WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic

June 22, 2020 by  
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Humans must address environmental issues now if they wish to avoid future pandemics, WWF International stated in a report released last week. Top drivers of new zoonotic diseases include wildlife trade and consumption, deforestation and loss of natural ecosystems to agriculture. COVID-19’s devastating costs include the lives of 370,000 people in over 200 countries between December 2019 and May 2020 and an economic impact in the trillions. People are still trying to pinpoint COVID-19’s exact origins, but scientists believe it is a zoonotic disease, meaning one that wildlife transmits to humans. Scientists have linked the novel coronavirus to a disease prevalent in horseshoe bats. Related: Orcas threatened by highly contagious respiratory virus, CeMV  “We must urgently recognize the links between the destruction of nature and human health, or we will soon see the next pandemic,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. “We must curb the high risk trade and consumption of wildlife , halt deforestation and land conversion as well as manage food production sustainably.” This goes for the whole world, from pangolins in Asia to brown bears in the EU’s Carpathian Mountains. According to the report, COVID-19: Urgent Call to Protect People and Nature , new zoonotic diseases are emerging at a frightening rate. WWF calls on governments to halt the high-risk wildlife trade, introduce new policies to eliminate deforestation, protect food security in vulnerable communities, recognize Indigenous peoples’ land and water rights and commit enough dollars to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework . The organization also urges governments to halve their production and consumption footprints and to adopt a One Health approach that acknowledges the links between the health of humans, animals and the environment we share. “Deforestation and ecosystem conversion are squeezing wildlife — and with it viruses — out of their natural habitats and closer to humans,” said Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, senior forest policy officer at WWF EU. “Forests can be our ‘antivirus,’ they protect us from pandemics and we need to protect them. New legislation should also protect human rights, especially those of Indigenous peoples and local communities.” + WWF Image via Volodymyr Hryshchenko

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WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic

Discover the powers of nature in Denmarks newly opened NATURKRAFT exploratorium

June 17, 2020 by  
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Last week, Denmark’s NATURKRAFT officially opened to offer the public a new space for experiencing the “physical and aesthetic powers of nature.” Designed by Thøgersen & Stouby and SLA , the new landmark at the western coastal town of Ringkøbing is a 50-acre exploratorium showcasing the importance of environmental stewardship. The project, which was funded by private equity and the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern, cost 300 million Danish kroner ($45,329,550) and is expected to attract 280,000 visitors annually. Naturkraft — Danish for “Nature Power” — consists of three connected zones that are separately guided by the themes of observation, participation and understanding. The first “observation” zone is marked by a 600-meter-long ring was that rises to a height of 12 meters and provides views of the Ringkøbing Fjord and the flat surrounding landscape. The second zone, which focuses on “participation,” comprises an inner nature and adventure park with playful installations and a 17-kilometer-long “cross section” of the local biotopes throughout the western Jutland of Denmark . Eight specially designed nature typologies are represented, from the sand dune and the heathland to the marsh and the carbon forest. Related: Climate-adaptive park in Copenhagen wins Arne of the Year Award The theme of “understanding” guided the creation of a 5,500-square-meter building for exhibitions. Located on the highest point of the ring wall, the building features a tent-like translucent facade constructed from lightweight ETFE to emphasize a constant connection to the outdoors. The inner nature arena also includes “dissemination installations” for furthering conversations on the importance of nature for humans. “Naturkraft is both about the visible nature powers that humans experience and use in nature, and about the deep-seated aesthetic sense of nature that nature phenomena awaken in us,” said Stig L. Andersson, design director and founding partner of SLA. “Nature is what allows us humans to live good and meaningful lives. For both survival and living. In Naturkraft we show how the use of natural processes can shape our future cities and communities. Not by hitherto destroying existing nature , but by learning from nature and living with and not against it.” + SLA Photography by Torben Petersen and Thøgersen&Stouby via SLA

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Discover the powers of nature in Denmarks newly opened NATURKRAFT exploratorium

