Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence

September 8, 2017 by  
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70 years after the iconic big cats went extinct in the country, wild tigers are being reintroduced to Kazakhstan. In the past, tiger reintroduction projects in other locations, such as nature reserves in India , have been implemented in areas where tigers still live – albeit in severely diminished populations. It will be several years before the WWF-supported project is ready on the ground, as the landscape is modified and prey animals are also reintroduced. The first wild tigers are expected to arrive in 2025. If this project proves successful, it would stand as the first instance in which wild tigers have been revitalized in a region from which they had gone extinct for nearly a century. Although tigers once inhabited a vast area that included most of Asia, they have lost 90 percent of their historic range and have become isolated in scattered populations throughout the continent. Between 1900 and 2017, the global wild tiger population fell from 100,000 to 3,900. In Kazakhstan , poaching and encroaching human development have impacted both tigers and their native prey, such as the  kulkan , or wild donkey, and bactrian deer. Reintroducing these animals is only one part of the process. “[Preparing for the tiger reintroduction] means tackling poaching and illegal activities, having well-trained and equipped rangers, thriving prey populations and engaged local communities,” said Ekaterina Vorobyeva, the director of WWF-Russia’s Central Asia program. Related: China approves massive new park for endangered leopards and tigers The tiger reintroduction project, which is set to operate in the Ili-Balhash region, is also an exercise in international cooperation. “Thanks to years of close collaboration between Kazakhstan and Russian conservation experts, we have now identified the best possible territory in Ili-Balkhash for the restoration of a thriving wild tiger population,” said Igor Chestin, the director of WWF-Russia. “Our continued cooperation will be key in the successful creation of a new reserve, the restoration of rare native species and, in a few years’ time, achieving an unprecedented trans-boundary relocation of wild tigers to central Asia .” Via The Guardian Lead image via Depositphotos , others via Dmitry Teslya , Neil Turner , and  Torekhan Sarmanov

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Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence

New York City is now offering free lunch at all public schools

September 8, 2017 by  
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Good riddance “lunch shaming” — the practice of holding children accountable for school lunch bills. Starting this school year in New York City, all 1.1 million students who attend public schools will receive their lunches for free. The move has been long sought after by food policy advocates, as 75 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunches. Now an additional 200,000 kids will benefit, saving their families approximately $300 per year. According to city officials, the program will not cost the city additional money since New York state changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits and matched them with schools their children attend. The city was then able to identify more students whose families receive those benefits. It made officials realize the whole city qualifies for a federal program that dishes out free lunches at schools. According to Carmen Fariña, the school’s chancellor, “This is about equity. All communities matter.” Fariña is one of many who thinks the practice of lunch shaming needs to stop. When a student’s account is in overdraft, oftentimes their food is thrown away in front of them and they are given a simple sandwich on white bread as a replacement. The practice is so embarrassing, many kids choose to go hungry rather than subject themselves to the humiliation. Related: 8 Organic School Lunches That Can Be Prepared The Night Before New York isn’t the first city to offer free lunch to all students. Other major cities that do the same include Boston , Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas. However, New York has far more children to feed than any of those cities, which is why this initiative is particularly applaudable. While breakfasts were already free to students at the city’s public schools, this latest development will ensure all students receive most of their daily recommended food intake. This is vital, considering 13 million children in the United States live in food insecure households. Via New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons , Pixnio

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New York City is now offering free lunch at all public schools

