How to pull off a tech-free family vacation the whole family will enjoy

May 1, 2019 by  
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It’s a full-blown modern challenge to get through even an hour of the day without using technology. So considering a tech-free trip for the entire family may seem insurmountable. While we acknowledge that there will likely be some discomfort at times, we’re happy to report that it’s certainly attainable. Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction towards a tech-free family vacation. Preparations We are so accustomed to having technology at our fingertips that you might have to remind the people in your life that you will be checking out. Provide an alternate phone number, like that of the hotel, if necessary. Also let family and friends know you’ll be off-grid so they don’t wonder why you haven’t responded to their text. If you plan to cheat with an occasional phone-on check in, at least remove email push from your phone so you’re not tempted to scroll through. Create a meeting point Not all things about technology are bad, but you might not realize how much you rely on it so it’s important to think ahead. You won’t be able to simply throw out the, “Where are you?” text. If your group is going to be separated for any reason, make sure you have a plan for meeting up again. Divide and conquer in the grocery store and meet by the checkout, for example. If you’re at an amusement park, zoo or museum, pick a time and place to meet. Paper maps Nope, we’re not kidding. Generations of successful roadtrips have spawned from the use of paper maps so there’s no reason not to make them your go-to navigation guide. Plus, map reading is always a good skill to brush up on and is something you’ve likely never taught your kids how to do. Grab road maps for any area you’ll be traveling and pick up city maps and attraction maps when you reach your destination. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and that at the destination for information that you’re otherwise tempted to find on your phone. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Road games If you’re older than twenty, you likely remember playing games with your family on road trips that didn’t require a board, dice or cards. Contrary to current norms, family trips without DVD players, phones or iPads can still equal a good time. Teach your kids the art of identifying each letter of the alphabet on road signs. Play 20 questions or engage in Ispy. It’s also a good time to list those items for your next trip using the alphabet (I’m going on a camping trip and I’m taking…). For older children, start a story and pass the storyline along with each person contributing to the plot. For younger children, create a bag of surprises before your trip. Each 100 miles or when you cross state lines or once an hour, introduce a new activity. This can include small containers of finger dough, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles or toys (non-electronic of course!) Board games Often times, voids in activity lead to mindless swiping of the cell phones. Instead of engaging in online game play, engage with each other. Be sure to bring along board games for in-between activities at the hotel and smaller versions for the car rides. Handheld card games work well for this. Ask a local In the old days, mom and dad had to stop and ask for directions when they couldn’t find their way. The waitress at the diner and the clerk at the store are still strong resources for this information when you decide to go tech-free. Plus, you can ask about the best place to pick up a pizza without relying on Yelp. Wear a watch Speaking of time, it’s likely that you also rely on your phone to know what time it is. Plan ahead by wearing a watch or identify clocks in the space you’re to help keep you manage your time. Go remote If you don’t trust your ability to to go tech-free, plan a vacation that takes the decision out of your hands. Head into remote areas where you don’t receive cell service and enjoy the solitude of nature . Once the kids stop whining that their phone’s don’t work, they’ll discover the simple pleasures of stacking rocks and skipping rocks. Teach them fire building, take them on a hike or take them backpacking where they can learn map and compass, fishing and how to filter water. Take an alarm clock Hopefully your vacation doesn’t require you to rise early or be anywhere at a specific time, but it’s a good idea to throw in a small alarm clock, both so that you know the time and so you don’t need to rely on a phone for your alarm. Use long math Education never ends, and not toting a phone means not having a calculator at your disposal. That makes for a good opportunity to calculate tips, percentage off deals and admission totals the old fashioned way. It will feel strange at first to eliminate the technology in your life for a few valuable days, but in the end you will achieve more quality time and true engagement without electronic distraction. After all, isn’t that what a vacation should be about? Via Matador Network Images via t_watanabe , Shutterstock

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How to pull off a tech-free family vacation the whole family will enjoy

Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

July 24, 2018 by  
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Just in time for the 30th Anniversary of Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week, a new map shows the interaction of 45 sharks  with commercial fishing vessels. The interactive map, featuring over 150,000 miles of chartered shark territory and movement in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, seeks to shed light on the perilous environment in which the sharks maneuver on a daily basis and the approximate 100 million sharks killed each year. Austin Gallagher, CEO and chief scientist of Beneath the Waves and a project leader on the maps, said , “Many species of large sharks remain highly vulnerable throughout our oceans , and the integration provided here highlights the magnitude of the threats they face.” Shark expert at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and project collaborator Neil Hammerschlag explained that sharks are “highly mobile,” as demonstrated in the charted data published on the Global Fishing Watch , a non-profit organization launched by Oceana in collaboration with Google and Skytruth. Related: Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong The sharks must navigate around fishing vessels,  creating a wide variety of potentially dangerous interactions. Hammerschlag said, “Many fishing gear types can put these sharks at risk , as both target and bycatch — especially in the international waters of the high seas where no catch limits exist for many shark species.” Many sharks are caught by accident, but they are also subject to targeted hunting for their fins. While the map currently displays recorded data of sharks tagged between 2012 and 2018, Oceana hopes to create a real-time interactive map that includes various shark species including blue sharks, great hammerheads and tiger sharks. Lacey Malarky, an Oceana analyst focused on illegal fishing and seafood fraud, said, “We’re hoping to expand and collaborate with more researchers to not only get more shark data but then other marine wildlife data as well, so that we can really create this interactive map platform that shows all types of marine wildlife and how they’re interacting with fishing vessels.” + Oceana + Beneath the Waves Via EcoWatch

