Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida

September 18, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Irma left a mess of destruction in its wake. But in Florida , some of that trash will be put to good use – as electricity . Garbage will be burned in waste-to-energy plants that can produce enough power for around 30,000 homes. While Houston can send trash generated as a result of hurricane Harvey to 14 active landfills , Florida doesn’t have as much space for landfills. So they burn a lot of it, using the generated heat to run steam generators. In 2016, 10 waste-to-energy plants in the state burned 4.5 million tons of garbage , producing 3.5 million megawatt-hours of power. That was around two percent of Florida’s overall power. Incineration cuts the solid mass of garbage by as much as 90 percent, and then the ash can be put into landfills, taking up less space. Related: How Hurricane Irma changed the colors of these Caribbean islands Irma created more trash for burning. Before the hurricane struck, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection set up disaster-debris sites with local governments so trash could be collected for the waste-to-energy plants. According to Bloomberg, county authorities are already seeing spikes in the amount of solid waste. Hillsborough County solid waste director Kimberly Byer told Bloomberg, “We’ve seen about a 20 percent increase. That’s just an initial increase, and it’s only been a couple of days.” Florida burned 12 percent of its garbage in 2016. They dumped 44 percent into landfills and recycled 44 percent. Their waste-fueled power plants were constructed largely in the 1980s and 1990s. According to Bloomberg, pollution-control technologies were later retrofitted to get rid of mercury and dioxin – although The New York Times said some environmental activists say waste-to-energy plants, while cleaner than ones of the past, still do emit mercury, dioxins, or lead. Burning trash isn’t the cleanest method of generating power, especially since it generates carbon dioxide , a greenhouse gas that then enters the atmosphere. But according to Bloomberg, it may be better than dumping waste in landfills – eventual methane emissions from the same volume of trash would be worse for the atmosphere. Hillsborough County turns 565,000 tons of garbage into around 45 megawatts of power per year. Byer said their waste-to-energy plant pays for itself. Via Bloomberg Images via U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan and U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

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Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida

Hurricane Cleanup: What Happens to All That Debris?

September 15, 2017 by  
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Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated greater Houston with record-breaking … The post Hurricane Cleanup: What Happens to All That Debris? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Hurricane Cleanup: What Happens to All That Debris?

NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

September 11, 2017 by  
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Harvey unloaded around 33 trillion gallons of water in the United States, the weight of which is capable of bending the Earth’s crust . From satellite data , it looks like this is what happened in Houston . Scientist Chris Milliner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted a map with GPS data revealing Houston has been pushed down by around two centimeters (or about 0.8 inches). Milliner’s map included Nevada Geodetic Laboratory data revealing the area around Houston was actually pushed down because of the weight of all the water from the tropical storm . One gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds, so if Harvey dumped 33 trillion gallons of water, that’s about 275 trillion pounds. Related: Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into “an extreme killer storm” GPS data show #Harveyflood was so large it flexed Earth's crust, pushing #Houston down by ~2 cm! #EarthScience #HurricaneHarvey #txflood pic.twitter.com/88lNScJBq9 — Chris Milliner (@Geo_GIF) September 4, 2017 It’s not the first time scientists have documented how the weight of water can alter the land. The Altantic cited a 2012 study focusing on the Himalayas that found a seasonal flux in the mountains’ height as water fell and then made its way down the mountains into Asian rivers. They also noted a 2017 study found “vertical surface displacement [with] peak-to-peak amplitudes” of 0.5 to one centimeter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Atlantic suggested the changes around Houston could be seen as a “fast-action version” of what takes place in mountain ranges during the seasons. The change could be due to soil beneath GPS stations compacting because of the weight of the water, Milliner said. But he thinks crust deformation was the main means of the change, since some of the GPS stations are on bedrock and also saw the depression. The ground has already been sinking in Houston, because we’ve pumped groundwater out of the city’s aquifers, according to The Atlantic. Milliner clarified the phenomenon he saw after Harvey is in addition to subsidence the city has experienced. Via The Atlantic Images via Chris Milliner on Twitter and U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

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NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

September 11, 2017 by  
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American firm The Beck Group designed an office tower in Seoul that makes its focus on sustainability a beautiful asset. Known as The Harim Group Headquarters, the 86,000-square-foot tower features many energy-saving technologies, including an attractive S-shaped recess in the facade that creates a low pressure zone for facilitating natural ventilation on every floor. The sculptural building is studded with LED light fixtures that give the facade and interior a shimmering effect. As the largest agricultural business in Korea, the Harim Group wanted a headquarters building that would be highly visible in Seoul and show off the firm’s commitment to sustainability. Thus, the Harim Group Headquarters is located in Seoul’s flashy Gangnam district on one of the city’s busiest pedestrian streets and cuts an impressive figure in the city skyline, both day and night. Fourteen stories of office spaces are stacked atop three stories of retail and restaurant space at the base to engage the public. Related: World’s newest mega-skyscraper opens in Seoul The curving S-shaped recess that stretches from the ground-floor retail to the roof garden gives the building visual identity, while allowing for natural ventilation. Polished and perforated stainless steel panels line the recess and are illuminated with white LEDs that create a shimmering effect. The building’s energy use is further reduced with operable low-E coated windows, a building automation system, green roof, rainwater harvesting system, and an underfloor air distribution system. + The Beck Group Via ArchDaily Images via The Beck Group