Recycled plastic paving company Platio installs first 3 solar systems

July 14, 2017 by  
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We’re so excited to announce that the Hungarian startup Platio , which designed a modular energy-harvesting paving system made with recycled plastic , has now installed their first three systems. Within a span of just two months, they developed projects in Hungary, Sweden, and Kazakhstan. And it’s not just sidewalks that now boast the solar pavers, but pontoons providing energy for ships, and benches where passerby can charge their smartphones. Platio is helping to shape the future of cities with their solar paving systems. One creative use of their technology can be found in Budapest , Hungary, at Városháza Park, where their solar system stretches across a wooden bench. The smart bench allows park-goers to power their phones or tablets with clean energy , using either a USB cord or QI wireless charging. Local design studio Hello Wood installed the park’s wavy wooden benches. Related: New recycled plastic sidewalk harvests energy from the sun Platio’s very first permanent installation was indeed constructed on a sidewalk, in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, in front of a mall in the new Green Quarter. Near the shopping entrance, around 861 square feet of the sidewalk is covered with Platio paving, offering a total peak output of 11.7 watts. The electricity will help power the mall. Strong, anti-slip glass tiles top the recycled plastic solar paving system. Two specialists were able to put together the mall installation in just a few days thanks to the modular design and a built-in electrical network. And it’s not just urban infrastructure that can benefit from Platio’s technology. The company partnered with engineering firm SF Marina to install the solar pavers on around 86 square feet of pontoons at SF Marina’s Swedish factory. The solar energy generated by the Platio systems will help power port facilities and ships. According to Platio, as recently as last year they only had a prototype of their technology, but they’ve now successfully installed it in the real word. The three Hungarian engineers who started Platio want to help make future cities sustainable and energy-independent . + Platio Images courtesy of Platio

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Recycled plastic paving company Platio installs first 3 solar systems

Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

April 12, 2017 by  
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London-based architect Asif Khan just unveiled plans for a mesmerizing building that explores the evolution of energy since the beginning of time. The massive cylindrical pavilion takes visitors on a computer-generated tour that starts with the origins of energy and ends with present-day sustainable energy production . The project will serve as the UK pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. Khan’s pavilion, We Are Energy, uses sound and animation to depict the creation of energy from the beginning of time. As visitors enter the 2,200 square-meter pavilion , a computer-generated simulation of the world is projected onto a 360-degree screen. At the center of the structure is an illuminated canopy – a nod to human ingenuity. Related: UN Studio pavilion in Amsterdam rises like a bioluminescent creature from the deep The architect worked in collaboration with Catherine Heymans, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh , to develop the scientific timeline of the presentation, which is broken up into four sections: the “expansion of the universe”, “human ingenuity, “landscape and nature” and “UK innovation”. Each section has its own specific soundscape composed by musician Brian Eno. The pavilion’s ethos fits in perfectly with the theme for the Astana Expo 2017, which is the “Future Energy.” Khan’s says that the pavilion seeks to promote the development of sustainable energy sources and technologies: “The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago. At that moment all energy and matter was in the same place at the same time. The idea that everything, including life on earth, is comprised of this archaic energy is fascinating to me.” “I wanted to find a way to express this relationship to our visitors and explore how energy is being continually harnessed and balanced around us,” he added. + Asif Khan Via Dezeen

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Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

Newly discovered Kazakhstan pyramid may be older than certain Egyptian pyramids

August 16, 2016 by  
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Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have made a discovery that could change history as we know it. They’ve found a pyramid they think could be even older than certain Egyptian pyramids . Archaeologist Viktor Novozhenov described the find as a ” sensational discovery .” Novozhenov says the pyramid, or mausoleum, located in the Sary-Arka steppes is similar to pyramids built nearby by the ancient Begazy-Dandybai culture around the 12th to 8th centuries BC. But he says the newly found pyramid could be even older than those, and may have been built during the Bronze Age . Related: Secret tunnel sealed 1,800 years ago offers clues to mysterious ancient city in Mexico He says the Kazakhstan pyramid is similar to the Pyramid of Djoser, built for Pharaoh Djoser in Egypt sometime between 2,700 BC and 2,601 BC. Both pyramids are “step pyramids,” which Yahoo! News says are the “world’s oldest man-made cut stone structures.” In a Facebook post , Novozhenov describes the new pyramid as a “magnificent funerary structure.” He is part of a group of archaeologists from Karagandy State University working under I.A. Kukushkina, according to his Facebook post. Novozhenov told Yahoo! News the group was going to “look inside the mausoleum this week.” He said any artifacts found would be given to the Karaganda Archaeological Museum. At this point there’s no firm date for the new Kazakhstan pyramid, but hopefully the archaeologists will be able to determine more information when they look inside. Via Yahoo! News Images via Viktor Novozhenov on Facebook and Dmitry Volodin on Facebook

