Venezuela’s last remaining glacier is melting away

December 6, 2017 by  
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Venezuela’s last remaining glacier will be completely gone within the next 10 to 20 years. Until as recently as 1991, five glaciers were found in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida mountain range in Venezuela . As climate change has accelerated, so too has the meltdown. Named for the nearby Pico Humboldt, Venezuela’s second highest peak at over 16,000 feet, the Humboldt Glacier is one-tenth of the size it was three decades ago. Scientists hope to study the glacial disappearing act so as to learn more about what other communities might expect in a warming world. “This is a tragedy that should be highlighted as one more consequence of irresponsible behavior in energy-intense economies,” said Walter Vergara, a forest and climate specialist at Global Restoration Initiative in Latin America , according to GlacierHub . Unfortunately, Venezuela’s current political and economic crises make an international scientific study very difficult. The Humboldt glacier was last studied by an international team in 2015. Even then, the data was limited; a research team from Westfield State University in Massachusetts was only able to conduct a GPS survey and gather basic observations. While some data, such as measurements of ice coverage and reflection of solar radiation, can be studied using satellites, they would be more accurate if more researchers were able to spend time at Humboldt. Related: Venezuelans are getting Fridays off to battle an energy crisis It is often difficult for Venezuelan scientists to find success at home due to the economic and political crises that has gripped their country in recent years. Despite the challenges, Venezuela is not without its environmental heroes.  “Venezuela’s Minister for Environment, Ramón Velásquez-Araguayán, is a smart and capable climate scientist who is very sensitive to climate change issues and environmental conservation ,” Ángel G. Muñoz, a postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, and Princeton University, told GlaicerHub. Still, it is likely that Venezuela will soon become the first country to lose all of its glaciers . Sadly, it is not likely to be the last. Via GlacierHub Images via Wikimedia and Serge Saint/Flickr

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Venezuela’s last remaining glacier is melting away

Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana

December 6, 2017 by  
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You might not think a cabana could outshine a glistening blue pool—especially in the Texan heat—but this Pool House in Texas’ City of West Lake Hills is a scene-stealer. Murray Legge Architecture designed this dwelling topped with a flourishing wildflower green roof in a project that’s so beautiful we can’t help but wonder what the main residence looks like. The pool house project was also designed to minimize impervious surfaces and aid in management of stormwater runoff. A modernist beauty, the City of West Lake Hills Pool House and the surrounding area emphasize clean lines, steel framing, and glass. Light-colored stone stairs leading down to the pool are raised off the slope to allow water to pass through, while grasses grow in the space between treads. An innovative suspended and permeable stone terrace system surrounds the L-shaped pool. Stone also makes up much of the Pool House and are stacked in large blocks to give the exterior a beautifully textured appearance. Glazing wraps around the front of the building and opens up to create an indoor-outdoor dining area complemented by an outdoor wood stove and high-end residential kitchen. Timber is featured prominently in the Pool House, where it lines the interiors and is used for furnishing. The vaulted roof arches upwards, echoing the surrounding canyon hills, and gives the structure a more airy feel. Related: 42mm Architecture’s sculptural Pool House in India is wrapped in a curved concrete shell “Impervious cover and storm water run-off regulations within the city are very restrictive,” wrote the architects. “The City of West Lake Hills granted a variance to allow the construction of a garden roof and accepted it as permeable cover through a variance process. This variance was a first for the City of West Lake Hills and points to the city’s progressive environmental policies.” The architects also added that they stacked much of the project’s equipment and programs beneath the green roof to minimize impervious surfaces. + Murray Legge Architecture Images by Ryann Ford, Murray Legge, Whit Preston

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Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana

SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

September 14, 2017 by  
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The game-changing power of solar energy is a gift to all of the global community. Nations of the world, having recognized the absolute necessity to do so, are slowly shifting towards a clean energy economy while reaping the benefits. These benefits are being particularly felt in the developing economies of the Global South , where communities are making the transition from no electricity access to resilient, local power through solar energy. SOLARKIOSK, a Berlin-based social enterprise, is supporting this movement and empowering local communities by installing innovative multi-purpose structures called E-HUBBs that are powered by the sun and operated by members of the communities they serve. SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge – read on for a closer look at this world-changing initiative. Although similar in appearance to shipping container homes , the E-HUBB is emphatically much more – it’s “an energy-connectivity gateway.” With the energy generated through its solar panels, a single E-HUBB can provide power for phone and computer charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an LED TV, a refrigerator, a printer, interior and exterior lighting, and more. It also offers a display area and storage space, solar products and sustainable consumer goods. “SOLARKIOSK is continuously working on the design of the E-HUBB, in order to make it more efficient in terms of maintenance, implementation and transportation,” said Marija Makejeva, Business Development Manager at SOLARKIOSK. “Over time, the design has evolved across 3 different E-HUBB models from an aluminum to a steel structure, which is more cost-efficient and easier to source. Solar components and remote metering options have also undergone significant improvement as technology has evolved.” Related: Compact OffGridBox provides drinking water and power where it’s needed most E-HUBBs have proven their versatility by serving the needs of different communities. A last-mile distribution retail E-HUBB brings underserved populations much needed products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also a Connected Solar Clinic operated by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, a banking kiosk that offers financial tools to off-grid populations in Nigeria , and a solar school unit for the displaced population at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan . In addition to the tangible impacts of power generation, commercial empowerment, and more, the E-HUBB also has the ability to positively impact and inspire younger generations who will one day inherit these changing communities. “The fascination always surfaces in the eyes of the kids as they gaze upon the site clearly delighted by the atmosphere emitted by SOLARKIOSK,” reads a statement by the company. “Being accepted and loved by the children is a great reassurance for our work directive and personal initiative; a true blessing.” Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty Each E-HUBB is uniquely fitted for the local community’s needs and is operated by members of the community, ninety percent of whom are women . “SOLARKIOSK sees great value in empowering women through job creation within the network of E-HUBBs,” said Makejeva. For its success in supporting localized community development, SOLARKIOSK has been nominated for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. “The Fuller Challenge was established to draw attention to a ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing some of the complex problems facing the world,” said Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Fuller’s hypothesis was that integrated solutions that focus on root cause, and are designed to be models for replication elsewhere, lead to long lasting, transformational change.” The prize winner receives $100,000 in funding as well as inclusion in the Challenge’s Catalyst Program, which offers support in expanding the winner’s work. “Our criteria have been distilled from Fuller’s voluminous writings and talks about the fundamental principles of what he called design science,” said Thompson. “The program set a very high bar for what we are looking for, so the projects selected as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are truly exceptional examples!” If it were to receive this award, SOLARKIOSK would be well-positioned to scale up its operations in the coming years. While the economic empowerment gained in a local community through the support of SOLARKIOSK is exceptional, the mission and impact is more than that. An E-HUBB is a center for the community, a gathering place around which people can share stories, build strong relationships, and find inspiration for a brighter future. + SOLARKIOSK + Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

Chile introduces world’s first metro to be powered largely by renewables

May 26, 2016 by  
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Public transportation offers a sustainable alternative to masses of individual automobiles, yet many systems still run on unsustainable power sources. With around 2.2 million people riding the Metro de Santiago every day, Chile requires a great deal of energy to keep people moving. President Michelle Bachelet recently announced the country’s mass transit system will soon be almost entirely powered by wind and solar energy, resulting in a slew of environmental benefits. This is an exciting step for South America’s second largest subway system in terms of length. Chile’s Metro de Santiago will receive 42 percent energy from solar power and 18 percent from wind power . The country’s step towards renewables highlights its commitment to clean energy that does not harm the environment or people, according to President Bachelet . She announced the news at a future metro station currently under construction. California solar company SunPower is building the solar plant that will generate the solar power, and Brazilian company Latin America Power owns the wind project also worked on by Spanish company Elecnor that will provide wind power. Related: Uganda to launch its first solar-powered bus this month SunPower expects their solar plant to be finished in 2017. According to the company , Metro de Santiago “will become the first public transportation system in the world to run mostly on solar energy.” In a statement, SunPower’s Executive Vice President of Power Plants Eduardo Medina said, “Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the country’s high solar resource and transparent energy policies.” Chile will make the switch to renewables in 2018 when the solar and wind plants are operational. The projects will provide Metro de Santiago with renewable energy for 15 years. According to President Bachelet , not only will passengers be able to travel swiftly and safely, they will be able to get around in a way that “cares for the planet, reduces our carbon footprint , and makes possible a sustainable future for all.” Via Quartz Images via Wikimedia Commons and SunPower Corp.