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Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

NASA map shows how climate change has set the world on fire

August 21, 2017 by  
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Devastating wildfires have blazed through Portugal, Canada, and Siberia this summer – with some people beginning to wonder if climate change will make such destructive fires normal. Maps with data from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) reveal a world filled with red. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Kevin Trenberth told DW, “A lot of these things are happening locally, but people don’t always connect them to climate change. But there is a real climate change component to this and the risk is going up because of climate change.” NASA’s FIRMS Web Fire Mapper data from the last seven days, from August 14 to August 21, shown in the map above, reveals a world on fire. DW said Europe has experienced three times the average number of wildfires in summer 2017. Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Greece suffered from fire as heatwaves incited dry, hot conditions. Related: This is how hot it will be in your neck of the woods if we don’t slow climate change 894,941 hectares have burned in Canada this season, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service – in the worst season for fires since we started keeping records. People in Portugal have especially suffered: earlier in the season 64 people perished and around 2,000 people were cut off by a recent blaze surrounding Macao. Hundreds of homes were destroyed by wildfire in Siberia , and even Greenland saw a fire described as unprecedented. Some scientists are connecting these blazes to climate change, saying as temperatures rise , fires could occur more often. Trenberth told DW, “What’s really happening is that there is extra heat available. That heat has to go somewhere and some of it goes into raising temperatures. But the first thing that happens is that it goes into drying – it dries out plants and increases the risk of wildfires.” Via DW Images via FIRMS Web Fire Mapper and NASA Earthdata Facebook

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NASA map shows how climate change has set the world on fire

It took more than 25 years to build this incredible walkable world map

June 5, 2017 by  
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You’d need around 11 years to walk around the globe – if you can walk on water. But a world map in Denmark makes the feat possible in a few minutes. Verdenskortet , or world map , is a walkable map , made of soil and stone, built on top of a pond. It took Søren Poulsen more than two decades to complete this extraordinary project, and it was worth the wait. Poulsen, who was born in 1888 in Denmark, realized a stone on his land was shaped similar to the Jutland Peninsula. That stone launched the idea to create a world map, and Poulsen started the project in 1944. He continued working on the map, located at his childhood home at Klejtrup Lake, until he died in 1969. Today the map comprises the center of a park offering outdoor activities and event space. Around 35,000 people visit every single year. Related: Our World: A Giant Pixelated LEGO Map Built from 1 Million Bricks! Poulson made the map out of rocks and dirt, using just hand tools, a pushcart, and a wheelbarrow. The Verdenskortet Facebook page explains the stones comprising the world map were moved onto the ice during winter, and then in spring the stones could be moved into place. Flags mark each country, and there’s even yellow bricks dividing America up into states. Red poles indicate where the equator lies. The world map is 300 feet by 150 feet, and every 10 inches represents around 69 miles in the real world. Today the park offers guided tours of Verdenskortet, paired with coffee and cake. People can play miniature golf on the grass, or take a class field trip to the map. Visitors can take a boat trip around the mini Pacific Ocean , and on land go on pony rides, play old Viking games, or jump on a trampoline. Park entry is inexpensive; around $12 for adults and $8 for kids. + Verdenskortet Via GOOD Images via Verdenskortet Facebook

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It took more than 25 years to build this incredible walkable world map

