Water joins the commodities market

December 11, 2020 by  
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Water has now joined oil and gold on the commodities market. This week, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched the United States’ first water market tied to California water prices. “ Climate change , droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” said Deane Dray, RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst, as reported by Bloomberg . “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.” Related: UN warns that humans will lose their war against nature For readers not familiar with how futures trading works, Nerd Wallet explains: “A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell an asset at a future date at an agreed-upon price. All those funny goods you’ve seen people trade in the movies — orange juice, oil , pork bellies! — are futures contracts.” The new water market was announced in September as a reaction to the year’s unprecedented wildfires . Advocates say the new market will quell farmers’ and municipalities’ uncertainty about budgeting for water. People made two trades the first day the market went live. “Without this tool people have no way of managing water supply risk,” said Clay Landry, managing director at consulting firm WestWater Research. “This may not solve that problem entirely, but it will help soften the financial blow that people will take if their water supply is cut off.” But opponents of the new water market scheme say considering water a tradable commodity jeopardizes basic human rights. “What this represents is a cynical attempt at setting up what’s almost like a betting casino so some people can make money from others suffering,” said Basav Sen, climate justice project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, according to Earther . “My first reaction when I saw this was horror, but we’ve also seen this coming for quite some time.” Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Martin Str

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Water joins the commodities market

An old farmhouse becomes a hotel focused on indoor-outdoor living

December 11, 2020 by  
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Spanish architecture firm GANA Arquitectura has rehabilitated a historic cortijo — a type of traditional rural dwelling common in southern Spain — into a beautiful new hotel in the town of Villanueva del Rosario of Andalusia. The intervention pays homage to the local vernacular with its emphasis on indoor-outdoor living and preservation of the cortijo’s traditional materials while adding new life to the property with contemporary interiors. The boutique hotel, which was completed this year, had been created to take part in a growing tourist interest in Andalusia.  Located in the heart of a site filled with olive trees, the original cortijo was a large, whitewashed building topped with red, ceramic roof tiles. The architects kept the building’s structure and materials palette intact and added a simpler, gabled addition to the side — formerly a storage facility — to house 10 individual hotel suites that connect to a timber-lined outdoor patio with a pool. A new courtyard links the two buildings and was thoughtfully designed to protect the root systems of existing trees. Related: Niraamaya Retreat honors traditional design with local materials The old farmhouse spans two floors with common areas located on the ground floor and most of the hotel rooms placed on the second floor. The hotel rooms and shared spaces are designed to highlight the historic architecture. In contrast, the remaining hotel rooms in the new addition feature a deliberately contemporary style. A restrained palette of white walls, timber surfaces and concrete floors is used throughout to tie both buildings together and to keep the focus on the olive tree-studded landscape. Large windows, glazed doors and natural materials help achieve an indoor-outdoor connection. According to the architects, “The result of the intervention is nothing but the perfect harmony between traditional and contemporary architecture , over the amazing influence of nature in its purest form.” + GANA Arquitectura Images via Francisco Torreblanca Herrero and GANA Arquitectura

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An old farmhouse becomes a hotel focused on indoor-outdoor living

