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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Mesmerizing white humpback whale spotted off the coast of Australia

Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding

September 19, 2017 by  
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Get ready Gogoro fans—the firm’s innovative electric scooters could soon be coming to a city near you. The Smartscooter maker just nabbed $300 million in new funding with an impressive list of international backers. Four new high-profile partners joining their current investors include Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management, Singapore-based Temasek, Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, and French energy giant ENGIE. A sign of growing global support in electric vehicles, this successful round of funding will go towards Gogoro’s technology development and expansion. Launched in Taiwan in 2015, Gogoro Smartscooter quickly rose to fame and was followed by expansions in Berlin and Paris in the form of electric scooter sharing programs . The major innovation lies with how the electric vehicle is powered—instead of plugging the scooter in for charging, Smartscooter owners swap out batteries at charging stations installed throughout the city. Often described as the “Tesla of electric scooters,” the innovative Smartscooter boasts over 100 million kilometers ridden by customers, including those on their new and improved Smartscooter 2. Related: Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage “One of the greatest challenges of our time is transitioning our cities to a smarter and more sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure,” said Horace Luke, co- founder and CEO of Gogoro. “Gogoro provides a new approach for cities to embrace sustainable energy through a smart connected infrastructure and battery swapping system that has demonstrated success across Taiwan and Berlin. New investments from leaders like Temasek and Generation combined with investments from visionary corporations like ENGIE and Sumitomo Corporation are a strong validation of Gogoro’s business and market success.” “This is a great sign that this sustainable technology of swappable batteries is something feasible that investors with high profiles around the world see as a viable solution,” added Luke in a conversation with Inhabitat. “It shows electric is here to stay and that it’s inevitable that electric will be the dominant player in the future.” The $300 million raised will be used for further development of technology and product, such as the use of big data collected from battery swapping to optimize the network and save energy. Gogoro also has plans to expand beyond its current three cities although they haven’t yet revealed which megacity they have their eye on next. + Gogoro

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Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding

Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf

August 3, 2017 by  
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For eighteen months, scientists and concerned citizens waited for a giant iceberg to break off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. On July 12, the highly-anticipated event finally occurred . Because the iceberg, named A68, was predominantly submerged in the water before it detached, the event did not dramatically raise sea levels — phenomena which would propel natural disasters. While this is fortunate, it turns out the iceberg saga isn’t over: cracks are spreading towards a location that is paramount to the stability of the remaining ice shelf . For months, satellites have been capturing footage of the region to track the effects of climate change . After A68 broke off the shelf, satellites continued to track its movements. According to new data published by the University of Leeds, the structure has drifted approximately 3.1 miles (5km) away from its initial location. When the event finally took place, Larsen C lost about 10 perfect of its area; at least 11 smaller icebergs — some up to 8 miles (12 km) long — were also formed. NewAtlas reports that as the network of cracks continues to sweep across Larsen C, the number of icebergs will keep increasing. Related: Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water Said Anna Hogg, a researcher at the University of Leeds: “The satellite images reveal a lot of continuing action on Larsen C Ice Shelf. We can see that the remaining cracks continue to grow towards a feature called Bawden Ice Rise, which provides important structural support for the remaining ice shelf. If an ice shelf loses contact with the ice rise, either through sustained thinning or a large iceberg calving event, it can prompt a significant acceleration in ice speed, and possibly further destabilization. It looks like the Larsen C story might not be over yet.” As Inhabitat previously reported, A68 is not a direct result of climate change . In fact, the process happens quite naturally during the life cycle of ice shelves. However, it is possible that it is breaking away progressed faster than normal due to changing environmental conditions . “Although floating ice shelves have only a modest impact on of sea-level rise, ice from Antarctica’s interior can discharge into the ocean when they collapse,” said Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher from the British Antarctic Survey. “Consequently we will see increase in the ice-sheet contribution to global sea-level rise. With this large calving event, and the availability of satellite technology, we have a fantastic opportunity to watch this natural experiment unfolding before our eyes. We can expect to learn a lot about how ice shelves break up and how the loss of a section of an ice shelf affects the flow of the remaining parts.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change . + University of Leeds Via NewAtlas Images via Pixabay

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Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf

More mayors are appointing chief resilience officers

July 28, 2017 by  
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As cities take climate matters into their own hands, all 24 U.S. members of the 100 Resilient Cities Network have added the CRO title.

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More mayors are appointing chief resilience officers

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