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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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

Hot electron research could open up greater efficiencies for solar energy

December 26, 2017 by  
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Hot electron research is heating up solar and renewable energy research, according to the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory . Nanoscientists there uncovered quicker ways to convert power from light to energetic or hot electrons – and their methods could allow for higher efficiencies for solar power. Argonne researchers and collaborators created hybrid nanomaterials – smaller than the width of human hair – “to harness the full energy of photons,” according to the laboratory . The result was what are called hot electrons that “carry the same amount of energy as a photon that strikes nanomaterial components” and could lead to large advances in photovoltaics and photocatalytic water splitting — where materials turn solar energy into hydrogen fuel . Related: SunPower’s new solar shingles are 15% more efficient than conventional photovoltaics Senior scientist and study co-author Gary Wiederrecht said in their statement, “In larger particles, you see very few of these energetic electrons with energies near the photon energy. So you need a smaller particle.” The team zeroed in on metals because they absorb a lot of light, key to increasing the amount of energetic electrons in a material that’s been lit up. They simulated the material to determine what conditions would create the biggest number of hot electrons, and settled on silver nanocubes and gold films divided by aluminum oxide spacers. The nanostructure can crank out hot electrons better than others, according to Argonne. Wiederrecht said, “One of the key advances is our ability to produce energetic electrons over a very broad spectral range – from the ultraviolet through the visible and into the near infrared.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online in October. Scientists from Duke University, the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and Ohio University contributed. Via Argonne National Laboratory Images courtesy of Matthew Sykes, Argonne National Laboratory, Shutterstock/Triff and Shutterstock/siro46 and via Depositphotos

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Hot electron research could open up greater efficiencies for solar energy

Portable fog-harvesting AQUAIR harvests clean drinking water from thin air

October 19, 2017 by  
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Water scarcity doesn’t just affect those in arid climates—areas in humid tropics also lack access to freshwater sources. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) students in Taiwan tackle these water issues with AQUAIR, a portable fog-harvesting device that pulls potable water out of the air. Designed for use in remote mountainous areas in tropical latitudes, AQUAIR can be easily assembled with the addition of locally sourced materials with future aims of open source production. Though AQUAIR’s water collection system has widespread uses, NCKU design students Wei-Yee Ong, Hsin-Ju Lin, Shih-Min Chang, and Marco Villa created the workable prototype in response to Honduras’ water crisis. As the second poorest nation in Central America, Honduras is home to a large number of subsistence farmers and rural communities that lack access to clean water due to drought and groundwater contamination—issues also felt in rural mountainous Taiwan. Like most fog harvesting systems, AQUAIR collects water with a mesh waterproof fabric stretched across a bamboo structure to maximize airflow. The key to AQUAIR’s design is the fan and small centrifuge that use gravity—a 30-kilogram weight is attached to the structure—to draw collected water vapor down a tube and into a bucket. The collapsible structure can be assembled by hand, while locally sourced rocks and bamboo can be used for the weight and tensile structure, respectively. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments The design students plan to take their working prototype to Honduras in February where they’ll work together with the local community. “We also want the project to be easy to build and assemble, so the local people can easily access the parts or create their own versions of AQUAIR,” said Marco Villela. “We do not want the parts to be 3D printed, because the material is not strong enough, so the best and cheapest option would be to create a mold and use plastic or ABS injection techniques. In regards to the gears, we want to get more sturdy and durable gears, so while the cheaper parts of the system can be replaced, the gear box can last for as long as possible. The project is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble, also if any part is defective, it is easy and cheap to replace.” AQUAIR recently received a Design Mark for innovation in environmental and humanitarian issues as part of the 2017 Golden Pin Concept Design Award . + Golden Pin Concept Design Award

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Portable fog-harvesting AQUAIR harvests clean drinking water from thin air

Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever

September 5, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm , and could be one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning that Irma could potentially be catastrophic, with winds whirling at 180 miles per hour – so strong that they are showing up on earthquake monitoring equipment. Even worse, the NHC said there’s an increasing chance the storm will slam into  Florida . With sustained winds of 180mph, #Irma is now stronger than Katrina was at its peak. A monstrous, horrific storm. pic.twitter.com/jCwe4XTPxS — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 5, 2017 With the United States still reeling after Tropical Storm Harvey , communities are bracing for another catastrophe as Irma is looking like it will impact Florida later this week or during the weekend. But there are also many other islands it could hit on its way to the United States. Irma could affect the Leeward Islands as an “extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane” soon, according to NHC . It could also impact the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Related: 1,200 dead, millions homeless due to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh NHC said it’s too early to determine Irma’s direct impacts on the continental United States, other than an increasing chance it could affect the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys. Florida governor Rick Scott doesn’t seem to be taking any chances. He declared a state of emergency in Florida after a Monday advisory update. He’s activated 100 National Guard members and 6,000 stand ready. He’s spoken with President Donald Trump , and the Orlando Sentinel said Trump activated pre-landfall emergency declaration so federal funds and resources will be available. Scott said, “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared…while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.” According to the Orlando Sentinel, most forecast models indicate the whole state of Florida could feel the hurricane’s impact. NHC urged everyone in hurricane-prone areas to “ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.” Via the Orlando Sentinel and the National Hurricane Center Images via Wikimedia Commons and the National Hurricane Center

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Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever

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