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Newly discovered Kazakhstan pyramid may be older than certain Egyptian pyramids

Naturally-cooled Toronto home boasts a beautiful multi-level indoor garden

August 16, 2016 by  
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The house, designed as an infill residential project, occupies a corner lot in Toronto’s North York neighborhood. It seems to grow upwards with the development of the indoor garden that starts at the basement level. Strategically placed narrow windows protect the residents from outside views, while harvesting natural light throughout the day. By placing spaces that require a high level of privacy on the street level, and defining the courtyard on the lower level, the architects created a structure that protects its inhabitants from the city noise. Related: Gorgeous Green House is Wrapped in a Lush Vertical Garden in Belgium The house boosts several passive sustainable features. The architects ensured that the interior gets enough natural light, while retaining a sense of privacy. Any excessive heat is avoided by offsetting the large skylight on the top floor with a combination of openings that facilitate natural ventilation . + Alva Roy Architects Via v2com Photos by Tom Arban and Navid Aali

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Naturally-cooled Toronto home boasts a beautiful multi-level indoor garden

Paris climate deal update: North Korea ratification pushes GHG ticker over 1%

August 8, 2016 by  
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North Korea is the latest country to ratify the Paris climate agreement , becoming the 22nd nation to submit its ratification document to the United Nations. The recent ratification by the totalitarian state pushed the greenhouse gas emissions ticker of countries that have ratified the agreement to over one percent (1.09 percent). North Korea represents .23 percent of global GHG emissions, second to Cameroon among the ratifiers so far. The African nation, which ratified the agreement on July 29, represents .45 percent of global emissions. A total of 55 nations representing 55 percent of global emissions are needed for the agreement to enter into force . In accordance with Article 21 of the Paris agreement, the deal enters into force 30 days after the necessary amount of ratifications. The world’s top two emitters, the United States and China, have committed to ratifying the agreement by the end of the year. India, the number three emitter, has indicated it will work toward the goal of ratification. The United States represents 17.89 percent of global emissions, China represents 20.09 percent of global emissions and India represents 4.10 percent of global emissions. Together they would bring the ticker to 43.16 percent. Related: 14 Pacific island nations considering world’s first ban on fossil fuels The European Union and its 28 member states represent 12.08 percent of world emissions. The EU is expected to ratify . Other countries working on ratification soon include Canada (1.95 percent), Mexico (1.70 percent), Iceland (0.01 percent) and Brazil (2.48 percent). In addition to North Korea and Cameroon, the countries that have ratified so far include Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Norway, Palau, Peru, Samoa, Seychelles, Somalia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Palestine (the U.S., Israel and other countries do not recognize unilateral Palestinian statehood) and Tuvalu. Kazakhstan recently signed the Paris climate agreement , becoming the 180th signatory country. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with with Erlan Idrissov, foreign minister of Kazakhstan, at UN headquarters in New York to congratulate his country for signing the agreement. The World Resource Institute’s Paris Contributions Map allows users to track the number of ratifications and emissions percentage as well as the number of parties signed on to the agreement. + Paris Agreement Tracker Via Climate Action News Images via Flickr

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Paris climate deal update: North Korea ratification pushes GHG ticker over 1%

