Elephants rescue 600 people from floods in Nepal

August 16, 2017 by  
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Heavy rains in India and Nepal have killed 15 people and displaced 2.3 million in just the past few days. Fortunately for approximately 600 foreigners who were visiting Sauraha, no additional lives were lost when the nearby Rapti River overflowed its banks. This is because elephants at the Chitwan National Park transported them to safety. (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 = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Elephants to the rescue Elephants helped rescue 600 people after floods in Nepal. Posted by Al Jazeera English on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 Said Suman Ghimire, head of a group of Sauraha hotel owners, “Some 300 guests were rescued on elephant backs and tractor trailers to (nearby) Bharatpur yesterday and the rest will be taken to safer places today.” The unconventional mode of transportation was necessary, as the flash floods left hotels and restaurants completely inundated. The Chitwan National Park, which cares for 605 rhinoceros , is in better shape than Assam’s Kaziranga national park, which is home to the world’s largest population of the endangered one-horn rhinoceros. According to Reuters , nearly 90 percent of the Kaziranga park is under water. Fortunately, the animals have moved to higher ground. Nepali relief workers say that 26 of the country’s 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides as a result of the heavy rains. Information and Communications Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet added the death toll was expected to increase with at least 50 people reported missing. The loss of infrastructure has also been devastating. Basnet said that more than 60,000 homes were underwater, predominantly in the southern plains bordering India. “The situation is worrying as tens of thousands of people have been hit,” said Basnet. Related: Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold As a result of the natural disaster, regions in India and Nepal now face food shortages due to crop losses. This is exactly what climate change scientists said would happen as a result of increasing carbon emissions, which are fueling global warming. If humans fail to adopt sustainable habits, natural disasters such as this will only become more common. Via Reuters Images via The Kathmandu Post , India Live Today

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Elephants rescue 600 people from floods in Nepal

Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

August 14, 2017 by  
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When we think of drones , most of us picture the selfie-taking, novelty video-making robots buzzing around tourist spots. But for one group of villagers in Myanmar, drones are providing a much more important service: an Irish startup is using them to help residents replant an entire forest from the sky. Restoring a damaged ecosystem is time-consuming and difficult work that can take years to complete. Villagers in the Irrawaddy River delta have been hand-planting 2.7 million mangrove trees in order to restore the local forests, but they started looking for an easier way to get the job done. They found the solution with BioCarbon Engineering , which uses drones to plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day. Related: Can drones plant one billion trees? In order to plant that many trees, the drones take a systematic approach, flying over the land to map the topography and choose the best location for planting. A second wave of drones then fly over the area and “fire”  seed pods into the ground in accordance with calculations made by previous drones. The drone-planting project will start this September, covering about 250 hectares with 1 million new trees, in addition to the 750 hectares that the villagers have already planted. If all goes according to plan, eventually BioCarbon Engineering will help plant up to 1 billion trees in the area. The startup is working along with Worldview International Foundation , a nonprofit that manages tree-planting projects. In Myanmar, mangrove trees are particularly important because they help provide an ecosystem for fish to live in, and they protect coastlines from storms. Restoring the trees will go a long way toward protecting vulnerable people living in the coastal areas. Via Fast Company

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Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

