Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen

December 4, 2020 by  
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The U.K. has moved one step closer towards its net-zero carbon target by unveiling a plan to test 100% green hydrogen for cooking and heating in 300 Scottish homes, making Scotland the first country to do so. Ofgem, the U.K.’s energy regulator, announced this plan on Monday. According to Ofgem, Scottish gas company SGN will be responsible for fitting houses with hydrogen heating systems. SGN plans to start fitting houses in Fife with free hydrogen systems that families will use over the next three to four years. The ambitious project is a trial begun by the U.K. government to monitor the viability of using carbon-free hydrogen generated through electrolysis. Ofgem funded the project with $24 million as part of an innovation competition aimed at finding new green energy sources. The group also chipped in $17 million for tests on using the available natural gas pipes to safely transport hydrogen gas over long distances. According to Antony Green, the head of the National Grid, the U.K. must embrace green alternatives such as this carbon-free hydrogen. “If we truly want to reach a net zero de-carbonized future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” Green said. “Sectors such as heat are difficult to de-carbonize, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.” While hydrogen is a safe gas, it comes with its fair share of challenges. For instance, electrolysis is only 80% effective. This means that the hydrogen generation process wastes about 20% of the energy used. Even so, the U.K. considers hydrogen a viable energy alternative for the 85% of the U.K. homes still using a gas furnace for heating. As the U.K. explores hydrogen-based energy, automobile and appliance industries are also testing this gas. For example, Toyota recently released news of the second generation Mirai, a car that runs on hydrogen. + Engadget Image via Pixabay

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Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen

Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

October 19, 2020 by  
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We’re all itching to get outdoors these days, and visiting National Parks is a safer travel option that allows you to take in the magnificent scenery that the U.S. has to offer. From the towering sequoia trees and granite cliffs of Yosemite to the snowy mountain peaks of Olympic followed by the rust-red canyons and Emerald Pools of Zion, there are many adventures that lie ahead. We’re giving away park passes to these three national parks plus $1,000 toward travel expenses to help you get to the great outdoors. Whether it’s your first trip to a national park or you’re a regular visitor to multiple parks across the country, the varying landscapes are enough to inspire awe in any explorer. On this trip, you can look up to the giant sequoias in Yosemite, then make your way to the dreamy Pacific Northwest for a visit to Olympic National Park. Round out the trip with a day at Zion National Park, where you can take in the otherworldly red cliffs as well as a hanging garden and waterfalls at Emerald Pools. If cabin fever is really setting in, this is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature all while staying socially distanced. If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, you can check out our giveaway here . Enter by November 5, 2020 for a chance to win two park passes to Yosemite, Olympic and Zion National Parks plus $1,000 for travel expenses. Terms and conditions apply. The winner will be selected on November 7, 2020 and notified via email. So, what are you waiting for? Good luck, and happy exploring!

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Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

Iconic Farnsworth House gets a conceptual, sustainable redesign

October 19, 2020 by  
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As a design exercise, California-based architecture firm Jeff Barrett Studio has reimagined Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House for the modern times with a sustainable redesign that includes onsite renewable energy and modular construction. Conceived as a case study for sustainability that would still pay homage to the original architectural style, the proposed design follows the same building footprint while introducing a new materials palette and energy-saving features. Located in Plano, Illinois, about an hour west of Chicago, the Farnsworth House is recognized worldwide as a masterpiece of International Style of architecture. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed and constructed the 1,500-square-foot structure between 1945 and 1951 as a country retreat for his client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth. Built with two slabs, a series of steel columns and expansive floor-to-ceiling glass throughout, the minimalist home was created to usher the natural landscape indoors. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and currently operates as a historic house museum that welcomes over 10,000 guests from around the world annually. Related: Gorgeous Miesian-inspired glass pavilion floats above a natural dam Jeff Barrett Studios has revisited the structure with a conceptual redesign that features both low-tech and high-tech sustainable strategies. “How might this dwelling be reinvisioned [ sic ] today given current technologies, would the structure remain significant aesthetically, and how might it function as a case study for sustainability?” the architects said in a project statement. “The project has been developed with consideration to sustainable concepts and innovative technologies reaching high energy performance and constructability.” Instead of the original steel-and-glass palette, the architects propose building the structure with cross-laminated timber , more specifically acetylated wood (Accoya) for its durability and resistance to decay. The use of CLT would also allow for modular construction, which would reduce material waste. The iconic full-height windows would have low-E glazing, while operable skylights on the roof introduce an element of passive ventilation. The roof would be covered in photovoltaic panels and vegetation, and a natural swimming pool would round out the property.  + Jeff Barrett Studio Images via Jeff Barrett Studio