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Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

August 31, 2017 by  
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Several explosions at a Houston-area chemical plant were reported on early Thursday morning, reportedly related to its loss of power. Black smoke billowed from the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas as blasts rocked the site, which remains submerged under six feet of floodwater. The Arkema plant is one of many in the region; this part of Texas is home to the one of the densest concentrations of pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the country. The storm damage is certain to exacerbate the public health threat of Hurricane Harvey long after the rain has stopped. On Tuesday, prior to the explosions, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation zone for a 1.5 mile radius surrounding the plant. The Arkema plant was shut down before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Houston-area, though 11 employees remained behind to service the facility. As the unprecedented floodwaters pushed in, the remaining team was evacuated as fumes began to pour out of the powerless plant. Several deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s office were hospitalized for inhaling toxic chemicals . Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Arkema produces organic peroxides, compounds with a wide variety of applications, from construction materials to pharmaceuticals. Usually the volatile chemicals are kept under control through cold storage. However, without power , there is no refrigeration. “As the temperature rises, the natural state of these materials will decompose. A white smoke will result, and that will catch fire,” Arkema spokesperson Janet Smith told press. Arkema was previously mandated by the EPA to produce a report outlining the potential risks of the plant and plans for worst-case scenarios, which, according to Arkema’s submitted report, could potentially impact 1.1 million residents over a distance of 23 miles. However, the company reports that it is incorporating “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” to ensure that the worst does not come to pass. Via Time and Washington Post Images via Google Maps

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Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

August 30, 2017 by  
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People battling flooding and destruction in Texas after Tropical Storm Harvey face yet another hazard: fire ants . Photos on social media show patches of ants floating together through floodwaters – and though this behavior isn’t entirely unheard-of, the insects are said to be naturally aggressive and have caused alarm among locals. Floating rafts of fire ants could pose a new threat to people struggling in the aftermath of Harvey around Houston . Fire ants are native to South America, coming from floodplains near the Paraguay River, so they already know how to handle waters. They form a large raft with their bodies, with ants on the bottom keeping the ones on top dry, and air pockets between the them allow the whole thing to float. Larvae and the queen are kept dry on the very top. Related: 6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey The ants came to the United States back in the 1930’s, and have also made their way to China, Australia, and Taiwan, where they are described as an invasive species. According to The Guardian, the fire ants are extremely aggressive – they will sometimes attack as a group. They can sting people, and in some cases the sting can lead to a secondary infection. Allergic reactions have even led to death – potentially causing dozens of deaths in America. Louisiana etymologist Linda Bui has also conducted research that suggests fire ants release higher venom doses and become more defensive during floods. Etymologists observed similar raft behavior from fire ants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . But photos of the ants banding together in Houston have understandably led to panic, such as one dramatic image of a huge swarm in Cuero, southwest of Houston. University of Texas curator of etymology Alex Wild said he’d never seen anything like the swarm in Cuero during his entire career researching ants. Via The Guardian Images via screenshot and Fox Keegan on Twitter / Bill O’Zimmermann on Twitter

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Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