Hard truths about tough times

November 18, 2020 by  
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Hard truths about tough times Kathrin Winkler Wed, 11/18/2020 – 02:00 I’m struggling. Back in the day, I had a reputation as someone who always offered to my team a positive interpretation or hopeful outcome to supposed bad news. A Pollyanna, perhaps. It wasn’t deliberate. In fact, I didn’t realize I was doing it until a senior engineer on my team told me, “You’re always so [expletive deleted] positive, it makes me want to puke.”  I wasn’t trying to spin the truth, either. When there is change — that is, nearly always — people often imagine the worst possible outcomes and the most deplorable motives by those in power. People help bring one another down as they wallow in the fear and anger, and sap their own and each other’s energy. I was just trying to get people to consider alternative possibilities, to help them find their motivation, stay focused and know that their work was valued. Play devil’s advocate to their negativity. And maybe convince myself, a bit, too.  My husband thought the accusation was funny, though. Because when I was at home and I wasn’t feeling the weight of responsibility for the team, I gave my own negativism free rein. The angel on one shoulder went to work; the devil on the other came home. The thing is, I’m home all the time now.  I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. I’m not sure how to characterize exactly how I feel. Impatience is a big part of it. We’re obviously not doing enough fast enough to address climate change and systemic societal issues. I can see evidence with my own eyes every time I walk out the door (masked, of course) and encounter the homeless struggling on the street. But I’m also impatient with those “fighting the good fight.” They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. That’s creating a cognitive dissonance in me that is literally keeping me up at night. I know we have to show optimism, but I also see us avoiding the bare facts. People talk about “stopping” (or worse, “stopping and reversing”) climate change. The more circumspect just say “addressing” climate change. But in addition to the climate damage that already has occurred, more is locked in even if we were to stop emitting today. Will the next generation feel betrayed if we “win” the fight and things keep getting worse anyway? People do need hope and to feel that they have agency — that what they do matters. Every degree of global temperature rise that we prevent reduces the long-term risk. No matter what, I know we cannot stop acting and encouraging others to join us. I don’t know how to square this circle.  As for agency — I’m feeling pretty helpless. Not that I tell people that. I absolutely mean it when I passionately express how important it is that they vote, make thoughtful decisions about what to buy and from whom, think about the sources of their food, raise their voices against injustice. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. Once I get going on a task, I’m all in. But when I settle down to work, I find it hard to get started. That’s just me, of course. There are people out there doing critically important things — innovating in technology and business, running for office, motivating others and changing minds. Thank goodness for them. But we’re not all extraordinary, and I imagine I’m not alone.  I am also experiencing huge frustration from the Manichaean nature of public discourse on, well, everything. Truth is gray, but we only discuss black and white. Both sides tick me off. Op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal interpret reduced emissions during the most stringent lockdown as proof that major personal sacrifice is required if we (“the greenies”) act on climate. The sustainability community argues that we can make the changes we need without sacrificing. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between (depending, I suppose, on how you define “sacrifice” — and “happy,” for that matter). For me, the pandemic has highlighted what’s really valuable: human connection; love; health; safety. But yeah, there are things people will have to give up. They are mostly things that won’t truly make them happy in the long run, but that can feel pretty good about in the moment (flying off to the tropics, buying a new car, chomping down on a juicy burger, going to the movies), and relinquishing some of those will feel like a sacrifice for many.  Yet, I’m disgusted with selfishness. There’s a woman in our building who complains that, when the sun is at a certain angle, she can’t get the temperature in her unit below 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate change is making air conditioning a matter of life and death in some parts of the world, but 71 degrees in Seattle? Sheesh. Talk about privilege. Maybe I’m just afraid to be optimistic; afraid of a huge disappointment. Scared. Not that I’m not hopeful — I fervently hope things will move, and move quickly, in the right direction. I’m just reluctant to expect it. The political situation isn’t helping. I don’t know the answers. I hate not knowing the answers. It makes me grumpy.  I do find real moments of joy. They come from my friends, my colleagues, my family and nature. From humor and beauty. From gratitude for all that I have been given in life. So, I am coping. I hope you are, too.  Pull Quote I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Getting Real Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Hard truths about tough times

Leonardo DiCaprio appointed brand ambassador for Chinese electric vehicle maker

February 8, 2017 by  
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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has played many roles – and not just in the movies. He is a United Nations Messenger for Peace, climate change documentary maker, and a bold advocate of climate action . Now our favorite climate justice activist has been appointed brand ambassador for Chinese company BYD’s new line of electric vehicles. DiCaprio will be brand ambassador for BYD’s new line of what they call new energy vehicles, or electric vehicles . They describe themselves as one of the world’s biggest new electric vehicle manufacturers, comprising 11 percent of the 2015 global market. They experienced a 130 percent increase in electric vehicle sales in the first half of 2016. They’re developing the new cars as part of their Cool the Earth by One Degree Celsius campaign as they aim to transform how each person consumes energy while raising awareness about climate change. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio says climate action is America’s “biggest economic opportunity” Sounds like a perfect mission for DiCaprio – the company says he will help them highlight their new developments in China . BYD Brand and Public Relations General Manager Sherry Li said in a statement, “Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio has greatly inspired the world with his outstanding dedication to saving the planet’s ecological environment . As our brand ambassador in China, we are pleased to work with him in promoting public awareness of climate change through the use of new energy vehicles.” In a statement DiCaprio said, “All over the world people are realizing that cars that run on fossil fuels are inefficient and a major threat to the planet. I am very pleased to be joining an effort to increase the number of clean vehicles on the road in China and beyond.” Via CleanTechnica Images via BYD Twitter and BYD Facebook

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Leonardo DiCaprio appointed brand ambassador for Chinese electric vehicle maker

Inspiring Arkansas mom built a house for her kids using YouTube tutorials

February 1, 2017 by  
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After fleeing her second abusive marriage in 2007, Cara Brookins needed four walls that made her feel safe. But she didn’t have the money to buy the kind of sanctuary she felt her four children, then aged 2 to 17, deserved. Driving past a tornado-ravaged house on the way to a cabin she had rented outside Little Rock, Arkansas, Brookins had a flash of inspiration. “You don’t often get the opportunity to see the interior workings of a house, but looking at these two-by-fours and these nails, it just looked so simple,” she told CBS News . “I thought, ‘I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.’”