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Iconic Farnsworth House gets a conceptual, sustainable redesign

Will a Biden administration be able to reverse Trump’s climate damage?

September 30, 2020 by  
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Will a Biden administration be able to reverse Trump’s climate damage? Hannah Murphy Wed, 09/30/2020 – 01:00 This story originally appeared in Rolling Stone  and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story. When he talks about the Trump administration, David Doniger likes to say: “Imagine where we’d be if they knew what they were doing.” The climate lawyer and senior adviser to the NRDC Action Fund spends his days defending the environment from the U.S. government, and for the past 3.5 years, that’s meant a front-row seat to the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on any regulation that’s meant to slow the  climate crisis .  But it’s also been a window into the hasty, sloppy and legally dubious ways that it’s gone about it. “One of the hallmarks of this administration is how incompetently they’re doing this,” says Doniger. “It shows up in how slowly they’ve been able to work, and how flimsy their legal rationales are.” Almost all of Trump’s attempts at deregulation — some 100 rules that he’s tried to eliminate or weaken — are being challenged in court, and environmentalists are steadily winning. According to the  Institute for Policy Integrity  at New York University, the Trump administration has lost 69 of the 83 legal challenges it’s faced in its deregulatory blitz.  “We were saved by their incompetence,”” says Andrew Wetzler of the NRDC Action Fund, mainly by its failure to follow basic rule-making procedures. It rushed through the process, often shortening or entirely skipping over the required 60 days for public comment, which provided a clear opening for its rule changes to be challenged in court. The administration’s ineptitude has given environmentalists hope that if Trump loses the election, the policy impact of his unrelenting pro-fossil fuel agenda ultimately could be short-lived. “If he’s a one-term wonder,” says Doniger, “the biggest consequence of the Trump administration may just turn out to be lost time.” But time, at this hour of the climate fight, might be our most precious resource. As we stumble ever closer to the  collapse of ice sheets, oceans and forests , the range of meaningful action we could take narrows. There is now believed to be more carbon dioxide in the air than any time in the last 3 million years. Our oceans are on track by the end of this century to become more acidic than they’ve been in some 15 million years — when they were enduring a major extinction event. Those oceans are also rising steadily enough to threaten the homes of 150 million people in the next three decades. “We lost years at a critical time,” says Wetzler. “We’re on the precipice of a number of climate and biological tipping points.” And, he says, we won’t fully understand the impact of that loss for years.  If he’s a one-term wonder, the biggest consequence of the Trump administration may just turn out to be lost time. If Joe Biden wins in November, environmentalists say, his administration would have a slim window of opportunity to get our agencies back on track to meet the enormity of the climate crisis. “It means being aggressive from day one,” says Brett Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “And not futzing around — knowing what you’re going to do and implementing it immediately.”  Making up for the lost time won’t be easy. Despite his slap-dash approach, Trump still managed to scramble the trajectory of American climate policy, creating a tangle of legal fights that will have to be cleared up for U.S. climate policy to move forward. And he left almost no part of our environmental regulatory structure untouched —  greenlighting fossil fuel infrastructure such as the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines, setting us back on emission-reduction goals by reversing the Clean Power Plan and higher fuel-efficiency standards, and gutting the federal agencies that should be at the helm of our climate response.  So how difficult will it be to unscramble this mess? It would have to happen in three parts, environmentalists say, and all three would have to start on day one. First, Biden would have a powerful arsenal of executive tools available to him — if he chooses to use them. A  coalition of over 500 environmental  groups already has assembled a plan for how he could effectively jumpstart our fight against the climate crisis using executive powers, which would avoid both going through Congress and the lengthy federal rule-making process. Using executive power, Biden could declare a national climate emergency. It wouldn’t just send an important message to Americans — and the rest of the world — that we’re taking the climate crisis seriously; it also would give the administration the power to mobilize the government on a massive scale, like ordering the Secretary of Defense to redirect military spending toward the rapid development of clean energy.  