August 28, 2017 by  
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Tropical Storm Harvey is battering the Houston area, affecting over 6.8 million people . With so many people and pets displaced and suffering, you may be wondering how you can help. Whether you live close to the disaster area or on the other side of the world, here are a few great ways you can support people hit by the devastating storm . Donate to a food bank or another charity There are several charities out there you can support financially as they work to help Tropical Storm Harvey victims. Food banks can also use donations in the aftermath of Harvey. You can donate online to the Central Texas Food Bank . Or donate to the San Antonio Food Bank ; according to SBNation, some displaced Houston locals will be relocated to San Antonio. SBNation has a list of more local charities here . Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How social media can save lives in a disaster Donate to the Salvation Army The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is on the ground to help out both first responders and locals. The organization is offering shelter at Salvation Army locations in the area, and as of earlier this week had served over 3,000 meals, drinks, and snacks via their mobile kitchens. You can help out right now by texting STORM to 51555 or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can donate online here or send donations to The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Open up your home through Airbnb If you live in Texas and can share your space, Airbnb has a page for urgent accommodations in the wake of Harvey. They waive service fees for those impacted, and allow locals to list their homes so people can find a place to stay for free. You can find shelter or list your space here . Donate blood You can donate blood to help people affected by the crisis as well. South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has been calling for blood donations – you can get in touch with them at 210-731-5590. They also posted a list of locations to donate on their Facebook page, including addresses and donation hours. According to the post, Houston is asking for more than 2,000 units of blood from blood centers, so if you live in South Texas, consider finding a place to donate blood. Donate the use of your boat If you live in the area, you can help by volunteering the use of your boat. Get in touch with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office by calling 713-881-3100. Help rescue furry friends Let’s not forget the animals and pets impacted by the disaster. You can donate to the Houston SPCA , which is providing animal rescue and relief. Donate online here . Call 713-869-7722 if you need help. Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is another Texas-based organization that’s been helping shelters in the path of Harvey to transport animals to APA! As of the weekend, they’d brought more than 235 animals to their facility. If you live in the Austin area, you can help by fostering animals or donating supplies like cat litter, leashes, or brooms. You can also donate online here . APA!’s address is 1156 West Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78703 and their phone number is 512-961-6519. Images via Harris County Sheriff’s Office Facebook , Salvation Army , Lars Plougmann on Flickr , Connect for Life Facebook , Austin Pets Alive! Facebook , National Guard Photo by Lt. Zachary West , and

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Until recently, few people could afford to shop at Whole Foods regularly. Now that Amazon has bought out the grocery chain for $13.7 billion , however, big changes are underway. On its first day, the internet giant slashed some of the store’s prices by up to 43 percent. The goal is to upend the way customers shop and ensure more people have access to affordable, healthy food. The first step to addressing the store’s reputation for being overpriced (which has led some to call it Whole Paycheck) was to mark down the prices of food. Bloomberg reports that at the Whole Foods store on East 57th Street in Manhattan , organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49. Similarly, organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 from $13.99 and organic avocados changed from $2.79 each to $1.99. All of the marked-down items have orange signs reading, “Whole Foods + Amazon .” The sign also lists that there is “More to come.” “Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods’ customers,” said Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute. “Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to invest to dominate the categories that it decides to compete in. Food retailers of all sizes need to look really hard at their pricing strategies, and maybe find some funding sources to build a war chest.” 60-year-old Simon Salamon couldn’t be more pleased by the marriage between Amazon and Whole Foods . He said, “It reminded me why I shop at Amazon. Ninety-nine percent of the time they have the best prices and their return policy is great. With the prices lower, I think we’re more likely to shop here every day.” While Walmart has invested billions into lowering prices all around, it’s Costco that might be Whole Foods’ biggest competitor. The chain has a slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. Prices can remain low, as Costco charges membership fees and sells bulk-sized goods to customers. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees Now that the deal is done, only time will tell if the organic grocery chain will be successful at changing its reputation and, in the process, serving a wider clientele. Via Bloomberg Images via Whole Foods , Pixabay

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

Japanese-style bullet train in Texas on track for late 2017 groundbreaking

June 22, 2016 by  
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Japanese-style bullet trains zipping passengers between Houston and Dallas in less than 90 minutes at a top speed of 205 mph? While much attention has been paid to California’s high-speed rail project currently under construction , Texas could become the first state to begin running 200 mph-plus fast trains. Texas could possibly beat the Golden State by two years by breaking ground at the end of next year and opening to the public in 2020. California’s initial operating segment (IOS) from Madera to Bakersfield is expected to go online in 2022, while phase one from San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected to open in 2029 with a top speed of 220 mph and travel time of two hours and 38 minutes. Texas Central Railway , the private company that is developing the high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth, is planning to use trains based on the  N700 Series Shinkansen , the rolling stock that has operated in Japan since 2007. The train series was developed by JR Central and JR West with tilting capability. Related: World’s longest, deepest rail tunnel opens after almost 20 years of construction The multi-billion dollar project is projected to employ around 10,000 people per year during the design and construction phases and create 1,000 new jobs once the rail line is operational. Studies have shown that the project would pour $4.3 billion into the region during the construction phases and $352.4 million each year once operation begins. In a letter sent to the Surface Transportation Board last month, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) expressed its support for the project, stating that “the Texas Central initiative is an important demonstration of the role private capital can and must play in building our new transportation economy, and is thus an important private project of national significance, introducing a new high-speed rail option between the two largest metropolitan regions in Texas. Connecting these two regions by passenger rail for the first time will have a significant, positive effect on the entire interstate rail network.” + Texas Central Railway Via Cypress Creek Mirror Images via Texas Central Railway

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Japanese-style bullet train in Texas on track for late 2017 groundbreaking

Nation’s largest micro-apartment development is coming to Texas

March 23, 2016 by  
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