How to have an eco-friendly picnic

June 17, 2020 by  
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Summer is just around the corner, and that means it’s picnic season. But a picnic with juice boxes and individually wrapped treats creates a lot of waste that only contributes to the growing plastic crisis. Have an eco-friendly picnic this summer instead and spend time enjoying and protecting the environment around you in real ways that you can be proud of. Eliminating waste Paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cutlery mean lots of waste for any picnic. Eliminate all of that by using cloth napkins and serving foods that don’t need extra plates. Items that can be eaten by hand don’t require forks and spoons. Sandwiches, vegetable slices, crackers, rolls, wraps — the list of great finger foods goes on and on. Related: How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen Bring reusable cups and napkins on the picnic and take them with you when you leave. That means don’t bring any plastic straws or juice boxes, either.  Preparing the food Support the local community and small farmers by buying local when you’re shopping for ingredients. Go to a farmers market to get fresh, local ingredients. If possible, ride a bike over to the market and back so you aren’t adding any carbon emissions to the atmosphere when you do your shopping. Pack your food in silicone bags or glass containers instead of plastic containers to be even more green. Consider a meal that doesn’t include any beef. Environmentalists warn that beef production on a massive scale creates numerous risks to the planet, from the methane generated on cattle farms to the energy it takes to transport the beef. Opt for vegetarian and vegan options at the picnic to be as eco-friendly as possible. Related: Cool vegan recipes for a hot summer If you do end up with orange peels, wrappers and other waste at the end of the picnic, pick up all of these items instead of leaving them behind. Some food remains, like rinds and peels, can be added to the compost pile. Recycle or wash and reuse everything else that you possibly can. Grilling If you plan to grill for your picnic, plan ahead with the planet in mind. Grilling can release a lot of carbon emissions into the air; however, when done properly, grilling can be better for the environment than cooking in the kitchen. Solar cookers are a great option, but you’ll have to bring your cooker with you to the picnic and you need the weather to be in your favor for it to work. If you can’t use a solar cooker, you can use natural lump charcoal. Rather than lighter fluid, use a charcoal chimney. This is a green alternative to standard grilling. If you’re having a picnic in the park, there will be plenty of community grills available for use. Remember to take any aluminum foil and other waste with you when you leave the picnic area for proper disposal. Playing games It won’t do much good to prepare an eco-friendly meal and then play picnic games that create a lot of waste. A flying disc is a great option. Jump ropes can be folded and packed away easily, so this is another item to bring for some fun picnic activities. A simple rubber ball can be used to play kickball, dodge ball or any number of other sports. Keep eco-friendly games in mind when you’re thinking about picnic recreation. Choose activities that leave no waste behind and don’t alter the environment in any way. Keeping insects away Using bug sprays isn’t the best choice for an eco-friendly picnic. Stick to natural ways to keep bugs away, such as crushed lavender flowers or citronella to repel mosquitoes. Lavender oil is effective at keeping a number of insects away, including mosquitoes. You can also mix garlic and lemon to keep insects and even some animals away from your picnic area, although the smell that drives them away can be unpleasant for people, too. Related: 4 DIY herbal remedies that take the sting out of pesky bug bites Applying sunscreen Be sure to keep a reef-safe sunscreen on hand, and for added protection, pack a big straw hat. Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen, too, to prevent harmful sunburn. Traveling If possible, bike or walk to your picnic location to reduce emissions . If that’s not an option, carpool or ride public transit to the picnic spot to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. All those little changes really do add up to be a big help to the environment. Images via Kate Hliznitsova , Toa Heftiba , Yaroslav Verstiuk and Antonio Gabola

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3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation

