Non-profit uses machine learning and solar energy to protect the rainforest

March 23, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based non-profit Rainforest Connection has created a unique, technologically advanced system to defend the rainforests of Brazil . The high-tech protection system incorporates machine learning and solar energy to operate sensor devices called Guardians that listen to the rainforest and send real-time messages if illegal logging activity is detected. Built out of modified cellphones, the Guardians are placed high in the canopy. The solar panels mitigate the need for battery changes or maintenance. With assistance from Google, Rainforest Connection has focused their efforts on the Amazon Rainforest in Pará, northern Brazil, where they have also collaborated with the local Tembé people, who are defending their homeland from encroaching logging. About 30 members of the Tembé people regularly patrol the forest to repel illegal loggers. Even with refined knowledge of the local environment, the Amazon Rainforest is difficult for anyone to navigate. Up in the canopy, the Guardians capture sounds, which are then sent to Rainforest Connection. The company recently announced it will be using Google’s TensorFlow tool, which facilitates the use of machine-learning software by other companies. The sounds are then analyzed so that the location and origin of the sounds can be determined. Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests “The people on the ground, they’re the solution,” said Rainforest Connection founder and CEO Topher White. “They’re the ones who can fight off deforestation . But technology can play a really big part in helping them do it more safely and more effectively.” Rainforest Connection intends to provide services for those who live in rainforests and other ecological treasures all across the world. Communities equipped with the tools they need to thrive are more resilient.”The system pinpoints exactly where the problem is, so we no longer need to spend months patrolling the land like we used to,” said Chief Ednaldo Tembé . “That means we have more time for our culture, for our family, and for our survival.” Via Gizmodo Images via Google

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This adventurous couple revamped an old Airstream into a dream house on wheels

March 23, 2018 by  
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Many people purchase items on eBay–but only a few decide to live in them. When Atlanta-based couple Sheena and Joe stumbled upon an old Airstream  for sale on eBay, they decided to transform it into a home on wheels perfect for avid travelers like themselves. They revamped the Airstream and had it road-ready 10 months later. The original owners intended to use the trailer as a retirement home, but their plans fell through, leaving the Airstream in storage for eight years. After Sheena and Joe purchased it, they affectionately named it Mavis and set about turning it into a mobile living space. Related: Airstream unveils new off-grid ready Globetrotter trailer The couple renovated the structure, including the plumbing and electrical work, themselves. They also included two dedicated work areas and relocated the bedroom from the rear to the front of the trailer, which receives the most sunlight during the day. They added wood accents to the walls and countertops and designed the space in a minimalist Scandinavian style. Ample storage spaces are hidden under the sofa and bed, as well as under the refrigerator. Because of the lack of space, the couple learned to make every inch count and have everything inside serve a purpose. Related: Apollo 70 Airstream trailer renovated as an amazing “green” cocktail bar on wheels Sheena and Joe have already tested the road-readiness of the trailer by traveling through the western part of the United States. They plan to continue using the trailer while traveling and, eventually, to build a small solar-powered container home , with a special place in the backyard for Mavis. + Mavis the Airstream Via Dwell

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This adventurous couple revamped an old Airstream into a dream house on wheels

Peru passes legislation to let roads slice through remote Amazon area

January 23, 2018 by  
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Part of Peru’s Amazon rainforest could be under threat with a recently passed law. The move would allow roads to be constructed in Purus, a region The Guardian describes as the country’s most remote and pristine. It is also home to isolated indigenous groups. The law declares constructing roads in border areas as a “national priority and interest”. The area includes four national parks , and could impact five reserves for indigenous people The Guardian described as living in voluntary isolation. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” Lizardo Cauper, head of Aidesep , a Peruvian indigenous rights organization, told The Guardian, “These projects don’t benefit indigenous people. This is an area with isolated people who are extremely vulnerable. Roads bring outsiders who traffic our land, log our timber, as well as drug traffickers and illegal miners .” According to The Guardian, the law contravenes multiple international commitments Peru has made, including ones on climate change and trade. The publication also reported that Environmental Investigation Agency Peru director Julia Urrunaga said the new law contradicts a court ruling declaring the protection of the forest in Peru’s national interest. The roads could could open up paths for deforestation – Urrunaga said 95 percent of this occurs less than six kilometers, or around 3.7 miles, away from a road. The law was announced in the country’s official gazette mere hours after Pope Francis’ visit ended; during his trip he said Amazon’s indigenous peoples have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now,” per The Guardian , and called for an end to exploitation of timber, gold, and gas in the region. In a Friday talk in Puerto Maldonado, the pope spoke out against “pressure being exerted by big business interests,” destroying this natural habitat important for the entire Earth. Laura Furones of Global Witness told The Guardian, “This law makes a mockery of Peru’s climate change commitments and the recent visit by the pope.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Peru passes legislation to let roads slice through remote Amazon area

Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers

January 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers have acquired evidence that heat emanating from deep below the Earth’s surface is contributing to the meltdown of Greenland’s glaciers. Though they have long suspected that a subterranean heat source was a factor in the melting glaciers, scientists were previously unable to determine the precise mechanism by which this occurred. Data gathered from Greenland’s Young Sound fjord region, a geologically active area featuring many hot springs in which temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, indicates that radiant heat loss is melting glaciers from the bottom up. This discovery will allow researchers to more accurately assess the stability of Greenland’s ice sheet and better predict sea level rise . The heat rising from below Greenland’s surface has loosened the lowest levels of glaciers, easing their slide into the sea. “There is no doubt that the heat from the Earth’s interior affects the movement of the ice, and we expect that a similar heat seepage takes place below a major part of the ice cap in the northeastern corner of Greenland,” wrote Søren Rysgaard, lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports . The heat source is known as a geothermal heat flux, an ancient phenomenon found throughout the planet. In Greenland, the heat percolates from below the surface up through fjords, warming deep sea temperatures that then transfer this heat to the surrounding glaciers . Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth Because geothermal heat fluxes are difficult to assess, “our results are very unique because we determined the relatively small heat flux from a decade-long warming of an almost stagnant water mass,” co-author Jørgen Bendtsen told Newsweek . Earth’s heat circulating up through the fjords of Greenland is one of several factors contributing to the melting glaciers. Rising air and sea temperature, precipitation , and the unique qualities of the ice sheet also affect the speed of glacier melting. Via Newsweek Images via Wieter Boone ,  Mikael Sejr , and  Søren Rysgaard

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Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers

This floating hotel and spa in Sweden will fill you with wanderlust

January 23, 2018 by  
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The team behind the famous Treehotel in Sweden just unveiled plans for a new floating hotel and spa on the Lule River in that will fill you with wanderlust. The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa might be the perfect place to enjoy the Northern Lights and work on your well-being while being surrounded by stunning landscapes. As a company that specializes in luxury adventure holidays, Off the Map Travel aims to provide people with exotic travel options and allow them to reach authentic destinations. The newest addition to their handpicked offering is this floating hotel and spa that freezes into the ice in the winter and floats on top of the Lule River in the summer. Related: Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa is a circular building that will house a spa treatment room, four saunas , an outside cold bath, a hot bath, outside and inside showers, and two dressing rooms for visitors. The six hotel rooms included also float or remain frozen into the ice, depending on the time of year. The project is being built using locally available materials and will be open for overnight stays as soon as early 2018. + Off the Map Travel Via AFAR

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This floating hotel and spa in Sweden will fill you with wanderlust

Researchers decipher one of last unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

January 23, 2018 by  
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Since the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a Qumran cave in 1947, most have been restored and published. But the University of Haifa said two researchers from their Department of Bible Studies deciphered one of the last remaining unpublished scrolls – and they uncovered some surprises. Eshbal Ratson and Jonathan Ben-Dov reassembled around 60 fragments – some smaller than 0.155 square inches – that an earlier researcher said had come from different scrolls in a period of over one year. The University of Haifa researchers found these pieces “actually constitute a single scroll,” according to the university, and discovered for the first time that the name given to “special days marking the transitions between the four seasons” by the Judean Desert sect is Tekufah. This word in today’s Hebrew means ‘period.’ Related: Believed tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than previously thought The researchers also obtained new insight into the 364-day calendar the sect used. They said in a statement, “The lunar calendar, which Judaism follows to this day, requires a large number of human decisions. People must look at the stars and moon and report on their observations, and someone must be empowered to decide on the new month and the application of leap years. By contrast, the 364-day calendar was perfect. Because this number can be divided into four and seven, special occasions always fall on the same day…The Qumran calendar is unchanging, and it appears to have embodied the beliefs of the members of this community regarding perfection and holiness.” Another finding was that a scribe corrected errors made by the person who wrote the scroll. The researchers said the author “made a number of mistakes” and another scribe added in “missing dates in the margins between the columns of text.” The Journal of Biblical Literature published the work, and the researchers now plan to decipher the last remaining scroll. + University of Haifa Via The Jerusalem Post and the BBC Images via Haifa University/The Jerusalem Post and Depositphotos

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Gold miners claim they butchered uncontacted Amazon tribe members in Brazil

September 11, 2017 by  
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Around 10 tribe members who had little to no contact with the outside world are now dead in Brazil . The uncontacted Amazon tribe members were collecting eggs by a river when it appears they encountered gold miners, who later boasted about the killings in a bar. Federal prosecutors have started an investigation, but the incident may reveal that dangers to endangered indigenous groups in the country are growing. The gold miners said they had to kill the uncontacted tribe members or be killed, according to Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior of Funai , the country’s agency on indigenous affairs. The killings reportedly happened last month, and were alleged to have taken place in the Javari Valley, Brazil’s second-biggest indigenous reserve. The gold miners had a hand-carved paddle they said came from the tribe, according to Funai. Related: Watch as Isolated Amazon Tribe Makes Contact With the Outside World for the First Time Sotto-Maior, who is the coordinator for recently contacted and uncontacted tribes, said, “It was crude bar talk. They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.” Funai lodged a complaint with the Amazonas prosecutor’s office. Prosecutor Pablo Luz de Beltrand said he investigated a similar episode earlier this year. In February, uncontacted Indians were reported killed, and the case is open. Beltrand said, “It was the first time that we’d had this kind of case in the region. It’s not something that was happening before.” Brazil’s president Michel Temer ‘s government has reduced funding for indigenous affairs, and in April Funai shut down five of 19 bases they use to watch and protect isolated tribes. At other bases, they cut staffing. These bases are used to prevent invasions from miners and loggers, and connect with tribes that have recently been contacted. Sarah Shenker, senior campaigner with global indigenous rights group Survival International , said, “If the investigation confirms the reports, it will be yet another genocidal massacre resulting directly from the Brazilian government’s failure to protect isolated tribes – something that is guaranteed in the Constitution…When their land is protected, they thrive. When their land is invaded, they can be wiped out.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Floridians rescue Manatees stranded on shores drained by Irma

