Forest elephants do their part to slow climate change

April 20, 2022 by  
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In the West and Central African rainforests, forest  elephants  are unwittingly helping to save the world. As this relatively small elephant tears through the rainforest, stripping bark from trees and digging up roots, its actions help the forest store more carbon in its trees. According to a  2019 study , each forest elephant helps increase the rainforests’ carbon capture by 9,500 metric tons of CO2 per square kilometer. This approximately equals the emissions from driving 2,047 gas-guzzling cars for a year. Elephants perform this service by trampling the smaller trees competing with larger ones for light and nutrients, thus increasing the average tree diameter and total above-ground biomass. Related: Both African elephant species face extinction Even elephant excrement helps reverse  climate change , as they deposit nutrients and seeds wherever they go. “Elephants help disperse trees, which other animals rely on,” said lead author Fabio Berzaghi, as reported by BBC. “The trees promoted by elephants support primates and many other animals.” Unfortunately, the elephant population has plummeted from 1.2 million in the 1970s to about 100,000 in a 2013 study. They could go extinct. According to wildlife scientist Fiona Maisels, between 2002 and 2013, elephants were lost at the rate of 60 a day, or one every 20 minutes. “By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the  ivory market ,” Maisels said at the time. In some circles, ivory from a dead forest elephant is worth $21,000. Now Ralph Chami, assistant director of the Institute for Capacity Development at the International Monetary Fund, wants to put a better value on forest elephants. Instead of focusing on how much the elephants need us to save them, he thinks we should focus on how much we need them to save us. Each elephant’s carbon capture potential is worth $1.75 million, Chami estimated. “The forest elephant is a natural asset that provides value to us over its lifetime,” Chami said, as reported by BBC. “A living elephant provides services worth millions, it is helping us fight climate change and is worth much more alive than dead.” Via BBC Lead image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

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Forest elephants do their part to slow climate change

Solar helps make this cool Austin tower net energy neutral

March 25, 2022 by  
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Austin’s iconic skyscraper The Independent designed by Rhode Partners has just achieved LEED Gold status and won the 2022 Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Award of Excellence as the Best Tall Building — Residential. This net energy neutral project is the only one in Texas to receive the award. The Independent has 58 stories of family residential space and is the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi . The tower features a central circulation core combined with four cantilevered sections supported by exposed structural elements. This creates expansive city views and allows for flexible and spacious interiors. The tower has 20,000 square feet of amenities and is net energy neutral for most of the year. Additionally, the 75kW solar power system and rainwater collection generate on-site power and water for the building. Related: An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready CTBUH’s Awards program recognizes projects that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and urban environments, representing the best innovations in the typology. In October, the CTBUH International Conference in Chicago will hold an awards ceremony. Here, The Independent will also compete for the title of “Overall Category Winner.” Rhode Partners founder Brett Rhode said of The Independent, “This building reflects Austin’s amazing creative spirit. It is a locally designed building with a much larger story to tell.” Residential tiers are pushed and pulled to cantilever four distinct blocks that make up The Independent tower. “This dynamic form is achieved by sliding and mirroring floor plates from a central core,” the designers explain. “The mirroring of the floor plates resulted from the owner’s programmatic requirements to provide a diversity of unit orientations with the same floor plan.” At the top of the building, woven stainless-steel mesh wraps around the building’s mechanical systems, including a massive liquid damper tank that limits the sway of the 58-story structure in high-altitude winds . The Independent has already received over a dozen awards, including an AIA Austin Design Award of Merit, DNA Paris Design Awards’ 2021 Architecture Big Scale Building Award, the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s 2021 Interior Design Award of Excellence, and The Chicago Athenaeum’s 2021 International Architecture Award. + Rhode Partners Images via Rhode Partners, Nick Simonite, Jason O’Rear and Patrick Wong

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CAKE announces new :work series of mopeds and e-bikes

