Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

July 23, 2018 by  
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Bad news for national park lovers: a new study published in Science Advances  has found that many national parks have levels of of air pollution on par with major US cities. In parks such as Sequoia, Acadia, and Joshua tree, toxic ozone levels breaching the safe limit set by the EPA rivaled those found in cities such as New York and Los Angeles, which has the worst air quality rating of cities in the United States. While the number of dangerous pollution days has fallen for both cities and parks since the 1990 enactment of the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule of 1999, experts are pressing for more regulation after this week’s findings. National parks see an 8% decline in visitor numbers, on average, in months recording two to three days of bad air quality. The statistics suggest that many of the parks’ guests choose to come not only for the sights, but for their health as well. And, while some have criticized Regional Haze Rule regulations, study co-author Ivan Rudik disagrees. An assistant professor at Cornell University, Rudik stated that “some of the arguments that people are making against the Regional Haze Rule are that the benefits are basically zero, that these visibility rules don’t matter much or maybe the health improvements are overstated. But if you look at what people actually do, they clearly do care.” Related: UN creates a new global climate change coalition Recent years have seen record-breaking numbers of visitors to national parks, yet another reason to reevaluate government standards when it comes to air pollution. Speaking to The Associated Press, Rudik remarked that “even though the national parks are supposed to be icons of a pristine landscape, quite a lot of people are being exposed to ozone levels that could be detrimental to their health.” + Science Advances Via Ecowatch Images via Shutterstock

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Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

Trump administration wants to allow "extreme and cruel" hunting methods in Alaska

May 23, 2018 by  
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Donald Trump’s administration is angling to amend hunting regulations for national preserves in Alaska , and not for the better. Announced this week, the proposed changes would reverse Obama-era rules that forbid hunting methods the Sierra Club described as cruel and extreme. Among these methods? Baiting bears with human food and shooting wolf pups and bear cubs in their dens. The National Park Service (NPS) announced the proposal this week, saying it would toss out 2015 regulatory provisions banning hunting practices that Alaska allows on state land. Their proposal would affect national preserves, but not national parks . The Associated Press reported that increasing hunting rights on federal lands has been among Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s priorities; the Washington Post said that the NPS’s proposal is in keeping with an order from Zinke to assent to states’ wishes to expand recreational hunting. Related: Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters These rules would allow Alaska officials to make the final decision about methods such as killing bear cubs with their mothers, shooting swimming caribou from a boat, targeting animals from snowmobiles or airplanes, hunting animals in their dens, baiting animals with sweets, or poisoning animals. “Targeting cubs and mothers through baiting and other extreme hunting measures has no place on our public lands ,” said Alli Harvey, an Alaska representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “Zinke is undermining science-based wildlife management and the basic premise of public lands as places for wildlife conservation . This decision overrides fundamental national environmental safeguards in the name of narrow interests.” You can comment on the proposal on the Regulations.gov website until July 23. + Sierra Club + National Park Service Via The Washington Post and the Associated Press Images via  Depositphotos (1)

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Trump administration wants to allow "extreme and cruel" hunting methods in Alaska

California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate

May 23, 2018 by  
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In a monumental trial, DeWayne Johnson will soon become the first person to face Monsanto in court for an alleged cover-up of the cancer-causing dangers of its herbicide products. Johnson, a father of three and resident of California , has cancer, which he believes was caused by his exposure to Monsanto-produced chemicals in his work as a groundskeeper. Though Monsanto has denied it, studies have demonstrated a link between glyphosate , the active ingredient in Monsanto herbicides, and cancer. Last week, presiding Judge Curtis Karnow issued a ruling that allowed for the consideration of evidence with regards to whether Monsanto knew about the dangers of its products and systematically concealed it, as well as the specifics of Johnson’s case. Johnson’s lawsuit, which will be filed on June 18th in San Francisco county superior court, is part of a larger legal fight against Monsanto. Approximately 4,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that the failure to disclose the dangers of its chemicals has led to  cancer . The soon-to-be-filed lawsuit says that Monsanto “championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies,” while engaging in a “prolonged campaign of misinformation,” which caused harm to the public. “We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” Michael Miller, Johnson’s lawyer,  told the Guardian . “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public.” Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer Monsanto claims there is no evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic. “Glyphosate-based herbicides are supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health and environmental effects databases ever compiled for a pesticide product,” Monsanto said in a statement . “Comprehensive toxicological and environmental fate studies conducted over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated the strong safety profile of this widely used herbicide.” Monsanto will soon have to defend this position in court, not only in California, but also in St. Louis, Missouri , where Monsanto was founded. Via The Guardian Images via Chafer Machinery , Avaaz and Mike Mozart