Biden also could immediately order federal agencies to reverse the climate rollbacks Trump introduced through executive order — such as allowing oil and gas companies to side-step state approval — and start issuing his own. Most urgent, Biden would have the power to keep more fossil fuels in the ground: He could direct the Secretary of the Interior to halt oil-and-gas leasing and fracking on federal lands, reinstitute the ban on exporting crude oil, and order all federal agencies to deny permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure, such as pipelines, storage facilities and refineries.    He’d also be able to change the ways that money moves through the energy sector. He could prohibit the U.S. government from financing fossil fuel programs overseas and end all Department of Energy loans for fossil fuels stateside, while also requiring the Federal Reserve to manage climate risks — forcing it to acknowledge the current and future impact of  climate change  on our economy.  Many of these tools already were available in the Obama era, but the administration chose not to use them. For example, “the Clean Air Act is actually quite clear that you have the authority to set national ambient air quality standards,” says Hartl. “It would have been incredibly bold, and it actually wouldn’t have had the problems that the Clean Power Plan had. They could have really moved the needle on greenhouse gases in a very, very powerful way.” But, Hartl says, the Obama administration shied away from these kinds of actions for fear of political consequences. At the beginning of this year, two-thirds of American adults said that protecting the environment should be a top priority of the federal government, up from only 30 percent at the beginning of Obama’s first term. Biden would face a very different national landscape. At the beginning of this year,  two-thirds of American adults said that protecting the environment should be a top priority of the federal government , up from only 30 percent at the beginning of Obama’s first term.  In a poll last week , likely Democratic voters ranked climate change as the most important issue to them in this election, and Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, has found that talking about climate change actually could help persuade voters on the fence to vote for a Democrat. All of this is to say, a Biden administration could have an unprecedented political mandate to take action on the climate crisis.  In addition to issuing executive orders, beginning on day one Biden also would need to start the process of unwinding the deregulation efforts that Trump carried out through the federal rule-making process — such as  rollbacks on the Endangered Species Act  and fuel-emissions standards — and writing new ones to take their place. Environmentalists are confident that a new administration systematically could undo each rollback, but that process could take two years, according to Hartl.  And the Biden administration would need to learn from Trump’s mistakes. Legal challenges from the industries that these regulations impact — the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association — are inevitable, “so you have to go in and be prepared to defend it the first time,” says Hartl. That means following the process to the letter: establishing rules with legal backing from legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts; opening the rule up to public comment; and then presenting a final rule that can stand up in court. Unlike Trump’s deregulation efforts, which were fighting against decades of environmental legislation, the law would be on Biden’s side. “The reality is that when Congress passed these laws,” says Hartl, “they were designed to make the environment better.” Finally, Biden would have to start hiring like mad. Over the past four years, Trump’s EPA and Interior Department have hemorrhaged talent. The Bureau of Land Management moved the majority of its staff out of Washington, D.C., leading some 70 percent of that staff to resign, and the EPA is nearly as small as it was during the Nixon era, when the EPA was founded. “That pattern, in the most extreme way, is mirrored throughout the environmental agencies,” says Wetzler. “There’s been a real brain drain of people who can’t stand in an agency and support the agenda under the Trump administration, and we’ll have to put back the pieces of very demoralized, and in some cases broken, agencies.” But from those ashes, Biden could build a coalition of climate advocates across his cabinet. His transition team, and the 4,000 people they appoint,  are arguably more influential than any campaign promises he could make . “Personnel is policy,” says Jamal Raad, co-founder and campaign director for Evergreen Action, founded by former staffers of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign. “We need to choose regulators that have a climate lens,” and that lens doesn’t end at the EPA — it can reach the Department of Agriculture, where we have to reimagine our food production to work with our changing climate, or the Treasury, where regulators could interpret the Dodd-Frank consumer protection act to include climate risks. And within the White House, Raad says, Biden could create a National Climate Council that’s equivalent to the National Economic Council. “There needs to be a plan to reorient the federal government so that climate is a lens in all decision making.” Heading into the general election, pressure from the left wing of the party shaped Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan, “a green new deal in all but name,”  wrote activist and journalist Julian Brave NoiseCat . “It’s