National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

April 19, 2019 by  
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Take advantage of the warmer weather by visiting any number of the hundreds of national parks across the country on April 20 for absolutely free. The National Parks Service is celebrating National Park Week by offering free entry into all of the 418 parks spread throughout the United States. If you have never been to a national park or if it has been a while since your last visit, you may be surprised to learn about all the fun and excitement that awaits you. Here is a quick guide on some of the most popular national parks in the country and how you can spend your time in the great outdoors. Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and one of the most famous parks in the U.S. The park is known for its abundant wildlife , hot springs and exploding geysers. Given its enormous size, there are plenty of things to do at Yellowstone for children and adults alike. Related: An adventurer just journeyed into America’s largest national park — here’s what he found Located mostly in Wyoming, the park boasts 12 campgrounds with tent and RV access, plus 300 isolated campsites. There are nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails that offer plenty of photo opportunities. You can also bike at the park and enjoy some kayaking on one if its many lakes. If you plan on bringing your family along for the ride, the park offers specialized programs for children as well as horseback riding. Yosemite Established in 1890, Yosemite National Park  attracts many visitors for its beautiful waterfalls. But the 1,200-square-mile park also features vast meadows, large sequoias and a grand wilderness section. While sightseeing is the main attraction, there are plenty of things to keep your entire family busy. Common activities at California’s Yosemite National Park include biking, wildlife watching, camping , fishing, horseback riding and water activities. Before booking your trip to Yosemite, check with the park for any closures due to inclement weather. Glacier Point Road, for example, is often closed until May because of excess snowfall. Great Smoky Mountains The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited park in the country. According to DK , the Smoky Mountains record more than double the number of tourists every year than any other location. While this is a popular destination, there are ways to avoid the large crowds. Skip out on the popular scenic highway and opt for one of the many side trails. The ancient mountain range features one of Earth’s most widespread deciduous forests and boasts a wide diversity of life. This includes a large selection of wildflowers and black bears . When it comes to activities, visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, wildlife watching, fishing and scenic driving. Acadia If you are looking for a good coastal drive, then Acadia National Park is right up your alley. Acadia National Park is the only one of its kind in Maine and features some dramatic views of the Atlantic coastline. You can also hike some trails on Cadillac Mountain, kayak in the ocean or partake in some amazing whale watching from just outside of Bar Harbor. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials A good strategy to see most of Acadia is to navigate the Park Loop Road, either by bike or motor vehicle. The 27-mile road has an array of different viewing points. One of the more popular stops is Otter Cliff, which overlooks a 110-foot drop. The park, of course, also features plenty of other things to do, such as camping, climbing, geocaching, fishing , swimming and bird watching. Tips for visiting a national park Once you decide to visit a park , it is always a good idea to call or stop by the visitor center and check in. Park rangers are valuable sources of information and can tell you what type of activities are available during the time of your visit. They can also tell you if there are any construction projects going on or special events that might make navigating through the park difficult. Speaking of the visitor center, it contains everything you need to know about the park, including typical rates and interesting places to visit. You can also find guided tours, which are a great way to get introduced to the history of the park and learn why it is significant to the region. Free admittance on April 20 In honor of National Park Week, the National Parks Service is offering free admittance to all parks in the United States on April 20. That day coincides with National Junior Ranger Day, which is geared toward children, making the free offer perfect for families. According to Matador Network , there are other themes throughout the rest of week, including Military and Veterans Recognition Day,  Earth Day , Transportation Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Friendship Friday, Bark Ranger Day and Park Rx Day. You can learn more about National Park Week, plus find important information about a national park near you, by visiting Find Your Park and the  National Parks website . Images via Ian D. Keating , Mobilus in Mobili , Jeff Gunn , Thomas , Eric Vaughn , Badlands National Park and Grand Canyon National Park

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National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

Ocean plastic waste has been a problem since the 1950s, reveals 60-year plankton study