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Tourists in Utah are tossing priceless dinosaur footprints into a lake

May 11, 2018 by  
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People, this is why we can’t have nice things. Tourists in Utah have been removing dinosaur footprints embedded in sandstone and tossing them into the lake at Red Fleet State Park in Vernal. The foot-long prehistoric dino tracks primarily come from the reptile known as the velociraptor in Jurassic Park (it’s actually a Deinonychus ), and park officials are frantically trying to stop visitors from destroying the priceless artifacts. Park officials don’t know why people have started tossing the prints into the lake. Certainly, some people don’t realize what they are doing, despite signs around the site warning visitors not to disturb the sandstone. “It’s become quite a big problem,” Utah Division of State Parks spokesman Devan Chavez told the Salt Lake Tribune . “They’re just looking to throw rocks off the side. What they don’t realize is these rocks they’re picking up, they’re covered in dinosaur tracks.” Related: Video captures vandals toppling 18-million-year-old sandstone formation in Oregon For now, the park is putting up more signs to stop the vandalism, but they are also considering sending a diving team into the water to recover the prints. Unfortunately, many of them shatter when they hit the water, and many others have probably dissolved. “Some of them are likely lost forever,” Chavez said. Tourists have vandalized national and state park sites multiple times in the past few years, including an instance in 2001 where three Boy Scouts tore up a dinosaur print trail at the same park. In 2013, Boy Scout leaders tipped over “goblin” formations in Goblin Valley State Park, and even celebrities have gotten in on the vandalism . Unfortunately, due to the Trump administration’s budget cuts, the parks system is struggling to address the ongoing problem across the country. Via History and the Salt Lake Tribune Image via Jim McKenzie

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Tourists in Utah are tossing priceless dinosaur footprints into a lake

This bold ship-inspired tiny house has a surprising minimalist interior

May 11, 2018 by  
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Designed by Brian and Joni Buzarde, the Land Ark RV is a tiny home on wheels that’s geared toward adventurers who prefer to travel in style. Not only does the RV’s design include a contemporary and sophisticated all-black corrugated metal exterior, but the interior boasts a well-lit living space, complete with all of the comforts of home. The sleek silhouette of the beautiful RV is inspired by the symmetrical front elevation often found in ship design. The sloped roof appears steeper from different angles, creating a sense of movement even when the tiny home is stationary. Related: Timber cabin on wheels lets you hit the open road in luxurious comfort In contrast to the sleek, all-black exterior, the interior is a light-filled oasis of strategic design. Clad in natural pinewood panels, the living space is large and airy. The kitchen and living room are subtly integrated, sharing a long shelf that pulls double duty as a dining area or office desk. A large sleeping loft is accessible by ladder and lit by various windows. For extra space on the ground floor, an additional “flex room” can fit a queen size bed or serve as an office. The tiny home ‘s bathroom, which comes with a 30 x 60 inch tub and Kohler features, is compact but has a long pine ledge to create plenty of shelf space. There are also several linen and storage nooks to help deter clutter. + Land Ark RV Via Dwell Photography by Jeremy Gudac via Land Ark RV

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This bold ship-inspired tiny house has a surprising minimalist interior

France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

May 11, 2018 by  
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Earlier this year a viral Facebook photo of a clothing store in France destroying apparel sparked outrage — and Paris-based group Emmaus got involved. The organization working to end homelessness started tackling the clothing dilemma, and a recent Circular Economy Roadmap from the government proposes a solution: banning stores from chucking unsold clothes . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Exposition de la poubelle de Celio, rue du Gros Horloge à Rouen. (Artiste inconnu).Celio jette ses vêtements … Posted by Nathalie Beauval on  Saturday, February 3, 2018 France’s Circular Economy Roadmap calls for applying the main principles of the food waste battle to the clothing industry by 2019; a 2016 law requires grocery stores to donate food instead of throwing it away. The government said in the roadmap they aim to ensure unsold textiles “are neither discarded nor eliminated.” So France could prohibit stores from trashing clothing that isn’t sold. Clothing stores might have to donate unsold wares instead. Related: This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels Emmaus deputy director general Valérie Fayard told local research company Novethic while the details aren’t clear yet, as this is a roadmap presentation, it’s still good news. She said, “The deadline of 2019 will allow the government to launch an inventory of the situation, calculate the number of tonnages discarded, the processes put in place by brands, and difficulties.” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said by 2019, roadmap measures could be translated into legislation, according to Fashion Network . Europe ditches four million tons of clothing every year, according to Fashion Network. Meanwhile, five million tons are placed on the market. France is one of Europe’s biggest fashion markets — but they throw away 700,000 tons of clothing per year and only recycle 160,000 tons. Green Matters said France was “the first country to pass a law” preventing supermarkets and grocery stores from tossing out food nearing expiration. + Circular Economy Roadmap Via Novethic , Green Matters , My Modern Met , and Fashion Network Images via Alp Allen Altiner on Unsplash and Cam Morin on Unsplash

