This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

October 19, 2017 by  
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Skiers whooshing past this picturesque ski resort may want to slow down to take in its stunning beauty. Located in the Caucasus mountain range in Gudauri, Georgia, the Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort resort is almost entirely made out of repurposed shipping containers and tucked into the terrain with steel supports that reduce its environmental impact. The shipping container resort offers guests a tranquil space to both relax and explore the amazing landscape. Built into the mountainside using a pyramid-like scheme, the containers were structured to cascade down the terrain, supported by steel posts in order to leave minimal impact on the environment. The resort has five levels, with the reception and dining area on the first floor and the guest rooms topped on one another. Related: This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container The guest rooms are made up of individual containers clad in wood paneling, each with a glazed wall that leads out to an open-air deck to enjoy the stunning views. The resort offers single rooms as well as larger family and deluxe suites. In addition to many skiing trails found in the area, the resort also offers yoga classes and other healthy activities such as swimming. Of course, for those who’d just like to sit back and relax after a day of whizzing through the mountains, there’s also a toasty sauna. + Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort Images via Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort

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This gorgeous shipping container ski resort is tucked into a Georgian mountainside

Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

September 28, 2017 by  
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El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest managed by the United States Forest Service, suffered major damage as Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. While Washington faces criticism for its apparently lackluster response to the unfolding humanitarian disaster , scientists are beginning to turn their attention to the ecological devastation wrought by the powerful hurricane. Bill McDowell, an ecologist at the University of New Hampshire who led research missions in El Yunque for decades, described the national forest and center for scientific research as “devastated.” Still, life will find a way and El Yunque, adapted for the hurricane-prone Caribbean, is expected to endure, offering scientists a glimpse into the ecological recovery process. El Yunque National Forest covers nearly 30,000 acres in the northeast region of Puerto Rico and contains a wide range of habitat, from humid lowland rainforests to cool, cloud forests in the Luquillo Mountains. El Yunque is home to sixteen species of coqui frogs , the only species of native parrot in Puerto Rico, and a wide variety of epiphytes, which survive by pulling water from the air in the chilly upland dwarf forests. The National Forest is also known for its uniquely preserved petroglyphs by the indigenous Taíno people. Related: Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season While El Yunque and similar forests in the region have evolved to cope with a sometimes-volatile climate , the unique power of Hurricane Maria presents an unprecedented challenge for the ecosystem . “From a science perspective, this is a test of how resilient the forests and streams are,” said Alan Covich, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Georgia who has studied El Yunque for decades. “I think the biggest question is the intensity of the disturbance and the cumulative effect of two [major hurricanes]. It’s a situation that has taken a century to develop.” Still, researchers are optimistic about the forest’s future. “We think things are pretty resilient and will come back within weeks and months, like they did after Hugo,” said Covich. “Six to 12 months from now, the forest will be in fine shape.” However, Covich noted that in the wake of such a disruptive event, different organisms may emerge as dominant species than before the storm. In addition to its role as an ecological and scientific hotspot, El Yunque has historically supported the people of Puerto Rico in critical ways. After hurricanes , the forest typically prevents debris and landslides from contaminating the headwaters of the Loquillo Mountains. While Puerto Ricans wait for relief from FEMA, El Yunque National Forest protects the much-needed sources of clean drinking water that sustain the population. Via Earther Images via  Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo Santiago/Earther

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Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States

NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

September 11, 2017 by  
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Harvey unloaded around 33 trillion gallons of water in the United States, the weight of which is capable of bending the Earth’s crust . From satellite data , it looks like this is what happened in Houston . Scientist Chris Milliner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted a map with GPS data revealing Houston has been pushed down by around two centimeters (or about 0.8 inches). Milliner’s map included Nevada Geodetic Laboratory data revealing the area around Houston was actually pushed down because of the weight of all the water from the tropical storm . One gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds, so if Harvey dumped 33 trillion gallons of water, that’s about 275 trillion pounds. Related: Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into “an extreme killer storm” GPS data show #Harveyflood was so large it flexed Earth's crust, pushing #Houston down by ~2 cm! #EarthScience #HurricaneHarvey #txflood pic.twitter.com/88lNScJBq9 — Chris Milliner (@Geo_GIF) September 4, 2017 It’s not the first time scientists have documented how the weight of water can alter the land. The Altantic cited a 2012 study focusing on the Himalayas that found a seasonal flux in the mountains’ height as water fell and then made its way down the mountains into Asian rivers. They also noted a 2017 study found “vertical surface displacement [with] peak-to-peak amplitudes” of 0.5 to one centimeter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Atlantic suggested the changes around Houston could be seen as a “fast-action version” of what takes place in mountain ranges during the seasons. The change could be due to soil beneath GPS stations compacting because of the weight of the water, Milliner said. But he thinks crust deformation was the main means of the change, since some of the GPS stations are on bedrock and also saw the depression. The ground has already been sinking in Houston, because we’ve pumped groundwater out of the city’s aquifers, according to The Atlantic. Milliner clarified the phenomenon he saw after Harvey is in addition to subsidence the city has experienced. Via The Atlantic Images via Chris Milliner on Twitter and U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

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NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

April 21, 2017 by  
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In 1959, the small village of Caowangba in China ’s Guizhou Province had a problem – a drought had dried up all the nearby water sources, and residents were forced to rely on a single well for drinking water. Even that single well was faltering, sometimes leaving the people of the town without enough water to go around. Worse yet, the town’s single rice paddy had dried up, making it hard for residents to access enough food. Something had to be done. But rather than give up and move to a new home, one man named Huang Dafa decided to lead an ambitious project to dig a 10-kilometer canal along the face of several sheer cliffs to bring water to his home. It took 36 years and at least one failed attempt, but now enough water flows to the city to provide food and drinking water to everyone. Many have compared Dafa to the legendary figure Yu Gong , an old man whose determination caused the gods to literally move mountains from his path. At only 23 years old, Dafa made the project his life’s work. To build the canal, villagers had to carve along the sheer cliffs of three karst mountains , dangerous work that involved climbing up the side of the mountains, tying themselves to trees, and rappelling hundreds of meters down the cliff to dig. Related: Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest Naturally, it took a bit of persuading before anyone else in town was willing to take on this dangerous work. But in the end, the only other option was to do nothing and watch the town continue to struggle. Unfortunately, after a decade of work, the first attempt at a canal was unsuccessful in bringing water to the city. It wasn’t a total waste: the effort did create a tunnel through the mountains that allowed for easy travel through the stone, rather than around, which is still in use today. Dafa realized they needed a better understanding of irrigation to make the project work. So he left to study engineering for several years, and planned his next attempt even more meticulously. In the early 1990s, he persuaded the villagers to try again. The workers often slept in caves along the cliff side, and the remote location made it difficult to reach them in case of emergency – in fact, Dafa was working in the mountains when his daughter and grandson passed away, unable to reach them before they died. Related: Hundreds of beehives hang off a steep cliff in China to save wild honeybees Finally, in 1995, the new channel was finished, and water began to flow to Caowangba. As if the channel weren’t enough, Dafa’s efforts were also responsible for bringing electricity and a new road to the town that same year, allowing the residents to step into the modern era. Now, the community is thriving, and Huang Dafa is celebrated as a local hero at 82 years old. The channel provides running water to three other villages that happen to cross its path as well, providing water to 1,200 people and allowing them to grow 400,000 kilograms of rice every year. Via Oddity Central Images via VGC , China Daily

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This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

