Minnesota to implement low- and zero-emission clean vehicle standards

September 27, 2019 by  
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In a move that would make both hybrid and electric car manufacturers see dollar signs, Minnesota announced a new proposal that will require auto manufacturers that sell within the state to deliver more hybrid cars and electric vehicles (EVs) to comply with its new low- and zero-emission initiative. The measure places the Gopher State alongside 13 other states that have implemented clean vehicle emissions standards. The standards will take a minimum of 18 months for roll-out, due to the rule-making process set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).  Thus, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is expected to see more hybrid and electric cars in sales lots starting around the 2023 model year. This roll-out will also allow time for the state to beef up its investments in more public electric-charging stations, while similarly brokering anticipated alternative energy deals with the likes of none other than Tesla, as the latter ramps up its nationwide plant acquisition plans. Related: This calculator tracks the carbon emissions of your travels Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety currently reports that residents of Minnesota, on average, prefer large pickup trucks, followed by SUVs. Broad capacity recreational vehicles ( RVs ) are also a Minnesota favorite. Minnesotan loyalty to pickup trucks, SUVs and RVs could make the shift to relatively compact EVs challenging. However, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy does offer EV tax credits and incentives that Minnesotans and other U.S. denizens can take advantage of. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gives a tax credit “for $2,500 to $7,500 per new EV purchased for use in the U.S.” The tax credit varies depending on the vehicle and its battery capacity, but the incentive is a way to shift more consumers to EVs. The tax credit is “available until 200,000 qualified EVs have been sold in the United States by each manufacturer, at which point the credit begins to phase out for that manufacturer. Currently, no manufacturers have been phased out yet.” You can learn more about the tax credit here . Via Consumer Reports Image via MN Administration

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Repurposed coffee grounds provide sustainable clothing pigment alternative

September 27, 2019 by  
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Scientists from Iowa State University (ISU) recently unveiled a natural alternative to synthetic clothing pigment. This natural alternative is sourced from brewed coffee grounds. The research team , spearheaded by ISU Assistant Professor Chunhui Xiang and graduate student Changhyun “Lyon” Nam, found a possible alternative via repurposed coffee grounds. Rather than adding to landfill density and single-use waste, brewed coffee grounds can instead be transformed into another high-value resource. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Brewed coffee grounds are feasible because 100 million Americans drink coffee daily, meaning there is an adequate supply of coffee grounds that can be upcycled and diverted away from landfills. Shades of brown can be extracted from the coffee grounds, then bound to various textiles and fabrics. Of course, there remain the quandaries of fading and of replicating consistent hues. While the use of pigment fixative helps to bind the color to the fabric and reduce fading, producing consistent hues that can match a template proves to be more complex. More research is required before repurposed coffee grounds can be ready for mass-production of pigments.  “One disadvantage is that it’s hard to measure the quantity needed to get the same color,” Xiang explained. “There may be a difference in the type of beans, or maybe the coffee was brewed twice. Creating an exact match is a challenge, especially for manufacturers.” However, Xiang asserted that hue consistency can be overcome by changing consumer attitudes. If consumers are able to reframe their interests so that they accept the uniqueness of colors rather than demand their consistency, then repurposed coffee grounds, as a sustainable source, can be a worthwhile commercial venture. Historically, textile hues were originally sourced from plants and minerals.  But industrialization forced the textile sector to turn to synthetics, because laboratories could produce them at cheaper cost. Over time, these synthetics have become less and less environmentally friendly. Because the textile industry utilizes upward of 2 million tons of chemicals for its synthetic pigments, there has been a growing movement in today’s society to find more sustainable sources, such as repurposed coffee grounds. + Taylor and Francis Online Via Phys.org Image via Couleur

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Repurposed coffee grounds provide sustainable clothing pigment alternative

Architect designs solar-powered research center to save dying Lake Chad

May 22, 2017 by  
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Lake Chad in Africa spanned over 770,000 square miles in 50,000 B.C., according to Cameroon -based architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates (HKA). But over the centuries it has shrunk, dwindling to a mere 1,544 square miles in 2001. HKA hopes to use architecture to jumpstart regeneration of the dying lake in the form of a desalination and research center called The Forgotten – Dead or Alive. The center would begin a process that would eventually be handed over to nature . The first humans made their home near Lake Chad, according to HKA, but this body of water is in danger of disappearing forever. It could die out in this century if no steps are taken to preserve it. Lake Chad – bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and Niger – is vital to the health of the region; HKA says its disappearance would impact over nine million people nearby, and indirectly, 30 million people in the region. Related: Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation So they designed a center to help keep the lake alive. The self-sufficient Limnology Center would offer a location for researchers to study Lake Chad and the surrounding region. A desalination center onsite would actually connect the lake to the Atlantic Ocean via pipelines , which would transport water from the ocean. The desalination center would treat the saltwater so it could be reused as fresh water to help restore Lake Chad and provide a source of water for people in the region. HKA designed the center to have an amphibian-like form to blend in with the lake surroundings. They envision three stages to help revitalize the lake, beginning with the center and then slowly transitioning the job over to nature. Construction of the pipelines and lake research would take place between 2016 and 2026. In 2020 trees and vegetation will be planted around the lake. The greenery will eventually take over the job of regeneration; in 2080 pipelines will stop bringing in Atlantic Ocean water as natural regeneration takes over thanks to a thriving woodland. + Hermann Kamte & Associates Images courtesy of Hermann Kamte & Associates

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Architect designs solar-powered research center to save dying Lake Chad