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Texan resident contracts Zika virus through sexual activity

February 3, 2016 by  
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An unsettling discovery was made in Texas this week when a patient was found to have contracted the Zika virus through sexual activity – not a mosquito bite. The infection that has been sweeping its way through Latin America was thought to only be transmitted through specific mosquito species’ bites, yet this new finding changes everything. Read the rest of Texan resident contracts Zika virus through sexual activity

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Texan resident contracts Zika virus through sexual activity

Zika virus epidemic points to “dystopian future” says Bill McKibben

January 27, 2016 by  
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As the Zika virus continues to spread in Latin American countries, some US residents are worried about the havoc an epidemic could wreak in the States and on the global economy as a whole. The infection’s insidious symptoms and the difficulties in controlling mosquito breeding grounds foreshadow a dystopian future of class segregation and human population control, according to the renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben. Could it really be that bad? Read the rest of Zika virus epidemic points to “dystopian future” says Bill McKibben

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Zika virus epidemic points to “dystopian future” says Bill McKibben

Bolivia’s second largest lake has completely dried up

January 15, 2016 by  
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Last month, Lake Poopó, a saltwater lake high in the Andes mountains, disappeared off the face of the map . In the 1990s the lake held at least 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of water. While the water levels sometimes fluctuated due to drought or seasonal conditions, it never lasted for long.  But climate change has led to more and more years without rain, and the lake gradually continued to shrink. Read the rest of Bolivia’s second largest lake has completely dried up

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Bolivia’s second largest lake has completely dried up

Iluméxico is bringing life-changing solar energy to 50,000 rural Mexican homes

September 9, 2015 by  
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More than 3 million people in Mexico live in remote locations which makes bringing them traditional electricity difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible. Iluméxico , a Mexican social enterprise, plans to bring solar electricity to 300,000 of these people – that’s around 50,000 homes – by 2020. Iluméxico has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) to commit to the new solar projects, which will also create 180 new jobs, 90 of which are designated for women and 70 of which will be located in rural areas. Read the rest of Iluméxico is bringing life-changing solar energy to 50,000 rural Mexican homes

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Chilli Island is half lounge chair and half watercraft for awesome fun on the water

September 9, 2015 by  
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Summer’s officially gone, so we’re a little sad that we just found out about Chilli Island. It sounds like a cool place to visit but it’s actually a thing that could take your warm weather vacation to the next level of awesome. Chilli Island is the fusion of a floating lounge chair and an electric watercraft , put together in such a way to make all your summertime dreams come true. Let’s be clear about one thing: this is not your mother’s inflatable pool chair. Read the rest of Chilli Island is half lounge chair and half watercraft for awesome fun on the water

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Antony Gibbon unveils a new light-filled treehouse designed for the ground

September 9, 2015 by  
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Everything that comes from the studio of treehouse-master Antony Gibbon is fresh and stunning. And his latest design is no different. Called Inhabit Ground, the open-plan woodland cabin is slightly different than his previous Inhabit Treehouse, since it was designed to rest on the ground, yet maintains an intimate connection with the surrounding forest. Its symmetrical form affords a room on either side while the glazed central area allows natural light to flood the interiors. Read the rest of Antony Gibbon unveils a new light-filled treehouse designed for the ground

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