants in nature vary from each other as much as the human face or fingerprint. Embrace that diversity to feed the need for visual appeal. After all, your garden space, no matter how small, should bring you pleasure. Mix it up — bring in some spiky leaves and balance those with the dainty Sweet Alyssum. Throw in some curvy-edged flowering kale, and place it next to your Aster that still might be in bloom, attracting bees and butterflies well into the season. Height Nothing adds variety and depth like a display of flowers, plants and shrubs of varying heights. This can be accomplished using supports or props. For example, use a window box. Then, place a table beneath it with potted plants ranging from tiny succulents to larger herbs . On the ground, add another layer of potted or planted options. Mix in small trees and shrubs if your space allows. You can also choose plants that are all planted in the same bed with diverse heights. Just plant the tallest selections in the back, so they don’t obscure the view of the lower-to-the-ground superstars behind them. Depending on how much space you have, you might include a dwarf conifer, Dogwood or slow-growing Japanese Maple. For very small spaces , use pots to contain purple fountain grass, croton and other plants. Also, use those long-lasting summer climbers to your advantage. Create height with the hops over the pergola, grapes covering the arbor or ivy up the pillars in the front of the house. Placement Another planning consideration includes the placement of your plants. For a back patio or areas where you still spend a lot of time outdoors in the fall, create clusters of texture or color along the edges. Plant a tree just off the edge of the deck and surround it with seasonal potted plants that sit on the deck, creating a vignette of eye-catching cohesion. If you spend most of your time next to the window near the front porch, invest in color within the frame of the window. For an upstairs office, load up the window box. If you’re going for curb appeal, make sure to include border plants to pull the look together. A simple display of a few potted chrysanthemums with some decorative gourds can spice up the entrance to your home. Hanging baskets are another option that complement your decor in any season and work in any space, large or small. Small gardens might present some challenges, but with the right plant selections, you can create spaces that bring visual interest and life to your balcony or patio throughout the seasons. Images via Shutterstock

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Use texture, height and variety to create pizzazz in your small garden this fall

Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

September 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers predict a major marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean could prove disastrous to the fragile coral reefs along Hawaii’s Papa Bay and similar coastlines. Warmer water conditions often trigger coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral reefs susceptible to mortality. Coral reefs play a very significant environmental and ecological role. As a habitat, for instance, they support many species in the marine environment. Coral reefs likewise serve as a protective barrier, buffering shorelines against deleterious wave action, especially during typhoon season, to minimize coastal damage and to prevent erosion. Healthy reefs contribute to local economies, particularly through tourism as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Related: ‘The Blob’ returns — marine heatwave settles over Pacific Unfortunately, when water is too warm, coral become stressed. They consequently expel the algae , or zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. In doing so, coral turn white, a condition known as bleaching. Prolonged loss of the algae eventually leads to the coral’s demise. When coral reefs are compromised, the loss cascades, often causing far-reaching ecosystem repercussions. Back in 2015, a prominent marine heat wave eliminated half of the Papa Bay coastline’s coral reefs that surround Hawaii’s Big Island. This year, marine scientists associated with NOAA similarly predict that another round of very warm water will occur in the region once again. “In 2015, we hit temperatures that we’ve never recorded ever in Hawaii ,” NOAA oceanographer Jamison Gove said. “What is really important — or alarming, probably more appropriately — about this event is that we’ve been tracking above where we were this time in 2015.” Earlier this September, NOAA researchers warned of the Blob’s return. The Blob — the moniker coined by Washington state climatologist Nick Bond during the 2015 heat wave — describes the vast expanse of unusually warm water that occurred in the Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016. It adversely impacted coral reefs, causing global bleaching and diminished coastal fisheries’ yields throughout the Pacific. To date, this year’s Blob is reportedly the second-largest marine heat wave ever recorded in the past 40 years, just behind the 2014 – 2016 Blob. As a result, forecasts anticipate an even warmer October, which could critically undermine the coral that are still recovering from the first Blob. “Temperatures have been warm for quite a long time,” Gove continued.  “It’s not just how hot it is — it’s how long those ocean temperatures stay warm.” While scientists are not yet able to pinpoint the exact causes for ocean temperatures warming, it is believed human-influenced climate change is a salient factor. Restoration efforts are in the works. Research suggests coral can be conditioned to withstand future onslaught of warmer water. Both scientists and coral hobbyists are on a mission to breed “super corals” resilient enough to avoid bleaching. It is hoped the introduction of these “super corals” into the environment will fortify reefs to better evolve amidst global warming conditions. Via Associated Press Images via Terri Stewart and NOAA