June 17, 2020 by  
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3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation Jonathan Cook Wed, 06/17/2020 – 00:30 This article originally was published in World Resources Institute . In Indonesia, climate change is already a pernicious threat. More than 30 million people across northern Java suffer from coastal flooding and erosion related to more severe storms and sea level rise. In some places, entire villages and more than a mile of coastline have been lost to the sea. The flooding and erosion are exacerbated by the destruction of natural mangrove forests. These forests absorb the brunt of waves’ impact, significantly reducing both the height and speed of waves reaching shore. And mature mangroves can store nearly 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare, thus mitigating climate change while also helping communities adapt. Without mangroves, 18 million more people worldwide would suffer from coastal flooding each year (an increase of 39 percent). That’s why in Demak, Java, a diverse group of residents, NGOs, universities and the Indonesian government are working together on the “Building with Nature” project to restore a 12-mile belt of mangroves . The project, managed by Wetlands International, already has improved the district’s climate resilience, protecting communities from coastal flooding and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Nature-based solutions are an underused climate adaptation strategy Java isn’t the only place where nature-based solutions can make a difference. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Coastal wetlands can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise. Well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides. Green space in cities can alleviate heat stress and reduce flooding. While we don’t yet have a full accounting of this potential, we do know that, for instance, wetland ecosystems cover about 8 percent of the planet’s land surface and the ecosystem services they provide — including flood protection, fisheries habitat and water purification — are worth up to $15 trillion . For example, offshore fisheries in areas with mangroves provide fishermen with an average of 271 pounds of fish (worth about $44) per hour, compared to an average of 40 pounds (only $2 to $3 per hour in places without mangroves). Yet despite nature’s ability to provide vast economic and climate resilience benefits, many countries are not fully using nature-based solutions for adaptation, according to research by the U.N. Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) produced for the Global Commission on Adaptation. Of 167 Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement, just 70 include nature-based adaptation actions; the majority of those are in low-income countries. The Global Commission on Adaptation is working with leading organizations and countries, including the governments of Canada, Mexico and Peru, the Global Environment Facility and the U.N. Environment Program, to scale these approaches globally through its Nature-Based Solutions Action Track . According to the Commission’s Adapt Now report  — which builds on UNEP-WCMC’s research — three crucial steps are needed to make this happen: 1. Raise understanding of the value of nature Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. For example, it can be 2 to 5 times cheaper to restore coastal wetlands than to construct breakwaters ­— artificial barriers typically made out of granite — yet both protect coasts from the impact of waves. The median cost for mangrove restoration is about 1 cent per square foot. This is far less than the often prohibitive cost of most built infrastructure. Mangrove areas yield other benefits, too, as illustrated by the effect on fisheries. In fact, the commission found the total net benefits of protecting mangroves globally is $1 trillion by 2030. While some research of this kind exists, countries often need place-specific assessments to identify the best opportunities to use nature-based solutions for adaptation. Governments also should consider that local and indigenous communities often have ample understanding of nature’s value for people, and should seek out and include this knowledge in plans and policies. The success of the “Building with Nature” project, for example, relied on the full involvement of local residents. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. 2. Embed nature-based solutions into climate adaptation planning Nature-based solutions often work best when people use them at larger scales — across whole landscapes, ecosystems or cities. Governments are often best placed to plan climate adaptation at this scale given their access to resources and ability to make policy and coordinate among multiple actors. To be successful, they should include nature-based solutions in their adaptation planning from the start. Mexico’s approach to water management highlights how one way this can be achieved. Water supplies are especially vulnerable to climate change, as shifting rainfall patterns cause droughts in some places and floods in others. Mexico is proactively protecting its water on a national scale by designating water reserves in more than one-third of the country’s river basins. These protected areas and wetlands cover nearly 124 million acres and ensure a secure water supply for some 45 million people downstream. This approach can work in many other places. Research on cities’ water supplies shows that by conserving and restoring upstream forests, water utilities in the world’s 534 largest cities could better regulate water flows and collectively save $890 million in treatment costs each year. 3. Encourage investment in nature-based solutions Communities and countries often cite access to funding as a barrier to implementing nature-based solutions, and to climate adaptation efforts overall. But, as UNEP-WCMC highlights, governments can spur investment in these approaches by reorienting their policies, subsidies and public investments. They can also better incentivize private investors to finance adaptation projects. Many governments, private sector and philanthropic actors have funds that could be used for nature-based adaptation solutions — but a lack of awareness has hindered their widespread use. Part of the solution is helping communities and countries better understand what funding opportunities exist, learn from successful financing models and identify gaps that could be filled by interested donor countries, development institutions and private investors — an effort the commission is undertaking. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Canada’s $1.6 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is one example of a public financing approach. This fund helps communities manage risks from floods, wildfires, droughts and other natural hazards by providing investments in both green (nature-based) and gray (built) infrastructure. Much like the mangroves in Indonesia, Canada has its own coastal wetlands that protect its coasts from sea level rise. The fund recently invested $20 million into a project that is restoring salt marshes and improving levees along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Once complete, the Bay of Fundy project will reduce coastal flooding that affects tens of thousands of residents, including indigenous communities, as well as World Heritage sites and more than 49,000 acres of farmland. Protecting nature protects people The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. They provide food, fuel and livelihoods; sustain cultural traditions; and offer health and recreation benefits. Many of these solutions actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serving as climate mitigation strategies as well . They also provide critical habitat for biodiversity. The Global Commission on Adaptation is establishing a group of frontrunner countries, cities and communities to highlight successes, stimulate greater commitments and increase attention to nature’s underappreciated role in climate adaptation. By taking these steps to scale up nature-based solutions, we can realize the potential of nature to advance climate adaptation and protect those most likely to be affected by climate change. Pull Quote Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Topics Risk & Resilience Risk Nature Based Solutions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Scenic path on mangrove forest at Bama Beach in the Baluran National Park, a forest preservation area on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia Shutterstock Ivan Effendy Halim Close Authorship