the most progressive, forward-leaning environmental plan that any candidate for president has ever released,” says Wetzler of the NRDC Action Fund. “It would represent incredible progress.” And while the Biden campaign hasn’t laid out a timetable for the plan, “the Biden team has been signaling their prioritization of climate by making it central to their economic recovery plans,” says Raad. “I think that folks should be cautiously optimistic — but vigilant — on the prospect of climate being a priority early in the first term.” Of course, this all hinges on what happens in November. And if Trump is re-elected, his administration would have the chance to establish a legacy of more than just incompetence and squandered time. Four more years of Trump being in charge of the environment could permanently alter the American landscape. If you think about where the United States was at the beginning of the Trump administration — and where the world was, in terms of taking climate change seriously — it’s a huge, squandered opportunity. In some cases, it would give the Trump administration time to fight back against the legal challenges they face, leaning on courts that they’ve stacked with anti-environmental judges. And damage could be done that will be near impossible to undo — rules can be changed, but mines can’t be unmined. The Trump administration has pursued the largest rollback of federally protected land in U.S. history. Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, for example, which Trump shrunk by 85 percent in 2017, is in the crosshairs of uranium developers. Trump’s move has been mired in lawsuits, but a second term could give them the time to untangle them and hand the land over to the uranium lobbyists.  Likewise, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was just approved in August, leaving little time for leasing, let alone actual development, before Inauguration Day. But if Trump wins, those leases are likely to move forward, as will the roads, pipelines and oil rigs that come with them, doing permanent damage to a vital and fragile ecosystem. “Over time you’re looking at millions and millions of acres of fossil fuel leasing,” says Hartl from the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “And eventually, once you get to the point where they’re actually putting drills in the ground, it’s very hard to undo that. You’re locking in a tremendous amount of fossil fuel infrastructure.” Trump’s influence on the Supreme Court looms heavily for the environment as well. With Trump already raring to appoint a new justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a second term is likely to offer him a fourth Supreme Court appointment, which would mean the highest court would house   seven Republican-appointed justices. When you’re suing over environmental issues, the court’s make-up can be the difference between having your day in court and not. “For example, there’s a general judicial doctrine called ‘standing,’ or your ability to go to court to pursue your aggrieved interests,” explains Hartl. “Conservative judges want to narrow who has standing as much as possible, because that limits access to the courts. When you’re fighting for the environment, and your interest is protecting an endangered species or the atmosphere or the water, they’ve already made it hard for us to go to court, to have standing. And they can narrow it even further so that we don’t even have recourse. Our ability to just fight for the environment is at stake.” The climate movement has never been more clear on what it is fighting for and what it needs to do, and finally has a presidential candidate who is signaling some willingness to do it. The prescription is fairly simple: Stop burning fossil fuels so we can begin drawing down the carbon in the atmosphere that’s overheating our planet and disrupting the systems that have supported life on Earth as we know it. The president has a lot of power to take that action, and we have no time to lose. “It’s true that we have 30 years [before an irreversible climate collapse], but when you act on that 30-year scale really affects how radically you have to act,” says Wetzler. “If you think about where the United States was at the beginning of the Trump administration — and where the world was, in terms of taking climate change seriously — it’s a huge, squandered opportunity.” This November, we can choose to act, and set ourselves back on course. “If this is a one-time, Black Swan event, we’re probably going to recover as a nation,” says Doniger. “This is the project of the century.” Andy Kroll contributed reporting to this story. Pull Quote If he’s a one-term wonder, the biggest consequence of the Trump administration may just turn out to be lost time. At the beginning of this year, two-thirds of American adults said that protecting the environment should be a top priority of the federal government, up from only 30 percent at the beginning of Obama’s first term. If you think about where the United States was at the beginning of the Trump administration — and where the world was, in terms of taking climate change seriously — it’s a huge, squandered opportunity. Topics Climate Change Policy & Politics Oil & Gas Policy & Politics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which Trump shrunk by 85 percent in 2017, is in the crosshairs of uranium developers. Photo by Krista Hardin/Shutterstock.