What’s next for the Paris Accord

June 5, 2017 by  
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What happens to the Paris Climate Agreement now that the leader of the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions has signaled his intent to withdraw from the landmark accord? We take a closer look at the consequences of Donald Trump’s decision to rescind US efforts to limit global warming in accordance with the 2015 agreement. President Donald Trump is a showman and his press conference was political theater for the 61 million Americans who voted him into office last November. The reality is that the withdrawal process could take up to four years to complete and Trump could be exiting the White House before he exits the Paris Accord if he doesn’t win reelection. The other reality is that, thanks to Senate Republicans who would never ratify the Paris Accord as a treaty, in order to push it past the finish line with the US onboard, the deal had to be “non-binding,” meaning all actions are voluntary. Related: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement By declaring its intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua in refusing the deal. It should be noted that Nicaragua didn’t join the agreement because it didn’t go far enough in emissions reductions for the Central American nation. Minus the US, a total of  194 countries have signed and 147 parties have ratified the accord , representing 66 percent of global emissions. The accord entered into force on November 4, 2016 — 30 days after at least 55 parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions joined. While it certainly could be argued that Trump has damaged America’s standing in the international community, it is not so clear that Trump has actually hurt the Paris Accord, Actually, there are indications that Trump’s announcement is having the opposite effect, with countries, cities and corporations redoubling their commitments to the Paris Accord and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Many experts believe that since Trump was never serious about committing the US to climate action, that his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord could actually free up other world leaders to draft an even stronger agreement with enforcement mechanisms not possible with a Republican-ruled Senate in the US. Australian climate scientist Luke Kemp told The New York Times, “I worry that letting the United States just stay in the agreement and do whatever it wants could show how weak Paris is. It sends the message that the agreement is more about symbolism than action.” CHINA AND EU TAKING THE LEAD With Trump ceding US leadership on climate, China and the European Union are stepping in to fill the power vacuum. In a joint statement following Trump’s announcement, China and the EU — backed by all 28 EU member states — reaffirmed their commitment to full implementation of the Paris climate deal. The statement, the first between the EU and China, commited to cutting back on fossil fuels and increasing development of green technologies. Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump “The EU and China consider climate action and the clean energy transition an imperative more important than ever,” the statement reads. “The increasing impacts of climate change require a decisive response.” CITIES, STATES AND BUSINESSES STEPPING UP A group that so far includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have their climate contributions accepted alongside other nations who have signed onto the accord. The Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York formed the US Climate Alliance to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Accord after Trump’s announcement. It isn’t only Democrats defying Trump — Charlie Baker, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, said on Friday that he was joining the US Climate Alliance . Related: US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump “As the commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement, adding that the initiative aims “to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.” Also after Trump’s announcement, 187 mayors representing more than 52 million Americans and some of the largest US cities, stated their intention to individually join the Paris Accord and work together on stronger climate change mitigation measures and transitioning to the 21st century clean energy economy. Cities around the world protested Trump pulling out of the Paris accord, including Tel Aviv, which lit up city hall in green lights . “We need to take responsibility for the next generation,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement posted to Facebook. “That means, among other things, continuing to research, learn and act on the quality of the environment and the climate.” Major corporations are also on board with the Paris Accord — 95 of the world’s largest companies have commited to 100 percent renewables, including Google, Walmart and Nike. GREEN TECHNOLOGIES GETTING CHEAPER The price of solar, wind, batteries and other green technologies are dropping fast, leading to increased integration into the electricity grid. In 2016, the amount of new solar power coming online nearly doubled from the previous year — enough to power 2 million homes. Related: The sweet moment California got a record 50% of its electricity from solar Republican-ruled states are leading the renewables revolution. Kansas tripled its wind power production between 2011 and 2015. Wyoming leads the nation with 1,600 watts of new renewable energy capacity per capita being built. Nevada leads the nation in new solar power jobs while North Dakota leads in new wind power jobs. The conservative town of Georgetown, Texas is on track to be 100 percent renewable energy this year, becoming the largest US city to achieve the clean energy goal. Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, admits “it’s the reddest of cities, in the reddest of states…but we put national politics aside to do our best for the people we’re elected to serve.” Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4  and White House Archives

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What’s next for the Paris Accord

Revealing map shows the distribution of all known ocean trash

April 3, 2017 by  
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There’s still a lot the average person doesn’t know about the trash clogging up our oceans . Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) scientists are tackling this public awareness crisis with LITTERBASE , a tool that makes it easy for the public to visualize the issue. They pulled together results from 1,237 scientific studies on two revealing maps to show exactly where known marine litter is distributed, and how it affects 1,249 marine species. AWI scientists realized there’s a large amount of research being done on the issue of marine litter, but since there are so many studies it’s hard for policymakers, authorities, and the public to reference the information they need to combat the issue. So they gathered the research in LITTERBASE in two maps. One combines 591 publications to show the distribution of garbage around the world. The other draws on 751 publications to show wildlife interactions with litter . According to LITTERBASE information cited by The Maritime Executive, 34 percent of species ingest trash, 31 percent colonize it, and 30 percent get tangled up or trapped in trash. Related: New report says plastic trash to exceed fish in the sea by 2050 AWI scientists also found in 10 years the concentration of garbage at an Arctic Ocean deep-sea station increased 20-fold. Plastic and glass were the worst offenders. It’s difficult to determine where the plastic trash came from, as it can often travel great distances before landing on the ocean floor. The maps could also help bring older studies back into public awareness. AWI scientist Melanie Bergmann said, “While compiling LITTERBASE, I discovered a cache of old data on litter in the Antarctic , which the signatory countries of the Antarctic Treaty gathered on a regular basis. In addition, the ingestion of microplastic at the beginning of the food chain was investigated for various groups of plankton and unicellular organisms as far back as the 1980s. As such, LITTERBASE will also help us rediscover old and in some cases forgotten findings.” You might notice the map has large blank swaths; the researchers note those aren’t necessarily clean areas. Rather, they just don’t yet have information for those spaces. You can check out the map of marine litter here and the map of wildlife interactions with trash here . + LITTERBASE Via The Maritime Executive Images via screenshot and Wikimedia Commons