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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

September 9, 2019 by  
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Rising ocean temperatures are rising in the northeast Pacific, similar to conditions presented in 2015. It is safe to say the marine heatwave known as the “Blob” has returned. This time the Blob’s 2019 return is the second largest to occur in the Pacific in at least 40 years. It encompasses 4 million square miles from Alaska to Canada and as far away as Hawaii, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that we’ve seen.” Related: Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century The Blob got its ominous name from Washington state climatologist and University of Washington scientist Nick Bond when the 2015 heatwave happened. The more recent Blob popped up in an area of high pressure stationed over the region. Such an incident forces warm surface waters to swirl around allowing cool, wholesome water from below to rise and takeover. “We learned with ‘the Blob’ and similar events worldwide that what used to be unexpected is becoming more common,” said Cisco Werner, NOAA fisheries director of Scientific Programs and chief science advisor. Without this churning process, surface heat can build up and if there are no nutrients from the cooler water below, the heatwave agitates the food chain. Overall, this creates less food for marine life and compels animals to go beyond their immediate home in search of food or simply die off. Underwater creatures aren’t the only things to suffer as humans who bank on the ocean’s physical condition are also affected. For instance, commercial fishing businesses in some places have shut down like Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, which has limited fishing rights for First Nations. Scientists also report should the Blob stick around it could be a bigger threat than it was in 2015. “There are definitely concerning implications for the ecosystem ,” added Bond. “It’s all a matter of how long it lasts and how deep it goes.” Via Gizmodo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Image via NOAA

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‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

Trash collecting device returned to Pacific garbage patch

June 26, 2019 by  
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A giant floating, trash collecting boom is en-route to return to the Pacific ocean after necessary repairs. Initially placed between California and Hawaii in 2018, the boom broke apart due to constant wind and wave pressure and had to be brought back to mainland for service. The 2,000 foot device is now ready to return to the high seas and expected to collect five tons of plastic trash every month. The project aims to clean up what is known as the Pacific Garbage Patch , a widespread issue of marine debris in the Pacific Ocean. Despite dramatic images of heaps of garbage floating on top of the sea, the reality is that the majority of plastic in the northern Pacific is already broken down into micro-plastic particles so small they can be difficult to see and hard to photograph but detrimental to marine life. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive The C-shaped boom mimics a natural coastline and uses the currents to collect plastic garbage. It has solar lights, satellite antennas, cameras and sensors in order to ensure the team behind the project– the Ocean Cleanup Project– can find it at all times. The contraption also has a “skirt” that stretched almost 10 feet below the surface to collect plastic particles floating just below the water level. The boom does not negatively impact marine wildlife , as the majority can easily swim below the skirt. The Ocean Cleanup Project plans to use the boom to collect about five tons of garbage every month, which is collected and towed by a collection vessel. “Hopefully nature doesn’t have too many surprises in store for us this time,” tweeted Boyan Slat, founder of the Ocean Cleanup Project. “Either way, we’re set to learn a lot from this campaign.” via The Guardian Image via The Ocean Cleanup

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Rafting outfitters focus on sustainability

