Corporate, world leaders vow to uphold Paris Agreement

June 2, 2017 by  
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Legally, it could take the United States at least three years to pull out of the international treaty on mitigating climate change. During the interim, the country may cede valuable opportunities for new low-carbon businesses.

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Brilliant bamboo house uses ground water for natural cooling

April 14, 2017 by  
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This experimental bamboo home is helping to set the pace for sustainable growth in China. Milan-based Studio Cardenas designed Energy Efficient Bamboo House, a home with a minimal carbon footprint and Feng Shui-inspired construction. Located in the Longquan International Bamboo Commune in Zhejiang, the energy-saving abode uses locally available natural materials to create a cost-effective building that saves substantially on energy use. The architects built the house primarily out of bamboo, a renewable material that grows in abundance in the Baoxi area. “For the structure of the Energy Efficient Bamboo House we explored new ways of building using bamboo as a construction material,” wrote Studio Cardenas. “Sustainability for us is not only the use of natural materials such as bamboo but to design appropriate construction solutions.” To that end, the architects developed a modular “industrialized bamboo construction system” with precise geometry and lightweight aluminum connections to allow for easy expansion, disassembly, and transport. Drawing upon the building’s Chinese context, the architects applied Feng Shui principles to the layout, which comprises nine squares on each floor. The interior is mostly open plan with minimal dividing walls to allow positive energy (Qi) and natural ventilation to flow freely. The modular bamboo construction sits on a rammed earth base that houses the technical room, while gray Chinese clay tiles clad the exterior and terra-cotta clay tops the roof. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower To minimize energy use, the Energy Efficient Bamboo House uses groundwater coupled with a geothermal heat pump for indoor heating and cooling. Since this system takes advantage of earth’s naturally stabilized temperatures, it’s at least 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional systems and is estimated to use 15 percent less energy than traditional chiller plants. + Studio Cardenas

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Brilliant bamboo house uses ground water for natural cooling

Why boards and C-suites should fuse sustainability with strategy

April 4, 2017 by  
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A growing number of the world’s largest companies are turning to sustainability as a strategic lens to help anticipate and navigate the complexity of the international economy, meet the expanding expectations of a growing global middle class and manage the heightened risks to their businesses from environmental and social disruptions. As a result, sustainability has migrated from the periphery to the core of business strategy and planning.

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SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year

February 28, 2017 by  
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Since humans first walked on the moon in 1969, many people have gazed up at the night sky and longed to do the same. Leave it to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to make those dreams reality. SpaceX announced yesterday they’ll be sending two tourists, who have reportedly paid the company quite a bit of money up front, to the moon. The groundbreaking mission could happen as soon as 2018. SpaceX didn’t say who the two private citizens are, although, according to Musk, they aren’t Hollywood celebrities. The two unnamed travelers will start with fitness and health tests, and commence training this year. According to SpaceX, “…these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.” Related: Watch Elon Musk’s emotional rollercoaster during successful SpaceX Falcon 9 landing They’ll be aboard a Crew Dragon, or Dragon Version 2, which has not yet ventured to space. Dragon capsules have made their way to the International Space Station (ISS), but the crew version of the vessel, with life-support equipment, won’t blast off until the end of this year, in an unmanned demonstration mission to the ISS. A manned mission could come early in 2018, before the tourists journey to the moon from the exact launch pad Apollo missions utilized near Cape Canaveral. According to the BBC, the moon trip could be at least six to seven days long. SpaceX said in a statement, “This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.” This historic trip will also serve as a stepping stone for the company on their target of sending humans to Mars . NASA released a statement on SpaceX’s announcement, saying they commend their “industry partners for reaching higher.” Musk and SpaceX said the moon mission wouldn’t be possible without the agency. Via SpaceX and the BBC Images via SpaceX on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year

Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US

January 10, 2017 by  
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A group of dogs raised for meat in South Korea are getting a new lease on life. Humane Society International (HSI) has rescued 10 dogs from a dog meat farm located about 55 miles away from Seoul. The dogs, which were raised in filthy, rusty cages for eventual consumption by humans, will be placed in forever homes throughout the US. HSI says it will take time and money to move all 200 animals off the farm, and you can help. Six months of vaccinations, medical examinations, and negotiations later, HSI has finally been able to start removing dogs from the horrifying meat factory farm. It will take a few weeks for them to ship out all the animals, as airlines will only take so many dogs per flight. Dogs like Demi, a labrador mix puppy, will journey to United States shelters and be offered for adoption. Related: Help move hundreds of chimpanzees from labs to a safe haven in Georgia HSI campaign manager Andrew Plumbly told Reuters, “As soon as they’re ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people – literally people would line up at shelters – in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories.” The dogs lived in harsh, disgusting conditions. They were only fed once per day and waste collected under their rusty cages. This dog meat farm is the sixth HSI has worked to shutter in the country since 2015, but they estimate there are around 17,000 such farms left in South Korea, even as Reuters reports dog consumption is declining in the country. Up to two million dogs are still killed and consumed in South Korea each year, according to HSI. If you’d like to help them in their goal of shutting down the dog meat industry – including finding better livelihoods for dog meat farmers and caring for rescued animals – you can donate here . + Humane Society International Via Reuters Images via Humane Society International Facebook

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Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US

Space station lettuce farm now producing fresh greens every 10 days for crew

December 5, 2016 by  
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This is the year “astronaut food” meets “rabbit food.” Finally, crew members living aboard the International Space Station can munch on fresh leafy greens as part of their regular diet , in addition to the airtight packages of freeze-dried meals that have sustained space explorers for decades. After several years in development and testing, NASA’s very own “space gardener” Shane Kimbrough has successfully harvested several batches of fresh lettuce, while carefully tending the tiny plants and troubleshooting their moisture and nutrient needs along the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Gxn_nfgWA Finding ways to grow safe, nutritious fresh vegetables in zero gravity has been a challenge, to put it mildly. During his historic 340-day mission aboard ISS, American astronaut Scott Kelly assisted in the early stages of NASA’s “Veggie” system, which was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before deploying to the ISS in mid-2014 . ISS crew members feasted on freshly harvested leafy greens grown in space for the first time back in August 2015 . The next challenge was to increase crop yields so that the system could produce enough fresh greens for the entire crew, which typically ranges from three to six astronauts but can occasionally rise as high as 10. Related: Astronauts are munching on lettuce grown in space for the first time ever Kimbrough oversees the operations of the Veg-03 experiment, the most recent phase of the ongoing project. The latest round began October 25 and involves six red romaine lettuce plants growing simultaneously for the first time. Because lettuce can be harvested (by cutting) and then regrow in about 10 days , it’s the perfect renewable crop for the space station, where resources and square footage are at a premium. The most recent harvest, which took place December 2, yielded a small amount of lettuce which was divided between crew member consumption and conservation for scientific evaluation. The ongoing experiment serves a dual purpose, in that ISS crew will gain access to fresh, nutritious greens to help balance their shelf-stable diet and NASA will be able to learn more about how various forms of life function in zero gravity environments. Via NASA Images via NASA

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WHO cancer arm told experts to withhold glyphosate review documents

October 28, 2016 by  
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New evidence has come to light that illustrates the cancer agency of the World Health Organization advised experts to withhold documents pertaining to the dangerous pesticide glyphosate rather than release them, as they were asked to do under United States freedom of information laws. WHO made a splash last year when it denounced the widely used pesticide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic,” kicking off a fierce backlash from Monsanto (whose best-selling product, RoundUp, contains glyphosate) and other companies and industry groups aiming to profit from toxic chemicals. Reuters broke the news in an exclusive report, citing a letter and email in which officials from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) urged scientists who worked on 2015 review of glyphosate not to release the documents in question.