April 19, 2019 by  
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A 60-year study on plankton has revealed the dark truth about the history of ocean plastic waste . The study shows how plastics have been polluting our oceans since at least the 1950s and how the problem has steadily gotten worse in the six decades since. The first documented case of ocean plastic waste was fishing twine discovered in the 1950s. The next mention is a carrier bag in 1965. From there, the data shows that plastic waste significantly increased between 1970 and the early 2000s, with fishing lines being the main source of recovered waste. Related: Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air The study, which spanned 60 years, was published in an edition of Nature Communications . Researchers used a device to gather pelagic plankton in the ocean and covered an area over 6.5m nautical miles in the process. The plankton are an important source of information on water quality and serve as a primary food source for whales. As they towed the device across the ocean, the scientists recorded whenever their equipment encountered ocean waste . The depth at which they towed the device was around 7 meters, which is where many marine organisms reside. A good portion of the plastic waste was uncovered in the North Sea, though the researchers say the problem is widespread. “The message is that marine plastic has increased significantly and we are seeing it all over the world, even in places where you would not want to, like the Northwest Passage and other parts of the Arctic,” marine biologist Clare Ostle shared. While the numbers are alarming, there are some positive trends in the data. Ostle noted that the frequency of plastic waste has leveled off in recent years. This is likely due to an increased awareness on behalf of the public. It should be noted, however, that the numbers do not represent how much plastic is in the ocean at a given time and simply give us an insight into broader trends. While the numbers are down, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done if we want to make a lasting impact on ocean plastic waste . Via The Guardian Image via Flockine

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Ocean plastic waste has been a problem since the 1950s, reveals 60-year plankton study

Google’s latest innovation: direct global clean energy procurement

January 30, 2019 by  
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It’s a first in the history of the tech giant’s 30-plus power projects.

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Google’s latest innovation: direct global clean energy procurement

An air conditioner powered by outer space and help from the sun

January 30, 2019 by  
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Stanford researchers are testing a way to cool buildings without fossil fuels, while generating electricity at the same time.

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An air conditioner powered by outer space and help from the sun

Ryuji Kajino converts an 80-year-old barn into a gorgeous atelier

June 12, 2018 by  
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Architect Ryuji Kajino from Malubishi Architects has just unveiled the Tiny Atelier — a one-room work studio crafted with the remnants of an 80-year-old timber barn that previously stood on the same site. The minimalist work space, which was created for a designer who makes accessories from dried flowers, was built with timber, old beams and roof tiles repurposed from the existing barn. Located in Kurashiki, Japan, the work space was built for a designer who lives on a hilltop lot that overlooks the Seto Inland Sea in the distance. A covered porch leads from her home to the new studio, which is surrounded by greenery. In fact, the artist grows the flowers for her accessories in the onsite garden. Related: The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood The architect wanted to retain as many of the materials from the old barn as possible. The structure includes a new pitched roof topped with tiles from the existing barn. Inside, exposed log beams on the timber-lined ceiling pay homage to the former building. Vertical wooden boards  clad the petite studio, except for the front door, which has a diagonal pattern and custom-made chestnut handle. Large windows provide an abundance of natural light as well as beautiful views of the valley below. The room’s biggest window sits in a timber frame constructed with both old and new wooden pillars, again marking the transition from past to present. The office design embraces minimalism with sparse furniture and a wraparound white shelf built high up on the wall to provide space for drying flowers. According to the architect, re-using the barn’s old materials enabled him to create the atelier space as a nod to the local history. “Utilizing the materials that can be used by existing barns, we inherited the history that this site had been walking on,” explained Kajino, “but also aimed at a new architecture mixed old and new materials as a future architectural building.” + Ryuji Kajino Via Dezeen Images via Ryuji Kajino

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Ryuji Kajino converts an 80-year-old barn into a gorgeous atelier

Croatia Pavilions Cloud Pergola is one of the worlds largest 3D-printed structures

