Fires in Australia create dangerous weather conditions

January 8, 2020 by  
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Authorities warn that the unprecedented ferocity of Australia’s wildfires can produce extreme  weather  systems — dangerous and unpredictable conditions known as cumulonimbus flammagenitus, or pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds. These pyroCb are associated with fire clouds, ember attacks, fire-driven tornadoes and lightning storms that could create further wildfires. Australia’s Climate Council advisory says that these occurrences are likely to become more common as  climate change  persists and  greenhouse gas emissions  increase. Even more worrisome, pyroCb can make firefighting efforts more difficult. “A fire-generated thunderstorm has formed over the Currowan fire on the northern edge of the fire near Nowra. This is a very dangerous situation. Monitor the conditions around you and take appropriate action,” the New South Wales Rural Fires Service (NSW RFS) recently shared via social media. Related: Half a billion Australian animals, even 30% of koala population, likely lost to wildfires NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons brought attention to the situation when an RFS firefighter died because of the wildfire-associated bizarre weather phenomena. “That extraordinary event resulted in a cyclonic-type base flipping over a 10-tonne truck. That is the volatility and danger that exists,” Fitzsimmons explained. According to a  Climate and Atmospheric Science journal study, wildfire-triggered thunderstorms, or pyroCb, have been observed before in other regions of our planet and were first discovered in the early 2000s. They were originally thought to have been precipitated by volcanic eruptions until they were reclassified as being wildfire -induced. The study of wildfire-associated pyroCb is still a nascent science, yet to be systematically researched. In recent years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s  Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) has monitored pyroCb in cooperation with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CIMSS classifies pyroCb as a “deep convective cloud…generated by a large/hot fire.” CIMSS has been monitoring the pyroCb formations above Australia as the wildfires continued to grow in quantity and magnitude. Several factors make pyroCb a formidable atmospheric force. The speed at which they form and change, coupled with heat from wildfires, can cause rapid, massive temperature swings. In turn, this fosters unpredictably severe winds that exacerbate wildfire intensity. The dynamics of pyroCb and their destructive power can, therefore, put the lives of both firefighters and the public at risk. “PyroCb storms are feared by firefighters for the violent and unpredictable conditions they create on the ground,”  The Guardian  reported. Not only are pyroCbs capable of creating lightning strikes and hail, but they can also engender embers that are “hot enough to start new fires…at distances of 30km from the main fire.” Dr Andrew Dowdy, a meteorologist at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology,  adds that the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resultant  climate crisis facing our planet makes conditions favorable for pyroCb. As Simon Heemstra, manager of planning and predictive services at NSW RFS, said, “What’s happening now is that we are noticing an increase in incidence of these sorts of events. With a changing and heating climate, you are going to expect these effects.” Via Reuters , HuffPost , The Guardian Images via Harry Stranger and Rob Russell

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Fires in Australia create dangerous weather conditions

