Conchs in the Bahamas could be extinct in 10 years

January 24, 2019 by  
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The Bahamas is famous for its large conch population, but some studies claim that could change significantly over the next decade if the archipelago doesn’t start enforcing its laws and introduce stricter regulations. Overfishing has devastated many of the Bahamian conch communities, and it is making reproduction so difficult, the sea slug could be extinct within 10 years. This would be devastating to Bahamian tradition and culture, not to mention the economic impact on the fishing industry. According to the Matador Network , about 9,000 fishermen, which is about 2 percent of the population, depend on the conch fishery. These sluggish sea creatures move too slowly to mate in just pairs. Instead, it’s safer for them to mate in groups, with at least 50 others nearby. But many of the Bahamian conch communities are below critical levels. Related: 60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction The conchs in the Florida Keys suffered the same fate more than four decades ago. Back in 1975, the once abundant conch population went extinct because of overfishing. Now, the Bahamas are facing the same problem, because the nation has some of the most lenient fishing regulations in the Caribbean. However, the Bahamas’ Department of Marine Resources announced on January 13 that it would be ending exports and increasing its regulatory staff in an effort to protect the conchs . There could be some push-back according to Shelly Cant-Woodside, the director of science and policy for the Bahamas National Trust. “We’re not used to regulations or enforcement,” Cant-Woodside told National Geographic . Because the conch industry is the only source of income for many residents of the Bahamas, they might not welcome new restrictions. Right now, the fishermen can legally fish adult conchs after they have had enough time to reproduce. But the Bahamas’ Department of Marine Resources will enforce this rule more strictly by recommending a mandatory minimum shell thickness. Biologist Any Kough said that the new recommendation is encouraging, and it is a “clear sign” that the department is aware of the troubles the conch population is facing in the Bahamas. Via Matador Network and National Geographic Image via Briana Baud

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Conchs in the Bahamas could be extinct in 10 years

Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

January 14, 2019 by  
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Bluebottle jellyfish have invaded Australia’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This past weekend, the jellyfish (also known as the Portuguese man-of-war) stung more than 5,000 people, and many of the victims weren’t even in the water. Just walking on one bluebottle jellyfish on the beach can bring intense pain, and because of strong north-easterly swell conditions, the jellyfish have been pushed to shore. Meanwhile, the deadly Irukandji jellyfish are bombarding the eastern coasts because of warming waters. “I have never seen anything like this — ever. Not everyone reacts the same way, but there have been very serious reactions,” said Jeremy Sturges, Surf Life Saving duty officer. The bluebottle jellyfish species travels in groups. Lifeguards have now closed several beaches, because during the month of December and the first week of January, more than 22,000 people have sought treatment for bluebottle jellyfish stings. Related: Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the US According to Queensland Ambulance, people that are stung should “pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs.” Luckily, there have not been any fatalities as a result of the bluebottle jellyfish stings. But on Australia’s east coast, experts say that deadly Irukandji jellyfish are spreading, and their stings are so severe they can cause brain hemorrhages and an intense feeling of impending doom, a condition known as Irukandji syndrome. These stings are the most concerning, especially near Queensland’s Fraser Island, because the sting rate has been growing steadily as the waters get warmer . This jellyfish likes to live in higher water temperatures and are normally found in the northern tropics. Recently, there have been two confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji, and the mysterious deaths of three other tourists have also been linked to the jellyfish. If waters continue to warm, the Irukandji will inevitably move farther south. In three years, they could hit the Gold Coast. “In Queensland alone, we put more people in hospital due to Irukandji stings than shark attacks, crocodile attacks and snake bites combined,” said Jamie Seymore, a professor at James Cook University. “This is something that we need to address now. I can see a time when we have to shut major beaches on the Sunshine Coast. It is going to happen.” Via Matador Network and The Guardian Image via GondwanaGirl

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Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic

