Heat wave in Australia kills 23K flying foxes

April 15, 2019 by  
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A historic heat wave in Australia killed off thousands of flying foxes late last year. In Australia’s northern coast, temperatures reached over 107 degrees for several days, leading to the deaths of around 23,000 flying foxes, which are some of the largest bats on the planet. The flying foxes did everything in their power to beat the heat. This includes panting, using their wings as fans and coating their bodies with saliva. Unfortunately, the heat proved to be too much, and many of the bats fell to their deaths. A few hundred were also taken to rehab facilities in the region. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “We have never seen die-offs in this species before,” David Westcott, who works for the National Flying-Fox Monitoring Program, explained. “Indeed, across the species’ range, we have rarely, if ever, seen temperatures like this before.” The large bats are not the only wildlife affected by such temperatures. The record-breaking heat wave killed camels, wild horses and fish over the past few months. The temperatures have climbed so high that hanging fruit cooked on trees. Although 23,000 bats is a lot, this is hardly the first time such huge numbers of species have died because of heat waves. In 2014, a devastating heat wave led to the death of more than 45,000 bats in Queensland. Dating all the way back to 1791, there have been around 39 similar events , although 35 of them have happened after 1994. What makes last year’s die-off unique is that it happened to a type of bat that is on the endangered species list. Prior to November, scientists estimated that there were around 75,000 spectacled flying foxes in the world, spread out among  Australia , New Guinea and Indonesia. That means the latest heat wave killed close to a third of their population, which could have devastating results on the future of the species. In light of the situation, conservationists are doing their best to prevent future die-offs. Scientists working out of Western Sydney University have created a warning system that alerts local residents ahead of a heat wave , giving them enough time to provide the bats with life-saving water sources. Via EcoWatch Image via Lonely Shrimp

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Heat wave in Australia kills 23K flying foxes

Car-free Sundays are the norm in Colombia’s capital city, Bogot

April 15, 2019 by  
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Imagine your city without cars — every single Sunday. At first, you might be frustrated by the inconvenience and inability to complete errands, but once you embrace the throngs of bikes, recognize your friends and neighbors among the people out for a stroll or attend a Zumba class at what was once a congested intersection, it’s likely to become one of your favorite traditions. For 45 years, the Colombian city of Bogotá has closed its major roads for Ciclovía, a weekly event where cyclists and pedestrians reclaim the street. The world’s most successful mass recreation event Vox calls the weekly event “the world’s most successful mass recreation event,” and more than 400 cities around the world look to Bogotá as a model for replication. In Spanish, Ciclovía means “Bicycle Way,” but the roads are open to bikes , roller skates, scooters, wheel chairs, skateboards, runners, walkers and all other types of physical activity, recreation and relaxation. Since its launch in 1974 , the event has expanded to include juice bars, fruit stands and exercise classes at various stops along the now 76 miles of designated roadway. Related: France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation Ciclovía occurs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every single Sunday and on major holidays, a frequency that sets it apart from similar events in other cities and is credited for its long-term success. Pulling off such a large-scale event is no easy feat in Bogotá , a major Latin American city that normally moves 1.5 million cars, 50,000 taxis and 500,000 motorcycles on any given day. “The Ciclovía is the moment when motor vehicles make way for human beings,” a director for the event, Bibiana Sarmiento, told National Geographic . In fact, nearly 1.5 million Bogotanos take over the public space every Sunday, which is approximately a quarter of the city’s entire population. Statistics show that the average participant is out there for about three hours, which has significantly helped residents reach widely recommended levels of physical activity. Bogotanos, like most city-dwellers, face limited space for recreational activities and soaring rates of chronic diseases linked to sedentary lifestyles. Although Ciclovía is only once a week, the city-wide emphasis on physical activity and community access to exercise classes and bike routes has caused a marked difference in health indicators. Street closures are good for your health In addition to improved air quality and a palpable decrease in stress and aggressive behaviors, the city of Bogotá is also attempting to analyze specific public health benefits. Program analysts studied savings on medical costs and found that Ciclovía saves between $3.20 and $4.30 in direct medical costs per every dollar invested, which is approximately $6 per participant. General analyses also indicate that public health benefits are more profound and long-term when such recreational events are reoccurring, something that sets Ciclovía apart from other cities with similar programs. To date, more than 400 cities worldwide have implemented similar mass recreation and street closure events, including 122 U.S. cities. A major roadblock (pun intended) to hosting such events is the logistical nightmare of acquiring permits for road closures and the cost of paying traffic staff. The benefits can outweigh the costs According to Vox, researchers recommend establishing reoccurring events to streamline permitting, staffing and signage and to ensure that residents are aware of the event and familiar with the detours.  Researchers argue that if made more frequent, “the cost of coordinating the event could come down and it could ‘help thousands to meet weekly recommended levels of [150 minutes of] physical activity.’” Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly “Over time the system has been perfected in terms of minimization of costs and of making the public aware of the road closures,” Marcela Guerrero Casas, managing director of Open Streets Cape Town in South Africa, told Vox. “When you do this consistently (in terms of time and location), people accept and embrace the program.” In addition to onerous permitting procedures, planners cite overtime for police officers as one of the largest and prohibitive expenditures. As part of the success, Ciclovía and a similar event in LA (called CicLAvía) utilize volunteers for traffic assistance. The city also pays for the program through sponsorships and a tax on phone bills, made possible because the program is so longstanding and beloved by all types of people that it is an accepted part of Bogotano culture and government spending. Going car-free can bring together the community Although the specific health and urban planning benefits aren’t always easy to quantify, there is resounding, worldwide interest in events like Ciclovía and a multitude of examples of its uniting , cross-cultural success. “No one cares about the clothes you’re wearing or what social class you’re from,” director Bibiana Sarmiento explained to National Geographic. “Everyone is welcome, and everyone is equal.” Via National Geographic and Vox Images via Saúl Ortega ( 1 , 2 , 3 ), Cidades para Pessoas and Carlos Felipe Pardo