The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

January 3, 2020 by  
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The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) recently published its International Statistic of the Decade, and the “winner” was the stark statistic that the Amazon lost 24,000 square miles of rainforest. That is a land size equivalent to 10.3 million American gridiron football fields or 8.4 million soccer fields. This sobering deforestation figure highlights the harsh landscape changes caused by intentional human encroachment for commercial development purposes, such as logging, mining and cattle ranching. “The statistic only gives a snapshot of the issue, but it really provides an insight into the dramatic change to the landscape that has occurred over the past decade,” Liberty Vittert, a Harvard University visiting scholar and a statistician on the RSS judging panel, said. Related: Amazon rainforest might reach irreversible tipping point as early as 2021 Deforestation matters. Why? For one, the Amazon rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot, home to thousands of plant and animal species at risk of endangerment and extinction . Secondly, the Amazon Basin supplies a considerable amount of water vapor to the atmosphere; its deforestation leads to drought and attendant wildfires, which further exacerbate the ecosystem equilibrium of the rainforest habitat. Also, the loss of trees and other vegetation causes soil erosion, which increases the risks for  flooding  and a host of other problems such as land loss for indigenous people and  habitat loss for endemic flora and fauna species. When species become endangered , the ecosystem and its biodiversity equilibrium are imbalanced, triggering chain reactions where one loss leads to another. We lose not only those plants and animals we know of, but even undiscovered ones with medicinal potential that could never be recovered. Hence, when ecosystems weaken, all species, even humans, are placed at risk.  The Amazon’s deforestation is considerable because it is the world’s largest rainforest , spanning nine South American countries and measuring about 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it plays a vital role in our planet’s climate regulation. The rainforest’s canopy, for example, regulates temperature, cooling the atmosphere. The canopy similarly controls atmospheric water levels, affecting the water cycle and stabilizing the rainfall of South America. Of utmost significance, too, is the Amazon’s role in carbon sequestration . After all, this rainforest absorbs and stores more than 180 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Without the Amazon as a carbon sink, the carbon is released back into the air, adding to greenhouse gases , which is ultimately bad news for Earth’s climate. Indeed, were it not for the Amazon rainforest helping to re-absorb the carbon from the carbon footprint generated by human consumption, land use and fossil fuel burning, climate change will not be buffered.  Professor Jennifer Rogers, chair of the judging panel and RSS vice-president for external affairs, explained further, “Irreplaceable rainforests, like the Amazon, are shrinking at an alarming rate, and this statistic gives a very powerful visual of a hugely important environmental issue. Much has been discussed regarding the environment in the last few years, and the judging panel felt this statistic was highly effective in capturing one of the decade’s worst examples of environmental degradation.” + Royal Statistical Society Via CNN Image via Free-Photos

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The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

White Sands officially becomes the 62nd national park

December 26, 2019 by  
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Last week, President Donald Trump signed legislation, seen here , designating White Sands National Park as the 62nd national park. Since 1933, the country’s largest gypsum dunefield has been a national monument. The recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (the 2020 defense spending bill), with a provision on White Sands, has now upgraded the national monument to its new national park status, thereby protecting its glistening white sand dunes, which are visible even from outer space. In 2018, a study conducted on eight national monuments that were upgraded to national parks found that redesignation increased visits by an average of 21 percent in the five years after redesignation. Projections further estimate that White Sands’ redesignation will bring $7.5 million in revenue and $3.3 million in labor income. Related: How national parks benefit the environment Wondering why the provision was included in the 2020 NDAA? The reason stems from White Sands National Monument sharing land with White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), the long-standing national military weapons testing area and site of the first atomic bomb detonation. By 1963, NASA established the White Sands Test Facility at WSMR, which eventually became the primary training ground for NASA space shuttle pilots and a rocket research test site. However, White Sands’ appeal goes beyond strategic military and aerospace history, extending to its geological, biological and anthropological assets. For instance, the endless dunes’ surreal beauty makes White Sands one of Earth’s natural wonders. Gypsum, which makes up the dunes, is a common sedimentary mineral, usually forming via precipitation from highly saline waters. Thus, White Sands’ landscape formed because Lake Otero dried up millennia ago . Its predominantly desert habitat today supports unique wildlife , with five endemic species and many well-adapted flora and fauna. Archaeologically, the area was home to hunter-gatherers as far back as 10,000 years ago and even has the planet’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints. “Our staff are very excited for White Sands to be recognized as a national park and to reintroduce ourselves to the American public,” shared Marie Sauter, superintendent of White Sands National Park. “We are so appreciative of our partners, local communities and congressional leaders who made this achievement possible and look forward to continued success working together.” With national park 36 CFR 2.1 protections, desert sand and other resources cannot be removed from White Sands. This ensures the ecosystem thrives and remains in tact for future generations to enjoy. + National Park Service Via EcoWatch Image via White Sands National Monument

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White Sands officially becomes the 62nd national park