Black mountain cabin lights up like a lantern at night

April 18, 2017 by  
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Architect Tomislav Soldo designed a handsome mountain cabin that owes its existence to a fortuitously placed walnut tree. Set on a sloped site in the Croatian mountains, the 100-square-meter home was designed and built as an afterthought following the completion of a terrace beneath the shade of a walnut tree. Clad in Siberian larch painted black, the modern building features a ventilated facade and large windows that allow it to glow like a lantern at night. Located in Ogulin, the two-story compact cabin echoes the local vernacular with its use of timber and simple pitched roof . Two layers of black wood tar were painted onto the facade to protect the building from the elements and to minimize maintenance. The 30-centimeter-thick walls were constructed from aerated concrete blocks, saving the architects from adding extra thermal insulation and allowing for speedy construction. Thermal efficiency is improved with the installation of a ventilated facade made from Siberian larch cladding. Related: Salvaged wood clads handsome mountain cabin in Vermont In contrast to the dark facade, the interior features white-painted walls, light-toned timber floors, and black accents such as the wood-burning stove and window trim. The use of a light color palette, high ceilings, and large windows that overlook the mountains and forests give the home a spacious feel despite the small footprint. An open-plan kitchen, living, and dining room are located on the ground floor. The bedroom is placed on the mezzanine level and overlooks the living room below. + Tomislav Soldo Via ArchDaily Images by Jure Živkovi?

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Black mountain cabin lights up like a lantern at night

Street artist uses reverse graffiti to transform dirty cars into animal art

April 18, 2017 by  
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Moscow’s filthy cars are getting a brand new look thanks to opportunistic street artist Nikita Golubev . Using reverse graffiti, a method of creating temporary art by removing dirt from a surface, Golubev etches amazing images of animals and other figures onto the sides of dirty vehicles. These unlikely works of art are part of his latest works in his “Dirty Art” series. Cars, vans, and large trucks are all fair game to Golubev, who uses his fingers and paintbrushes to wipe, scrape, and embellish images made on each surface. White vehicles encrusted in layers of dirt and grime offer up the ideal canvases for reverse graffiti , also known as “clean graffiti.” Depending on how much Golubev chooses to scrub away, he can create different shades of gray that give surprising depth and realism to his art. Related: REVERSE GRAFFITI: Street Artists Tag Walls by Scrubbing Them Clean These eye-catching pieces are temporary and will disappear over time or whenever the vehicle is cleaned. The prolific Moscow-based artist, who signs with the name ProBoyNick, drew on his ample art repertoire for the Dirty Art series, from his experience in painting to digital art. You can see more of his work on Instagram and Behance . + Nikita Gobulev Via Colossal Images via Nikita Gobulev

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Street artist uses reverse graffiti to transform dirty cars into animal art

New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

March 16, 2017 by  
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A river in New Zealand now has legal status similar to a human being, marking a historic victory for indigenous people. For over 100 years, the Whanganui Iwi have fought over the rights of the Whanganui River, the country’s longest navigable river . Now the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill , or Whanganui River Claims Settlement Bill, acknowledging past wrongs and declaring the river “an indivisible and living whole.” The Whanganui River can now be represented through two human representatives, one appointed by the New Zealand government and the other by the Whanganui Iwi. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Newshub, “I know some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies.” A $56 million financial redress payment is also part of the significant legislation. Related: Indonesian president gives forest management back to indigenous communities It’s been a long battle for the Whanganui Iwi. According to the bill, “Since 1873, Whanganui Iwi have sought recognition of their authority over the River, including by pursuing one of New Zealand’s longest-running court cases.” Whanganui Iwi spokesperson Gerrard Albert said the people have challenged the government’s impact on the river’s health since the mid-1850’s, and sought recognition of their rights over the river. In a statement he said, “We have always believed that the Whanganui River is an indivisible and living whole – Te Awa Tupua – which includes all its physical and spiritual elements from the mountains of the central North Island to the sea.” A government website adds, “The tribes of Whanganui take their name, their spirit, and their strength from the great river…The people say, ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au’ (I am the river. The river is me).” Over 200 Whanganui Iwi descendants were present in Parliament as the bill passed, and sang songs after the third and final bill reading. Via EcoWatch Images via Alex Indigo on Flickr and eyeintim on Flickr

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New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