December 24, 2018 by  
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In recent years, it has become more and more clear that single-use plastics are having a devastating impact on the environment  — especially on the oceans. And, if we don’t start making some changes now, it won’t be long before there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. The solution to this growing problem is relatively simple — reduce the use of single-use plastics. But, the execution of this simple idea can be a bit more challenging. If you want to make 2019 the year that you quit using single-use plastics, here is how to go about it. Food and beverages The easiest and most obvious place to start is food. Stop and think for a minute how many single-use plastics are in your refrigerator and pantry right now. Chances are you have a tub of butter, a bottle of salad dressing or a package of sliced cheese. Or maybe you have a bag of apples that you picked from the produce section at the grocery store. The truth is, the vast majority of grocery items come wrapped in single-use plastic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. There are local grocers and farmer’s markets that allow you to fill reusable containers with dry goods, and you can bring reusable bags to just about any store and load them up with fruits and veggies instead of using the plastic bags they provide. Related: European parliament supports the ban of single-use plastics Also, look for items that are packaged in paper, glass or cardboard instead of plastic. You won’t be able to do this with every food item — we haven’t seen any milk in glass bottles lately. But, often, you can find the things that you normally buy in sustainable packaging . Now, let’s talk about beverages. This is a big one. How many to-go beverages do you buy in one week? From bottled water to iced coffees, millions of single-use plastic containers are tossed in the trash every single day because of what we drink. Many coffee shops will allow you to bring in your own reusable tumbler. And, instead of buying that next bottle of water, opt for a reusable bottle that you can fill up with filtered water at home. Household items When it comes to things around your house like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cosmetics, razors and toothbrushes, they all come in single-use plastic containers. Consider making your own soap, shampoo and laundry detergent, and replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo , compostable option. Some cosmetics brands have a refill program, and razor refill companies are everywhere at the moment. The benefits of change When you start making a deliberate attempt to cut down single-use plastics, you will notice some big changes in your life. The biggest change will be that you will eat fewer amounts of processed food. More than half of the average American’s daily diet comes from processed foods, and a lot of that is in single-use plastic packaging. Not only will making this change reduce your use of plastic , but it will also result in a healthier diet. You will also find yourself saving some money. When you make your own soap and detergent and cut down on buying bottled water, you will end up saving cash in the long run.  Many coffee shops will give you a discount when you use a reusable mug, and making food from fresh ingredients instead of ordering takeout will be much easier on your pocketbook. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world  You will also become more organized because avoiding single-use plastic requires a plan. Adopting this lifestyle is not convenient, but when you make your own lunch for work instead of hitting a drive-thru or take a reusable bottle with you when you travel, you have to think ahead. Another bonus to cutting out single-use plastic is shopping locally. Hitting up local businesses, farmer’s markets and vintage shops will lead you to get to know the people that make the products you use, instead of buying packaged items that come from all over the world. You might consider growing your own produce in a veggie garden and experiment with fruits and veggies that are in season. Because you are focused on fresh food that isn’t wrapped in plastic, this new approach will make you more aware of the seasons and help you embrace the slow-food movement. Reducing your use of single-use plastic items takes a plan, and it takes time. It is not a convenient lifestyle, but a rewarding one. Not only will you have a new understanding of the work and resources that go into growing and harvesting your food and making the products you use everyday, but you will also reduce your waste . Via Matador Network Images via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin is expected to consume enough energy to power Austria by the end of 2018