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

June 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Cecilia Keating Tue, 06/16/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced it will invest €1 billion (about $1.12 billion based on exchange rates this week) over the next decade in efforts to tackle climate change and deliver on a new goal to ensure net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039. The consumer goods giant unveiled its new Climate and Nature Fund on Monday as it set out a raft of fresh sustainability goals, which include plans to end deforestation in its supply chain and communicate the carbon footprint of every product it sells. The new 2039 target builds on existing sustainability goals to reach carbon neutrality across its operations and halve its value chain emissions by the end of the decade. Unilever CEO Alan Jope emphasized the company intended to eschew a sustainability strategy that focused on emissions alone and instead take a holistic approach. “Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” he said. “In doing so, we must also recognize that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.” To reach its new value chain emissions goal, Unilever said it would prioritize partnerships with suppliers committed to science-based climate targets and work with partners across the value chain to drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, the Anglo-Dutch company said it intends to set up a new system where suppliers are required to declare the carbon footprint of the goods and services while invoicing. It also outlined its intention to work with other businesses and organizations to standardize emissions data collection, sharing, and communication. The new fund will support a raft of initiatives, including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation projects, the company said. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … The firm also confirmed that it is aiming to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. As such it pledged to increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies — such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain systems — to enhance oversight, accelerate smallholder engagement and improve its approach to derivates sourcing. Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at the company, said that empowering farmers would deliver a “step change” in regenerating nature. “If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems,” he said. “In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land.” Unilever also has committed to step up its efforts to preserve water, with plans to make all its “product formulations” biodegradable in order to minimize their impact on aquatic ecosystems. It also said it would implement water stewardship programs for local communities in 100 locations by the end of the decade. Jope concluded that the suite of new initiatives would complement the company’s ongoing mission to curb its reliance on virgin plastic. “While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life — in the sourcing of materials — as well as in their manufacture and transport,” he said. “We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.” Last year, the company pledged to halve its use of virgin plastic and ensure it collects and recycles more plastic packaging than it sells. The announcement came the same day as the publication of an open letter to governments from leading green businesses and NGOs, calling on policymakers to prioritize nature restoration projects as part of their imminent coronavirus economic stimulus packages. Pull Quote While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Early evening view of Unilever office The Bridge in Feijenoord neighbourhood in Rotterdam

