United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade

May 30, 2018 by  
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United Kingdom Secretary of the Environment Michael Gove has introduced a bill to Parliament that would ban the purchase, sale, possession for sale and international trade of ivory . Though the bill contains several exceptions for ivory found in museums, musical instruments and some antiques, it would be one of the most comprehensive ivory bans of any country. The United Kingdom is the largest legal ivory exporter and the bill, if passed into law, would certainly put a dent in this lucrative trade. While environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have praised the bill , they also have identified weak points within it, such as the potential for the exemptions clause to become a widely-used loophole. The NRDC also urges the bill to require those who benefit from the exemption to provide more detailed documentation. The bill will be submitted again on June 6th for what is known as the “second reading,” during which members of Parliament will be able to make amendments to the bill. Then, the bill will be sent to committee, then return to the floor of the House of Commons for a final vote. The NRDC and other organizations are expected to engage with the crafting of the bill as it moves through the process. Related: The world’s largest ivory market just banned ivory According to the BBC , Gove said that the successful adoption of the bill would “reaffirm the U.K.’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.” He continued, “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.” Those who break the law could face jail time of up to five years or an unlimited fine. This is not the first instance of British leadership on curbing the ivory trade. “Since the U.K. government held the Illegal Wildlife Conference in 2014, the U.S. and China have both enacted bans on their domestic ivory trade, so the U.K. doing this now is extraordinarily important,” Stop Ivory founder Alexander Rhodes told the BBC . “The EU on the other hand has been very resistant — I am hopeful that the U.K.’s strong position will lead to change.” Via NRDC and BBC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade

"Once-in-a-1000-years" flood batters Maryland town for the second time in two years

May 30, 2018 by  
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Ellicott City, Maryland was devastated in 2016 by a flash flood — the type of event that many people said happens only once in a lifetime. But now, disastrous flooding is happening again. More than 300 residents have been evacuated, and on Sunday afternoon, there were over 1,000 calls to 911. This is a second video from my sister on #EllicotCity Main Street. This is as high, if not higher than 2 years ago. She is safe for now, no idea if everyone made it out of the 1st floors. @WJZDevin @wjz @FOXBaltimore @CairnsKcairns @wbaltv11 @weatherchannel : video via Kali Harris pic.twitter.com/KOQUH0aBwp — Jeremy Harris (@JeremyHarrisTV) May 27, 2018 Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and said, “They say this is a once-every-thousand-years flood, and we’ve had two of them in two years.” Seven to nine inches of rain poured down on Ellicott City, about 10 miles west of Baltimore. Main Street transformed into a rushing, muddy river. Cars were swept down the street like toys.  Army National Guardsman Eddison Hermond died after trying to help a woman and her cat. pic.twitter.com/9XifLkyTK6 — Zachary Landow (@zrlandow) May 27, 2018 Related: California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms Slate reported Ellicott City is a 250-year-old river town that’s been hit with flooding in the past. But the 2016 flash flood and this recent one have been different than previous floods. Typically, the Patapsco River rises and causes flooding. With these flash floods, the Tiber and Hudson tributaries — one of which runs beneath Main Street — overflowed, according to a 2016 Baltimore Sun investigation . Water is back up, and more rain coming our way. pic.twitter.com/RCMjcIkPFn — Libby Solomon (@libsolomon) May 27, 2018 University of Maryland Baltimore County geography professor Jeffrey Halverson told NPR  that the rain storms in this region have been getting more intense recently, and the flooding is connected to changes in the area’s land surface. Halverson said, “[Ellicott City] is heavily paved, there’s lots of narrow streets that act as very rapid conduits of water — so the [2016] flood was as much about the nature of the underlying land surface as it was the large amount of rain falling from the sky.” This is partly how Ellicott City flooding gets so bad. The water takes cars, dumpsters and other pieces of debris, smashes them into storm culverts, the culverts get blocked, and the water coming behind has no where to go and overflows in all directions. pic.twitter.com/N2WwJeyFzA — Kevin Rector (@RectorSun) May 28, 2018 “There are a lot of people whose lives are going to be devastated again, and they’ve been working so hard to come back,” Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said. “I couldn’t imagine what they went through two years ago, and now it’s even worse.” Via Slate , NPR , The Baltimore Sun ( 1 ,  2 ) and CNN Image via MarylandGov Pics and Preservation Maryland

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"Once-in-a-1000-years" flood batters Maryland town for the second time in two years