2017 BMW 740e turns BMW’s flagship sedan into a plug-in hybrid

August 8, 2016 by  
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With the recent introductions of the 3 Series and X5 plug-in hybrids, it was only a matter of time until BMW’s flagship sedan debuted with its own electrified powertrain. BMW has unveiled the 740e plug-in hybrid, which will be offered in three versions when it goes on sale later this year. With up to 30 miles of fully-electric driving range, the 740e plug-in hybrid may not be able to take on the Tesla Model S, but it represents a move in the right direction. When the 740e goes on sale, BMW is going to offer the large flagship sedan in three versions: BMW 740e iPerformance, long-wheelbase BMW 740Le iPerformance and BMW 740Le xDrive iPerformance. All three versions are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is mated to an electric motor to generate a total 326 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. The hybrid powertrain sends its power via an 8-speed automatic to either the rear or all four wheels. Depending on which model you choose, the 740e plug-in hybrid can travel between 25-30 miles in electric mode and it will take less than four hours to recharge from a domestic power socket and in under three hours from a BMW i Wallbox. Related: The 2017 BMW i3 gets an upgraded battery for 50% more driving range Just like BMW’s other electrified models, the 740e will offer different driving modes to suit the driver and improve the 740e’s efficiency. An eDrive button will allow the driver to choose between the Auto and Max drive settings. The Auto setting is the default setting that seeks to maximize range the 704e’s electric driving range by powering up the gasoline engine at 50 mph or if the driver floors it. With the Max setting, the 740e defaults to electric-only mode and can stay in this mode up to 87 mph. In the Max setting, the engine will still power up under spirited driving. There are other modes to control power usage: Adaptive, Comfort, Sport, and EcoPro. A Battery Control function allows the driver to force the 740e’s powertrain to maintain the battery charge anywhere between 30 and 100 percent that way electric power can be reserved. BMW hasn’t released all the pricing details for the 740e, but it’s expected to start around $90k, when it arrives in U.S. showrooms in the next month or two. + BMW All images @ BMW

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Soundproof Shell House provides unlimited peace and tranquility in Kazahkstan

June 7, 2016 by  
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The architects used a unique metal framework for the structure, ensuring that natural light penetrates the interior through large floor-to-ceiling windows . Dynamic aluminum panels can be closed using an electronic mechanism, thus completely isolating the house from its surroundings. This design element provides security for its occupants and soundproofs the interior. Related: A gigantic tree lives inside this gorgeous glass house in the mountains of Kazakhstan The aluminum panels are treated with white EIFS plaster, which thermally insulate the house. The interior features a large living room, kitchen, dining area, bedroom, bathroom and a relaxation room, with an upstairs guest bedroom accessible via a spiral staircase . Sigh. We wouldn’t mind a retreat here right about now. + Lenz Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Botagoz Nurgaliyeva

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Soundproof Shell House provides unlimited peace and tranquility in Kazahkstan

Heineken opens the world’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewery in Austria

June 7, 2016 by  
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Heineken ‘s brewing facility, which originally opened in 2003, is now powered completely by electricity from renewable and reusable sources , but the beer company didn’t stick to just one or two energy generation methods. The brewery draws power from solar, and hydropower, as well as biogas and waste heat from a neighboring saw mill. Key ingredients for the beer will be sourced locally whenever possible, reducing transportation energy in the supply chain in an effort to further shrink the company’s carbon footprint. Related: America’s favorite sustainable beers of 2012 In addition to its clean energy, the high-tech brewery has a few other fancy environmental tricks going for it. The facility also has systems in place to reduce waste energy and boost energy efficiency . Altogether, its operations will be able to reduce carbon emissions from approximately 3,000 tonnes a year to zero. “Through a combination of innovative technology, creative thinking and partnerships with our local community, we have turned a heritage brewery into the world’s first major zero carbon brewery,” said Andreas Werner, Brew Master at the Göss brewery. “Our Göss brewery may be in a small town but our goal was to make a big impact. I am proud of what we have achieved for the Heineken Company and want to help our other breweries, and the wider brewing industry, make renewable energy part of their energy mix, just as we have done.” The new zero carbon brewery is part of the company’s larger environmental goal. Heineken is aiming for a 40-percent reduction in global carbon emissions from production by 2020. The brewery has already won an EU Sustainable Energy Award in the Business category, and is also up for a ‘people’s choice’ award to be announced on June 14. + Heineken Images via Heineken

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