June 12, 2018 by  
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Architect Bruno Juri?i?  has unveiled one of the world’s largest and most complex 3D-printed structures at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale . Dubbed the Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality, this massive, site-specific structure for the Croatian Pavilion features 300 kilograms of 3D-printed biodegradable plastic. The immersive cloud-like installation invites visitors to reflect on the topics of hospitality, climate change and sociability. The Cloud Pergola is a contemporary take on the classic Mediterranean pergola structure, a space where “the private and public merge.” Curated and authored by Bruno Juri?i? in collaboration with Arup , Ai-Build and Alisa Andrašek, the innovative pavilion’s main focus is the ‘Cloud Drawing,’ a 3D-printed structure built of voxels arranged in a fluid-like mass using over 100,000 extruded elements. A “multi-agent algorithm” that was built with data on cloud formation and site-specific environmental data was used to inform the design’s lattice-like form and arrangement. The Cloud Pergola is complemented with artwork that helps create an immersive experience. Vlatka Horvat’s wall-based work ‘To Still the Eye’ explores the “notion of horizon as a physical manifestation of distance and as a metaphor for the future, wanting to address this sense of possibility,” while artist Maja Kuzmanovi?’s ‘Ephemeral Garden’ is an audio installation. “I wanted the pavilion to push the boundaries of the aesthetics, spatial and tectonic consequences of emerging paradigms of augmented intelligence at the cross-over between architecture, art, and engineering by presenting a full-scale pergola structure made using 3D robotic fabrication and automated design protocols,” said Bruno Juri?i? in a statement. “The Cloud Pergola was envisioned as a paradigm for what architecture should stand for in the 21st century.” Related: Vatican City’s first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale Arup and the 3D manufacturing team of Ai-Build also developed a simple assembly sequence for the Cloud Pergola, which will be put on tour after the end of the Venice Biennale. The Croatian Pavilion will be exhibited for the entire duration of the Architectural Biennale, until November 25, 2018. + Croatian Pavilion Images by Jan Stojkovic

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Croatia Pavilions Cloud Pergola is one of the worlds largest 3D-printed structures

Apple invests millions in a carbon-free aluminum smelting method

May 11, 2018 by  
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For over 130 years, aluminum , a material in many Apple products, has been produced in the same dirty, greenhouse gas -releasing way. That could all change soon: Apple is partnering with aluminum company Alcoa Corporation and metal company Rio Tinto to commercialize technology that, according to Apple , “eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.” Fast Company reported the tech giant is investing $10.1 million in research and development. Rio Tinto and Alcoa are coming together to form Elysis, a joint venture company, with the goal of packaging the technology for sale in 2024. Not only is Apple betting big on the venture, the governments of Quebec and Canada are investing around $47 million. Elysis will be based in Montreal and will employ 100 people to work towards commercialization of what Alcoa called the world’s first zero-carbon aluminum smelting technology. Apple said they’d be offering technical support. Related: Apple’s new recycling robot can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour Alcoa said in Canada, “the technology could eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, if fully implemented at existing aluminum smelters in the country. That represents an amount roughly equal to taking nearly 1.8 million light-duty vehicles off the road.” Apple chose eight materials to zero in on to seek cleaner production methods, and aluminum is one of those. The company said back in 2015, three of their engineers started a search for an improved method of mass-producing aluminum, and they found it at Alcoa. The company’s founder, Charles Hall, pioneered the old method in 1886, but it uses a carbon material that smolders throughout the process, so greenhouse gases are released. But then Alcoa developed a new process that utilizes an advanced conductive material rather than carbon. The smelting process releases oxygen , not carbon dioxide. Rio Tinto brings smelting technology development experience to the joint venture, which will work towards larger scale production. Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey said in the company’s statement, “This discovery has been long sought in the aluminum industry, and this announcement is the culmination of the work from many dedicated Alcoa employees. Today, our history of innovation continues as we take aluminum’s sustainable advantage to a new level with the potential to improve the carbon footprint of a range of products from cars to consumer electronics.” + Apple + Alcoa Via Fast Company Images via Apple

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CO2 levels averaged above 410 ppm ‘for the first time in recorded history’ in April