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity

June 12, 2020 by  
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Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity Heather Clancy Fri, 06/12/2020 – 02:15 Week in Review Stories discussed this week. Leading the sustainability transformation Funding climate tech and entrepreneurs of color should go hand in hand How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community How on-demand delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Features A new angel fund dedicated to decarbonization (18:50) Ramez Naam, futurist and board member for Seattle-based angel investor network E8 , chats about the new Decarbon-8 fund and why seeking racially diverse founders will be a priority. “Because if we are going to help some people build companies in this, and they’re going to profit, as the entrepreneurs should, we’d like some of that to go back into those people, in those communities,” he says.  Funding biodiversity (31:14) William Ginn, author of the new book ” Valuing Nature ,” talks with Associate Editor Deonna Anderson about ways the private sector can address biodiversity. Voices of the clean energy equity movement (48:25) GreenBiz Senior Analyst Sarah Golden shares highlights of conversations with Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers; Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , which works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities; and Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. *Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions, AdmiralBob 77, Stefan Kartenburg and Lee Rosevere: “Throughput,” “Our Fingers Cold” and “Hundred Mile — Atmospheric” (Blue Dot); “Two Guitars” (AdmiralBob 77); “The Vendetta,” “Guitale’s Happy Place” and “Arc de Triomphe” (Kartenburg); “Curiosity” and “I’m Going for a Coffee” (Rosevere) *This episode was sponsored by UPS. Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. The future of risk assessment. Ideas for building a supply chain resilient to both short-term disruptions such as the pandemic and long-term risks such as climate change. Register here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT June 16. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Fleet of clean fleet. Real-life lessons for trucking’s future. Sign up for the conversation at 1 p.m. EDT July 2. Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Sarah Golden Topics Podcast Energy & Climate Food & Agriculture Equity & Inclusion Environmental Justice Biodiversity Innovation Climate Tech Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 1:00:19 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity

Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

June 3, 2020 by  
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Kids stuck at home due to coronavirus have another opportunity for quality online learning. Earth School, a collaboration between TED-Ed (TED’s youth and education initiative) and the United Nations’ Environment Programme, is releasing 30 short videos to teach children about connections between nature and many aspects of society. The videos started dropping on Earth Day , April 22. Since then, the collaborators have released one video daily. The last video will be posted on June 5, World Environment Day. The videos will remain online and can be viewed consecutively or randomly. Related: Take a virtual dive with NOAA More than 30 organizations helped create the videos. The World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic and BBC contributed high-quality video footage, articles and digital interactive resources. The 30 video lessons fall into six categories: The Nature of Our Stuff, The Nature of Society, The Nature of Nature, The Nature of Change, The Nature of Individual Action and The Nature of Collective Action. The producers designed them to appeal to science-curious kids with topics like the lifecycle of a T-shirt, whether we should eat bugs, where does water come from and tracking grizzly bears from space. A press release stated the program’s three goals: to help kids and parents sort through a myriad of options to find a solid, reliable science source; to keep kids interested in nature even while they’re stuck inside; and to ease the load of harried parents who suddenly find themselves in charge of their kids’ education 24/7. Watching these videos will help children understand their roles as future stewards of our troubled planet. The last two weeks of instruction offer concrete ways kids can improve the world individually and collectively. As the press release explains, “We aim to inspire the awe and wonder of nature in Earth School students and help them finish the program with a firm grasp of how deeply intertwined we are with the planet.” + Earth School Image via Lukas

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Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

June 3, 2020 by  
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Kids stuck at home due to coronavirus have another opportunity for quality online learning. Earth School, a collaboration between TED-Ed (TED’s youth and education initiative) and the United Nations’ Environment Programme, is releasing 30 short videos to teach children about connections between nature and many aspects of society. The videos started dropping on Earth Day , April 22. Since then, the collaborators have released one video daily. The last video will be posted on June 5, World Environment Day. The videos will remain online and can be viewed consecutively or randomly. Related: Take a virtual dive with NOAA More than 30 organizations helped create the videos. The World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic and BBC contributed high-quality video footage, articles and digital interactive resources. The 30 video lessons fall into six categories: The Nature of Our Stuff, The Nature of Society, The Nature of Nature, The Nature of Change, The Nature of Individual Action and The Nature of Collective Action. The producers designed them to appeal to science-curious kids with topics like the lifecycle of a T-shirt, whether we should eat bugs, where does water come from and tracking grizzly bears from space. A press release stated the program’s three goals: to help kids and parents sort through a myriad of options to find a solid, reliable science source; to keep kids interested in nature even while they’re stuck inside; and to ease the load of harried parents who suddenly find themselves in charge of their kids’ education 24/7. Watching these videos will help children understand their roles as future stewards of our troubled planet. The last two weeks of instruction offer concrete ways kids can improve the world individually and collectively. As the press release explains, “We aim to inspire the awe and wonder of nature in Earth School students and help them finish the program with a firm grasp of how deeply intertwined we are with the planet.” + Earth School Image via Lukas

