Dubai tests the world’s first autonomous mobility pods

February 15, 2018 by  
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10 passengers can fit inside Dubai’s new autonomous mobility pods—the first of their kind in the world. The city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is working with Next Future Transportation on the first tests of the electric units at the World Government Summit, and it seems they were a success. They can operate for three hours with the help of a battery, or charge up again in six hours. Self-driving pods could soon be roaming the streets of Dubai. Six people can sit and four can stand inside the units, which move at around 12 miles an hour. The pods are nine-feet-long, seven-feet-wide, and nine-feet_tall. Related: Dubai police unveil Star Wars-esque electric hoverbikes The pods are designed for travelling short- to medium-length distances, in dedicated lanes, according to Gulf News . Two pods can be coupled in just 15 to 20 seconds, or can be detached in around five seconds. Prototypes tested in Dubai were manufactured in Italy, according to RTA director-general Mattar Al Tayer. Next Future Transportation’s website envisions passengers hailing one of the pods via a smartphone app , and while aboard calling for service modules that could then couple with the module in which a person is riding so they could purchase a drink or go to the bathroom. The RTA press release did not mention if Dubai will offer those services. Al Tayer said of the pods, “It echoes the Dubai Autonomous Transport Strategy aimed at converting 25 percent of mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transportation by 2030…The success of initial tests of these units will bring about a breakthrough in transportation systems that offer innovative mobility solutions and ease snarls in the city.” + Next Future Transportation + Roads and Transport Authority Via Gulf News and India Today Images via Dubai Media Office Twitter

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Dubai tests the world’s first autonomous mobility pods

Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

February 5, 2018 by  
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Venice has historically had a problem with too much water inundating its canals, but thanks to a combination of low tides and a lack of rain over the last few weeks, the sinking city’s waterways have turned into channels of mud. Indeed, unusual weather patterns have caused Venice’s water levels to plummet by more than two feet (60cm), rendering a number of channels completely unusable. And with no way to move through the city, many locals have left their boats and gondolas to languish in the muck. The Independent reports that dip in water is the direct result of low tides caused by the super blue blood moon paired with unseasonably dry weather. This, however, is not the first time the Italian city has seen its canals go dry; in 2016, water levels fell by 2.16 feet (66cm), and in 2008 and 1989 levels dropped by 2.95 feet (90cm). The canals are expected to return to normal when the rain returns. Related: Italy is giving away hundreds of historic castles and villas for free  While the phenomenon is surely alarming, flooding remains the biggest threat to the city.  Quarternary International published a report last year forecasting that Venice could disappear by the end of the century as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change . The Mediterranean Sea is in fact predicted to rise by 4.59 feet (140cm) before 2100. The city itself is also sinking at a rate of about 1-2mm a year. Via Independent UK Images via Wiki Commons and Flickr

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Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

8 ripple effects of the circular economy in 2017

December 29, 2017 by  
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From Apple to Cremona, Italy, to Unilever, here’s how industry, agriculture and cities cleaned up their acts this year.

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8 ripple effects of the circular economy in 2017

The sustainability year 2017 in review, in haiku

December 29, 2017 by  
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This Year of the Rooster was stressful for those devoted to sustainability. It may help to take one syllable at a time.

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The sustainability year 2017 in review, in haiku

Next year, resilience will become the new normal

December 29, 2017 by  
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The riskiest 20 percent of U.S. counties are economic powerhouses. Having valuable property that is not resilient and in the path of disaster is unsustainable.

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Next year, resilience will become the new normal

Mirrored nativity in Italy invites passersby to reflectliterallyfor the holidays

December 29, 2017 by  
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The holiday season is a time for reflection—a tradition that Italian studio thesignlab took to its literal meaning with the installation of a nativity crib clad in mirrored panels. Located in the center of Tuscany’s Piazza San Michele, the contemporary pavilion’s use of mirrors invites passersby to observe and celebrate the diversity of the people around them. The reflective building, named Welcome Difference, appears to disappear in the historic plaza during the day but calls attention to itself at night thanks to a glowing light display. Welcome Difference was created as part of Andare oltre si può’s annual XMAS LIGHT program, now in its fifth iteration. The mirrored installation is a modern interpretation of the traditional nativity scene with the central figures of the story reduced to simple glyphs. At night, these characters and the accompanying symbols light up. Related: Mirror-covered ‘Mirage’ house disappears into the California desert “It is a magical nativity scene in which everyone can be reflected in the Nativity family,” said Welcome Difference creator Domenico Raimondi. “Visitors can reflect, reflect, look inside but above all see who stands next. With Welcome Difference, the differences are presented, flanked, shown and invited to reflect on the theme of Christmas . We firmly believe that we must not be afraid of differences and differences, especially in this period.” Welcome Difference was unveiled on November 24 and will be displayed until January 8, 2018. + thesignlab

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Mirrored nativity in Italy invites passersby to reflectliterallyfor the holidays

Overheard in sustainability: The funniest moments in 2017

December 29, 2017 by  
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These stories illuminate the lighter side of a flood of bad news about record emissions levels, political inaction and lapses in corporate responsibility.