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Car-free Sundays are the norm in Colombia’s capital city, Bogot

Swinging robot inspired by sloths could help future farmers

April 17, 2017 by  
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Over 7 billion people live on Earth, which means feeding our growing population will require us to produce food more efficiently than we are now. Could Robots could help us ramp up food production? Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) scientists believe so. They designed Tarzan, a robot inspired by swinging sloths, that could help future farmers more effectively monitor their crops . Take a look at the video below to see Tarzan in action. Tarzan is a two-armed robot that would hang suspended above a field on a wire, and move back and forth by swinging – like the mammal infamous for being lazy. But robot Tarzan is anything but lazy; it could snap images of plants and send them back to the farmer so either a human or an algorithm could analyze crop growth. Georgia Tech mechanical engineering assistant professor Jonathan Rogers said in a video, “What that’s going to allow people to do is essentially have an automated way to analyze how their crops are doing and what their crops need in real time, and maybe even providing that to their crops without them having to go walk the field themselves.” Related: World’s first robot-run farm to churn out 11 million heads of lettuce per year Georgia Tech researchers will take Tarzan to the field this summer at a four acre test field growing soybeans near Athens, Georgia . Plant geneticists from the University of Georgia used to have to walk the fields taking notes on crop growth there in the hot July sun, but Tarzan could help them analyze the crops more efficiently. According to the university, “With Georgia Tech robots dangling over the field, UGA researchers will be able to get more frequent measurements and to avoid some laborious field work. Someday, they may be able to stay at their laptops miles away, in the air conditioning, scanning a steady stream of images and data sent back from the robots.” As sloths are energy efficient , the team is working on making their robot sloth energy efficient and envision it powered by the sun one day. Via Georgia Tech and Wired Images via Georgia Tech and Eric Kilby on Flickr

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Swinging robot inspired by sloths could help future farmers

Southwest’s New Airplane Climate Sensors Could Revolutionize Weather Forecasting

December 17, 2013 by  
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Southwest Airlines just unveiled plans to install climate sensors in its planes, essentially creating a new weather monitoring network in the air above our heads. So far 87 Boeing 737s have been equipped with Water Vapor Sensing Systems (WVSS-II) that keep track of humidity when the planes take off and land. The WVSS-II sensors will provide a flurry of new weather data, all of which will be collected in real-time. Read the rest of Southwest’s New Airplane Climate Sensors Could Revolutionize Weather Forecasting Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Aeronautical Radio Incorporated , ARINC , Boeing 737 fitted with sensors , moisture in the atmosphere , NOAA , Southwest Airlines fit planes with sensors , Water Vapor Sensing Systems , weather predictions , WVSS-II        

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Southwest’s New Airplane Climate Sensors Could Revolutionize Weather Forecasting