December 30, 2021 by  
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Swedish bike maker CAKE has released a new e-bike solution for professional delivery and service people who use bikes for their work — the :work series of e-bikes and mopeds. The new e-bikes were unveiled at the International Motorcycle and Accessories Exhibition in Milan. According to CAKE, the new series aims to fill the gap between delivery vehicles on four wheels and the non-motorized delivery bikes used by some professional delivery people. Think DoorDash. Related: Kalk anti-poaching e-bikes join the battle in the African bush CAKE says that the World Economic Forum projected that by 2030, last-mile delivery vehicles in the 100 largest cities in the world would increase by 36%. Further estimates predict same-day and instant deliveries, the fastest-growing segment of last-mile deliveries, will account for 15% of all online orders by 2025. The purpose of the :work series is to fill this need with sustainable, eco-friendly transport vehicles. The :work series includes three different bikes: Kalk (for high performance off-road), Ösa (a modular utility bike) and Makka (the urban commuter).Kalk features 18-inch offroad tires and “ride modes” that allow for patrolling on even surfaces or reaching off-road locations through rough terrain. Ösa has three models in the line, with top speeds of 90, 45 and 25 km/h, more peak power , a 160-km range, and new trailers to haul loads of up to 1,500 liters. This bike is intended for utility delivery. Makka might seem like the lightweight of the three, but it has electrical outlets built in to power drills and tools, or gadgets like phones , making it a practical vehicle for on-the-go professionals of many kinds. The Makka bike comes in two models with 45 km/h and 25km/h top speeds. The Makka bikes also have added power in this iteration, up to a 110-km range and new accessories to allow users to carry more loads. “The CAKE :work series offers the immediate potential of moving last-mile deliveries and mobile workforces away from traditional solutions for urban transportation, clearly exceeding the efficiency of both cars and bicycles, making this initiative our single most important contribution to date in speeding up the process towards a A mo society,” said Stefan Ytterborn, founder and CEO of CAKE. “Any industry that handles large volumes of short-haul transportation of both people and goods understands the daily struggle with traffic jams, parking fines, and the need to find both economical and sustainable fossil fuel-free vehicles.” + CAKE Images via CAKE

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CAKE announces new :work series of mopeds and e-bikes

Best states in America for owning an electric vehicle

December 30, 2021 by  
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Electric vehicles (EVs) are taking to the roads in record numbers. Car manufacturers drive huge sums into innovating better solutions for range and battery recyclability . States in America are working on infrastructure in anticipation of the changing dynamics on the highways. The federal government is working towards massive tax advantages for those who make the change to electric vehicles too. Bumper, an automotive site aimed at facilitating well-informed car sales and purchases, has put together a ranking of the financial and infrastructural aspects of owning an electric car in the U.S. Which state has the most readily-available charging stations? Where will you receive the largest kickback for your purchase of an electric vehicle? Related: Public art electric vehicle charging stations merge design and function The key takeaway is that Washington is the best overall state for owning an EV. Utah comes in at a close second, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts and California. The top 10 is rounded out, in order, with Maryland, Oregon, New York, Nevada and Hawaii . Alaska lacks infrastructure and ranks last.  There are many aspects to consider when evaluating the best places to own and operate an electric vehicle — from the initial purchase to the life of the vehicle. After all, it does require some special considerations in regards to range, benefits to the environment and the practical factors when it comes to charging availability and costs.  Financial incentives were rated with consideration for metrics, including rebates and tax incentives, recharging costs, the price of gas in the area, average travel distances and costs associated with an EV versus those of a gas-powered vehicle. Combining these factors, Washington and Illinois are the top states for financial incentives to own an EV. Utah, Colorado , Oregon and Maryland rank high as well. New Jersey, Hawaii, Ohio and Nevada round out the top ten with slightly lower financial advantages.  As for infrastructure, the research team looked at the number of charging stations that have been installed in the past four years and the number of charging stations per 100,000 populations. They also calculated number of EVSE ports per 100 charging stations as well as the number of EVSE ports per 100 EV vehicle registrations. EV registrations as a percentage of all motor vehicles in the state were the final consideration. In all, Vermont and California top the list for best electric vehicle infrastructure. Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island also ranked high. Colorado, Utah, Georgia, New York and Nevada also offer strong infrastructure for EV owners.  Interestingly, California ranks high in several individual categories, yet came in fifth overall in the state rankings. This is likely because they came in 11th for incentives, at least those available at the time of the study. However, California ranked first in new EV registrations as a percentage of total registrations, so it’s clear the population is adopting the EV option. In fact 425,300 registered EVs in the state. That’s an impressive 41.73% of all registrations nationwide, giving California a dominant lead in getting EVs on the road.  In return, the state is responding effectively to this growth with the number one spot for charging station growth and a second-place ranking for overall EV infrastructure. It also ranks second for the number of charging stations to serve the population, as a measure of stations per 100,000k. The problem areas came to light through this research too, with California ranking 36th in the country when it comes to rebates plus tax incentives. Federal changes may also facilitate change at the state level in the near future. The state came in even lower for recharge costs. This is a reflection of the cost of electricity and plummets California into the 44th position.  The comprehensive report breaks down the data for each state, offering a detailing of the financial and infrastructural benefits and disadvantages in each area. It’s a snapshot of where the adoption of EVs is strong and where it’s barely made the radar . For example, by comparison to California, Alaska and Montana each registered 940 electric cars in 2020 and Mississippi logged 780 while North Dakota is late to the game with a paltry 220 new EVs on the road. Also on the lower end is South Dakota with 410 and West Virginia with 600.  Population has a big effect on the numbers when it comes to percentage of the total EV registrations across the nation. As mentioned, California registered a dominating 41.73%. The next closest was Florida with 5.71% and Texas with 5.12%. Washington breaks the mold with lower population from a smaller state, yet still coming to the table with 4.96% of national registrations. New York clocked 3.2%, New Jersey 2.98% and Arizona 2.82%. In addition to those mentioned on the lower end, Wyoming, Arkansas, Nebraska and Rhode Island rank in the bottom 10 states for new EV registrations.  Via Bumper Image via Nathaniel Blum