May 18, 2018 by  
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Though bitcoin ‘s value may rise and fall dramatically, the energy required to produce bitcoins seems to be ever on the rise. Researchers estimate that the bitcoin network may consume as much as 7.7 gigawatts of energy , the equivalent of the electricity required to power Austria. If the value of bitcoin continues to rise, the entire bitcoin network may one day consume up to five percent of the world’s energy. A new study published in the journal   Joule  predicts that bitcoins use up to half a percent of the world’s total energy supply. Critics question the study’s assumptions and claim a lack of sufficient evidence to determine future bitcoin energy consumption with such precision. Regardless, bitcoin’s rising price could come with significant environmental costs. The bitcoin network primarily consumes energy through “mining” of the cryptocurrency, which occurs by running a computer program and time-stamping bitcoin transactions. These transactions take place on the blockchain, the networked account system behind cryptocurrencies. “The main problem is that the energy consumption primarily relates to how agreement on the underlying blockchain is reached,” blockchain specialist and study author Alex de Vries  told Gizmodo . “Mining makes it a big competitive lottery where the winner — every 10 minutes — gets to create the next block for the blockchain. The built-in reward for this process is fixed, so it motivates participants to constantly add new machines to the network to get a bigger slice of the pie — the more computational power, the more you win.” Related: Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponic garden In his study, de Vries focused on determining the cost of maintaining the network after bitcoin mining becomes unprofitable. “In essence I’m taking an economic point of view to figure out where energy consumption is heading. Previous work typically looked at available hardware, and produced results that only said something about the current consumption,” de Vries said. “My findings were based on the current conditions, so bitcoin doesn’t need to increase in value for the conclusion to hold.” Some experts disagree with de Vries’ methods and conclusions. “A major limitation of de Vries’ model is that it depends on guessing bitcoin’s future price as well as the cost of electricity to miners,” bitcoin investor  Marc Bevand told Gizmodo . “In the paper he assumes bitcoin maintains its current level at approximately $8,000 and electricity costs $0.05 per kWh. If either bitcoin goes up or electricity costs plummet, the energy consumption should increase, and vice versa.” Though the endeavor to determine the future of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continues, it seems clear that the environmental impact of bitcoin may be steep. Via Gizmodo Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Bitcoin is expected to consume enough energy to power Austria by the end of 2018

Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

May 4, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s made headlines with its electric Semi truck — but Anheuser-Busch is betting big on their competitor, the Nikola Motor Company . The beer company placed an order for as many as 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks just days after Nikola sued Tesla for patent infringement. Nikola says their zero emissions trucks boast a 500- to 1,200-mile range – plenty to haul Anheuser-Busch’s beer around the country. Anheuser-Busch’s goal is to convert its dedicated long-haul fleet over to renewably-powered vehicles by 2025. 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks could help them reach that goal. Nikola said their trucks could be integrated into the brewing company’s fleet in 2020. Features of the truck include the ability to refuel in around 20 minutes, and a surround viewing system for improved safety. Nikola could charge around $400,000 on average for their trucks, which are as yet in the prototype phase, according to Reuters . Related: Self-driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run The trucks could help the beer company attain sustainability goals; Nikola said, “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent — equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.” Nikola says on their website they plan to create the world’s largest hydrogen network, and CEO Trevor Milton said they’re excited to partner with Anheuser-Busch to bring this network to the United States. He said in the statement, “By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly nine billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.” Reuters described that last statement as a not-so-veiled jab at Tesla — people have questioned the Tesla Semi’s cost, range, and payload. The expected base prices for Tesla’s Semi are $150,000 for a 300-mile-range truck or $180,000 for a 500-mile-range truck. Anheuser-Busch did place 40 reservations for the Tesla Semi. Although Nikola and Tesla are both named after inventor Nikola Tesla, the companies aren’t exactly on good terms — Nikola recently sued Tesla over design patent infringements. Elon Musk referred to the allegation as a “laughable lawsuit.” + Nikola Motor Company Via Reuters and Mashable Images via Nikola Motor Company

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

May 4, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s made headlines with its electric Semi truck — but Anheuser-Busch is betting big on their competitor, the Nikola Motor Company . The beer company placed an order for as many as 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks just days after Nikola sued Tesla for patent infringement. Nikola says their zero emissions trucks boast a 500- to 1,200-mile range – plenty to haul Anheuser-Busch’s beer around the country. Anheuser-Busch’s goal is to convert its dedicated long-haul fleet over to renewably-powered vehicles by 2025. 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks could help them reach that goal. Nikola said their trucks could be integrated into the brewing company’s fleet in 2020. Features of the truck include the ability to refuel in around 20 minutes, and a surround viewing system for improved safety. Nikola could charge around $400,000 on average for their trucks, which are as yet in the prototype phase, according to Reuters . Related: Self-driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run The trucks could help the beer company attain sustainability goals; Nikola said, “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent — equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.” Nikola says on their website they plan to create the world’s largest hydrogen network, and CEO Trevor Milton said they’re excited to partner with Anheuser-Busch to bring this network to the United States. He said in the statement, “By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly nine billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.” Reuters described that last statement as a not-so-veiled jab at Tesla — people have questioned the Tesla Semi’s cost, range, and payload. The expected base prices for Tesla’s Semi are $150,000 for a 300-mile-range truck or $180,000 for a 500-mile-range truck. Anheuser-Busch did place 40 reservations for the Tesla Semi. Although Nikola and Tesla are both named after inventor Nikola Tesla, the companies aren’t exactly on good terms — Nikola recently sued Tesla over design patent infringements. Elon Musk referred to the allegation as a “laughable lawsuit.” + Nikola Motor Company Via Reuters and Mashable Images via Nikola Motor Company