Hurricane Dorian threatens endangered bird species

September 5, 2019 by  
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Those living on the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands recently met Dorian as the hurricane’s 185 mph winds wrecked havoc on the islands, destroying and damaging about 13,000 homes. While the hurricane has raised much concern over the rising death tolls and destruction to the island, it also raised concern for endangered species who call the island home, such as the critically endangered Bahama nuthatch. The Bahama nuthatch has been in trouble for some time as a 2004 survey reported its population was around 1,800. Three years later, a 2007 survey noted more hurricanes decreased its numbers to a mere 23. By the time Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016 the bird’s population dropped and in 2018 only two were found. Related: Spiders are becoming aggressive thanks to climate change It appears Dorian left very few stones upturned as most of the areas are reportedly still under water and coniferous forests are being killed by saltwater flooding. “It is obviously a humanitarian disaster for people living in these northern islands, and the extent is as yet unknown, but we hope that international medical and infrastructure aid will arrive rapidly and generously,” Diana Bell, professor of Conservation Biology at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told Earther. “It is also highly likely to have also been an ecological disaster affecting the already fragmented areas of Caribbean pine forest which support endemic avifauna.” Aside from trees and the Bahama nutshell, some scientists are worried about the Bahama warbler and the more well-known Kirtland’s warbler, a bird that lives among the pineyards during the winter season. In addition to the nuthatch and the warblers, as recent as July, avifauna in the Bahamas was reported at 374 species, according to Avibase – Bird Checklists of the World. According to a National Climate Assessment, researchers say warmer ocean climes and higher sea levels from climate change will further intensify hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean, though some research suggests hurricanes are slowing down but causing longer impacts. Nonetheless, hurricanes of all categories could cause irreparable disaster for all island inhabitants. Via Gizmodo, Audubon, Avibase Image via Dick Daniels

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Hurricane Dorian threatens endangered bird species

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

Rafting outfitters focus on sustainability

June 26, 2019 by  
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Rafting draws a group of nature lovers with higher than average respect for keeping wilderness clean. But even the raft outfitting industry faces environmental issues— both in external threats to river quality and, in a much smaller way, in making sure their participants are educated in Leave No Trace best practices. “Rafters, both commercial and privates, are extremely conscientious and respectful of the river and its environment,” said Steve Lentz, owner of Idaho-based Far & Away Adventures . His company rafts three Wild and Scenic rivers: the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Jarbidge/Bruneau and Owyhee rivers — two of the newest to win Wild & Scenic designations, which are especially prized for their solitude and remoteness, Lentz said. But Lentz can remember when people weren’t so respectful of rivers. When he explored the Middle Fork as a child in the 1960s, toilet paper and other garbage littered the riverbanks and people thought nothing of washing with soap in the river. Once the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed in 1968, he watched people’s environmental IQ increase while litter decreased. Inhabitat talked to five rafting outfitters to see how their staff and customers can have an impact on keeping rivers clean and beautiful. Related: Seven commandments of Leave-No-Trace Camping Sustainable Rafting Practices Guided rafting trips start way before the raft goes in the water . That’s why Hood River, Oregon-based Northwest Rafting Company’s sustainability measures begin with its office and the supplies they buy. NWRC uses software for reservations and online registration, resulting in minimal printed paper. They’re one of a growing number of outfitters who use online waivers and forms to cut printing. Outfitters are well-versed in Leave No Trace principles. “Fortunately, we live in a state that is environmentally conscious,” said Andy Neinas, owner of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, which rafts Colorado’s Arkansas River above and through the famed Royal Gorge. “The rafting industry is scrutinized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and our outfitter organizations work closely to meet and exceed the standards set forth. Colorado Tourism Office works with the Leave No Trace organization to promote responsible use of our natural resources.” Leave No Trace is more rigorous than many people realize. Zachary Collier, owner of Northwest Rafting Company, says this even includes burnt wood. “I suggest all groups use a fire blanket to capture coals from fires,” he advised. Guides and guests sweep the campsite for micro-trash , such as bread crumbs and orange peels. Nor are rafters allowed to leave human waste, let alone toilet paper. Portable toilets are sealed and transported between campsites, and later carried out at the end of the journey. Bob Klein, manager of A Wanderlust Adventure , which rafts Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River, emphasizes the responsibility of the guides. “We believe that rafting outfitters should be enforcing Leave No Trace, educate their guests on the dangers and effects of human recreation on the natural environment, and to keep the amount of rafters they take down the river to the Forest Service’s regulations.”  But the responsibility doesn’t entirely fall on the guide— all rafting participants need to make good choices. “High water looks like fun, but fun can turn to tragedy very quickly when people’s skill levels don’t meet the river’s demand,” said Ron Blanchard, owner of Wyoming River Trips , which operates on the Main Shoshone River.  “We try to mentor rafters when conditions are extreme with information as to what to lookout for.  Most times if you talk with them and not to them, they get the point.” The Bigger Picture Lots of issues facing rivers are beyond people’s individual control. For example, Collier mentions the damage caused by mining .  “The 1872 mining law allows for mining on these rivers and their tributaries even if they are protected,” he said. Neinas has also faced the dumping of hard metals from mining operations near the river’s headwaters close to Leadville, Colorado. “As well as fish kills that resulted from attempts to eradicate invasive species ,” he said. Blanchard mentioned agricultural field runoff as the main threat to the Shoshone. Several outfitters urged rafters to be more proactive in protecting their beloved rivers. “I would love for more guides and outfitters to call, write, or visit Congress to share why these rivers are important and why they should be protected,” said Collier. He and some fellow guides recently visited Washington, D.C. to meet with their representatives about environmental conditions. Lentz agreed. “Be involved and get out of the back seat. From forest plans regarding management to breaching dams that harm the river. Support organizations that that prioritize efforts to strengthen the wilderness and its environment.” Each guide has a special relationship with his or her river, and can tell you 100 reasons it needs protection. For example, Lentz expounded on the attractions of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River: “Alpine forests , hot springs, blue ribbon fly fishing for native cutthroat trout, hiking well maintained trails, crystal clear water, 100 rapids, North America’s third deepest canyon, wildlife including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, both golden and bald eagle, cougar, black bear to name a few.” Are rivers worth protecting? You bet. Photos via Echo Canyon River Expeditions, skeeze

