The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary

April 24, 2018 by  
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While there are numerous Dark Sky-certified National Parks across the US, the stunning Rainbow Bridge National Monument just received the world’s fourth official Dark Sky Sanctuary designation – the first ever for a National Park System site. Rainbow Bridge already boasted one of the darkest skies on Earth, but with its new status, you can continue to see Rainbow Bridge’s night sky as it’s meant to be seen, free from the light pollution that has become a mainstay of modern life. The International Dark Sky Association is a non-profit organization working to stop light pollution and mitigate its harmful effects on our health. The organization also helps identify places where you can see the night sky with reduced or no light pollution. On April 16, the association awarded its “sanctuary” designation to Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument, ushering it into an exclusive list of the most light pollution-free places in the world. Related: Switching to outdoor LEDs has made light pollution worse — without saving energy Rainbow Bridge provides a particularly stunning natural environment. Dark Sky designated parks, reserves and sanctuaries must be remote enough that they aren’t impacted by light pollution nearby, and they must also adhere to strict lighting standards, such as shielding fixtures so light doesn’t escape upward and using warmer bulbs. But even amidst all the Dark Sky designations, sanctuaries are exceptional, with their status meant to increase awareness of the sites in order to preserve them for future generations. “We’re thrilled to be the first National Park Service unit to receive this specific designation, as this will only fuel our night sky preservation efforts,” Rainbow Bridge National Monument superintendent William Shott said. If you want to visit this special place, you will need to have a boat to cross Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or get permission from the Navajo Nation to cross the tribe’s land. Via Earther Images via NPS and Unsplash

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The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary

Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

April 24, 2018 by  
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Maryland just became the second state in America to ban pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Animal rights advocates say the move will help cut demand for animals from puppy mills . The bill, HB 1662 , also encourages pet stores to work with rescue groups and animal shelters to promote the adoption of homeless animals, according to The Humane Society . Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law with bipartisan support. The state already has regulations in place requiring stores to reveal breeder information, and stores cannot use breeders that the United States Department of Agriculture has cited in the last two years. But delegate Benjamin Kramer, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Washington Post the regulations aren’t enough to protect animals. Related: California bans puppy mills and requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals Pet store owners fought against the law, hoping Hogan would veto it. Just Puppies co-owner Jeanea Thomson said her store doesn’t want animals from puppy mills, and that she and her husband visit their breeders, most in Iowa and Missouri, to vouch for conditions. But Kramer said the farms that store owners describe are abominations, telling The Washington Post, “There is not a single one that is this righteous, beautiful, loving, caring facility where there is room for puppies to roam and for breeding dogs to play.” Humane Society Maryland state director Emily Hovermale described the ban as a lifesaving measure that would close the state’s pet store market to puppy mills. She said, “Maryland has set an important precedent with this rejection of animal abuse that other states will surely follow.” Emily McCobb, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said a ban could result in a dog shortage, and people might not be sure where to go to get a pet. “There’s a lot of messaging around ‘adopt, don’t shop,’” she said. “But we haven’t done a good job of messaging about how to find responsible breeders.” The law will fully go into effect in 2020. It follows a bill passed in California last year that requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals. + The Humane Society Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

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Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

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

South Africa declares national disaster amid water crisis

February 14, 2018 by  
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South Africa’s has declared a national disaster over the country’s devastating drought . Although Cape Town has pushed back day zero – the day that the city runs out of water – until June 4, the country re-assessed the magnitude of the drought and determined that it has reached disaster proportions. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’gQyO9-pJQGFviQfJxV_bFA’,sig:’ZFbITQcOBf5-Gis86VmKk0R1VwsYtyop1Ko3KaFtFK4=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’917662626′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); A drought triggered by El Nino and driven by climate change has ravaged parts of the country, with the city of Cape Town, home to over 4 million, facing a water shortage that will require residents to line up to obtain water rations. Related: Cape Town’s water pipes could run dry by April Water consumption in South Africa has declined by about 139 million gallons per day thanks to residents who have worked hard to reduce usage. Residents are asked to use just 13 gallons of water a day. The hospitality industry has also gotten into the fight by asking hotel guests to keep showers under 2 minutes, and restaurants have stopped using linens and glassware to help reduce laundry needs. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’rTDF3ifzRwdZBuD23l-WlQ’,sig:’DZkRSoj0MiowFTKTU535y179iz34k_oHqiagdJUDbLc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’917662584′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Even still, on June 4, residents will need to line up at military-guarded locations to obtain water rations. There are also fears that the ongoing drought could harm the country’s industrial and agricultural output. Declaring the situation a national disaster allows the central government to take over relief efforts, which also means more money is available to address it. Via Reuters Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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South Africa declares national disaster amid water crisis

