El Salvador just became the first country to ban metal mining

April 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

El Salvador just became the wold’s first country to ban metal mining . In a historic move, the country will no longer allow “prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of metallic minerals.” While the US seems to be moving backwards when it comes to environmental protection, El Salvador has made a landmark step towards protecting its environment from the ravages of metal mining . This law “is necessary in the face of an industry which, far from bringing any benefit to communities, brings serious pollution to water sources and the environment,” said Mauricio Sermeno, president of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit. Lawmakers expect the move to protect not only the environment, but poor rural communities that are often threatened by mining projects. Related: Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment Multiple countries in Latin America are engaged in battles with mining interests. Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala are fighting against Canadian and US mining firms. Other countries thrive on the money mining brings, but struggle with the toxic and environmental problems caused by it. In banning mining, El Salvador is drawing a line between gold and green. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren signed the bill into law on Thursday. Here’s hoping this inspires other countries to do the same. Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia and Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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El Salvador just became the first country to ban metal mining

Ford introduces the first-ever hybrid police car

April 28, 2017 by  
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When you think of police cars, visions of large, powerful and gas-hungry vehicles probably come to mind. Well, that vision of the “dirty” police car may change forever with Ford’s first-ever hybrid police car: meet the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan. Ford currently more police vehicles in the United States than any other car-maker, with 63 percent market share. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is expected help cities’ Police departments decrease emissions and save fuel. The hybrid sedan is rated at an EPA-estimated combined gas mileage of 38 mpg – more than twice that of today’s Police Interceptor. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is powered by an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. The hybrid is calibrated for law enforcement’s unique duty cycle and will run in battery-only mode up to 60 mph. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog Police vehicles spend lots of time idling, so the the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan’s lithium-ion battery helps power the high electrical loads of the police vehicle, reducing engine run time and saving an estimated 0.27 gallons of fuel per hour. Ford estimates that Police Responder Hybrid Sedan customers could see nearly $3,900 a year in potential fuel savings per vehicle relative to the Police Interceptor. The Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is making its debut in Los Angeles and New York, but Ford hopes to start delivering them nationwide by next summer. + Ford Images @Ford

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Ford introduces the first-ever hybrid police car

Denmark to end subsidies for renewables much sooner than anyone thought possible

April 28, 2017 by  
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The renewable energy industry is performing extremely well in Denmark . The country’s energy minister Lars Christian Lilleholt said it’s performing so well, they’ll be able to stop providing state support for clean energy providers in just a few years. Denmark’s renewable energy industry will be able to stand on its own, and Lilleholt said he could not have predicted this outcome even last year. Denmark’s renewable energy industry needed subsidies for over 40 years. But soon they’ll be able to survive without a boost from the government. According to Lilleholt, the country’s experience shows it’s no longer cheaper to produce coal than renewables. The milestone is even more crucial right as the direction of global energy policies is uncertain while United States President Donald Trump embarks on an ill-advised attempt to revive coal . According to Bloomberg, the president has “made clear he’s an enemy of wind power .” Related: Denmark just broke its own wind power record for the second year in a row Lilleholt said technology will help clean energy become even more efficient and said “already today, it’s impossible to build a new coal power plant without support.” A government-appointed panel gave him the findings on the energy future of Denmark, and said the country is set to meet power needs entirely with renewable energy by 2050. Half the country’s energy requirement could be supplied by renewables as soon as 2030. The panel thinks a large amount of new capacity will be constructed without subsidies. Industry members seem just as surprised as Lilleholt. Outgoing CEO of engineering firm Danfoss Niels B. Christiansen thinks the price of producing renewable energy could fall below market electricity prices between 2020 and 2030, saying, “A year ago, it was debatable whether renewable energy costs could drop so low. But everyone’s now thinking that it will probably happen sooner.” Denmark is home to both the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer and world’s largest offshore wind farm operator, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Dong Energy A/S . Via Bloomberg Images via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S

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Denmark to end subsidies for renewables much sooner than anyone thought possible

Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

April 27, 2017 by  
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Groundbreaking research from scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Florida State University could help in the fight against climate change . The researchers were able to trigger photosynthesis in metal-organic frameworks (MOF) with a little help from blue light , and the process turned carbon dioxide (CO2) into solar fuel . UCF assistant professor Fernando Uribe-Romo described the find as a breakthrough. Scientists have been seeking such a breakthrough for years. The trick is getting visible light to set off the chemical reaction; ultraviolet rays can do it but only comprise four percent of the light hitting Earth from the sun. Most materials that can absorb visible light to set off the reaction are too expensive or rare. The Florida scientists, however, found they could use the common nontoxic metal titanium added with organic molecules that can be designed to absorb certain colors of light. Uribe-Romo set them up to absorb blue light. Related: MIT Scientists Create Artificial Solar Leaf That Can Power Homes The team tested the MOF inside a photoreactor – or glowing blue cylinder lined with LED lights to mimic blue wavelengths shining from the sun – and the resulting chemical reaction turned CO2 into solar fuel. Uribe-Romo said, “The idea would be to set up stations that capture large amounts of CO2, like next to a power plant . The gas would be sucked into the station, go through the process, and recycle the greenhouse gases while producing energy that would be put back into the power plant.” He said it may even be possible for the material to be put in rooftop shingles to both clean the air and generate energy usable for homeowners. He aims to keep working with the synthetic material and see if different wavelengths of visible light can set off the reaction. The Journal of Materials Chemistry A published the find online earlier this month. Via The Independent and EurekAlert! Images via UCF: Bernard Wilchusky and University of Central Florida