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Earth School offers kids interesting science lessons online

Off-grid cabins in Brazil offer remote eco getaway

June 3, 2020 by  
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While some people may find social distancing a bit inconvenient, others may have found a new way to live — and vacation. For those who are looking to continue to enjoy solitude, but in an amazingly natural landscape, Brazilian firm  Arquitetura Rural  has just unveiled two off-grid  eco cabins  located deep in a very remote Brazilian forest. Both of the eco cabins were designed for a sustainable farm located in the remote Brazilian region of Rio do Coco. The region is known for its lush forest landscape, meandering river and stunning wildlife. To better accommodate nature lovers to the area, the EcoAraguaia Farm of The Future tasked the team from Arquitetura Rural with designing two  solar-powered  eco cabins that would fit in harmony with the surroundings. Related: Embrace sustainable travel in this solar-powered A-frame cabin The first cabin, the OCA, is 904 square meters. Inspired by indigenous Brazilian architecture, the cabin is a two-story rounded volume with open sides. Made out of  sustainably-sourced local wood  from a native Brazilian tree called Cumaru, the cabin is set off the ground on stilts to protect the landscape and encourage natural ventilation and temperature control. The interior of the space, which features a large open layout, is clad in teak wood. The cabin’s roof is covered in natural palm tree fibers, which also offer optimal protection from inclement weather and provide shade for the interior spaces. The second  cabin design , the TABA, is the smaller of the two. At just 322 square feet, the cabin can accommodate up to two people. However, the farm plans to build several modules of the TABA, all connected by an elevated wooden deck. The cabin design features two large windows, which frame the incredible views. Built by local craftsmen, both of the cabins will operate completely  off-grid . Water used in the cabin is pumped from the local river, called Rio do Coco. Energy is generated by solar panels, which generate sufficient power while the sun is shining. At night, the cabins are illuminated by candles and lamps, which apart from saving energy, also keep the curious wildlife such as jaguars, howler monkeys and birds at bay. The cabins are also installed with green sanitation systems designed to operate on a zero-waste output. There is a special composting mechanism that turns  organic waste  into compost, which is then used as fertilizer for growing food. This system is used to care for the farm’s organic banana trees and papaya and sweet potato plants. + Arquitetura Rural Images via Arquitetura Rural

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Timber lake kiosk will gradually disappear into landscape

June 3, 2020 by  
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Berlin-based  noa* (network of architecture)  has replaced an aging swimming hut with the new Lake House Völs, a contemporary kiosk that will gradually blend into its scenic surroundings. Oriented for views of the idyllic Völser Weiher Lake in South Tyrol, the new construction provides public changing rooms, bathrooms, a snack bar and swimming jetties for nature lovers who flock to the area year-round. The wood-framed building is clad in untreated larch that will develop a natural patina over time, while fast-growing jasmine planted around the changing rooms will envelop part of the building in greenery to camouflage it from view.  Set against a spectacular mountain backdrop with lush pine forests, the Lake House Völs anchors a popular destination for outdoor activities, from swimming in summer and ice skating in winter. Since the old facility lacked accessible features for the disabled, the architects demolished the existing structure and created two new compact buildings that fit roughly within the original footprint and are connected with a transverse axis defined by an open recess with a  timber  folding element.  The main building is topped with a distinctive  gabled  roof with deep overhangs that frames views of the lake and provides shade to a large outdoor terrace. The terrace extends to a newly designed bathing area with jetties built of locally sourced wood. Inside, the main building houses a new snack bar, kitchen and counter for serving refreshments. The smaller structure next door features a nature-inspired green color palette and contains the changing rooms. The recess that connects the two buildings doubles as a secondary snack bar for smaller refreshments.  Related: A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming “alpine village” getaway In addition to using timber construction with  locally sourced materials , the architects also tied the building to its site by incorporating a traditional South Tyrolean lace pattern into the resin filler. The 3D patterns in the resin “add a special visual flair and a touch of spontaneity,” said the architects. + noa* Images by Alex Filz

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Timber lake kiosk will gradually disappear into landscape

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