Hedgehog highways make London friendlier for the adorable spiny mammals

February 20, 2018 by  
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Urban areas don’t tend to be too kind for hedgehogs . As they’re declining in Britain , some people are trying to help. Enter Michel Birkenwald , a jeweler Atlas Obscura described as “one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals .” Birkenwald builds hedgehog highways — and they’re pretty darn adorable. Hedgehogs have declined by around 50 percent in the UK and by one third in urban areas, according to Emily Wilson of hedgehog advocacy group Hedgehog Street . The organization is working to spur people towards saving the small spiny mammals — and they say the most crucial action people can take is make sure the animals can pass through their gardens . Hedgehogs travel about one mile each night to seek out a mate or food, but fences stop them, and Hedgehog Street said our walls becoming more secure is one of the main reasons for hedgehog decline. Related: This sweet animation aims to help save the British hedgehog Successful day yesterday 15 new holes opened up @barneshedgehogs #richmond #london #uk #wildlife A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:59pm PST Birkenwald describes himself as “just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals” to Atlas Obscura. He started Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago, to drill the hedgehog crossings — small holes in walls around the size of a CD — for free. It can take around an hour to drill the passageways in sturdy Victorian bricks in London. First hole of the day drilled by Robin senior technical officer @barneshedgehogs sponsored by Zac Goldsmith MP #richmond #uk #london A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 18, 2018 at 1:59am PST Other people want to help out too – at least 47,544, in fact. Those are the people who have registered with Hedgehog Street to become Hedgehog Champions, ambassadors for the little mammals in their areas. The organization has other information on how you can help hedgehogs here . This Sunday @barneshedgehogs we are drilling approx 20 holes in timber and brick walls sponsored by Zac Goldsmith MP , get your garden ready for spring and cut a hole in your fences for our favourite mammal #wildlife #richmond #london #uk #spring A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 13, 2018 at 1:36am PST Birkenwald marks the crossings with small Hedgehog Highway signs that are available through the Hedgehog Street website ; the signs are comprised of recycled plastic and cost about £3, or just over $4, each. + Barnes Hedgehogs + Hedgehog Street + Hedgehog Street Hedgehog Highways Via Atlas Obscura Image via Pixabay

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Hedgehog highways make London friendlier for the adorable spiny mammals

Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

February 19, 2018 by  
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Nova Scotia Power has established a pilot project that utilizes Tesla’s Powerpack 2 home batteries and their utility-grade Powerpack batteries to form an improved energy storage system for local wind power. Based in Elmsdale, the Intelligent Feed Project aims to bridge any gaps found in the electrical grid by installing Powerpacks where wind turbines are generating surplus energy. These batteries would allow power to be stored for later use, perhaps when there is a power outage or a windless day. While the Powerpack’s expansion into Nova Scotia isn’t quite as massive as its application in places like South Australia , this latest move demonstrates its potential to improve energy storage in power grids. The Elmsdale battery station will serve 300 homes, 10 of which will have Tesla Powerpack 2 batteries. Partially funded by the Canadian government, the trial program will begin at the end of February and will continue until 2019. The physical infrastructure of Powerpacks will remain even after the trial has ended. If the trial is successful, Nova Scotia Power may decide to offer additional programs to local communities. Related: Nantucket to be powered by a 48 MWh Tesla Powerpack system Simply bringing the Powerpacks into the homes and neighborhoods of Elmsdale seems to be having a positive impact on engagement in clean energy infrastructure. “The Powerwall, that was something I hadn’t heard about,” said homeowner Mark Candow . “I was definitely intrigued.” The ease-of-installation and the interactive app provided by Tesla are certainly selling points for consumers. “The ability to monitor their home usage is really making them think more about how they’re using electricity in their home,” said smart grid engineer Rob Boone , “and I think it’s going to make them more energy efficient .” Via Engadget Images via Nova Scotia Power

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Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