PHOTOS: Daring Shipping Container House Boasts a Dramatically Sliced Profile

December 17, 2013 by  
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With shipping container homes becoming more and more common, it looks like some architects are upping the ante by getting even more creative with their cargotecture designs . One example seen right in NYC is LOT-EK’s daring Carroll House , which boasts a dramatic, diagonal profile. We stopped by to capture some shots of the home under construction – check out the full gallery here . READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Architecture , Cargotecture , Carroll House , green buildings , green houses , industrial house , lot-ek , modular home , Renewable building materials , shipping container home , shipping containers , upcycle , Williamsburg , Williamsburg Carroll House , Williamsburg LOT-EK House , williamsburg shipping container home , Williamsburg shipping container house , Williamsburg upcycling home        

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PHOTOS: Daring Shipping Container House Boasts a Dramatically Sliced Profile

Is Google Helping Poachers Sell Illegal Ivory Online?

September 29, 2013 by  
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Google claims to be a company interested in renewable energy and sustainability, but some say the company’s policies regarding international commerce prove just the opposite. According to an investigation by the organization Sum of Us, lenient enforcement of policies against selling products made from endangered animals is allowing criminals to continue the illegal ivory trade online. Ivory retailers can not only be found through a simple Google search, but also appear as Google shops and in Google ads. The company says that they remove ivory ads when detected, but admits the monitoring system is lax. Sum of Us has started an online petition to put pressure on Google to crack down on ivory sales. READ MORE> Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Africa , elephants , endangered animals , Google , illegal ivory , illegal trafficking , ivory , poaching        

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Is Google Helping Poachers Sell Illegal Ivory Online?

Spooky Halloween Seed Bombs from Renaissance Botanical Sprout Fresh Herbs

September 29, 2013 by  
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It’s almost October, which means you’ll start seeing enough pumpkins and Halloween decorations to turn an entire village orange. This year, instead of handing out chocolate and other sugary candy, consider this alternative treat for the little monsters who come to your door: seed bombs from Renaissance Botanical. Shaped to look like ghouls, tombstones, and frightening cat faces, these unique seed bombs sprout yummy herbs like cilantro and parsley. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ghoul seed bombs , halloween , halloween seed bombs , herbs , holiday treats , Renaissance Botanical , scary cat seed bombs , seed bombs , spooky seed bombs , treats        

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Spooky Halloween Seed Bombs from Renaissance Botanical Sprout Fresh Herbs

TU Delft Developing a Network Of 20,000 Weather Stations to Track Climate Change in Africa

August 12, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is working in collaboration with Africa Gathering in order to design a network of 20,000 affordable weather stations in Africa through the Trans-African Hydro-Metrological Observatory (TAHMO) initiative . This monitoring network, which will replace a rapidly deteriorating system, is expected to be a vital tool in the tracking of climate change in the continent. Read the rest of TU Delft Developing a Network Of 20,000 Weather Stations to Track Climate Change in Africa Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Africa weather , Delft University of Technology , Professor Van de Giesen , TAHMO , un climate change , weather monitoring stations , wmo        

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TU Delft Developing a Network Of 20,000 Weather Stations to Track Climate Change in Africa

Luscious Green Roofs Top a Modern Tunnel Monitoring Complex in Austria

May 27, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Luscious Green Roofs Top a Modern Tunnel Monitoring Complex in Austria Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green wall” , “living wall” , Architecture , Austria , concrete , Dietger Wissounig Architekten , eco design , green design , green roof , sustainable design , Tunnel Monitoring Complex Hausmannstaetten , vertical garden        

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Luscious Green Roofs Top a Modern Tunnel Monitoring Complex in Austria

Pollux’NZ City Project Deploys an Open-Source Environmental Monitoring Network

April 1, 2013 by  
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An open-source environmental monitoring network is now being tested in France by CKAB , a French consulting firm and innovation lab focusing on the Internet of Things . According to Hack a Day , the project, Pollux’NZ City, is the brainchild of a pair of engineers at the firm who have been working on it as a side project for a couple of years. They have just decided to make the hardware and software open-source, with details available at a GitHub repository . Read the rest of Pollux’NZ City Project Deploys an Open-Source Environmental Monitoring Network Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: CKAB , device , DIY , electronics , Environment , environmental , france , hackable devices , monitoring , network , open source , Pollution , polluxnz city

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Pollux’NZ City Project Deploys an Open-Source Environmental Monitoring Network

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