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Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

September 24, 2020 by  
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After creating a life-size board game out of cardboard , Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame has combined his love of cardboard crafting with another passion — rare comic book action figures. The self-proclaimed “comic book nerdboy” recently launched a Kickstarter for unique handmade cardboard cutouts of some of his favorite indie comic book characters. In a collection called ‘ Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs ,’ Nuwame has meticulously put together a 15-figurine set — including one of the earliest Black comic book heroes, Ace Harlem — that are available exclusively on Kickstarter. Created as a limited one-time release, the 15 figurines in The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs series were all made by hand from cardboard , photo paper, glue, magnets, paint and bamboo picks by Nuwame in his living room. As articulated cutouts, each magnetic figurine can be moved into a variety of poses. His Kickstarter videos show how he puts each figurine together with bamboo toothpicks and glue. Related: Parent shares process of making life-size board game from cardboard “Since the start of the 2020 pandemic , I noticed many of my fellow comic book creators, in addition to myself, have experienced challenges when it comes to sharing our characters and stories with the public,” Nuwame explained on Kickstarter. “Many of us have amazing comics to share with current fans and potential new ones, but the ongoing cancellations of comic book conventions have made expanding audiences more difficult. However, this new unfortunate reality spawned an idea!” In addition to the inclusion of classic but perhaps little-known comic book character favorites, Nuwame has also included more recent characters including those from his own self-published line of comic books. Characters include the likes of Ace Harlem, a golden age comic book detective hero; Lacrossa, a super heroine of Nuwame’s creation from 2016; and a glow-in-the-dark horror character called The Muffenman. The one-of-a-kind cardboard figurines are only available for purchase on Kickstarter through September. + Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Outs Images via Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame

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Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

September 21, 2020 by  
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Federal and Florida state authorities are working together to complete the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project, an important part of restoring the Everglades. The state was just awarded a $200 million contract, meaning the last step of this plan, which Congress approved in 2009, will finally begin in November. “Phase 2 of the project will focus on raising and reconstructing the remaining 6.7 miles of the eastern Tamiami Trail with features to further improve water conveyance, roadway safety, and stormwater treatment,” according to an official statement. “Construction on Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in November 2020.” Related: Can Florida save its prized Everglades from climate change destruction? The Tamiami Trail is the 275 miles of U.S. Highway 41 that join Tampa and Miami. Politicians in Tallahassee came up with the idea to link Florida’s west and east coasts with this route in 1915. But in the last 105 years, traffic has increased more than anybody could have foreseen, straining local ecosystems . Before the highway and other human interference, more than 450 billion gallons of water per year easily flowed southward into what is now Everglades National Park. By 2000, that figure was only about 260 billion gallons of water per year, resulting in a deteriorating ecosystem. That year, Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which aimed to “restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.” With a 35-plus-year timeline and a $10.5 billion budget, this was the largest hydrologic restoration project in the country’s history. The restoration project is important for both wildlife and the state’s economy. Routing more freshwater to the Everglades will keep salt water at bay, providing drinking water for humans and animals and helping to restore wetlands for wading birds. A better water flow will also boost recreational activities and agriculture and help maintain real estate values. Everybody from the Florida panther to the alligator to the Midwestern tourist will benefit from this investment in the Everglades ecosystem. “The granting of this award is an exciting milestone in the completion of such a critical project for Everglades restoration,” said Margaret Everson, acting director of the National Park Service, according to CBS Miami . “This step is a wonderful example of how collaboration and coordination with our partners sets the stage for long-term restoration efforts.” + National Park Service Via CBS Miami Image via Pixabay