New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

February 13, 2018 by  
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You know how we’ve been freaking out about how quickly global warming is causing ice to melt and sea levels to rise? Turns out, we weren’t panicking nearly enough. New satellite data shows that sea levels will continue to rise at a pace that is much faster than anyone predicted – at least 1.5 inches PER YEAR. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed 25 years of satellite data from across the planet to determine how far sea levels have risen, and how much more they may rise in the near future. According to their findings, in the past 25 years, sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches. At the current rate of acceleration, sea levels will be 2 feet higher by 2100. Related: New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse The rise is being caused by warming oceans and melting glaciers and ice sheets. The recent acceleration, according to the study, is the result of melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The predicted sea level rise of 2 feet by century’s end may not be catastrophic for wealthier countries, but it will be devastating for those without the money to deal with impacts of global warming . Via Outer Places and CBS Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

Scrumptious Strategies to Leave No Pie Waste

January 23, 2018 by  
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Happy National Pie Day! It’s a worthy day to celebrate — … The post Scrumptious Strategies to Leave No Pie Waste appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Scrumptious Strategies to Leave No Pie Waste

This tent-shaped chapel in Portugal is in tune with nature

January 18, 2018 by  
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This open and inviting tent-shaped chapel by Plano Humano Arquitectos was designed to take full advantage of the majestic views and natural surroundings of Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal. The chapel is a new addition to the National Scout’s Activities Camp (CNAE), and its doors are open to anyone looking for shelter or a space for contemplation and introspection. The chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, takes the form of a large tent . The gable roof is lower and narrower at the entrance and it stretches forward and upward towards the rear of the chapel. Related: Modern chapel makes a powerful but minimalist statement in the Austrian countryside The design of the building is aligned with the spirit of communion with nature. Both early morning and late afternoon sunlight illuminate the interior to sustain visitors’ engagement with the space. In fall and winter, the light emphasizes the tranquility of the place and the unadorned symbiosis between building and landscape. A water channel runs through the space on a path that winds past the altar – the central place of any Christian celebratory space – and then into the landscape, directing the user to the cross, which is located outside the chapel. Twelve wooden beams – a reference to the 12 Apostles of the Bible – aims to translate the Biblical numerical symbolism into simple forms, construction principles, and natural building materials . +Plano Humano Arquitectos Photos by João Morgado

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This tent-shaped chapel in Portugal is in tune with nature

China wants to destroy space junk with giant lasers

January 18, 2018 by  
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Not only do we need to worry about pollution on Earth, but also in space . A team of six scientists in China are working on a very science-fiction-sounding solution: zapping that space trash with lasers . Could a space-based laser really help clean up the tens of thousands of pieces of junk orbiting our planet? From magnetic tugs to long tethers , the ideas of how to deal with our space mess have been imaginative but haven’t given us a firm solution yet. Could lasers offer an answer? Researchers from the Air Force Engineering University and Institute of China Electronic Equipment System Engineering Company published their work in the journal Optik last year on space-based lasers to tackle space debris. Related: ESA unveils magnetic space tug to corral broken satellites drifting in space According to the paper’s abstract, the scientists utilized numerical simulation to explore the “impacts of orbital elements of space-based laser station” on Earth-orbiting trash. Per Wired , a space laser could be mounted on a satellite , and in orbit “emit short bursts of near-infrared light:” 20 bursts a second over the course of a few minutes, which could be sufficient to break down the trash into smaller, less dangerous pieces. The scientists said in the abstract their work offers a “theoretical basis for the deployment of space-based laser station and the further application of space debris removal by using space-based laser.” The idea of space lasers isn’t wholly new – a 2015 paper cited by Gizmodo said there’s recently been a renaissance for the notion. That article says a laser would work by imparting energy into hunks of garbage so they could plummet out of orbit and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere . But would the rest of the world accept one country deploying lasers in space? Physicist Victor Apollonov of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ General Physics Institute told Gizmodo such technology could be put to military uses and “due to that, it is questionable.” He said people have been discussing the concept since the early 2000s, and there should be world-scale talks as a first step towards space lasers. Via ScienceDirect , Wired , and Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and ESA