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Rafting outfitters focus on sustainability

Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

June 20, 2019 by  
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This is the story of how plastic , local fishermen, a bracelet and two surfers have created a recipe to clean up the massive plastic debris in oceans and along coastlines around the world. Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper took a surfing trip to Bali that would change their lives and the future of the planet. The post-college trip opened their eyes to the growing problem of ocean plastic. While attempting to enjoy the beach and waves, Alex and Andrew found themselves literally wading through plastic. A local lifeguard told them that the plastic washes ashore each and every day. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive The lightbulb went off when the duo saw some local fisherman dragging their boats through mounds of plastic as they headed out to work. With capable boat captains and deckhands already heading into the water each day, Alex and Andrew decided to find a way to give them a new job to do. So, they began paying the crews to retrieve plastic instead of fish. As before, the boats went out each morning, but when they returned, the nets had hauled in a different load— plastic. As the movement continued to grow, more locals joined the crews and 4Ocean was officially born. This business plan is not only effective in cleaning up the beaches and ocean , but is also providing sustainable jobs for the local community. What began as a focus on Bali has now evolved with the company’s direct involvement in cleaning up the coastlines of 27 countries so far. With boats and payroll expenses growing around the globe, the founders needed a way to fund the business and they found it in the creation of the 4Ocean bracelet, made from recycled waste materials pulled directly from the ocean. The bracelets are hand assembled on the island of Bali, providing additional work in the community. Recycled plastic is sourced to make the beads on each bracelet. The attached charm is made from recycled stainless steel. They are unisex, adjustable and 100 percent waterproof to appeal to just about anyone. The cord is made from recycled water bottles and although the blue cord is the original, they feature a different color monthly— each representing an endangered sea animal . For example, June is the leatherback sea turtle. Each featured bracelet provides information that aims to raise awareness about these threatened animals and the harm from ocean pollution . Bracelets are priced at $20 and are packaged in eco-friendly materials. The purchase of each bracelet funds the removal of one pound of plastic from the ocean. “Buy a bracelet, pull a pound.” + 4Ocean Images via 4Ocean

