Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Researchers have identified the first recognized giant manta ray nursery in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico , about 70 miles offshore from Galveston, Texas . Graduate student and executive director of  Manta Trust Josh Stewart first made this discovery while studying adult mantas in the area for the first time. “I was there trying to get a genetic sample from a full grown manta, and that’s when I saw it. It was a juvenile male manta, which is a very rare,” Stewart told NPR . After expressing his excitement to local researchers, he was informed that young manta sightings were quite common there. He said, “And that’s when I knew that this was a really special, unique place.” The local researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration had misidentified the young manta rays as another species, neglecting to recognize the importance of this place until the arrival of an outside perspective. Typically, adult manta rays live in deep tropical and subtropical waters, making the study of these majestic sea creatures quite difficult. Young manta rays are almost never seen with adults. Related: Microplastic pollution poses particular threat to filter-feeding rays, sharks and whales “The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” Stewart explained. “We don’t know much about their movements, their feeding behavior and how that compares to the adults. Now we have a pool of juveniles that we can study.” The recognition of the nursery will ensure that these young mantas, now an endangered species in the U.S., are protected while also providing a road map for the protection of juvenile habitats around the world. “This research backs up the need for protection of other critical habitat, especially since manta rays have recently been designated as threatened species,” study co-author Michelle Johnston told the Herald Sun . “Threatened species need a safe space to grow up and thrive and live.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via NPR and  The Herald Sun Images via G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS

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Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements

June 18, 2018 by  
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A newly renovated community garden has officially opened in the Bronx. Fannie’s Garden at Paradise on Earth , a venture of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), received a dramatic upgrade with sustainable features like permeable pavement , a rain garden , and a shade structure designed to support solar panels. The 13,000-square foot-garden offers space for urban residents to escape the city, get their hands dirty in 24 garden beds, and enjoy the colors of native plants. NYRP just celebrated the grand opening of the community garden last week. They renovated Paradise on Earth, founded in 1981, together with design firm Sawyer | Berson around what NYRP described as “simple, elegant geometry.” The garden includes 12 raised garden beds for kids, six raised beds for adults, and six raised beds that meet Americans with Disabilities Act height requirements. Related: Brooklyn Grange announces a new location — in a former WWII shipyard The garden also includes open space for children to run on natural turf, a multipurpose raised deck underneath a tree — a NYRP Instagram post shows students practicing yoga on the deck as one potential use — and a slatted shade structure that NYRP said has been “pre-fitted to support solar panels and an off-grid electrical system” at Paradise on Earth. A chicken coop, outdoor kitchen, drinking fountain, and a trellis and tool shed are also part of the renovation. The upgrades kept sustainability in mind with a rain garden meant to “capture, store, and infiltrate storm water before it reaches the sewer system” and a compost toilet . The community garden is located in the Morrisania neighborhood at 1106 Fox Street, Bronx, New York, 10459. If you’d like to volunteer at the garden, such as cultivating produce or helping with maintenance, you can find out more information at NYRP’s volunteer page . + Paradise on Earth + New York Restoration Project + Sawyer | Berson Images courtesy of New York Restoration Project

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
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Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

June 15, 2018 by  
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The environmental impact of large-scale industrial activity can be felt long after the activity stops. A new study published in the journal ScienceDirect found that decades after the closure of the Giant Mine — located on the outskirts of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories province of Canada  — small animals still carried significant amounts of toxic chemicals, such as arsenic, in their fur. While high levels of arsenic had been documented in the soil, plants and fish near the Giant Mine, scientists had not previously documented the impact on small  mammals . Understanding the potential toxicity of these animals is important, as these creatures are still hunted for their furs and food, through which humans could also absorb the dangerous chemicals. The Giant Mine near Yellowknife contributed to the arsenic contamination of the surrounding area through its 55 years as an active gold mine. To extract gold from ore, it must be heated at extremely high temperatures. This process creates a toxic compound called arsenic trioxide, about 237,000 tons of which is buried underground near the mine site. Arsenic is naturally found within the Earth, often in gold-holding rocks. While arsenic usually seeps slowly into the environment through steady erosion of the rock, gold mining accelerates that process. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water Small mammals like the snowshoe hare often serve as early warning signs of an environment’s contamination . Because of the animal’s limited habitat range and diet of ground plants, the contaminant levels are often higher than other organisms. When snowshoe hares who lived near Giant Mine were tested for levels of arsenic, researchers found that their arsenic levels were 20 to 50 times higher than hares who lived elsewhere. Arsenic-contaminated wildlife often suffer from osteoporosis, neurological damage, reproductive issues and chronic metabolic disease. Scientists are most concerned that the arsenic contamination will find its way up the food chain, harming larger mammals, including humans. + ScienceDirect Via EcoWatch Images via Denali National Park and Preserve (1, 2)

