Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of

January 31, 2017 by  
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Scott Pruitt should send a shiver down your spine, even if your idea of environmentalism is reusing the same cup for your soda refill. At his confirmation hearing for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a week and a half ago, Pruitt was unable to name even a single EPA regulation he supported. It showed a breathtaking, if perhaps unsurprising, amount of contempt for not only one of the nation’s most vital offices but also the very post he aspires to hold. During his tenure attorney general of oil- and gas-fueled Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the agency 14 times for anti-pollution regulations that he said were “inconsistent with its constitutional and statutory authority.” Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group , said that Pruitt could be the “most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.” When Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked Pruitt to name “one Clean Air Act regulation—not a voluntary or grant program—on the books today” that he approved of, Pruitt hedged. “I firmly believe that the EPA plays an important role, especially as it relates to cross-state air and water pollution, but EPA must do so within the bounds of its legal authority as provided by Congress,” he said. “Regulations that are not on solid legal foundation and that cannot survive judicial review will not result in environmental protections.” While Pruitt disagreed with President Donald Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese government, he stopped short of declaring that human activity was to blame. “I do not believe that climate change is a hoax,” Pruitt told Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) at the hearing. Later, when pressed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to explain his position, Pruitt demurred by calling the issue “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.” In response to a query about whether “removing lead from gasoline was an important and successful EPA rulemaking,” Pruitt tersely said that he had “not evaluated this issue.” Lead cast a particularly large shadow at the hearing. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) asked Pruitt if he believed there was any safe level of lead in the human body, particularly for children and adolescents. “That’s something I have not reviewed nor know about,” Pruitt replied. “I would be very concerned about any level of lead going into the drinking water or obviously human consumption, but I’ve not looked at the scientific research on that.” Related: Trump’s EPA pick put industries before federal environmental policies According to EPA there is “no safe level of exposure to lead,” although an extremely small amount is allowed in pipes and plumbing fixtures. Equally alarming, Pruitt dodged senators’ questions about his ties with energy companies and other potential conflicts of interest by directing them to file open-records requests not once but 18 times. “Pruitt’s directive to senators to file Oklahoma open records requests is the political equivalent of saying ‘go pound sand,'” John Walke, Clean Air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council , said on Thursday. Suffice to say, none of this went down well with the committee. In a follow-up letter , Sanders, Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) took Pruitt to task for what they dubbed his “troubling evasions.” In addition to calling out Pruitt’s murky public reporting of any political and legal conflicts of interest he may have as EPA administrator, not to mention his history of undermining environmental protections, the senators also condemned his “erroneous statements concerning well-established science.” “You did not know there is a safe level of lead in the human body,” they said. “You refused to repudiate statements you made that question the health impacts of mercury pollution. You refused to acknowledge that carbon pollution from human activities is widely recognized as the largest drive of climate change. These statements raise significant questions about whether instead of embracing science, you will be embracing ‘alternative facts.'” Perhaps most tellingly of all, Charles and David Koch , a.k.a. the Koch Brothers , are backing Pruitt’s power grab. Prognosis? Good for polluters, bad for everyone else.

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Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of

Ikea flat-pack refugee shelters awarded Design of the Year

January 31, 2017 by  
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IKEA’s flat-pack refugee structure, the Better Shelter , has been awarded Design of the Year by London’s respected Design Museum . Developed in collaboration with the United Nations, the modular, solar-powered housing units have just 68 components, making them easily assembled in just a matter of hours. Since production started in 2015, thousands of Better Shelters have been installed in countries around the world to help with the ongoing refugee crisis . https://youtu.be/Ect-FwtK-84 The 17.5-square-meter shelters, which can sleep a family of five, are made out of galvanized steel frames with recyclable polymer plastic walls and lockable doors. A singular rooftop solar panel charges the indoor LED lamp and a USB port capable of charging mobile phones. Since production started on the shelters in 2015, thousands of units have been delivered to countries around the world to be used as homes, medical facilities, food distribution points, and offices. Related: IKEA’s Modular Better Shelter Housing Unit is a solar-powered emergency home for refugees The Better Shelter took home both the Architecture award and the 2017 Beazly Design Grand Prize this year. Presented by London’s Design Museum , the awards recognize “design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.” + Better Shelter + Beazly Design of the Year Via CNN Images via Better Shelter

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Ikea flat-pack refugee shelters awarded Design of the Year