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Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

Ending animal exploitation in tourism with World Animal Protection

June 13, 2019 by  
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World Animal Protection works internationally to end the suffering of animals and urge all people to do more to protect our furred, feathered and scaly friends. World Animal Protection (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals) works on many fronts— including wild animals, farmed animals and those suddenly displaced by disasters. Ontario-based campaign director Melissa Matlow talked to Inhabitat about World Animal Protection’s work to end the exploitation of animals in the name of tourism. Inhabitat: How and when did World Animal Protection first get involved with educating tour operators about animal attractions? Melissa Matlow: World Animal Protection has been campaigning to protect wild animals that are suffering for tourism for several years now. More than 20 years ago we started working with local partners to bring an end to bear dancing in Greece, Turkey and India, and bear baiting in Pakistan. We have been working to protect the welfare of elephants in Asia since 2005. In 2015, we launched the Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign globally and working to influence the tourism industry became one of the organization’s priority campaigns. We decided to shine a spotlight on the problem of elephant riding first because it is one of the cruelest activities and tourist demand is fueling the poaching of elephants from the wild. In 2017 we released our Taken for a Ride Report , which reviewed the welfare of nearly 3,000 elephants used for tourism in 220 tourist venues in six countries (Thailand, India, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka and Cambodia). We discovered that the majority of these elephants (77 percent) were living in grossly substandard conditions. Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Inhabitat: Can you tell me a little bit about the TripAdvisor campaign? Matlow: We showed TripAdvisor our research into the animal welfare and conservation impacts of Wildlife Tourism Attractions (WTA) and how wildlife lovers were unknowingly causing harm to animals by participating in these activities. Tourists were seeing and buying tickets to cruel attractions that offer elephant rides and tiger selfies on TripAdvisor and leaving positive reviews. After more than half a million people joined our campaign and signed our petition asking TripAdvisor to stop selling cruel attractions, they listened and announced in 2016 their commitment to stop selling some problematic attractions and set up an educational portal for people to learn more. Inhabitat:  What other tour operators and companies has World Animal Protection worked closely with?                    Matlow:  World Animal Protection has worked with the Travel Corporation, G Adventures, Intrepid, World Expeditions and many other tour operators to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. Together we formed the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism to shift tourist demand towards humane and sustainable alternatives. Inhabitat:  What have been some of your biggest wins? Matlow:  We are now working with some of the largest travel companies in the world to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. More than 200 tour operators have signed our pledge committing to never offer, sell or promote elephant rides and shows. After more than half a million people signed our petition and joined our movement, TripAdvisor committed to stop selling tickets to cruel attractions. Expedia soon followed suit and in 2017 we convinced Instagram to educate its users of the cruelty that happens behind the scenes for wildlife selfies. Inhabitat:  What are still the biggest challenges? Matlow: We need to reach the right people— wildlife lovers who are unknowingly causing harm by participating in wildlife entertainment activities and the travel companies who sell them tickets. One of our challenges is to debunk the many myths that these tourists and travel companies are commonly subjected to. Many tourist attractions dupe people into thinking they are protecting the animals and serving some kind of conservation and education benefit but nothing could be further from the truth. Tourists don’t realize that these attractions are commercially breeding and trading wild animals for the sole purpose of entertaining them. The demand is fueling the capture of wild animals from the wild. The animals suffer every day in small tanks and cages to entertain tourists and won’t ever be released into the wild. Tourists aren’t learning about how to keep the animals in the wild, where they belong. If anything, they are being desensitized to their suffering in captivity and learning that it is okay to get up close to them to feed them, pet them and take wildlife selfies. Inhabitat: What are the most important things for tourists to keep in mind when evaluating animal attractions? Matlow: Our simple rule of thumb is— if you can ride it, hug it or take a selfie with a wild animal, chances are it is cruel, so don’t do it. The best place to see wild animals is in the wild from a respectful distance. People can download our Animal-Friendly Travel Pocket Guide and visit our website to learn more about the work we do to encourage animal-friendly tourism and to protect the welfare of animals globally. +World Animal Protection Images via World Animal Protection