This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

May 30, 2018 by  
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Did you know that indoor air pollution can be as bad as or worse than outdoor air pollution? From off-gassing chemicals in paints to mold and dust, the contaminated air inside our homes and offices negatively impacts our health and can lead to fatigue and dizziness, or even respiratory diseases in the long-term. Fortunately, air purification technology has improved in recent years to offer easy and affordable ways to combat indoor air pollutants. Read on to see our review of one such product, the Luft Qi , an on-the-go and filter-free air purifier billed as the smallest of its kind in the world. About Luft Qi Developed by Taiwanese company Titus & Wayne, the Luft Qi air purifier is described as the “first compact air purifier using nanotechnology.” The air purifier uses a method called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), a technology originally invented by NASA to prevent food spoilage — for instance, by removing bacteria in meat or pesticides from fruits and vegetables — and has since been applied to air purification. Here’s how it works: broad-spectrum ultraviolet light — Luft Qi uses UV-A LEDs  — is combined with a tungsten oxide modified titanium oxide (TiO2) filter to create highly reactive oxidizers that break down harmful molecular-sized and microbial pollutants. Luft Qi isn’t the first to use PCO technology for air purification; followers of Ellen DeGeneres might remember her shout-out to the Airocide PCO air purifiers on her show in 2013. Advantages of Luft Qi Unlike Airocide, however, Luft Qi is much smaller and more compact. Made of aluminum , the soda can-shaped device only weighs 160 grams and its modern design, available in six different colors, means it probably won’t clash with your existing setup. Moreover, since Luft Qi only uses PCO, the device is conveniently filter-free, meaning that you’ll never need to buy or replace the filter. When plugged in, Luft Qi will gently draw air in through its perforated base, where pollutants are then broken down through photocatalytic oxidation. The purified air is then pushed through the top, with carbon dioxide and water molecules as byproducts. PCO technology has also proven effective at removing ultra fine particulates, airborne mold spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and exhaust fumes. Luft Qi is designed for on-the-go convenience and comes with a standard 3.3-foot-long USB-C to USB-A cable that can plug into a laptop or any USB port adapter outlet. The startup says that the device can be safely used 24 hours a day and attribute its minimal electricity demands of 2.5W to an energy-efficient design. The air purifier uses a hidden brushless fan — the same as those used for computer servers — with a measurable noise level of around 25 decibels, which isn’t very quiet, but isn’t loud enough to be distracting either; it is quieter than most air purifiers. Luft Qi is estimated to last at least 4.5 years without replacement. Disadvantages of Luft Qi Despite Luft Qi’s many benefits, there are several downsides to the product. Firstly, since Luft Qi only uses PCO technology instead of filters, the device cannot remove larger particulates like traditional devices with HEPA filters can. This means Luft Qi will not eliminate pollen, dust, dust mites or pet dander, which are among the major contributors to poor indoor air quality and allergies. Due to its small size, Luft Qi also requires a long time to achieve desirable results and is best used in contained rooms such as bedrooms or car interiors. And while Luft Qi does eliminate odors, it also does so at a fairly slow rate; carbon filters are a better choice for odor removal. Moreover, PCO technology produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct. While the amount produced is likely small, those who want to keep Luft Qi turned on 24 hours a day will need to introduce adequate ventilation. Speaking of constant use, Luft Qi’s PCO technology also has its drawbacks for those hoping to sleep with it plugged in at night. While the constant fan noise can be dismissed as white noise, the device’s bright blue light can be distracting in an otherwise dark room. Putting Luft Qi on the ground isn’t a good option either; the air purifier should be elevated above the floor since it relies on the surrounding environment’s air circulation to work optimally. Should You Buy Luft Qi? Overall, Luft Qi isn’t the best air purifier given its small size and the limitations of PCO technology. If you really want to get rid of indoor air pollution, it’s best to use PCO technology in conjunction with air purifiers with filters. Luft Qi’s relatively steep price may also put buyers off. However, if you’re mainly interested in removing VOCs, microbial pollutants, odors and mold spores in small, contained environments, Luft Qi is a good choice. This particularly holds true in small offices or rooms in tropical and humid environments where mold is an ever-present concern, like Taiwan, where the Luft Qi startup is based. Furthermore, the product is nicely designed, well-constructed and doesn’t become hot to the touch. Titus & Wayne launched Luft Qi on Indiegogo in a successful crowdfunding campaign that’s since raised more than $215,000. From now until mid-June, Luft Qi is available for $99 , not including shipping, in an early-bird special with an estimated delivery in July 2018. The product’s regular retail price is $169. + Luft Qi Images via Luft Qi

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This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

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