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

April 4, 2018 by  
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A new breed of “nightmare” bacteria resists pretty much all of our antibiotics – and it’s rapidly spreading across the US. The bacteria – called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – is different from your run-of-the-mill antibiotic-resistant bacteria because it is incredibly deadly, with 50 percent of infected patients dying. Not only that, but it is spreading like “wildfire” with over 200 cases identified in 27 states. Researchers at the CDC said that last year they tested  5,700 samples of resistant bacteria, and of those samples, 221 were CRE or similar bacteria. That’s a full 15 percent. “I was surprised by the numbers” of bacteria with unusual antibiotic resistance, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said. “This was more than I was expecting.” Once researchers detected these bacteria, they tested other patients in the same facility to see if the bacteria had spread. It turned out that 1 in 10 people had what scientists call a “silent” infection, where they have the bacteria in their bodies but aren’t showing symptoms. Related: Flesh-eating bacteria might be spread by mosquitoes in Australia Fortunately, doctors have a plan. They are working hard to stop the spread before it becomes common. To that end, the CDC created the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) to test and track for these dangerous bacteria. Using an aggressive containment strategy, researchers have been able to control the infection. But the danger isn’t over – doctors and scientists will have to be vigilant to stay ahead of the antibiotic-resistance trend as bacteria continue to evolve and change to evade our efforts. Via Live Science Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

February 12, 2018 by  
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Today in the United States there are 3.5 million fewer beehives than there were in 1947, a worrying decline given that bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food. Addressing the need for more bees, and in general new awareness about their crucial role as pollinators, Dustin Betz and Mike Zaengle teamed up to design the hexagonal BEEcosystem observation hive . Safely installed either inside or outdoors, the modular beehive can be stacked for growth in much the same way honeybees expand their combs. The pair first introduced BEEcosystem in 2015 , and now, for 2018, they’ve improved upon the original design with nifty new features. Zaengle told Inhabitat that while customers who received BEEcosystems have been thrilled with their purchase, many wished the hive would open from the front, rather than the back. “This slight change would make the hives that are situated outside easier to maintain,” he said. Instead of having to remove the hive from the wall, it can now be maintained in place. Zaengle adds that they “have already worked through this design modification with our current manufacturer and have started our initial production run for the 2018 beekeeping season .” Another limiting factor for potential BEEcosystem owners is lack of experience. People who are unfamiliar with apiculture may be intimidated to bring bees into their homes, while business owners who want to support the pollinators may simply lack the necessary expertise. In response, Betz and Zaengle have set up a new ambassador program. Betz says the Beekeeper Ambassador Program will allow them to build a network of beekeeping experts who can provide services to B2B customers such as farm-to-table restaurants, vineyards and hotels. “We feel the BEEcosystem hive can add tons of value to eco- and agri-tourism businesses,” he said, “and the Ambassador Program will allow more of those businesses to purchase our product without having to have someone in-house manage the hive – this network will also help to educate the next generation of beekeepers, and greatly increase the reach of our social impact.” Related: The world’s first observation hive to ship with an established colony BEEcosystem has forged a partnership with the Clift hotel and beekeeper Roger Garrison in San Francisco, according to Zaengle, as part of a broader effort to expand their mission with “other hotels with a sustainable and eco-driven mission .” Another new feature that facilitates hive expansion includes unique patent pending vent-to-passageway magnetic connection points. “Because both the hive’s side vents and additional hive bodies attach magnetically, by simply sliding out any one of the four side-ventilation screens, another BEEcosystem hive body can be attached to create a more spacious hive interior—giving your colony room to grow and thrive,” according to information detailed in their latest crowdfunding campaign . “By using magnetic alignment, BEEcosystem units connect together effortlessly—and because we use powerful magnets, they also connect together securely—delivering both peace of mind and ease of installation.” A new mason jar top feeder allows budding beekeepers to supplement feeding when necessary, and removable top bar frames makes it easy to harvest honey. A detachable red acrylic piece ensures bees, which, similarly to humans, operate on a circadian rhythm, can enjoy light-free sleep. And the transport tube, like a bee version of a dog door that allows pollinators to travel outdoors to forage, is sealed in with a magnetic safety clasp. Betz and Zaengle have finessed what was already an elegant, minimalist design to ensure maximum comfort for both bees and their human caretakers. They call theirs the most “user-friendly observation hive ever built.” If you would like to support their efforts to scale up manufacturing and expand their educational initiatives, feel free to check out their Indiegogo campaign . They have lots of worthwhile gifts to share. + BEEcosystem + BEEcosystem on Indiegogo