September 11, 2017 by  
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Of all the destructive impacts of a hurricane , with its life-threatening storm surges and massive flooding, the sudden lack of aquatic habitat is not a typical concern. However, bays and canals drained by Hurricane Irma’s intense storm system were exactly the threats facing Florida’s aquatic wildlife over the weekend, including manatees. Michael Sechler of Sarasota, Florida , saw these stranded creatures beached where formerly there was water and took action to save them. Law enforcement and other locals also arrived to offer a helping hand and, together, the Floridians carried the manatees, which can easily weigh over 600 pounds, back into the sea. The manatees beached in Sarasota and other parts of Florida along Irma’s path suffered from an unusual phenomenon in which water was pulled away from typically submerged shores while areas above sea level suffered flooding. As the storm approached places like Tampa, strong winds pushed water out of shallow bays and canals and into a storm surge elsewhere. “As soon as the wind shifts direction, the water will come back quickly and continue to move inland,” said CNN meteorologist Judson Jones. Although the wind temporarily removed water from the area, it returned with strength. “After the storm center passes Tampa, the wind will change from offshore to onshore and push water and large ocean surface waves onshore,” said Shuyi Chen, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Related: Snooty, the world’s oldest living manatee in captivity, dies at age 69 While the water was low, Sechler and his friends traveled out to where the manatees were trapped. “My friends and I couldn’t move these massive animals ourselves, and we called every service we could think of, but no one answered,” said Sechler. “We gave them as much water as we could, hoping the rain and storm surge [would] come soon enough to save them.” Eventually, fellow citizens and law enforcement officers arrived to assist in the rescue operation. The animals were rolled up in a tarp, then carried the 100 yards to the open ocean. Now that Irma has passed through Sarasota, the manatees and their rescuers can expect more peaceful seas. Via The Telegraph and CNN Images via cyberartist/Flickr ,  Marcelo Clavijo/Facebook  and  Tony Foradini-Campos/Facebook

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Floridians rescue Manatees stranded on shores drained by Irma

New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

March 16, 2017 by  
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A river in New Zealand now has legal status similar to a human being, marking a historic victory for indigenous people. For over 100 years, the Whanganui Iwi have fought over the rights of the Whanganui River, the country’s longest navigable river . Now the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill , or Whanganui River Claims Settlement Bill, acknowledging past wrongs and declaring the river “an indivisible and living whole.” The Whanganui River can now be represented through two human representatives, one appointed by the New Zealand government and the other by the Whanganui Iwi. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Newshub, “I know some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies.” A $56 million financial redress payment is also part of the significant legislation. Related: Indonesian president gives forest management back to indigenous communities It’s been a long battle for the Whanganui Iwi. According to the bill, “Since 1873, Whanganui Iwi have sought recognition of their authority over the River, including by pursuing one of New Zealand’s longest-running court cases.” Whanganui Iwi spokesperson Gerrard Albert said the people have challenged the government’s impact on the river’s health since the mid-1850’s, and sought recognition of their rights over the river. In a statement he said, “We have always believed that the Whanganui River is an indivisible and living whole – Te Awa Tupua – which includes all its physical and spiritual elements from the mountains of the central North Island to the sea.” A government website adds, “The tribes of Whanganui take their name, their spirit, and their strength from the great river…The people say, ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au’ (I am the river. The river is me).” Over 200 Whanganui Iwi descendants were present in Parliament as the bill passed, and sang songs after the third and final bill reading. Via EcoWatch Images via Alex Indigo on Flickr and eyeintim on Flickr

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New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

Amazing Hoop Dance Gathering Place celebrates Canada’s indigenous cultures

August 31, 2016 by  
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The project, located in a large courtyard on the Mohawk College campus, was developed in collaboration between Brook McIlroy Architects, Mohawk College, Aboriginal students of the College, and Elders and members of the several prominent indigenous communities and organizations. Related: Atelier Vecteur’s Timber Pavilion for the Festival of Lively Architecture is Not as Simple as it Looks The Hoop comprises four elements- an open air pavilion , a fire circle, a water garden and a traditional garden. It has two radiating and intersecting circles joined by a raised seating platform, which reference traditional construction techniques used in the Longhouse typology typical of northern Iroquoian communities. It will function as a space “that could be used to really infuse indigenous pedagogy into a western ways of teaching,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who recently unveiled the structure. + Brook McIlroy Photos via Brook McIlroy and Mohawk College

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