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Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

Bulk up the eco-friendly way with Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes

September 21, 2020 by  
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Pop culture from days gone by was littered with images of big, ripped guys pouring raw eggs into blenders and eating huge slabs of steak. But those days are over. After all, vegans and environmentally conscious people want to build muscle, too. Enter Grounded’s plant-based protein milkshakes. Being beefy can now mean nixing meat and dairy, too. Grounded’s plant-based protein milkshakes are dairy-free , but each shake still has 20 grams of protein from plants. These protein shakes are also gluten-, GMO-, nut- and soy-free, making them a feasible option for many different lifestyles. As the website says, Grounded shakes are “crap-free”! Related: The best sources for plant-based protein For the creamy effect without the dairy, Grounded uses coconut milk , which has a sweet flavor and smooth, thick texture similar to dairy milk but with a smaller carbon footprint. Coconut milk also has less sugar than all types of dairy milk, including skim milk. Unlike many protein shakes on the market, Grounded eschews a chalky, artificially sweetened flavor found in many protein shakes on the market, instead opting for two rich, delicious flavors (M*lk Chocolate and Mint Choc) made from natural ingredients. Ingredients include organic , fair-trade cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, pink Himalayan salt and pea protein, just to name a few. “There’s a real need for a clean, genuinely natural, plant-based option,” said Bryn Ferris, co-founder of Grounded. “We know this is the most natural plant-based protein drink out there.” It’s hard to claim you’re environmentally conscious if you’re also using plastic these days. That’s why every single container of Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes is 100% recyclable . These shakes come in cartons and, yes, the cartons are also made from plants. And that is why Grounded is so different from so many other options out there … for now. Soon, other companies may follow this example and start bringing more plants to their products (and packaging) to help you nourish your body in sustainable way. + Grounded Via Plant Based News Images via Grounded

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Bulk up the eco-friendly way with Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes

Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

August 14, 2020 by  
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Rare large blue butterflies just experienced their most substantial reintroduction into the wild. About 750 of the globally endangered butterflies successfully hatched from larvae and flapped around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this summer. “Bringing such an important and rare species back to Rodborough Common is a testament to what collaborations between organisations and individuals can achieve,” said  conservation  officer Julian Bendle in a press release issued by National Trust. “Creating the right conditions has been vital to the programme and this doesn’t happen overnight.” Related: Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement Rodborough Common serves as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Officials selected this area for the butterfly release because it met the species’  habitat  requirements. The space houses several rare plants and insects, including the pasqueflower, duke of burgundy butterfly, rock rose pot beetle and fourteen different orchid species. Of Britain’s nine types of blue butterflies, the large blue, with a wingspan surpassing two inches, remains the biggest and rarest. With no large blue sightings at Rodborough Common logged for 150 years, in 1979 officials declared the species extinct in  Britain . Lepidopterologists began reintroducing the large blue from continental Europe nearly 40 years ago. The butterfly has now established populations at several sites across southern England. The campaign to bring the butterflies back to Rodborough Common took five years of planning and included changing the grazing patterns of local  cattle , ensuring the butterflies had plenty of marjoram and wild thyme to lay their eggs in and providing an abundance of delicious red ants. This project also required many human partners, including people at the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society (RES) and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners. As David Simcox, research ecologist and co-author of the commons management plan, explained, cows help the butterflies by creating “keeping the grass down so sunlight can reach the soil which gently warms it creating perfect conditions for the ants.” Simcox continues, saying, “Then, in the summer when the ants are out  foraging , nature performs a very neat trick – the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest. It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.” Last August, conservation groups released 1,100 larvae on the 867-acre site. The 750 resulting adult  butterflies  demonstrate the program’s success. + National Trust Images via Sarah Meredith and David Simcox