15 stunning examples of interior design using natural stone

January 31, 2017 by  
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Successful interior design creates aesthetically pleasing and healthy indoor environments that enhance how we live, work, and play. Since many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, it is important that the spaces we inhabit support health, productivity and happiness. From uber-renewable bamboo , to hard woods that develop rich patinas over time, it is no secret that nature produces some of the most beautiful building materials around. But out of all of natural building materials available on our planet, time has proven stone to be the most resilient, luxurious, and longest-lasting of them all. Its ability to resist rot, mold, extreme temperatures and water damage, coupled with a low need for maintenance, makes natural stone a great choice throughout the home. Designers and homeowners often choose stone for flooring and walls due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear, but nowhere is natural stone more popular than in kitchens and bathrooms, where its moisture-resisting properties really shine . For those of you who are interested in the design possibilities of natural stone, here are fifteen examples of stunning interior design using natural stone. Why natural stone is an ideal material for bathrooms When it comes to interior design, stone is a perennially popular finish material – especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Natural stone such as marble and granite connote luxury and opulence in an interior space, and it is easy to see why. Not only are these materials more expensive than your average vinyl countertop or vinyl floor, but stone is also much more durable , water-resistant and long-lasting than any synthetic manmade building material. In the wettest room in the home this water-resistance matters. Because of this, the bathroom is the most-likely room in the house to find marble, slate or other types of natural stone. Here are some beautiful examples of bathrooms using natural stone: photo courtesy of MSI Modern marble makes this bathroom shine From the Taj Mahal to the Washington Monument, marble has always been a popular building material due to its wide availability and durability. This modern and minimalist bathroom (above) makes the most of white Arabescto Carrara marble (also known as “Chinese White” and “White Carrara”), which typically exhibits white and grey coloring in medium variation. This marble isn’t too high-contrast or showy, therefore it is neutral as a background color, allowing the homeowners to have fun with their Chevron Pattern White Quarry marble tiles around the bathtub. These beige-colored marble tiles cut into a chevron pattern lend a cool geometric look to the tub that spices up the minimalist bathroom just a bit and gives it more personality. Spa-like bathroom mixes wood and stone to create zen tranquility This gorgeous bathroom combines rich tropical wood with different textures of grey stone to create a warm, soothing ambiance.  The shower floor and backsplash is lined with Ostrich Grey Quartzite tiles from India which are durable, water-resistant and easy-to-clean, making this shower hassle-free as well as rejuvenating. photo courtesy of MSI The modern, freestanding bathtub next to the shower sits on a textured floor of Black Marble Pebbles .  These pebbles look like river stones, but are polished black marble, so extremely durable and water resistant  The varied, bumpy texture of the pebbles on bare feet stimulates the nervous system and is purportedly good for health , if you subscribe to Asian medicine philosophies (see Chinese reflexology path ). It’s like a massage or acupressure for the feet! Imagine stepping out of the tub on to this textured pebble floor. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Luxurious marble bathroom channels old-fashion opulence Reputed to be Michelangelo’s favorite stone to work with and one of the most sought after natural stones around, calacatta marble carries a certain prestige and emotional weight that few other natural stones rival. This elegant bathroom in a Moorestown, NJ mansion utilizes calacatta marble for flooring, backsplash, shower and vanity countertops, creating a sense of timeless grandeur. An elaborately inlaid floor with gorgeous water-jet marble tile pattern looks a bit like reflections off a surface of water, and creates a feeling of organic flow. photo courtesy of MSI Black slate creates a nature-inspired bathroom retreat This open-plan bathroom embraces three different types of natural stone to create a nature-inspired respite for its homeowners. The shower wall and floor tiles are made of smooth, unglazed Montauk Black slate , which creates an tranquil backdrop for the shower’s water stream. With waterproof and slip-resistant qualities, slate is an ideal material for bathroom applications, and creates a sense of calm and grounding. By sticking with a consistent dark-gray color pallet, eye-catching textures come to play without being overwhelming. Watertight thin veneer black marble covers a large expanse of the bathroom wall and creates a rippled effect reminiscent of a waterfall. Both planes meet loose river stones that soften the look on the bathroom floor, evoking a natural river bed. photo courtesy of MSI Classic marble tiles exude elegance This charming bathroom utilizes 2-inch  hexagonal Telaio marble tiles for the vanity backsplash. The intricate geometric Telaio tiles provide a refreshing twist to a traditional mosaic pattern, with white honed marble and mini gray accents. This preset mosaic looks great on walls but is durable enough for countertops and floors as well. photo courtesy of MSI Laid-back