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BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

December 28, 2017 by  
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Just in time for the holidays, Steven Holl Architects completed the latest Maggie’s Center, a building the U.S. firm describes as having “a new joyful, glowing presence.” The luminous building at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London is one in a network of drop-in centers with the charitable purpose of helping anyone who has been affected by cancer. Filled with natural light during the day and lit from within at night, this new Maggie’s Center is a sculptural beauty that takes inspiration from the church’s medieval heritage. Founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks in 1995, the Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Trust and the network of Maggie’s Centers seek to help those affected by cancer with free support, information, and advice. Located on the grounds of NHS hospitals, the buildings that house Maggie’s Centers also double as uplifting design destinations, having been designed by leading architects such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta. At the Maggie’s Center at St. Barts, Steven Holl Architects fashioned a curved three-story building—one of the few centers with a more vertical rather than horizontal profile—that draws the eye with its glowing matte glass facade decorated with colored glass fragments that evoke the “neume notation” of 13th century Medieval music. The glass facade is also organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff. “Interior lighting will be organized to allow the colored lenses together with the translucent white glass of the facade to present a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St. Barts Hospital,” wrote the architects. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature The architects continue to say that the building was envisioned as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” referring to the glass cladding as the outer layer on a branching concrete frame that holds an inner layer of perforated bamboo . The inner bamboo shell wraps around an open curved staircase and is bathed in colored light that changes over time and by season. The ground floor welcomes visitors with a rest area, counseling room, kitchen, and dining area. The first floor comprises a library and two additional rooms, while the topmost floor opens up to a public roof garden with flowering trees and a multipurpose space for yoga, Tai Chi, meetings and more. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

Mesmerizing white humpback whale spotted off the coast of Australia

October 4, 2017 by  
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Jump, Migaloo! In recent months, we’ve seen photographs of white giraffes and even a white moose . Now, footage has emerged of a rare white humpback whale, and nature enthusiasts can’t contain their excitement. The whale, named Migaloo (after the Aboriginal word meaning “white man”), was recently spotted off the coast of Sydney, Australia , – and he is just as majestic as you may expect. Migaloo was first spotted in 1990 and is believed to be around 30 years old. As National Geographic reports, it is unknown whether or not he has leucism (a condition which results in white or patchy skin, but the eyes remain dark) or is a true albino , meaning he doesn’t produce any pigment at all. According to Brian Clark Howard in National Geographic, three white males — including Migaloo — have been spotted off Australia in recent years. He wrote, “One has been dubbed Migaloo Junior’ or the ‘son of Migaloo’ – although no one knows whether this smaller whale is actually related to Migaloo. A third white humpback with black spots on its tail has also been spotted.” Related: Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil Due to commercial whaling , humpback whales were once close to extinction . A mere 100 remained in the oceans. Since legal protections were put in place, however, their numbers have recovered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there are approximately 20,000 humpback whales that migrate to Australia each year. Fortunately, Migaloo remains one of them. Via National Geographic Images via  Earth Touch News Network,   Australian Geographic

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