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Best states in America for owning an electric vehicle

$1.3B Toyota EV battery plant coming to North Carolina

December 8, 2021 by  
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A  North Carolina  town with fewer than 3,000 citizens and known for its antiques festival is about to be on the cutting edge of the electric vehicle revolution. Toyota just announced that it will construct a $1.29 billion battery-building facility in little Liberty, North Carolina. North Carolina worked hard to snag the  Toyota  plant, which will eventually employ at least 1,750 people. Liberty is home to the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, a designated area that boasts an available workforce, an east coast location and a well-developed transportation infrastructure. The state of North Carolina enticed Toyota with a $438.7 million tax incentive package. Related: 20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022 Toyota doesn’t expect the site to be up and running until 2025. Initially, four production lines will have a total capacity of 800,000 lithium-ion batteries. By 2031, the facility is expected to expand to produce 1.2 million battery packs annually. And the company will need them, as it has pledged that 70% of its cars will be  electric  by 2030. The North Carolina Commerce Department said that the new Toyota  battery  plant jobs will pay a minimum average salary of $62,000. Compare that to Randolph County’s current annual average salary of $37,865, and we anticipate that community members will be lining up to apply. “North Carolina’s  economic  story — from the Wright brothers first in flight, to life-saving medicines at Research Triangle Park — we have been a state of firsts, partnering with industries to develop new ideas that really do change people’s lives,” Governor Roy Cooper said at a media event where he announced the future plant on Monday, as reported by the Raleigh News and Observer. The Greensboro Randolph Megasite has everything Toyota was looking for, including proximity to four international  airports  and two seaports, onsite rail and an extensive highway system. Other southern states are also winners in the EV battery production game. Ford and SK Innovation, a South Korean battery maker, are building new factories in Tennessee and Texas. Via >Raleigh News and Observer , Toyota , The Verge Lead image via Toyota

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Welcome to Norilsk, one of the world’s most polluted cities