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Inspiring Arkansas mom built a house for her kids using YouTube tutorials

Army Corps ordered to approve Dakota Access Pipeline

February 1, 2017 by  
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It seems like President Donald Trump is determined to get his way on the Dakota Access Pipeline . Senator John Hoeven and Congressmen Kevin Cramer, both of North Dakota , said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will give the final approval necessary to move forward with the oil pipeline after an order from the acting secretary of the Army. But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the move is illegal, and they’re not backing down without a fight. Hoeven said acting secretary Robert Speer informed Vice President Mike Pence and him of the impending approval. He said in a statement the pipeline would be constructed with safety features to provide protection for the Standing Rock Sioux. Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation But the tribe says there’s an environmental study going on that must be finished before the Army can grant the easement, and they’re planning to resist. In a statement posted on Facebook they said, “We stand ready to fight this battle against corporate interest superseding government procedure and the health and well-being of millions of Americans.” You can make your voice heard as well. The Army is currently gathering information for the environmental impact statement which includes a “public scoping phase.” Members of the public are invited to share their concerns with the Army until February 20, 2017. You can mail your comments to Mr. Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington DC 20310-0108. You can also email Owen at gib.a.owen.civ@mail.mil. The Army requests you include your name, return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline” on the first page of your letter, or if you’re sending an email, put “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline” as your subject. More details can be found here . There are still hundreds of people camping near the proposed pipeline route in North Dakota. Reuters reported at one point there were over 10,000 people in the camp; veterans and activists stood alongside Native Americans. Law enforcement has made over 600 arrests. Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Dallas Goldtooth said on Twitter Cramer was ” trying to incite violence ” by stating the Army gave their approval before it’s official. Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Army Corps ordered to approve Dakota Access Pipeline

Mesmerizing lava skylights give a glimpse under the Earths surface

June 24, 2016 by  
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Volcanoes get a bad rap in the movies, but what goes on underneath the Earth’s crust can actually be a beautiful scene – especially if we can get a glimpse of it. The Kilauea volcano’s recent lava breakouts in Hawaii were captured on film, including its hypnotizing “skylights” , where the crust breaks and the fiery lava flow can be seen from above. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITJ6HLHtzuc Lava tubes that form underneath the Earth’s surface can sometimes become too wide for the hardened crust on top to bear. Helicopters observed a spot where the tube had collapsed, revealing the red hot flow underneath. The “skylight” is estimated to be about 20 feet across and the speed of the rushing lava could be as fast as two meters per second. Related: Ecuadorian volcano ejects ash nearly five miles into the sky The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory describes the phenomenon as “capillaries beneath the skin,” a vivid image of the life-giving marvels that carry on just outside our awareness. Seeing just what nature is up to offers a rare peek at the little known charms in the deep corners of the world. Via The Huffington Post Images via Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

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Mesmerizing lava skylights give a glimpse under the Earths surface

Future-proof beach residence in Washington State is raised to withstand mudslides

June 24, 2016 by  
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The Saratoga Hill House is located on a remote beach on Camano Island, Washington. The site is difficult to reach and doesn’t have road access, which makes it hard to bring heavy equipment and building materials. Due to these limiting circumstances, the architects decided to use low profile steel columns and raise the house to mitigate potential mudslides. This structural solution also provides additional storage spaces for canoes and kayaks. Related: Architekturburo Scheder positions a tiny timber house on stilts in Germany Concrete stairs lead from the ground level into the living room and kitchen on the first floor. This space features large windows that provide views of the Puget Sound. The second floor houses the bedrooms and is accessible via steel and wooden stairs. The top floor features an expansive rooftop deck . + Designs Northwest Architects Via Contemporist Photos by Lucas Henning

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Future-proof beach residence in Washington State is raised to withstand mudslides

Compact WaterCube uses solar power to make clean drinking water

June 24, 2016 by  
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WaterCube by SunGlacier – Ap Verheggen from sunglacier on Vimeo . Verheggen tells Inhabitat that the biggest challenge they faced when designing the WaterCube was to cool down the cone to just above freezing point without using a huge amount of energy. After several trials, he and his team managed to achieve that goal with 25 Watts of energy. The small solar panels on the top and sides of the cube produce 40 Watts, which allows them to store excess energy in batteries for less sunny conditions. How much water is produced really depends on climate conditions, according to Verheggen. The higher the temperatures, the more water the device will produce. Related: Solar-powered handheld WaterDrop provides fresh drinking water in the desert “With my team we are doing research to find more solutions for cooling down surfaces in its most efficient way, off-grid, powered by solar, easy to scale up, and cheap to produce,” he said. “It’s my vision that many people can enjoy their own source of drinking water in the future, especially in drought-hit areas. Next to this device, we are developing a system that doesn’t have moving parts, perfectly to use for open agriculture. Just stick them in the ground and they make water.” With one in 10 people lacking access to safe drinking water, according to Water.org , Verheggen’s vision is more relevant now than ever. WaterCube was unveiled 23 June, 2016 during the OECD Water Governance Initiative at The Hague. + SunGlacier

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Compact WaterCube uses solar power to make clean drinking water

NASA rolls out new asteroid detection program to defend Earth from destructive meteors

January 14, 2016 by  
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Meteors land on Earth frequently, but most break up as they enter our atmosphere and the resulting pieces are too small to do much damage. Once in a while, though, a larger meteor will make it closer to the planet’s surface before exploding. NASA is responding to the potential threats with a new endeavor, the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). Its purpose is to determine the best way to track what the agency calls near-Earth objects (NEOs) – those are big asteroids and meteors to the rest of us. The PDCO will also work on figuring out how to stop meteors from hitting Earth – just like in the movies. Read the rest of NASA rolls out new asteroid detection program to defend Earth from destructive meteors

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