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Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years

April 27, 2017 by  
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Wolves have been taken off the United States government’s endangered species list in Wyoming , and a court decision just gave wolf management back to the state. This means for the first time in four years, according to the Associated Press (AP), Wyoming plans to have a wolf hunt . Wolves are still recovering after their numbers were severely depleted, and environmentalists warn this order could be a step backward for the animals . Wolves will no longer have federal protections in Wyoming. The state will allow a wolf hunt this fall; officials told the AP the hunt will probably be similar to 2012 and 2013 hunting seasons. In 2013 the state allowed for 26 wolves to be killed near the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The AP said the hunting season only applies to the greater Yellowstone area; elsewhere in the state wolves can now be shot on sight year-round. Related: Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West The Wyoming Game & Fish Department put it rather bluntly: “Wolves outside the Trophy Game Management Area are now considered predatory animals as defined in state law and therefore can be harvested.” Back around the beginning of March Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Rebecca Riley told The Washington Post, “Wyoming’s plan to shoot wolves on sight throughout most of the state was a bad idea when it was proposed, and it’s a bad idea now. The court’s decision to lift federal protections for wolves in Wyoming will be a step backward for wolf recovery in the West.” A few hundred years ago some two million wolves lived in the United States; that number has dwindled to around 1,700. Wolves live on just 10 percent of their historic range in the American West. Via the Associated Press , the Wyoming Game & Fish Department , and The Washington Post Images via Pixabay and Jeremy Weber on Flickr

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Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years

NYC mayor announces push to finish 32-mile Greenway linking entire Manhattan waterfront

April 27, 2017 by  
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to finish the biggest gap in the 32-mile Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. $100 million in the mayor’s executive budget will go towards completing the esplanade, allowing people to walk and bicycle on the edges of the city by the water. The new green space and promenade could be finished in around five years. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway along the East River between East 61st to East 53rd Street could be developed with City capital money. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation , United States Coast Guard , and Army Corps of Engineers have already granted initial approval and designs for the esplanade will be sketched out this year. The city hopes construction, carried out by the New York City Economic Development Corporation , will begin in 2019 and end in 2022. Related: Former garment factory next to NYC’s High Line to be topped with new green spaces Mayor de Blasio said in a statement, “We’re jumpstarting the completion of a Greenway linking the entire Manhattan waterfront. The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk, and play along the water. This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.” Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the longer Greenway would help meet the demand in cycling , which has spiked 80 percent during the last five years in New York City. DOT’s new bike lanes and a 1,100-mile bicycle network could also help more people get out of their cars and onto bikes. Mayor David Dinkins started the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway in 1993, and each administration since has added to it. The most recent major piece of the Greenway is a 10-block Riverwalk completing an 11-mile path between George Washington Bridge and the Battery. Over 7,000 cyclists ride on the path every day, making it the United States’ busiest bike path. + Office of the Mayor of New York City Images via the Office of the Mayor of New York City

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NYC mayor announces push to finish 32-mile Greenway linking entire Manhattan waterfront

Humans may have lived in America 115,000 years earlier than we thought

April 27, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have believed that humanity was a relatively recent visitor to the North American continent, migrating from Siberia only 15,000 years ago. Now, more accurate dating of mastodon fossils from California shows that an early human ancestor likely existed on the continent 130,000 years ago , far further back than even the most extreme estimates made by previous researchers. The fossils consist of elephant-like teeth and bones, which were discovered in Southern California during the construction of an expressway in 1992. The fossils bear clear signs of deliberate breakage using stone hammers and other early human tools – but until recently, dating technology was not sophisticated enough to accurately pinpoint the era from which they originated. Related: Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification Using new methods to measure traces of natural uranium in the bones, researchers with the US Geological Survey and the Center for American Paleolithic Research found these bones were far older than the era when humans are generally accepted to have lived in America. While these people were clearly somehow related to modern-day humans, and were advanced enough to create and use stone tools, researchers say that they wouldn’t have been Homo sapiens as we know them. Our species didn’t leave Africa until 80,000 to 100,000 years ago. Instead, some likely candidates are Homo erectus, the Neanderthals, or perhaps a little-known hominid species called the Denisovans , whose DNA can still be found in Australian aboriginal populations today. It’s likely this ancient human population died out before Homo sapiens eventually crossed the Pacific. It’s believed they did not interbreed with modern humans and likely are not direct ancestors of any Native American groups. The new findings have been published in the journal Nature . Via Phys.org Images via San Diego Natural History Museum