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China wants to destroy space junk with giant lasers

Over 20,500 people have signed a petition to keep Starbucks out of Yosemite

January 16, 2018 by  
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Should Starbucks be present in a national park like Yosemite ? More than 20,500 signers of a Change.org petition don’t think so. The petition says opening the Starbucks would pave the way for more undue development and the national park “will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city.” The idea of a Starbucks in Yosemite National Park has people livid. “National parks are some of the only free, clean, beautiful and pollution free places we have left. Multi billion dollar corporations don’t belong!” said petition signer Rebekah Stevens of Mariposa, California on Change.org. Signer Felicia Flick of Foresthill, California said, “John Muir would roll in his grave.” People saying they’re from places all over the United States and the world have signed the petition to be sent to representative Tom McClintock, senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, and the Yosemite National Park Administration. Related: White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks The Starbucks would be part of Base Camp Eatery , Yosemite Hospitality’s renovated food court. Yosemite Hospitality is a corporate subsidiary of Aramark , and senior director of corporate communications David Freireich told Thrillist , “The petition is not an accurate representation or reflection of what is being planned. The Starbucks offering will occupy existing space. No new structures or free-standing stores are being built as part of the food court renovation.” National parks right now aren’t free of corporations, according to National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson, who told Mashable , “Many of our current concessioners are multi-national corporations. Concessioners fill a vital role in helping the National Park Service carry out its mission. Private companies are drawn to working with NPS in order to offer services to park visitors, which are not provided directly by the government. Concessioners specialize in these operations and are thus able to provide quality services at reasonable prices.” Aramark became a concessioner at Yosemite in 2016 under a 15-year contract . People continue to sign the petition – at time of publication the number was just over 20,500. Find out more here . Via Change.org , Thrillist , and Mashable Images via Pixabay and Aniket Deole on Unsplash

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Over 20,500 people have signed a petition to keep Starbucks out of Yosemite

Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

January 15, 2018 by  
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Located in a remote region in northern Vietnam, the Topas Ecolodge could just be the ultimate off-grid getaway . Set in an idyllic location with stunning views of the lush green mountainside, the sustainable complex offers 33 one-bedroom bungalows constructed from local white granite quarried from the surrounding mountains. The lodge is located in the remote village of Sapa in northern Vietnam, deep in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The area is quite popular for tourism and many people come to visit the traditional hill tribe villages found in the area. In the past, visitors to the region would stay in the villages, but as tourism grew, the area was in dire need of a sustainable lodging option that would not take away from the idyllic surroundings. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture The Topas Ecolodge was designed to provide rustic, but comfortable lodging that blends into the landscape. Situated atop two cone formed hills, the project’s construction was based on sustainable principles in order to create as low impact on the environment as possible. The 33 one-bedroom bungalows were all made out of locally-sourced granite quarried from the nearby mountains. Additionally, the complex has an innovative wastewater facility that was designed to avoid pollution of the surroundings. Additionally, the goods and products used in the lodge are all found locally. Created as a wellness retreat , thee bungalows have no TV and no internet. Visitors can spend their time hiking or biking through the mountainside and when they’re ready for a bit of relaxation, the infinity pool offers breathtaking views of the mountainside. Additionally, there is an onsite spa that specializes in the traditional Red Dao herbal bath. + Topas Ecolodge Via Uncrate

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Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

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