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San Diegos frozen zoo could bring extinct species back to life

October 28, 2016 by  
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The Frozen Zoo houses more than 1,000 species, but if you visit, you won’t see elephants or monkeys roaming about their enclosures. Instead you’ll see test tubes filled with cell cultures, stored in tubs of liquid nitrogen. All told, the samples take up slightly less space than a refrigerator. While the stored DNA is currently mostly used for research, conservationists hope it could one day be used to rebuild the populations of endangered species , or resurrect those that have gone extinct. The Frozen Zoo is run by the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research , housing genetic material from nearly 10,000 individual animals – some still alive, others long dead. A set of matching tanks houses a copy of the samples in a second, undisclosed location – just in case something happens to the originals. The samples in the Frozen Zoo come from institutions all over the world, including the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park . No animals are harmed during the collection process, which occurs either during routine health exams, or after the animal has died. The collection dates back to the 1970s , when UC San Diego pathologist and geneticist Dr. Kurt Benirschke began collecting frozen cells and reproductive material for the zoo’s recently-formed Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species. At the time, scientists had no way of knowing that the first example successful animal cloning was only two decades away. In that time, the Frozen Zoo has managed to accumulate perhaps the world’s largest collection of stem cells. Related: Researchers successfully splice woolly mammoth DNA into elephant cells While no extinct animals have been resurrected yet, the zoo already has an impressive list of accomplishments under its belt. The stored materials have been used to inseminate San Deigo’s beloved giant panda, Bai Yun, and the scientists at the facility are hard at work sequencing the DNA of animals ranging from African elephants to two-toed sloths. One high-tech project even involves using stem cell technology to revive populations of the endangered northern white rhino. In the coming years, projects like this may help turn back what some scientists are calling the world’s sixth mass extinction . Via GQ Images via  Franco Pecchio  and  playlight55  

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This could be the United States’ first endangered bee species

September 28, 2016 by  
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The world’s bees are dying – and one particular species may soon become the United State’s first endangered bee. The rusty patched bumble bee has suffered a staggering 90 percent decline in population over the last 20 years. If a new proposal is accepted, it will become the first bee species to receive federal protections in the US under the Endangered Species Act. The rusty patched bumble bee has historically lived in the midwestern and northeastern United States, but their population has plummeted over the years due to pesticides, climate change , and habitat loss. This has led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to propose adding them to the Endangered Species Act . Related: South Carolina kills millions of bees while spraying for Zika mosquitoes These bees are not the only species that has suffered a severe drop in numbers. Estimates by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reveal that over one-fourth of the 47 varieties of bumble bees native to the US and Canada will soon be facing potential extinction . Seven bee species in Hawaii were proposed for protection last year. Since bees play a vital part in crop pollination, their plight is something we should take very seriously . Via U.S. Uncut Images via Wikipedia , Flickr

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Humanscale is the world’s first company to make truly net-positive products

September 20, 2016 by  
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Humanscale is the first company to ever obtain full Living Product Challenge Certification offered by the International Living Future Institute , which they achieved for not only one, but two products. Their Diffrient Smart chair and Float table both received the prestigious certification and can now be described as “Living Products.” These products are about as sustainable as it gets. The Diffrient Smart and Float had to fit 20 imperatives, and the International Living Future Institute visited Humanscale’s manufacturing facilities to assess their sustainability. Every process to create the products had to be powered by solely renewable energy and ” within the water balance of the places they are made .” The International Living Future Institute also looked for products informed by design approaches like biophilia and biomimicry . Related: Humanscale’s Horizon LED Task Light Packs High Design Into a Slim Profile The Diffrient Smart chair has a curved, mesh back and is designed to adjust to each sitter’s unique weight. The Float table allows users to move between sitting and standing as they work at the desk. Humanscale CEO Robert King said his company’s goal is to “have a net positive impact on the earth.” Not only does the company design sustainable, ergonomic products, they’ve partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to support conservation and are part of the U.N. Global Compact . Humanscale works to continue improving their processes through composting and updates like a rainwater capture system. Living Product Challenge Director James Connelly said, “Humanscale has really taken the Living Product Challenge to heart. They are challenging our current manufacturing paradigm and fundamentally transforming their products and processes to be as beautiful and efficient as anything found in the natural world. We haven’t always known if creating truly net positive products is possible. Humanscale is taking their role as an innovator in human and life-centric design to the next level and proving that if you set your aspirations high enough, you can achieve incredible things.” While other companies received partial certifications, Humanscale is the only one to achieve full certification. + Humanscale + International Living Future Institute Images courtesy of Humanscale

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