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Revealing map shows the distribution of all known ocean trash

IDEO wants to turn your car into a small-scale public transportation option

April 3, 2017 by  
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A new car-sharing vision may help ease congestion in metropolitan areas lacking mass transportation options. Cities like New York City and London have a decent public transportation system, but if you’ve ever tried to commute in a city like Los Angeles , you probably pray for a better way. California’s Ideo, a design company, offers one such alternative. Their latest concept looks past major infrastructure programs to an expanded view of the automobile sharing model as a means of reducing all of the negative affects of too many cars on the roads. Rather than focus on large public transit programs, IDEO’s latest project matches the current focus on making driving not only easier, but safer. And then expands on that concept by showcasing how an autonomous car can not only bring improvements to its owner’s life, but also help other community members get from point a to b and even raise a few bucks. Related: VW unveils the all-electric autonomous Microbus of the future The owner of the autonomous vehicle can choose to ride solo or even make a few extra dollars by picking up other passengers along the way – which is probably something some Uber and Lyft drivers already do today. Taking communal sharing one step further, the autonomous vehicle can also be rented out like a Zipcar to other people; the renters can even reduce the cost of the rental by agreeing to run errands for the owner of the car. Imagine that you’re renting the car to go on a grocery run, but while you’re there you pick up a few groceries for the car’s owner as well, which would lower the overall cost of the rental. Today car’s generally only serves their owners and the owner’s contacts, but IDEO’s concept would change that by making the car a public resource, similar to a bus or train but on a much smaller scale. Riders can use an app to book a ride, like with UberPOOL. Another big difference between this and other car-sharing programs comes down to a few simple settings that make the environment a bit more discrete. + IDEO All images @IDEO

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IDEO wants to turn your car into a small-scale public transportation option

Boston public schools phase in new map to decolonize curriculum

March 21, 2017 by  
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The global map on which all your geographical knowledge is based probably wasn’t as accurate as you thought. For nearly 500 years, classrooms have referred to the Mercator projection, which exaggerated the size of continents in the northern hemisphere. But now Boston public schools are switching over to the Gall-Peters projection, which attempts to correct the sizes of countries and could have a dramatic impact on students’ worldview. The Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator devised the Mercator projection all the way back in 1569. Now hundreds of years later, Boston schools are implementing a replacement, and director of the Boston public schools history department Natacha Scott says they believe they are the first public school district in America to make the switch. Related: New map reveals the world’s most toxic countries The Mercator projection has informed our collective worldview for centuries, but Mercator made it seem as if North America and Europe were larger than South America and Africa , for example. He also moved the equator, which places Germany near the map’s middle instead of much further north. Arno Peters, a German historian, released his projection in 1974 – as it corresponds with work by James Gall, a 19th century Scottish cartographer; today it’s called the Peters or Gall-Peters projection. Now in Boston classrooms, teachers have put the Gall-Peters projection up next to the Mercator projection. Colin Rose, Assistant Superintendent of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps for the Boston Public Schools, told The Guardian, “This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools…It’s important that students trust the material they are given in school but also question it. The Mercator projection is a symbolic representation that put Europe at the center of the world. And when you continue to show images of the places where people’s heritage is rooted that is not accurate, that has an effect on students.” But some people say the Gall-Peters projection is also distorted – stemming mainly from the fact that it’s difficult to place a three dimensional sphere shape on a two dimensional piece of paper. Sizes are correct in the Gall-Peters projection, but shapes are wrong: near the poles countries are stretched horizontally and near the equator they’re stretched vertically, according to Business Insider, which pointed to four alternatives , including the Winkel tripel projection which National Geographic adopted in 1998. Via The Guardian and Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boston public schools phase in new map to decolonize curriculum

This tool can map the U.S.’s environmental future

January 19, 2017 by  
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The new U.S. presidential administration is inheriting a healthy system of ecosystem markets. A new “Atlas of Ecosystem Markets” quantifies the market’s previous growth into a tool for regulators and researchers.

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This tool can map the U.S.’s environmental future

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