August 14, 2017 by  
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A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but an amazing urban farm flourishes on Governors Island . An inspiring GrowNYC initiative is teaching inner city kids how to plant, water, harvest, and cook pesticide-free fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Located on Governors Island just a quick ferry ride from lower Manhattan, the Teaching Garden is a 21,000-square-foot urban farm that offers free educational field trips to NYC students—many of whom have never seen how food is grown. Now in its fourth season, the half-acre Governors Island Teaching Garden comprises raised planters, a fruit orchard, an outdoor kitchen with a large solar oven , high-tunnel greenhouse, and even an aquaponics system housed inside a converted shipping container . The Teaching Garden currently has 69 individual planting beds built from recycled plastic lumber with over 40 plant varieties during the summer season. Although the urban farm isn’t certified organic, all the fruits, herbs, and vegetables are grown with all-natural and pesticide-free practices. Earth Matter NY supplies the compost. “There are students here every day of the week so we want to encourage students to be able to eat straight from the plant so we don’t want to put anything harmful in the plants,” said GrowNYC to Inhabitat during a farm tour. “But we do have natural pest management such as introducing ladybugs to eat the unwanted insects.” Related: Project Farmhouse community space with wall of edible plants coming to Union Square The majority of students who visit are from immigrant families, such as the group of fourth graders from PS 503 present on the day we visited. The educational journey begins with an introduction about the fruits and vegetables the participants harvest as well as a lesson on their nutritional value. The group is then led to the different planting beds and orchard to pick ingredients, followed by a trip to the outdoor kitchen for a lesson on cooking what they harvested for a true farm-to-fork experience. The students also plant seeds for future harvests and learn about sustainable initiatives ranging from renewable energy to recycling and composting. “We feel that young people in the city don’t have the same opportunities to experience the natural world,” said GrowNYC. “So we want to provide that for them and hope that when they leave they feel a connection and feel more comfortable with eating healthy fruits and vegetables, or even in cooking. Almost all the food we grow here the students eat. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have to bring more food onto the island so we made an expansion to grow more food to reach self-sufficiency . Now we only bring on olive oil and spices. Expansion also lets us to bring more students out here and slightly larger classes. It also shows students what a small scale farm would look like.” In addition to expansion, the Teaching Garden is in the process of building a solar-powered aquaponics system designed by Harbor School students and housed inside a shipping container. The nitrate-rich water taken from the tilapia holding tanks will be pumped up to the roof where it’ll be used to irrigate vegetables. Other sustainably minded projects are being built with the help of corporate volunteers. CSR programs help subsidize most of the costs of the Teaching Garden to keep the educational program free for students. In addition to school visits, the urban farm is open to the public on weekends during Governors Island’s open season that runs until mid-autumn. + Governors Island Teaching Garden Images © Lucy Wang

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Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

Dutch designer creates a wooden motorcycle powered by algae

August 11, 2017 by  
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An algae-powered wooden motorcycle? The concept isn’t too far out, considering algae has been used to create everything from eco-friendly sneakers to living lamps that absorb CO2 . There’s even an entire algae-powered building in Hamburg ! Dutch designer Ritsert Mans and scientist Peter Mooij created a wooden motorcycle that runs on algae to increase the visibility of the lesser known fuel source. “For every part of the bike, I looked to what nature could provide me with,” said Mans, who built the frame and springs with wood. He used cork for the dampeners and hemp for reinforcement. The team was interested in showcasing how algae oil could be potentially used in the future. So, they grew algae in saltwater, built a wooden motorcycle that runs on the stuff, then tested the concept on a local beach. In his narration, Mans likens the experiment the pioneering era of the 1900’s. Back then, people had no idea what to expect in terms of the up-and-coming automotive landscape. Now that millions of citizens are making a collective effort to invest in renewable energy and sustainable initiatives, great advances are expected to take place. “People don’t know what the world will look like 30 years from now in terms of transportation and energy,” Mans said, “but that uncertainty allows people to develop and build their own ideas.” “Even though the single-sided swingarm seems to contrast with the ‘prehistoric’ material it is made of, it’s actually a full composite, with all sorts of directional fibers provided by nature,” he added. Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change Mans and Mooij wrote a book called The Thick Algae (or De Dikke Alg, in their native Dutch). Their wooden algae bike was made to accompany the resource. If you’d like to learn more about the project, watch Peter Mooij’s 2015 TED talk on algae oil: + Ritsert Mans Via Motofire Images via Ritsert Mans

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Dutch designer creates a wooden motorcycle powered by algae