May 4, 2018 by  
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Just over a year ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels hit 410 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in millions of years. And we just hit another worrying threshold in April: levels averaged higher than 410 ppm throughout the whole month for the first time. Geochemist Ralph Keeling said , “We keep burning fossil fuels . Carbon dioxide keeps building up in the air. It’s essentially as simple as that.” The Keeling Curve , a daily record of atmospheric CO2 levels made at the Mauna Loa Observatory, started in 1958. Back then measurements were around 315 ppm. 60 years later, we’ve passed the 410 ppm threshold, and in April, the average concentration was 410.31 ppm. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, “This marks the first time in the history of the Mauna Loa record that a monthly average has exceeded 410 ppm.” Today marks the 60th anniversary of the #KeelingCurve , a daily record of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This record is considered the foundation of modern climate change research. pic.twitter.com/XJgGIj8Z1S — Scripps Oceanography (@Scripps_Ocean) March 29, 2018 Related: CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm — the highest in millions of years The Washington Post pointed out CO2 levels have hit 400 ppm in the past — such as over three million years ago in the mid-Pliocene warm period. But the Pliocene level “was sustained over long periods of time, whereas today the global CO2 concentration is increasing rapidly,” according to scientists in the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume 1 , a 2017 federal report. Before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels fluctuated over thousands of years, but according to the institution, never exceeded 300 ppm once in the past 800,000 years. Around 1880, CO2 levels were about 280 ppm. Today, they’re around 46 percent higher. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said about the milestone on Twitter , “It’s as if we discovered that something we eat every day is causing our body to run a fever and develop all kinds of harmful symptoms — and instead of cutting back, we right keep on eating it, more and more. If that isn’t alarming, I don’t know what is.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via The Washington Post Images via Devin McGloin on Unsplash and Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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CO2 levels averaged above 410 ppm ‘for the first time in recorded history’ in April

Discovery of ancient middle finger bone completely upends what we know about human migration

April 9, 2018 by  
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Archaeologists have discovered an ancient middle finger bone in Saudia Arabia, and it could completely change what we know about human migration. An 85,000-year-old bone belonging to Homo sapiens marks the first evidence of humans that scientists have found in the Nefud Desert. This is also the first time Homo sapiens bones of that age have been discovered anywhere outside Africa. The current theory of human migration posits that Homo sapiens migrated en masse in a movement known as “Out of Africa” about 60,000 years ago in a single, contained wave. But this newly-discovered bone suggests that people migrated out of Africa in multiple different phases, at least 20,000 years earlier than we thought. Related: Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa Archaeologists unearthed the 1.25-inch middle finger bone in 2016, and researchers used a CT scan to form a 3D model of the entire bone, which showed conclusively that it belonged to Homo sapiens.  Nature  published news of the discovery this week. “What our discovery shows is that the early spread of Homo sapiens was much more spatially widespread than we thought,” said lead study author Huw Groucutt of the University of Oxford . Via CNN Images via Flickr  and Nature

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Discovery of ancient middle finger bone completely upends what we know about human migration

Trump administration prioritizes rural areas over cities in infrastructure spending

April 9, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration has re-prioritized which kinds of communities, and what kinds of projects, receive funding from the popular $500 million transportation grant program known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery). “More than 64 percent of this round of TIGER funding was awarded to rural projects, a historic number that demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting the country’s rural communities,” the Transportation Department said when it announced the grant recipients in March. Democratic strongholds such as New York City , Chicago and Los Angeles received zero funding from these grants, while projects in blue states that were funded focused primarily on those states’ Trump-supporting regions. This means much more money for rural roads and rail projects, and less for bike infrastructure, green-ways, and sustainable urban design projects. The TIGER grant program was first established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package or economic recovery bill, under President Obama . While the discretionary funds are an important tool for the White House, they represent only a small percentage of the Department of Transportation’s distribution of $50 billion each year through the highway trust fund. After trying to eliminate the program twice, Trump recently signed a massive spending bill into law that tripled the program’s budget. Now, it seems, his administration has found a use for TIGER. Related: 69% of Republicans believe global warming’s seriousness is “generally exaggerated” Trump is not the first president to be accused of using the program to favor his political supporters. In 2013, at the start of President Obama’s second term, two-thirds of the TIGER infrastructure funding went to districts represented by Democrats in Congress. Much of this Obama-era funding went towards projects such as bike and pedestrian infrastructure while sometimes giving only the bare minimum required by law to rural areas. In addition to its shift towards rural communities, the Trump Administration, with its well-publicized focus on trade, is also prioritizing upgrades to port infrastructure in Alabama, Maryland and Louisiana. Via ABC News Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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