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Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

DNC votes to ban fossil fuel company donations

June 14, 2018 by  
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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently adopted a ban on donations coming from fossil fuel companies, HuffPost reported . The executive committee voted unanimously on a resolution proposed by political strategist Christine Pelosi that doesn’t allow the organization to accept contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs) connected to the oil and gas industry . The text of the resolution says, “…fossil fuel corporations are drowning our democracy in a tidal wave of dark oily money; they have deceived the public about the impacts of climate change , fought the growth of clean renewable energy , and corrupted our political system.” Oil and gas companies in 2016 spent $7.6 million on Democratic races, compared to $53.7 million in direct donations to Republicans . In 2018, Republicans have taken 89 percent of the oil and gas industry’s donations thus far. The DNC confirmed the recent vote to HuffPost but did not comment on the record. Related: Climate change video directed by James Cameron heats up the DNC The resolution’s text says “hundreds of individual Democratic political candidates for office across the country have pledged not to take money from the fossil fuel industry.” Former president Barack Obama prohibited contributions from corporate PACs after winning the Democratic party’s nomination, but former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz lifted that ban before the 2016 election. HuffPost reported the DNC might consider a second resolution in August at a Chicago full board meeting to ban contributions greater than $200 from people working for the fossil fuel industry. Co-author of the recent resolution RL Miller told HuffPost, “So if Eddie Exxon is your college buddy and a frat-boy friend of yours and he’s employed at an Exxon gas station and wishes to donate $25 to have a barbecue and a beer with you, fine. But if Edward J. Exxon in Exxon’s middle management thinks you’re worth contributing $2,700 to out of his own salary, that is much more concerning to us.” + (((sfpelosi))) on Medium Via HuffPost Image via Depositphotos

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DNC votes to ban fossil fuel company donations

Washington coal plant to be converted into solar farm

June 14, 2018 by  
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Situated next to what was once the largest coal pit in Washington state , the TransAlta coal plant near the city of Centralia is turning into a source of clean energy. While TransAlta’s 2011 agreement to shut down the coal plant by 2025 will go a long way towards Washington’s goal of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – the emissions produced by the Centralia plant represent 10 percent of the state’s total emissions – TransAlta is going even further, converting 1,000 acres of the former mine area into a solar farm. The farm will compensate for the loss of 1,340 megawatts from the shutting of the coal plant and will be called Tono Solar, after the long-gone pioneer town of Tono that once existed at the site. TransAlta’s deal with Washington State to convert the former polluting plant into a clean-energy production site is a win-win for both parties involved. “This is a good-news story about moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewables,” NRDC senior attorney Noah Long told Ecowatch . The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires coal companies to clean up a former coal plant or mine after it is shut down. “By putting solar on the land, it maintains an industrial use. This good use of a brownfield brings the costs of reclamation down quite a bit.” Related: Trump’s nuclear bailout could cost consumers up to $17 billion each year The existing infrastructure at the site also eases the conversion process. “The location is good because it’s close to transmission lines,” TransAlta lead developer Ryan Schmidt said in a March 2018 presentation . “We know exactly what’s in the ground, because we put it there when we reclaimed the site.” While Tono Solar will produce only about 15 percent of the power once generated at the TransAlta coal plant, it is one of many renewable energy projects in the region that will serve Washington’s goals of reducing emissions and encouraging economic growth. The Centralia model of renewal could serve other communities around the United States as they attempt to rebuild after decades of industrial job decline. “There are lots of places in the Rust Belt of our country, not just coal mines,” Long said. Via Ecowatch Images via Robert Ashworth/Wikimedia