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Wild bees are building nests with plastic

June 10, 2019 by  
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While plastic use is going out of vogue with more enlightened humans, it’s catching on with Argentinian bees. Scientists don’t know why Argentina’s solitary bees are now constructing nests out of plastic packaging left on crop fields. Unlike the large hive model with queens and workers, wild bees lay larvae in individual nests. Researchers at Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology Institute constructed 63 wooden nests for wild bees from 2017 to 2018. They later found that three nests were entirely lined with pieces of plastic that bees had cut and arranged in an overlapping pattern. The plastic seemed to have come from plastic bags or a similar material, with a texture reminiscent of the leaves bees usually use to line nests. Related: McDonald’s creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations The scientists’ study, published in Apidologie, is the first to find nests entirely made from plastic. But researchers have known for years that bees sometimes incorporate plastic into nests otherwise made of natural materials . Canadian scientists have chronicled bees’ use of plastic foams and films in Toronto. Like the Argentinian bees, bees in Canada cut the plastic to mimic leaves. Scientists aren’t yet sure what to make of this architectural development. “It would demonstrate the adaptive flexibility that certain species of bees would have in the face of changes in environmental conditions,” Mariana Allasino, the Argentinian study’s lead author, wrote in a press release translated from Spanish. But will the plastic harm the bees? More research is required to gauge the risks. While microplastics are a huge threat to marine animals, some enterprising creatures find ways to use trash to their advantage. Finches and sparrows arrange cigarette butts in their nests to repel parasitic mites. Stinky but effective. “Sure it’s possible it might afford some benefits, but that hasn’t been shown yet,” entomologist Hollis Woodard told National Geographic. “I think it’s equally likely to have things that are harmful.” Via National Geographic Image via Judy Gallagher

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Wild bees are building nests with plastic

A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil

May 21, 2019 by  
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In the state of Paraná in the south of Brazil, architect Bruno Zaitter has created a contemporary and low-impact suite for the charming Hotel Fazenda Cainã in the countryside. Dubbed the Refúgio da Cainã, the building features walls of glass to take in sweeping views of the native forest, surrounding mountains and the city of Curitiba in the far distance. Elevated to reduce site impact, the prefab structure includes a repurposed container measuring nearly 40 feet in length. Spanning an area of 538 square feet, the modern Refúgio da Cainã has been dubbed by Hotel Fazenda Cainã as their Hannah Arendt suite after the renowned American philosopher and political theorist. Included in their Villa do Bosque collection, the contemporary chalet is equipped with full-height windows for taking in views of the large native forest to the south, as well as city and valley views towards the east. The streamlined interiors are dressed with a natural materials palette that complements the outdoors. “In this natural space marked by a wide green area and the characteristic geology of the site, the Refúgio da Cainã contemplates a simplistic structural concept that reveals the connection of the interior with the exterior by the minimal intervention in the natural environment,” explains the architect, who adds that the hotel is located in the area of a geological fault called the “Escarpa Devoniana.” “It has in its essence, the relation between the artificial structure and the natural universe, where the concept of the project is to harmonize with nature without trying to disguise it, revealing its straight lines as opposed the curved and organic lines of nature.” Related: Site-sensitive Woodhouse Hotel promotes agricultural tourism in Guizhou To reduce environmental impact, the architect reused a nearly 40-foot-long metal container for the bulk of the building, which includes the bathroom on one end, the bedroom in the middle, along with a dining area and living room on the other end. A “glass box” was added to the container and houses a sitting area enclosed on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glazing . The building is elevated with pillars to preserve the natural terrain and minimize site impact. + Bruno Zaitter Images via Bruno Zaitter

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A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil

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