Record winter storm pounds California

January 24, 2017 by  
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California is battling one of the strongest winter storms the state has seen in years, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in 50 counties. After a brutal five-year drought , the state needs rain but the severe weather has also led to mudslides, flooding, and evacuations. Southern California in particular has been hit with a deluge of rain , breaking records in some areas. Los Angeles County coastal areas received most of the brunt of the storm. Long Beach Airport actually saw a new rainfall record of 3.87 inches. National Weather Service meteorologist Brett Albright said some parts of southern California received up to four inches. He told the Los Angeles Times, “Today was very intense. It’s not a normal event…It’s not often we see higher rainfall totals on the coast than in the mountains.” Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historical drought The storms continue the trend of more rain than usual in California. Since October 1, 2016, downtown Los Angeles has received over 13 inches of rain, which is 216 percent more than normal for this time period, or around 6.26 inches according to the National Weather Service. Swaths of southern California experienced extreme events connected to the storm. Rockslides in Malibu closed roads. In Isla Vista, close to Santa Barbara, a patio and a cliff crashed into the ocean. Residents were told to evacuate in Duarte, Glendora, and parts of Santa Barbara County and Orange County, where 2016 wildfires left behind burned areas that are more susceptible to mudslides. One death in Pomona has been likely connected to the storm; a driver lost control of their car and crashed while driving in heavy rain in the afternoon. Rainfall is supposed to continue into this week, and some areas could see four to six inches of rain during the next couple of days. The state of emergency will help secure state and federal funds to help those struggling with what Gov. Brown called “conditions of extreme peril.” Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Flickinpicks on Flickr and nosha on Flickr

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Mexican designers envision Trumps border wall in "all of its gorgeous perversity"

October 31, 2016 by  
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“Based on Trump’s statements, the economic, ecological and financial aspects have been called into question,” Estudio 3.14 explained in an article by Designboom . “However, he continues with his verbal plan. As architects and designers, we have the capacity to imagine and interpret what trump is saying, and we are convinced that if we can make people see it, they can assess his words and the perversity in his proposal.” In the images, the wall is rendered in hot pink – a reference to Mexican architect Luis Barragán, and a tongue-in-cheek jab at Trump’s insistence that the wall will be “beautiful.” The wall crosses through bodies of water, mountains , and buildings, showing just how insane such a structure would really be. Related: Someone built a tiny wall around Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star Much of the border runs through public lands held by national parks , so the wall as depicted could have a devastating impact on the environment. The seasonal ebb and flow of the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers would also be a challenge to plan around. The studio hopes that by making these logistical barriers more obvious, more people will begin to truly understand the issues with Trump’s campaign promise. + Estudio 3.14 Via Design Indaba

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Mexican designers envision Trumps border wall in "all of its gorgeous perversity"

World’s longest, deepest rail tunnel opens after almost 20 years of construction

June 1, 2016 by  
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After nearly two decades of construction, the world’s longest tunnel is now ready to carry cargo and passengers on a route that cuts right through the Swiss Alps. The 35-mile high-speed Gotthard base tunnel snatched the title of world’s longest and deepest tunnel upon its opening, and now connects northern and southern Europe. Swiss officials celebrate the high-speed rail as a major advancement for European transportation. The new tunnel in Switzerland is actually two tunnels, each with a single line of tracks for high-speed trains, running side by side for the length of the route. Prior to today’s opening, the longest tunnel in the world was the 33.5-mile Seikan rail tunnel in Japan. The Gotthard base tunnel, at 35 miles long, edged out Seikan to take the top slot, and also wins the designation of being the deepest rail tunnel on Earth. At its deepest point, the rail line runs nearly 1.5 miles under the mountains. Related: Chinese-funded $13.8B railway to slice through Nairobi National Park Just a year ago, the tunnel’s route was traveled by a million heavy cargo trucks, hauling goods across the continent. That inventory will now be transported by rail, hopefully saving time and energy costs. Although the new record-holding tunnel officially opens today, commercial rail schedules won’t begin until December. Rail officials celebrated the $10 billion tunnel’s completion with an inaugural run by two trains , one on each track, heading opposite directions. Aboard the trains were government and rail authorities, as well as members of the public who won tickets in a contest. Nine tunnel miners killed during the long construction period were also memorialized during the opening ceremony. Via BBC Images via Niedax

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