December 7, 2021 by  
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Norilsk, the world’s most northern city, has been dubbed one of the world’s most polluted cities by experts. The small city of about 176,000 started experiencing its pollution during the early days of the Soviet Union. As an area rich with precious metals, Norilsk remains a hotbed of mining at the expense of the ecosystem. An investigative series on the city done by Inside Climate News in association with NBC News and Undark Magazine established that the majority of pollution affecting Norilsk is produced by one major company, Norilsk Nickel. Related: First Nation residents exposed to dangerous levels of carcinogens Norilsk Nickel is the world’s leading producer of palladium and high-grade nickel. The company also produces platinum, cobalt and copper , among other minerals. This single company has been blamed for the pollution affecting the city. Built during the Soviet Union era, the center has made and processed metals for over 80 years. Over time, the company has turned the once blossoming environment upside down. The Daldykan River, once fishing heaven for the locals, has been declared unsafe by the government. Its water has turned grey with heavy pollution. Years of activity have carved a barren landscape of dead trees out of the boreal forest. Glacial rivers have turned red, and the air is highly polluted with sulfur dioxide. The town’s extreme pollution has led to the start of a worldwide movement calling for the criminalization of ecological malpractice. The proposal to entrench ecocide in the law would see those who commit such serious acts of pollution face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague. Unfortunately, even if such recognition is adopted, the world’s leading polluters, such as the U.S. and Russia , may not be affected since they are not members of the ICC. What is more perturbing is that some of the world’s leading governments protect the interests of polluters. For instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin shares the ambition of developing the northern region economically by investing in more metal processing with Norilsk Nickel. The company has pledged to invest billions in rehabilitating the environment, a promise that residents are skeptical about. The company’s spokesperson told reporters that they will be embarking on rehabilitation projects in 2021. “This will be rolled out across all of Nornickel’s operations starting from 2021, with a clear focus on generating measurable and achievable results to significantly improve the company’s environmental performance,” the spokesman said. Via Inside Climate News Lead image via Nina

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Welcome to Norilsk, one of the world’s most polluted cities

Methane leak data and campaign to cut emissions

December 6, 2021 by  
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Ten major oil companies will now be required to disclose more methane emissions data from the Permian Basin. The House Science Committee decided that the companies must do more to track and decrease the amount of methane contaminating this part of Texas and New Mexico. Already, more than a hundred other countries have promised to slice 30% off their methane  emissions  by the decade’s end. It’s time for the U.S. to catch up. “The United States cannot achieve its targeted reduction in methane emissions under the Global Methane Pledge without a swift and large-scale decline in oil and gas sector methane leaks,” Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, wrote in a letter to the companies’ CEOs, according to the Washington Post. “The existence of these leaks, as well as continued uncertainty regarding their size, duration, and frequency, threatens America’s ability to avoid the worst impacts of  climate change .” Related: Little-known firms lead America’s list of top methane polluters ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum are a few of the bigger operators in the Permian Basin who have been put on notice regarding methane. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that “more than 70 percent of current emissions from  oil  and gas operations are technically feasible to prevent.” The agency estimated that about 45% of leaks could be resolved at no net cost since companies often capture and sell natural gas, which could otherwise escape. Methane is the predominant component in natural gas, which comes just behind  carbon dioxide  as a top contributor to climate change. Methane dissipates faster than carbon dioxide but is 80 times more powerful when first released into the atmosphere — and for the next 20 years. To successfully capture escaping methane, companies need more accurate data to determine whether they need to build new  pipelines , storage and processing centers. Johnson is concerned about the accuracy of current leak detection and repair programs, worrying that oil and gas companies “may not be designed and equipped to comprehensively monitor and detect methane leaks, particularly the intermittent, ‘super-emitting’ leaks that are responsible for much of the sector’s leak emissions.” Via Washington Post Lead image via Pixabay

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Methane leak data and campaign to cut emissions

What the passage of Article 6 means for carbon markets

November 29, 2021 by  
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The guidelines create rules for the international transfers of carbon credits, a move intended to create more trust in the growing carbon market.

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Why sustainable cities are hitting a wall

November 29, 2021 by  
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Inequality undermines the credibility of the international sustainability community.

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Earth911 Podcast: WEEE Forum’s Pascal Leroy on International E-waste Day

October 11, 2021 by  
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Earth911 talks with Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum. October 14th is International… The post Earth911 Podcast: WEEE Forum’s Pascal Leroy on International E-waste Day appeared first on Earth911.

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