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Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

Earth Overshoot Day comes 3 weeks later this year

August 14, 2020 by  
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In more silver-lining news related to COVID-19 , humanity’s ecological footprint contracted this year more than any time since researchers started tracking it in the 1970s. Earth Overshoot Day will fall three weeks later this year than it did in 2019. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Earth Overshoot Day isn’t exactly a holiday. The date changes year to year and marks the time when humans’ use of ecological resources and services exceeds what our planet can regenerate in a year. This year, Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 22, according to the Global Footprint Network. Last year, the grim day came three weeks earlier, on July 29. While this is a significant improvement, it still falls noticeably short, with humanity using a year’s worth of resources with more than four months of the year still to go. Related: Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish The Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day by dividing Earth’s biocapacity, or the amount of natural resources the planet can generate that year, by people’s demand for those resources. Then it multiplies the ratio by 365. We have COVID-19 to thank for this year’s 9.3% reduction of our ecological footprint. When you put humans on lockdown, carbon dioxide emissions suddenly drop. “This shift in the year-to-year date of Earth Overshoot Day represents the greatest ever single-year shift since the beginning of global overshoot in the early 1970s,” according to  the Earth Overshoot Calculation Report 2020. “In several instances the date was pushed back temporarily, such as in the aftermath of the post-2008 Great Recession, but the general trend remains that of a consistent upward trajectory.” Humanity is currently burning through natural resources 1.6 times faster than Earth can regenerate. So unless we can find an extra .6 planet, we will either have to change our ways ASAP or run short of resources. The Global Footprint Network’s ambitious goal is to move Earth Overshoot Day back five days per year, so that by 2050, we will be living within our ecological means. The group’s website suggests ways that people can move the date by focusing on five areas: cities, food , population, energy and planet. + Earth Overshoot Day Images via Earth Overshoot Day and Arek Socha

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Earth Overshoot Day comes 3 weeks later this year

Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration

August 13, 2020 by  
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Migratory birds had a victory on Tuesday when a federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s latest anti-bird move. By rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MTBA), Trump wanted to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions. The MTBA was first enacted in 1916 and codified into federal law in 1918 to protect birds that were going extinct. Originally, it covered certain species of birds in Canada, which was then part of Great Britain, and the U.S. Later, the act broadened to include more species and more countries, including Mexico, Russia and Japan. The MTBA is one of the oldest wildlife protection laws in the U.S. and was one of the National Audubon Society’s first big victories. Related: US and Canada in drastic crisis with 3 billion birds lost since 1970 Since 2017, Daniel Jorjani, solicitor for the Department of the Interior, has pushed to change the rule. Jorjani’s proposed update would punish construction companies, utilities and other industries, whose work sometimes kills birds , only if they intentionally harmed avian populations. This contradicts the spirit of the act, which urges companies to consider migratory patterns of birds in a project’s development phase. Fortunately for migratory birds, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni upheld the act. “That has been the letter of the law for the past century,” Caproni said. “But if the Department of the Interior has its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence.” Environmentalists and bird advocacy groups celebrated the victory. “We’re elated to see this terrible opinion overturned at a time when scientists are warning that we’ve lost as many as 3 billion birds [in North America] in the last 50 years,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “To relax rules, to have the unhampered killing or birds didn’t make any sense [and] was terrible and cruel really.” Via EcoWatch and Audubon Image via Wolfgang Vogt

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Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration

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