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France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

The self-sufficient Gut Feeling house produces more electricity than it uses

May 11, 2018 by  
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This narrow rental home, nestled in Oberaudorf — a village in Bavaria, Germany — is the perfect place to refuel and find inspiration. Architect Markus Eck designed the house, named Gut Feeling, as a green  vacation home suitable for two people. With solar panels, which produce more electricity than the home uses, and a heat recovery system that circulates fresh air, the home embraces sustainability while keeping guests comfortable all year long. The house exemplifies simplicity using natural building materials . On the ground floor, there is a small garage, a kitchen, a dining area and a living room. On the second floor, there is a bedroom and bathroom. The third floor houses additional space for guests to sleep and a freestanding bathtub. Both the interior and exterior of the home are clad in timber. In order to create more space, the architect included a terrace on two sides of the building. Residents may also enjoy outstanding views thanks to the large sliding doors that lead out to the terraces. Related: 7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life Eck also included sustainable features, such as s olar panels , which produce more electricity than the home uses, and a heat pump , which collects any extra heat in two large buffers. When the sky is cloudy, the home uses 100 percent green energy provided by a hydroelectric power station at a nearby inn. To maintain a steady, comfortable temperature and allow fresh air to circulate year-round, the home relies on built-in sensors and a heat recovery system . + Markus Eck Architekt Via Dwell Photos by Florian Holzherr

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The self-sufficient Gut Feeling house produces more electricity than it uses

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

Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act

January 30, 2018 by  
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In a landmark act of conservation, Chile has created five new national parks out of over 10 million acres of land in Patagonia . One million of these acres was donated to the Chilean government by American philanthropists Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia Inc., and the late Doug Tompkins, who founded North Face and Esprit. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet signed the law creating these parks, forging a vast 17-park route through the beautiful, sparsely populated region. The one million acre donation from the Tompkins represents the culmination of decades of land conservation work in Chile, and what is being called be the largest donation of privately held land in history. A beloved place in life, Patagonia is where Doug Tompkins passed away in 2015 in a kayaking accident. The Tompkins are one of several foreign landowners of Patagonia, a role not without controversy or dissent from locals. Still, their land donation marks a major milestone in Chilean conservation . Related: Scientists discover 52-million-year-old tomatillo fossil in Patagonia “This is not just an unprecedented act of preservation,” Bachelet said in a speech in Patagonia, according to The Guardian . “It is an invitation to imagine other forms to use our land. To use natural resources in a way that does not destroy them. To have sustainable development – the only profitable economic development in the long term.” Bachelet’s environmental legacy is not limited to Patagonia. Now at the end of her term, Bachelet has also recently created one of the largest Marine Protected Areas near Easter Island, preserving 720,000 square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean . “President Bachelet is leaving behind a bold legacy of environmental protection,” Maximiliano Bello, an advisor to the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy program, told The Guardian . “This is more impressive because Chile is still a developing country, with a long history of development and exploitation of resources – in most cases over-exploitation. If Chile can take these huge environmental steps, there are few reasons why developed nations can’t act as well.” Via The Guardian Images via Deposit Photos ,  Carolina Del Campo/Flickr and payayita/Flickr

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Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act

Sail away from it all in this gorgeous floating tiny home

January 30, 2018 by  
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The tiny home trend is now taking to the open ocean with this beautiful tiny houseboat. The Nautilus Hausboote is a sophisticated floating home with a stunning interior. The compact houseboat is outfitted with numerous space-saving features and enough room for a family of six. The Berlin-based company that makes the boats, Hausboot Kaufen, is leading the way into a new generation of floating tiny homes that offer just as much comfort as their land-based counterparts. Although the Nautilus design comes in a few versions, the standard houseboat offers just under 500 square feet of living space. The boat has two stories, with the living space on the first floor and an open-air deck on the roof. A LED lighting system is installed throughout. Related: Solar-powered floating home in Portugal generates a year’s worth of energy in just six months The entrance is through a serene outdoor deck that leads to the interior living room – a light-filled space with a comfy seating area and kitchen. A contemporary suspended fireplace and underfloor heating warms up the space on chilly nights at sea. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls add to the feeling of openness on the interior as well as an abundance of natural light. The adjacent kitchen has plenty of counter space and storage cupboards. There are two bedrooms and an office space that can double as a guest room at the back of the boat. All in all the houseboat can accommodate a family of six. + Nautilus Houseboats

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Sail away from it all in this gorgeous floating tiny home

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