Fukushima in Japan is surrendering to nature

August 10, 2017 by  
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Nature has come for Fukushima . Six years after a nuclear meltdown resulted in a mass exodus of neighboring residents, the Fukushima prefecture is slowly being engulfed by a sea of green. Access to the Fukushima Exclusion Zone is still tightly regulated, but a photographer from Japan’s Asahi Shimbun recently braved the so-called “difficult-to-return zones” this past July, taking pictures with a drone and a helicopter. Returning to a place he lived as a child, Tetsuro Takehana experienced a haunting homecoming. “It was as if time had stopped,” he said. “And yet the grass and trees continue to grow.” Related: Hundreds of radioactive wild boars run amok in Fukushima, Japan The parking lot of a busy shopping mall is now overwhelmed by weeds breaking through the asphalt. Football goalposts, smothered in grass, are all that remain visible of an elementary school playground. Cars are being swallowed up by grass. Time—and life—marches on, with or without us. + Asahi Shimbun Images via YouTube screengrabs

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Fukushima in Japan is surrendering to nature

Worlds longest pedestrian bridge opens in the Swiss Alps

August 1, 2017 by  
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If you’re afraid of heights, look away. The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has finally been completed in Switzerland , and it’s a whopping 1,620 feet long. 300 feet above an Alpine ravine, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge forms part of the Europaweg — a two-day mountain trail which connects the towns of Grächen and Zermatt. The new installation saves hikers a long detour after a previous bridge was damaged by falling rocks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8iuwWHduKQ CNN reports that the bridge is comprised of steel yet is only 25 inches wide. Because the footstep surface is grated, it is possible to look below and view the Grabengufer ravine as one walks. The bridge, which opened Saturday, is specifically “for hikers with no fear of heights,” according to a news release by local travel agency Zermatt Tourism. “The thrill of traversing the precipice is indescribable,” the agency wrote. Though it might be scary walking across the world’s longest bridge, captivating views of the 14,783-foot Weisshorn Mountain and the Bernese Alps are sure to make the crossing a worthwhile one. And, considering the passing saves hikers three to four hours of walking, it’s a shortcut most people will be more than happy to take advantage of. + Zermatt Tourism Via CNN Images via Valentin Flauraud

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Worlds longest pedestrian bridge opens in the Swiss Alps

PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

August 1, 2017 by  
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Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)’s  revamped Pennsylvania Station plan represents a more inclusive alternative to the government’s current concept for a new Amtrak station in the Farley Complex. PAU decided to reuse the superstructure and foundations of Madison Square Garden and create a civic space that reflects the historical complexity of the site and enhances capacity, safety, and user experience for all of Penn’s users, regardless of income or social status. Passively heated and cooled, the transport hub  aims to create a grand commuter pavilion at minimal public cost and disruption, at the same time complementing the Amtrak station in the east end of the Farley Complex, entrances and concourses to the north and west, and the tracks and platforms planned to become part of the Gateway tunnel project. Related: Governor Cuomo reveals updated renovation plans for NYC’s Penn Station Inspired by Philip Johnson’s circular New York State World’s Fair pavilion and Pan Am’s “Worldport” building at JFK, the architects proposed to reclad the structure of the Madison Square Garden– which will find its new home 800 feet away in the west end of the Farley building– in a double-skin glass wall which allows natural light to penetrate into the interior, but regulates solar gain for maximum comfort. A sawtooth pattern in the glass picks up changes in light through the day, acting as a sundial for travelers as they ascend from the platforms. The entire concept has not only environmental control in mind, but safety as well. The suggested oculus at the center of the circular building quickly purges smoke in the event of a fire and all of the glass is blast-proof. + Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) Via Architizer

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PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

August 1, 2017 by  
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In just three weeks, one of the “events of the century” will makes its way across the United States, inspiring awe, excitement and even fear. On August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse , and scientists are saying that it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that is not to be missed. Educator at the American Museum of Natural History Joe Rao has been speaking to audiences about the coming eclipse. He told them a total eclipse is something you never forget and defies words. As the moon begins to block out the sun, the temperatures drops, the light changes and the birds begin to quiet. Related: Alaska Airlines is intentionally delaying a flight for the coolest reason Rao warned people not to look at the sun under any circumstances, even while it is covered by the moon. You can purchase eclipse glasses, though be sure to purchase them from a reputable company, since faulty eclipse glasses have been hitting the market. If you don’t have glasses, you can look at the trees, since leaves will show a crescent shadow.  You can also try one of the DIY methods . Viewers can check out NASA’s eclipse website for the 100-mile wide  path of totality , which will carve through South Carolina starting around 1:15 pm, up to Nebraska and will exit the US through Oregon at 9 am (local time). Hotel rooms in the path are already selling out and experts warn travelers to be aware that traffic will be difficult. Some airlines are selling tickets for eclipse-viewing flights. For those not lucky enough to be in the path, viewers will be able to see a partial eclipse as far away as South America and parts of Africa. Via Fox News Science Images via Deposit Photos and Pixabay