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Humans may have lived in America 115,000 years earlier than we thought

NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars

April 27, 2017 by  
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A group of researchers from the University of Arizona, in collaboration with NASA scientists, have created an innovative inflatable greenhouse to help feed astronauts on other planets. The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse project would allow astronauts on deep space missions access to healthy, fresh food year-round. The greenhouse is made of an inflatable material and functions as a closed loop, integrated with the astronaut’s life support systems. The carbon dioxide released by the astronauts is used to support the plants, which convert it into oxygen while also providing a source of food. Water to grow the plants would be brought along or gathered on site, depending on whether the site had ice or liquid water nearby. Then the water would be oxygenated and infused with nutrient salts, continuously slowing across the root zone of the plants. The entire process is designed to mimic the resources that plants would have access to on Earth, in order to give them the optimal conditions for growth. Research is still ongoing to determine which plants, seeds, and other materials would be most suitable for use on the moon or Mars . Related: Trump plans to strip NASA’s earth science division, promote mission to Mars The plants would need to be protected from the harsh radiation of space on a planet without Earth’s protective atmosphere, so the greenhouses would likely be buried under the ground for protection, and the plants would be fueled by special lighting instead of natural sunlight. Scientists have had success both with LED lighting and light concentrators that use fiber optic bundles to channel natural sunlight from the outside. While the current experiments with the greenhouse are taking place on Earth, astronauts on the International Space Station have been experimenting with the practical challenges of growing food in space. NASA’s Veggie Plant Growth System was the first American fresh-food growth experiment on the station back in 2014. + Prototype Lunar Greenhouse

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NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars

World’s last male northern white rhino joins Tinder to avoid extinction

April 27, 2017 by  
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He may not make the coziest of bedfellows, but if a northern white rhino pops up on your Tinder screen, it might behoove you to swipe right. Dubbed by wildlife experts as the “world’s most eligible bachelor,” 43-year-old Sudan is the sole remaining male of his kind. “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me,” the rhino’s profile reads on the dating app. “I perform well under pressure.” Sudan isn’t looking to make a love connection, however. There are only two remaining female northern white rhinos left, and neither are viable candidates for mating. To stave off the subspecies’s extinction, Ol Pejeta Conservancy , the Kenyan wildlife group in charge of Sudan’s care is hoping to raise $9 million for research into breeding methods such as in-vitro fertilization. Related: 21 rare one-horned Indian rhinos drown in monsoon flooding Tinder users who swipe right will be directed to a donation site where they can dig deep for the cause. “We partnered with Ol Pejeta Conservancy to give the most eligible bachelor in the world a chance to meet his match,” Matt David, head of communications and marketing at Tinder, said in a statement. “We are optimistic given Sudan’s profile will be seen on Tinder in 190 countries and over 40 languages.” Sudan lives under round-the-clock protection at Old Pejeta with the two females, Najin and Fatu. “The plight that currently faces the northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet,” said Richard Vigne, the conservancy’s CEO. “Ultimately, the aim will be to reintroduce a viable population of northern white rhino back into the wild, which is where their true value will be realized.” Via Time Photos by Unsplash

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World’s last male northern white rhino joins Tinder to avoid extinction

Barn ruins transformed into contemporary home with spa

April 27, 2017 by  
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Parisian architecture studio Antonin Ziegler converted an abandoned barn into a metal-clad home crafted to evoke a “contemporary ruin.” Located in France’s Regional Natural Park of Boucles de la Seine, the adaptive reuse project, called The Barn, sits between a wheat field and river and was formerly used to store fodder for horses. With the barn’s weatherboarding worn away, the architects encased the timber structure in a new shell of zinc to preserve the building’s monolithic and distinctly agricultural gabled shape. The metal cladding was left untreated and will develop a patina over time. The original timber framework, however, is still visible from the outside and peeks through along a window that runs along the home’s stone foundation base. “The framework is the fundamental element of the new residence,” write the architects. “From the outside, it remains partially visible, beneath the zinc envelope, thus conferring an incomplete aspect to the construction, as though eroded by the surrounding nature. The windows and doors are visually understated: the archetypal house is kept at bay to give rise to another kind of habitat, more in keeping with the surrounding wilderness. A lone crack that pierces the roof and walls thus gives the project the appearance of a contemporary ruin .” Related: Zinc-clad Midden Studio hides a cozy interior with a see-through floor The interior echoes the facade’s simple and rustic appearance with a material palette of breezeblocks, battens, and exposed concrete. Natural light pours into the home on all sides and the windows frame views of the river and landscape. The ground floor is mostly open plan with few partitions, with the double-height kitchen, dining room, living room on one end, a double-height swimming spa on the other, and a master bedroom and utility room located in the middle. Four bedrooms are tucked away on the upper floor in the former hay loft. + Antonin Ziegler Via ArchDaily Images via Antonin Ziegler

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Barn ruins transformed into contemporary home with spa

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