Georgia considers plan to build America’s first truck-only highway

February 13, 2018 by  
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Georgia is exploring the feasibility of designating an entire highway just for trucks . The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is considering the 40-mile stretch where cars wouldn’t be allowed to drive – and WABE Radio says it would be the first of its kind in America. 4,317 people perished in crashes where large trucks were involved in 2016, the most recent federal statistics ready from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to WABE Radio. A separate highway for trucks could boost safety for both regular cars and freight operators, according to GDOT’s fact sheet on what’s called the I-75 Commercial Vehicle Lanes. Related: Siemens debuts first electrified eHighway in the US The toll-free truck-only highway would stretch from Atlanta to Macron and would consist of two barrier-separated lanes. GDOT’s fact sheet says the project is “projected to reduce delay on I-75 by 40 percent in 2030” and could also lower maintenance costs on the lanes for passenger cars. It would be northbound, per WABE Radio, with its own entrances and exits. Atlanta-area truckers have shown support for the project. WABE Radio spoke to trucker Afori Pugh, who transports around 20,000 pounds of construction materials on his trips. He said it can be difficult; when drivers cut in front of a truck, they rarely realize how much danger they’re in and they don’t understand his industry. He thinks a truck-only highway could “unclog a lot of the traffic .” Georgia governor Nathan Deal also seems to support the project, saying the truck-only highway is “an important part of what our future transportation system should and will look like” in a Georgia Transportation Alliance meeting. But some people are balking at the estimated cost of $1.8 billion. U.S. Public Interest Research Group listed the state’s truck-only lanes among the worst highway projects in America in 2017, saying it “would represent a giveaway to the trucking industry, while undermining a rail -based approach to freight movement in Georgia that is intended to get trucks off the roads.” GDOT could choose a general engineering consultant by the end of this year; that person would be expected to be in charge of project development and seek public input in the environmental process. Construction could commence in 2025. Via WABE Radio Images via Rhys Moult on Unsplash and Ken Lund on Flickr

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Georgia considers plan to build America’s first truck-only highway

46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found clogging New Orleans catch basins

February 1, 2018 by  
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In New Orleans , clean-up crews have found 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads in the catch basins on St. Charles Avenue between Poydras Street and Lee Circle. These festive plastic staples were clogging 15,000, or fully one-quarter, of the city’s basins, which are used to drain and protect the city from flooding . As part of a $7 million contract, crews from Baton Rouge-based EnviroSystems used nearly two-dozen vacuum trucks to extract 7.2 million pounds of debris, of which 93,000 pounds were Mardi Gras beads. “This is a staggering number,” interim director of the New Orleans Department of Public Works Dani Galloway told the Times-Picayune . In response to the massive amount of Mardi Gras beads posing a threat to the city’s ability to drain itself in case of flooding, the Public Works and Sanitation departments are currently brainstorming ways to prevent further damage from beads, including installing temporary “gutter buddies” to keep the beads out. During a press conference, Galloway also emphasized the need of ordinary citizens to step up and clear catch basins in their own neighborhoods. Dozens of residents in every city district have already received training on how to properly clean the catch basins. Related: New Orleans doesn’t need a hurricane to be inundated with water The clean-up operation comes after extensive flooding during the summer of 2017, which was blamed in part on the city’s backlog of clogged catch basins. This backlog existed despite $3 million having been allocated to deal with the problem. Following last summer’s flooding, the New Orleans City Council approved a $22 million emergency plan to address the issue . Although external contractors were hired to do the work, much of the labor was sourced within the city. “They are our own people doing this work,” said Galloway . “This is important because it maximizes economic impact on the city’s contracts for the people that live and work here.” Via the Times-Picayune Images via Depositphotos and Flickr/Infrogmation of New Orleans

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46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found clogging New Orleans catch basins

Airbnb is offering a weekend stay on Blue Planet’s ocean research ship

February 1, 2018 by  
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When it comes to contests with amazing prizes, Airbnb is certainly bringing their A game. First, it was watching the solar eclipse from a transparent bubble , and now the rental service is offering three lucky winners the chance to spend three days and two nights onboard the Alucia – the oceanic research and exploration vessel that filmed BBC’s Blue Planet series. Guests will join an active research trip in the Bahamas, where they will explore the depths of the ocean in one of Alucia’s two submersible vessels. In partnership with BBC America, Airbnb is asking users to describe their ideal deep sea adventure exploring beneath the waves. The submissions with the most creative answers will be chosen to bring one guest to stay aboard the OceanX Alucia for three days and participate in an underwater exploration in one of two submersibles. Related: Watch the solar eclipse from a private plane AND stay in an amazing Airbnb dome Hosting the unique Airbnb lodging will be producer Orla Doherty, who will be on site to guide the winners through the experience, “Having spent 500 hours in the submarine and countless weeks at sea filming the deep sea for Blue Planet II, the Alucia almost feels like my second home,” Doherty said. “I now feel privileged to be able to share this once in a lifetime experience with promising ocean heroes and show them the wonders of life in the ocean.” While on board, the lucky winners will be able to explore ocean life under the seas through an underwater vessel , as well as talk with leading researchers from the expedition crew. The trip, which is scheduled for April, will set off from Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas, and end in Nassau, Bahamas. Airfare is included in the prize as is another two nights on a land-based rental. + Airbnb Lead photo © 2017 Luis Lamar, additional photos via Alucia Productions/Airbnb