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Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

July 26, 2017 by  
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Be careful before you pick that pretty wildflower . Giant hogweed, which can grow up to twenty-feet-tall and produce attractive white flowers, is a beautiful but dangerous plant. The plant produces a clear sap capable of causing third-degree burns or even blindness in humans who touch it. Native to the Caucasus in Central Asia , giant hogweed has become a wide-ranging invasive species in the Northern United States, Southern Canada, and Western Europe. Those who encounter the toxic flora are advised to admire from a distance. Like Japanese knotweed and other invasive, noxious plant species, giant hogweed was first introduced to the United Kingdom and other countries as an ornamental plant. Its white flowers reveal its familial origins as a member of the carrot family, like its similar though diminutive and less-toxic relative known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Hogweed flowers can be up to two feet across and are popular among pollinators. Related: Could Lasers Be The New Way to Kill Weeds? Hogweed’s curse is its phototoxic sap, which causes skin, eyes or whatever it touches to become highly sensitive to UV light. If the affected skin is exposed to sunlight, it can quickly become red and irritated. Affected areas will rapidly deteriorate if exposure is continued and the sap is not washed off. In North America, giant hogweed usually blooms in July. If possible, it is important to eliminate the plants before they flower and reproduce. “You want to have it eradicated before it does go to seed,” said Barbara Ashey, Town Administrator for Northport, Maine . “There are thousands of these seeds.” On the bright side, pigs and cows seem able to consume giant hogweed without harm and may be used as a biocontrol solution in the fight against the invasive species . Via Bangor Daily News/WGME Images via Nature Photos/Flickr and debs-eye/Flickr

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This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

Plant-based water filtration system works like a small Amazon rainforest

July 12, 2017 by  
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We take water for granted far too often. Whole civilizations have fallen as a result of over-exploiting water sources, according to Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate student Pratik Ghosh , so it’s imperative that we treat what we have with care. So Ghosh designed Drop by Drop , a plant -based water filtration system that explores more sustainable methods of obtaining water. The system is capable of cleansing home wastewater , and growing herbs at the same time. Drop by Drop filters water much like transpiration processes in the Amazon rainforest . According to Ghosh, his prototype is a mini biosphere that operates by keeping four factors crucial for transpiration – humidity, light, heat and wind – at optimal levels. “The moisture-laden air is strategically pulled out of the system and condensed to form pure distilled water,” Ghosh said on his website. Related: 6 ways to purify water without expensive technology A glass dome covers a plant in Drop by Drop, and greywater can be added to the system via pipes. Then, purification is up to the plant itself: a light in the system sets off photosynthesis , and the plant gives off water vapor that can ultimately be condensed to become distilled water. A pump controls airflow and helps speed up the process. Added salt can turn the distilled water into drinking water. The system doesn’t require much maintenance. If the owner’s away, Drop by Drop becomes a self-sustaining biosphere after pipes are stoppered thanks to microbes in the soil and insects providing carbon dioxide. The system puts oxygen into the surrounding air. Right now, the prototype takes 12 hours to filter one glass of water. But Ghosh said the system could be scaled up to cover a typical home rooftop, and could then filter around 42 gallons in 12 hours. Ghosh told Dezeen, “The idea is to change the way we procure and consume water at a larger level. In order to do that, there needs to be a change in the value system and what better place to start than the home? One can pour dirty water collected from the kitchen or even the bathroom into the system and the plants help you filter it.” Drop by Drop is his final year project and was recently on display at the RCA Show 2017 in London. + Pratik Ghosh Via Dezeen Images via Pratik Ghosh

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Plant-based water filtration system works like a small Amazon rainforest

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