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Overheard in sustainability: The funniest moments in 2017

Thousands of tomato-sauce jars to turn into tomato architecture at Mutti

December 20, 2017 by  
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An endless red waterfall of tomatoes will wow visitors at the new headquarters for Mutti , one of the world’s leading tomato brands, that processes 300,000 tons of the fleshy vegetables every year. Carlo Ratti Associati just unveiled their competition-winning designs for the new masterplan and factory in Italy that playfully taps into something they call “tomato architecture.” In addition to the public viewing areas for the live processing of tomatoes—up to 5,500 tons per day—the visitor center walls will be made up of thousands of tomato-sauce glass jars for dramatic effect. Set near Parma in Italy’s “Food Valley,” Mutti’s new 2.5 million-square-foot headquarters will overhaul the company’s existing facilities and open up the factory to visitors. The most striking part of the design will be the semi-transparent tomato-sauce jar walls that stretch 400 feet wide and soar to 23 feet in height. The Mutti logo will mark the structure, which will be digitally lit at night. The new visitor center will include a restaurant surrounded by an orchard, an auditorium, control room showcasing the food processing stages, and a public rooftop terrace where people can watch the dramatic “red cascade” of millions of tomatoes poured into wash basins. Related: MIT’s “supermarket of the future” reveals every product’s history “We were inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem ‘Oda al Tomate’, which is also one of Mutti’s slogans. ‘La calle se llenó de tomates’ (‘The street was filled with tomatoes’) is a way to show how the factory can open up and project outwards,” explains Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT. “We imagined the Mutti plant to be like an open-air theater: both open to the public, and to the surrounding landscape.” A 240,000-square-foot biodiversity park will also surround the renovated factory. Construction is slated to begin 2018 and will be completed in 2023. + Justina

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Thousands of tomato-sauce jars to turn into tomato architecture at Mutti

Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

November 13, 2017 by  
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Animal rights activists are winning victories as more countries prohibit animals in circus acts. This month the Italian Parliament adopted legislation to phase out animals in traveling shows and circuses, according to Animal Defenders International (ADI). It’s a big move, as there are an estimated 100 circuses with 2,000 animals in Italy . Italy became the 41st country to pass measures prohibiting animals in circuses. ADI said on their Facebook page that Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini promoted the legislation to phase out animals in circuses. Related: America’s largest animal circus closes after 146 years ADI president Jan Creamer said in a statement, “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals. Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty.” It’s not yet clear how Italy’s phase-out will play out; ADI said within a year, Italy will outline how the law will be implemented through a ministerial decree. It’s not yet known how long circuses will have to phase animals out of their shows. ZME Science highlighted some of the issues with animals performing in circuses, pointing to an investigation from researchers at Wageningen University. They found 71 percent of observed animals were experiencing medical issues, and 33 percent of lions and tigers didn’t have access to an outdoor enclosure. They said circus lions spent 98 percent of their time inside on average. Elephants spent 17 hours a day shackled on average, and tigers – though scared of fire – were often forced to jump through flaming hoops. Ireland also stood up for animal rights recently , with a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses that will take effect on January 1, 2018. Via Animal Defenders International ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via Wikimedia Commons and ~Pawsitive~Candie_N on Flickr

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Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

Italy seeks to phase out coal power plants by 2025

October 25, 2017 by  
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Nation by nation, Europe is going green. The latest country to prove its commitment to sustainable solutions is Italy . On Tuesday, the Italian Industry Minister announced that by 2025, the country plans to phase out coal power plants. Additionally, the country plans to meet 27 percent of “gross overall energy consumption” with renewable sources by the year 2030. During a parliamentary hearing, Minister Carlo Calenda asked the national grid company to identify the infrastructure needed to make the transition. Shortly after, the country’s biggest utility, Enel, said it will not invest in new coal-fired power plants. Unlike other countries in Europe, Italy’s renewable sector is constantly growing. In 2015, for instance, renewable energy sources generated just under 38 percent of the country’s electricity. Hydro-electrical plants remain the biggest contributor (15.5 percent), and solar and wind sources have reached nearly 13 percent, according to ZME Science. The country has no nuclear plants, as they were banned through a referendum in 1987 . Related: Supervolcano in Italy is “becoming more dangerous” as magma builds beneath the surface Chris Littlecott, who heads a fossil fuel transition program at think tank E3G , applauded the development. “Italy’s positive commitment to phase out coal by 2025 demonstrates real international leadership as it completes its year holding the G7 Presidency,” he said in a statement. “Italy now joins its G7 peers in Canada, France, and the UK in taking action to phase out coal power generation over the next decade. Together, they can lead a growing coalition of countries and regions that are now acting on coal,” he said. Though this development is commendable, nothing has been confirmed just yet. The strategy should receive governmental and parliamentary approval at the beginning of November. If it passes, the measure will also speed up the introduction of vehicles powered by alternative fuels , and it will raise the number of EV charging stations to 19,000 by 2020. Via ZME Science Images via Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay

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