June 26, 2019 by  
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Rafting draws a group of nature lovers with higher than average respect for keeping wilderness clean. But even the raft outfitting industry faces environmental issues— both in external threats to river quality and, in a much smaller way, in making sure their participants are educated in Leave No Trace best practices. “Rafters, both commercial and privates, are extremely conscientious and respectful of the river and its environment,” said Steve Lentz, owner of Idaho-based Far & Away Adventures . His company rafts three Wild and Scenic rivers: the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Jarbidge/Bruneau and Owyhee rivers — two of the newest to win Wild & Scenic designations, which are especially prized for their solitude and remoteness, Lentz said. But Lentz can remember when people weren’t so respectful of rivers. When he explored the Middle Fork as a child in the 1960s, toilet paper and other garbage littered the riverbanks and people thought nothing of washing with soap in the river. Once the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed in 1968, he watched people’s environmental IQ increase while litter decreased. Inhabitat talked to five rafting outfitters to see how their staff and customers can have an impact on keeping rivers clean and beautiful. Related: Seven commandments of Leave-No-Trace Camping Sustainable Rafting Practices Guided rafting trips start way before the raft goes in the water . That’s why Hood River, Oregon-based Northwest Rafting Company’s sustainability measures begin with its office and the supplies they buy. NWRC uses software for reservations and online registration, resulting in minimal printed paper. They’re one of a growing number of outfitters who use online waivers and forms to cut printing. Outfitters are well-versed in Leave No Trace principles. “Fortunately, we live in a state that is environmentally conscious,” said Andy Neinas, owner of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, which rafts Colorado’s Arkansas River above and through the famed Royal Gorge. “The rafting industry is scrutinized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and our outfitter organizations work closely to meet and exceed the standards set forth. Colorado Tourism Office works with the Leave No Trace organization to promote responsible use of our natural resources.” Leave No Trace is more rigorous than many people realize. Zachary Collier, owner of Northwest Rafting Company, says this even includes burnt wood. “I suggest all groups use a fire blanket to capture coals from fires,” he advised. Guides and guests sweep the campsite for micro-trash , such as bread crumbs and orange peels. Nor are rafters allowed to leave human waste, let alone toilet paper. Portable toilets are sealed and transported between campsites, and later carried out at the end of the journey. Bob Klein, manager of A Wanderlust Adventure , which rafts Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River, emphasizes the responsibility of the guides. “We believe that rafting outfitters should be enforcing Leave No Trace, educate their guests on the dangers and effects of human recreation on the natural environment, and to keep the amount of rafters they take down the river to the Forest Service’s regulations.”  But the responsibility doesn’t entirely fall on the guide— all rafting participants need to make good choices. “High water looks like fun, but fun can turn to tragedy very quickly when people’s skill levels don’t meet the river’s demand,” said Ron Blanchard, owner of Wyoming River Trips , which operates on the Main Shoshone River.  “We try to mentor rafters when conditions are extreme with information as to what to lookout for.  Most times if you talk with them and not to them, they get the point.” The Bigger Picture Lots of issues facing rivers are beyond people’s individual control. For example, Collier mentions the damage caused by mining .  “The 1872 mining law allows for mining on these rivers and their tributaries even if they are protected,” he said. Neinas has also faced the dumping of hard metals from mining operations near the river’s headwaters close to Leadville, Colorado. “As well as fish kills that resulted from attempts to eradicate invasive species ,” he said. Blanchard mentioned agricultural field runoff as the main threat to the Shoshone. Several outfitters urged rafters to be more proactive in protecting their beloved rivers. “I would love for more guides and outfitters to call, write, or visit Congress to share why these rivers are important and why they should be protected,” said Collier. He and some fellow guides recently visited Washington, D.C. to meet with their representatives about environmental conditions. Lentz agreed. “Be involved and get out of the back seat. From forest plans regarding management to breaching dams that harm the river. Support organizations that that prioritize efforts to strengthen the wilderness and its environment.” Each guide has a special relationship with his or her river, and can tell you 100 reasons it needs protection. For example, Lentz expounded on the attractions of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River: “Alpine forests , hot springs, blue ribbon fly fishing for native cutthroat trout, hiking well maintained trails, crystal clear water, 100 rapids, North America’s third deepest canyon, wildlife including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, both golden and bald eagle, cougar, black bear to name a few.” Are rivers worth protecting? You bet. Photos via Echo Canyon River Expeditions, skeeze

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Rafting outfitters focus on sustainability

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