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Washington coal plant to be converted into solar farm

Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

June 13, 2018 by  
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Cherry Gale-cia, anyone? How about some Strawberry Breeze-cake or Caramel Blew Blew? Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s  has tweaked the names of some popular flavors with a gusty twist to rally support for onshore wind power in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported . The company isn’t just changing flavor names, though; it’s also promoting a petition requesting that the government reconsider its opposition to onshore wind. Would you be surprised to hear that the vast majority of Brits support onshore wind? New government figures show 76% of us love it! Find out more & join us by signing the petition! https://t.co/5oANc1YOrL #windpower pic.twitter.com/5UtCUpyEg4 — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 13, 2018 76 percent of Brits support onshore wind farms , according to the findings of a UK government poll released in April. Despite that, construction on the farms has mostly ceased since the government stopped subsidies and put planning reforms in place. Ben & Jerry’s is supporting 10:10 Climate Action ‘s Blown Away campaign; the group’s petition calls on Minister for Housing, Communities, and Local Government James Brokenshire to remove additional planning requirements introduced in 2015, with the ultimate goal of unlocking onshore wind power in England. Over 26,000 people have signed the petition — you can sign it on 10:10’s website . The #UK needs onshore #windpower ! 25965 people have already signed the petition. Join us! https://t.co/Wf98ZlujDF pic.twitter.com/u1qPWviyhV — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 9, 2018 Related: Ben & Jerry’s launches vegan ice cream flavors Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, will sell renamed flavors at half price on what they’re calling windy Wednesdays. UK social mission manager Rebecca Baron told The Guardian, “If we want to move away from polluting fossil fuels and build a future based on clean energy , then wind power is a vital ingredient.” People could save around £1.6 billion, or $2.1 billion, on household power bills between 2019 and 2025 with new onshore wind, according to a report  from renewable energy consultants BVG Associates . This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has gotten involved in environmental or social issues; they launched a new flavor for climate action in 2015. They describe backing 10:10’s Blown Away campaign as the latest installment in their ongoing climate activism . + 10:10 Blown Away + 10:10 Climate Action Petition Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

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Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
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In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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IKEA and Little Sun team up to design sustainable, off-grid tools

June 13, 2018 by  
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Little Sun , a social business from artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, creates products to put “the power of the sun in the palm of your hand” — think portable solar lamps and solar chargers . Now, the company is teaming up with furniture giant IKEA to raise awareness for people living without electricity  by creating a series of sustainable, off-grid tools for everyday living. We are teaming up with social business Little Sun to explore new off-the-grid solutions to make everyday life more sustainable for the many people. Read more on www.IKEA.today #IKEAtoday A post shared by IKEA Today (@ikeatoday) on Jun 7, 2018 at 8:35am PDT IKEA x Little Sun will explore new ways to capture the sun’s power through design . The collaboration wants to create portable solar lighting and other off-grid solutions for IKEA customers as the two companies raise awareness for more than one billion people who lack access to electricity. “By democratizing great things, we can give many people access to products that make everyday life better, supporting and encouraging independent living,” said IKEA Range and Supply head of design Marcus Engman. “If we can create good, democratic design solutions, then living off the grid can become sustainable, low-cost and provide independence.” Related: Olafur Eliasson unveils his first building, a sculptural stunner in Denmark Both companies said the new tools will be functional and beautiful and will serve as an introduction to renewable energy . “Little Sun makes solar energy tangible and your world a little bit more sustainable,” Eliasson said in a press release . “We are excited to collaborate with IKEA, raising awareness for energy access and the need for global togetherness. Together, we want to connect the world by sharing the power of the sun with everyone.” Little Sun says it has brought solar power to more than 10 African countries, and as of December 2017, it has distributed 661,578 Little Suns around the world — and over 377,637 lamps have gone to places lacking electricity. Little Sun said it would also like to explore solutions in off-grid communications and water in addition to energy. + IKEA x Little Sun + Little Sun + IKEA Images via ©Studio Olafur Eliasson, ©Tomas Gislason and ©Little Sun

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IKEA and Little Sun team up to design sustainable, off-grid tools

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