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Airbnb is offering a weekend stay on Blue Planet’s ocean research ship

Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

January 19, 2018 by  
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Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit ? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron . Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings. En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3 — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018 Related: New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo But some people put the brakes on the idea . The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive. Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W — UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018 Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.” But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.” Via The Guardian (1, 2) and Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

January 19, 2018 by  
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Scientists at Binghamton University have developed the first application of fungi in self-healing concrete. In a paper recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials , Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin and her team outline the ways in which a special species of fungi,  Trichoderma reesei , may act as a sealing agent when mixed with concrete . “This idea was originally inspired by the miraculous ability of the human body to heal itself of cuts, bruises and broken bones,” said Jin in an interview at Binghampton . “For the damaged skins and tissues, the host will take in nutrients that can produce new substitutes to heal the damaged parts.” Jin and her team’s focus on concrete could not be more topical. In the United States , a crisis fueled by historic underinvestment in infrastructure has resulted in increasingly dangerous roads, bridges, and highways. While Washington struggles to fund the federal government and state governments lack the resources to tackle this multi-trillion dollar problem, citizens still want something to be done before a major collapse occurs. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin . “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study If concrete were easier to repair, the cost of infrastructure maintenance would likely decrease. This is where T. reesei steps in. The fungus is mixed with concrete and lies dormant until the first crack in newly laid concrete appears. As water and oxygen permeate the crack, fungal spores will germinate, expand, and create calcium carbonate to fill the crack. While the technology is still in its early phase, its successful small-scale application demonstrates that fungal self-healing concrete may fit right in someday soon. Jin said , “In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance”. Via Binghamton University Images via Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University and Congrui Jin/Binghamton University

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Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

Op-Ed: Recycling Must Be Included in Infrastructure Bill

January 10, 2018 by  
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As Congress and the Trump administration contemplate a $1 trillion … The post Op-Ed: Recycling Must Be Included in Infrastructure Bill appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Op-Ed: Recycling Must Be Included in Infrastructure Bill

It’s time to give funds for sustainable infrastructure and other ‘real assets’ a closer look

January 3, 2018 by  
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The potential upside: predictable returns and the knowledge that you’re contributing to a low-carbon future.

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It’s time to give funds for sustainable infrastructure and other ‘real assets’ a closer look

Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the worlds longest peace-themed mural

December 29, 2017 by  
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As the Trump administration pushes forward with plans to build a border wall , American and Mexican artists are working to paint a mile-long mural on the border fence celebrating peace and unity. Mexican-born, American-educated artist Enrique Chiu is leading a bi-national effort to turn the fence into a work of art which spreads a message of hope to those crossing the border. This December, Chiu launched The Mural of Brotherhood, enlisting over than 2,600 volunteers to paint uplifting messages on the Mexico-facing side of the U.S.-owned fence. The entire mural is expected to stretch more than a mile in Tijuana and shorter spans in Tecate, Mexicali, Ciudad Juarez, Naco and Reynosa. The goal is to set the Guinness World Record for the longest mural and create an artistic riposte to Trump ’s nationalist and anti-immigrant politics. Related: Ai Weiwei installs huge fences in New York City to challenge Trump’s border control measures The artist himself crossed the border with his mother when he was eight and lived in LA for a year without a legal status. After moving to Tijuana about ten years Chiu joined the city’s burgeoning artistic scene. He dedicates this project “to all those people who are looking for a better life. Who take enormous risks. Or those have been deported and are separated from their families.” + Enrique Chiu

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Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the worlds longest peace-themed mural

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