limestone channels beachy vibe Limestone is a unique natural stone that actually improves with age. Uniformly textured and even in color, this pleasantly beige stone weathers evenly over time and even develops a patina that is described as antique, old-world, or comfortable. Occasionally it contains pieces of fossils or seashells, which only add to its character. Due to its ability to scratch and stain, limestone is not an optimal choice for kitchens, but it holds up well against water, making it the perfect material for bathroom floors, showers, or tubs. This gorgeous bathroom embraces a beachy vibe with an entire coastal sand limestone wall and a backsplash made of eye-catching hexagon tiles. photo courtesy of Lundhs Using stone in the kitchen Stone is widely used for kitchen countertops, due to durability, water resistance, and imperviousness to scratching, bacteria and food stains.  Popular countertop choices include granite, marble, quartzite and Lundhs Larvikite.  Some kitchen countertops – like the Lundhs Emerald (shown above) are so scratch and stain-resistant that you can forgo cutting boards and do your chopping right on the stone. photo courtesy of MSI Form follows function in modern granite kitchen There’s a reason granite is the most popular choice for kitchen countertops. It’s easy to clean, durable, and scratch resistant, but economical and available in a wide range of colors and patterns. This snowfall granite countertop adds an unexpected pop to an otherwise minimalist kitchen, making it eye-catching yet still understated. Snowfall granite is distinctive for its speckled, snowfall-like markings, which come in black, charcoal, grey and beige. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Quartzite countertop exemplifies elegance and practicality Any successful cook will tell you that having a sturdy, accessible, and fuss-free counter space is key to getting the job done. With constant and repeated exposure to sharp utensils, extreme temperatures, mechanical force, and spills, kitchen countertops take a beating that is guaranteed to wear down even the sturdiest synthetic materials over time. For those who want to spend less time on cleanup and more time on preparing yummy food (all of us), hardy, water-resistant quartzite makes an excellent choice for kitchen counter top material. With a creamy gray-white backdrop decorated with beige or darker gray veins, quartzite resembles marble but it boasts the incredible durability of granite, making it well suited to the daily kitchen stresses. This well-polished Mont Blanc quartzite island in a Moorestown, NJ mansion brings all of marble’s timeless elegance to the room without forgoing practicality. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Quartzite counter accents contemporary kitchen style Like other types of quartzite, White Macaubas quartzite boasts all the sturdiness desired for a kitchen countertop, with the rich and timeless beauty of marble. Lighter in color than most forms of granite, white macaubas is a sure bet for anyone looking to increase the value of their home with a material that is sophisticated, low maintenance, and durable. Breakfast nooks, kitchen islands or counters, buffet tables and decorative wall accents are popular spots to make the most of this attractive natural stone. In this kitchen, the quartzite countertops look great paired with the classic tiled backsplash. photo courtesy of Lundhs Norweigan Larvikite sparkles in modern kitchen A beautiful, sparkly stone endemic to Norway is sometimes marketed as ” Blue Granite ” – but it is not actually granite. Instead, it is called Larvikite , and it comes only from the specific Larvik region of Norway . Larvikite is prized as a building material due to its incredible durability and iridescence caused by the crystalline structure of the stone. You can find it in many upscale storefronts in London and New York such as Harrods, and even in the Burj Dubai, but it is also quite popular as a kitchen countertop material. This modern kitchen in Norway is using Lundhs Blue for the countertop. Photo courtesy of Lundhs Here’s another photo of a different Lundhs blue larvikite countertop in the same modern Norwegian kitchen. Prized for its polish and crystalline sparkle, larvikite contains dime-sized crystals of feldspar. Lundhs larvikite is just as hard and durable as granite and is used in similar applications. Larvikite is believed to have calming and healing properties and has also been adopted as Norway’s national stone. photo courtesy of Arizona Tile Artistic tiling exudes charm This eye-catching geometric wall using Arizona Tile illustrates the design possibilities that can be explored by combining different types of natural stone. The contrast between the artfully arranged round White Carrara marble tiles and smooth Fantasy Brown marble countertop demonstrates the homeowner’s artistic eye and attention to detail. While beautiful and easy-to-clean marble has always been a popular countertop choice, it is subtle decorative applications like this that add character and warmth to a home. photo courtesy of MSI Sleek granite and unpolished quartzite complement each other in surprising ways This arrangement by Arizona Tile provides another example of how pairing contrasting natural stones creates unexpected depth and texture. A sleek and contemporary Marron Cohiba Satin granite countertop meets rugged Golden Gate Stack quartzite to create a kitchen space that is both unique and inviting. What might seem like an unlikely combination at first ends up feeling like an organic pairing. To learn more about different types of natural stone, check out MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute . + MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute

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15 stunning examples of interior design using natural stone

Can you imagine a circular city?

December 3, 2016 by  
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This story is adapted from the book “The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life” (Harper Wave, 2016).

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Can you imagine a circular city?

Mayor born in Syria converts abandoned Greek resort into a sanctuary for refugees

June 14, 2016 by  
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Now LM Village’s 38 bungalows are filled with two families each. About 320 refugees are staying there as they wait to find more permanent homes. The Greek Defence Ministry worked to make the resort habitable again. They renovated rundown buildings and outfitted the area with electricity and drinking water. The refugees have helped clean up the resort and maintain it. They dwell in brightly painted two story apartment homes, have a place to cook traditional food, and can spend time at the beach. Related: Temporary (SLICE) Refugee Hospitality Center is carved into a coastal cliff in Greece Morad is the first naturalized Greek citizen born in Syria to be elected in Greece. He at first sent clothing donations to the refugee camp at Idomeni, but felt it wasn’t enough and organized the approval and re-opening of LM Village. Now lawyers visit LM Village to provide free consultations. The new inhabitants of the resort wait for opportunities to interview with the Greek Asylum Service so they can find more permanent homes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that ” more than a dozen ” have already moved out of LM Village, headed for new homes in Portugal. While the refugees wait for housing, they have access to a school and library set up by the Red Cross, as well as donated food. UNHCR said that they are setting up a “prayer space” for Ramadan and a “food distribution system.” Former restaurant owner Tarek Al-Felou lives in a bungalow with his wife Kindra, two children, and another family. They fled their home near Damascus and are now living in LM Village. Tarek told UNHCR, “In this place we try to forget we are refugees. We can pretend we’re on holiday.” Kindra told UNHCR, “Here, of course, is better than the other camps…Still, this is temporary. We are still looking for stability.” Via UNHCR Images courtesy of UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

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Mayor born in Syria converts abandoned Greek resort into a sanctuary for refugees

Imagine a future where you can literally buy a piece of celebrity skin

March 12, 2016 by  
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Technology is advancing faster than we can answer the moral questions being raised. Take, for instance, the L’Oreal labs, which grow enough human skin in the lab each year to cover an entire cow. Tina Gorjanc wanted to critique bring attention to the issue with her shocking “Pure Human” project, which asks, where do we draw the line when it comes to tissue-engineering technology? And would you want to live in a world where you could buy a piece of Nicole Kidman’s skin?  READ MORE>

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Imagine a future where you can literally buy a piece of celebrity skin

Office Antics, Eco-Innovation And Upcycling: All In A Days Work

August 7, 2015 by  
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Following a successful first season, Participant Media and Pivot TV will begin airing the sophomore season of the network’s critically-acclaimed ‘docu-comedy’ Human Resources which premiers Friday, August 7 at 10PM ET/PT. The show follows…

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Office Antics, Eco-Innovation And Upcycling: All In A Days Work

Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago

February 2, 2015 by  
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Amateur speleologists stumbled upon an ancient partial skull  that indicates Homo sapiens were living alongside Neanderthals in the Middle East. The 55,000-year-old incomplete cranium was found deep in a cave in Israel . This find fills a missing part of the story about how Homo sapiens evolved and traveled from Africa to Europe. Read the rest of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ancient , archaeologists , archaeology , artifact , bones , cave , cranium , early man , fossil , homo sapiens , human , interbreeding , Israel , neanderthals , skull

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Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago

Capsized iceberg resembles a sapphire in the Southern Ocean

February 2, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Capsized iceberg resembles a sapphire in the Southern Ocean Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Alex Cornell , Antarctic ocean , Antarctica climate change , antarctica flipped glacier , Antarctica Glaciers , antarctica trip , blue glacier , capsized glacier , Climate Change , flipped glaciers , glacier , glacier flipping , iceberg , icebergs , jewel glacier , jewel iceberg , ocean , ocean jewel , Photographer Alex Cornell

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Capsized iceberg resembles a sapphire in the Southern Ocean

Scientists Discover Oldest Human DNA Ever Found

October 24, 2014 by  
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Scientists have uncovered what they believe is the oldest human DNA sample ever found, a discovery that could help unravel the mystery of how humans spread out over the planet. Phys.org reports that DNA came from a Homo Sapiens femur bone that was found accidentally on the bank of a west Siberian River in 2008; it is believed to have belonged to a man who died about 45,000 years ago. The DNA found in that bone holds traces of Neanderthals , a cousin of early humans who lived nearby in Eurasia before suddenly disappearing. Read the rest of Scientists Discover Oldest Human DNA Ever Found Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: anthropology , discover , DNA , evolutionary , homo sapiens , human , max planck , neanderthal , oldest , oldest human DNA found , paabo , scientists

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Scientists Discover Oldest Human DNA Ever Found

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