Plants use sound to find water and survive, new research shows

May 22, 2017 by  
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Many people believe that playing music to plants makes them grow better , but scientists would say that’s absurd. New research from Australia might prove them wrong though. Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia, found that plants utilize the sounds of nature , from the buzzing of an insect to the sound of liquid rushing through a pipe, to find water and survive. In her recent study , Gagliano placed pea seedlings in a pot in the shape of an upside-down Y. Scientific American reports , “One arm of each pot was placed in either a tray of water or a coiled plastic tube through which water flowed; the other arm had only soil. The roots grew toward the arm of the pipe with the fluid, regardless of whether it was easily accessible or hidden inside the tubing.” According to Gagliano, the plants “just knew the water was there,” even though they could only detect the sound of the water flowing inside the pipe. When the seedlings were given a choice between the flowing tube and soil that was moistened, their roots chose the latter, however. The lead scientist says the plants use sound waves to detect water from far away, but follow moisture gradients to move in on their target when it is within reach. Related: Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air Gagliano’s discovery was published in the May 2017 issue of Oecologia, an international peer-reviewed journal. In the paper, titled “ Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water ,” she writes: Because water is essential to life, organisms have evolved a wide range of strategies to cope with water limitations, including actively searching for their preferred moisture levels to avoid dehydration . Plants use moisture gradients to direct their roots through the soil once a water source is detected, but how they first detect the source is unknown. We found that roots were able to locate a water source by sensing the vibrations generated by water moving inside pipes, even in the absence of substrate moisture. She added, “Our results also showed that the presence of noise affected the abilities of roots to perceive and respond correctly to the surrounding soundscape.” Considering the phenomena of “buzz pollination,” in which the sound of bees buzzing at a certain frequency stimulates the release of pollen in plants, has already been validated, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to propose that plants rely on sound vibrations to find water and thrive. Gagliano elaborates on her findings in the video below: Via Scientific American Images via Pixabay

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Plants use sound to find water and survive, new research shows

Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

August 23, 2016 by  
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Australian researchers are warning of a new, invasive threat to the continent’s native wildlife: goldfish that were abandoned by their owners and released into the wild. Most of us think of goldfish as a small and harmless species, but apparently Western Australia’s rivers contain just the right conditions to allow the fish to grow into two kilo monsters that wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. There are a number of reasons why these fish pose such an environmental hazard. For one, they tend to eat the eggs of native species. But even when they aren’t directly affecting the reproduction of other fish, they’re releasing a nutrient-rich waste into the water column which creates dangerous algae blooms . They’re also carriers of nasty diseases that don’t naturally occur in Australia’s waters. Related: Great Barrier Reef tourist pollution may be causing turtle-specific herpes outbreak It’s believed that pet owners who dump unwanted fish in local waterways are to blame. The practice is called “aquarium dumping.” Once they are released into the water, they breed at a rapid rate, taking over the area. Because they can travel quite far, up to 230 kilometers per year, they’re incredibly difficult to eradicate. In fact, scientists from Murdoch University are calling them “one of the world’s worst invasive aquatic species.” This isn’t the first time pet goldfish have caused an ecological crisis. In 2013, researchers at Lake Tahoe in the US found abandoned goldfish that had grown over and foot and a half long terrorizing the waters. Via Gizmodo Images via Murdoch University

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Monstrous goldfish found in Australian rivers were released as pets

Building sustainable systems, one farm at a time

July 20, 2016 by  
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Stories of sustainability success in the field from Land O’ Lakes.

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Building sustainable systems, one farm at a time

The rise of results-based climate finance

July 20, 2016 by  
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To meet the Paris Agreement’s target, “simplicity, certainty” and public-private partnerships matter.

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Acid Rain is Turning Canada’s Lakes Into Jelly

November 20, 2014 by  
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You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that acid rain is a monumental problem, but these days, the consequences of industrialization are beyond anything we could have imagined. Witness Canada’s jelly lakes: thanks to acid rain, several of Canada’s water bodies are now turning into a gelatinous mess. Read the rest of Acid Rain is Turning Canada’s Lakes Into Jelly Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: acid rain , Acid Rain Canada , Acid Rain US , calcium plankton , Cambridge University , Canada gelatinous lakes , Canada jelly lakes , Canada Jelly water , Canada lakes , Climate Change , climate change acid rain , environmental study , gelatinous lakes , gelatinous plankton , jelly plankton

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Meixi Lake City: Kohn Pedersen Fox Designs a Water-Centric Pop-Up City for China

December 18, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Meixi Lake City: Kohn Pedersen Fox Designs a Water-Centric Pop-Up City for China Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: canals , china , city planning , KPF , lakes , master plan , Meixi Lake , pop-up , urban planning

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Meixi Lake City: Kohn Pedersen Fox Designs a Water-Centric Pop-Up City for China

Now There’s Microplastic Pollution in the Great Lakes Too

November 29, 2012 by  
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Plastic pollution on Bicaz Lake in Romania for illustrative purposes only, Shutterstock Swirling plastic pools as large as countries have long collected in our oceans , but now researchers have found that the Great Lakes face a similar problem, Discovery reports. While on a recent outing with students, environmental chemist Sherri Mason wondered whether plastic might be floating in the world’s largest freshwater system, so she and other researchers returned with a large trawl and a mesh net that traps anything larger than one third of a millimeter. They took 21 samples from Lakes Superior, Erie and Huron, which revealed that in some places there are up to 650,000 bits of plastic in a square kilometer. Read the rest of Now There’s Microplastic Pollution in the Great Lakes Too Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Environment , Erie , Food Chain , great lakes , Gyres , Huron , Lake Superior , Microplastic , News , plastic pollution , science , Sherri Mason , SUNY Fredonia , united states

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