Eco-friendly geodomes provide a luxurious stay in an idyllic Quebec forest

November 8, 2018 by  
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Tucked into the picturesque countryside in a remote area outside of Quebec City, the Dômes Charlevoix are three dome-shaped eco-retreats that offer luxurious stays for guests wanting to reconnect with nature. In addition to their swanky accommodations, the geodomes, which were designed by Bourgeois / Lechasseur Architects , are open year-round thanks to the numerous passive features that make them resilient to Canada’s strong winters. Perfectly integrated into the quaint landscape of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, the canvas-covered domes offer guests all the amenities of a top-rated hotel. The structures are set on large wooden patios, which are elevated off the ground on large supports to reduce their impact on the land. The decks are installed with hot tubs, offering a serene place to take in the incredible views. Related: Explore the world’s driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes Erected on the sloped mountainside, the domes are orientated to make the most of not only the breathtaking vistas but to also offer maximum exposure to natural light . For a resiliency that withstands the bitterly cold months, the domes were built with radiant concrete floors, which help maintain a comfortable, uniform temperature indoors. The luxurious domes sleep up to four adults, with a large queen-sized bed on the ground floor and a second queen-sized bed on a mezzanine level. Guests will enjoy a full kitchen with a dining table, a spa-like bathroom and a large chimney with ample firewood supplied to keep the living space warm and cozy. Large windows enable guests to take in the views from the comfort of the interior, or on a nice day, they can enjoy the surroundings from the outdoor deck. All of the basic amenities such as linens are provided. Guests just need to bring their own food and plenty of energy for exploring this beautiful location. + Dômes Charlevoix + Bourgeois / Lechasseur Architects Photography by Maxime Valsan  

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Eco-friendly geodomes provide a luxurious stay in an idyllic Quebec forest

The votes are in for key environmental issues of the 2018 midterms

November 7, 2018 by  
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Most of the results are in from Tuesday’s election, and when it comes to environmental issues, the outcomes sent a lot of mixed messages. While renewable energy and the fight against climate change won in some states, fossil fuel companies are celebrating in other states. Read on for the results to important environmental issues of 2018 elections across the country. Changes in Washington On the national stage, the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, putting up a roadblock to any major environmental legislation President Trump would like to pass. In the past two years, the POTUS has pushed for an attack on the Endangered Species Act and a farm bill with limited controls on water pollution and pesticides. So for environmental activists, this change is a big win. Also, many of the Republicans who were ousted from the House were climate-science deniers, and voters replaced them with Democrats who are supporters of investments in clean energy. But in the Senate, there was a big blow in the Florida race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Governor Rick Scott. During his time as a Senator, Nelson had consistently voted in favor of climate action and attacked anyone who denied climate science. Nelson lost to Scott, who has a history of challenging the science behind climate change. There will likely be a recount in this race, because it was so close. Climate activists were also hoping that Democrat Beto O’Rourke would unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but Cruz held on and ended up defeating O’Rourke. There were a couple of wins in the Senate for climate activists. Mitt Romney won the race in Utah (he scored higher on climate issues than his opponent, Democrat Jenny Wilson). In Nevada, challenger Jacky Rosen defeated the incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller. During his time in office, Heller expressed doubts about the science of climate change, and he also voted against any effort to reduce carbon pollution. Results of state ballot initiatives The environment did not score a lot of wins when it came to state ballot initiatives, but there were a few victories. Related: A quick guide to the environmental issues you’ll find on the ballot Alaska Salmon Initiative – defeated The first measure on Alaska’s ballot was an initiative that would have forced the state’s Department of Fish and Game to hand out permits for projects and activities that might harm fish. The measure also focused on improving habitats for anadromous fish , like salmon, by looking at water quality, stream flow and temperature. Arizona Proposition 127 – defeated This clean energy proposal would have required 50 percent of electricity from utility companies to come from renewable sources by 2030. California Proposition 3 – pending, projected defeat The most significant proposition on California’s ballot related to environmental issues was Proposition 3. But with over 93 percent of precincts reporting at the time of writing, 52 percent of voters have rejected it, and the projection is that it will not pass. This initiative would have allocated close to $8 billion in funds for surface and groundwater storage, watershed protection (habitat restoration) and water infrastructure. Colorado Proposition 112 – defeated This ballot proposition would have banned oil and gas drilling on 85 percent of non-federal lands in the state, but it failed to pass. The fossil fuel industry invested millions into this election to defeat Proposition 112. Florida Constitutional Revision 4 – passed Florida took a major step against offshore drilling in this election. Constitutional Revision 4 bans offshore drilling and will put an end to oil and gas mining on lands under state waters. Lumped into this revision is a ban that will prevent individuals from vaping inside closed workplaces. The ban included all electronic devices that generate vapor, such as electronic cigarettes, and will only be enforced in indoor workplaces. This movement for clean water and air passed by 69 percent. Georgia Amendment 1 – passed This proposal allows up to 80 percent of the revenue from sales and use taxes of outdoor recreational goods to go toward land conservation: protecting water quality, conserving forests and wildlife habitats and improving state and local parks. The measure had overwhelming bipartisan support and passed by 83 percent. Montana Ballot Issue #14 I-186 – defeated This initiative would have helped regulate new rock mines in the state by requiring them to have plans for reclamation, restoration or rehabilitation to receive permits. The new mines would have also been required to have adequate plans to avoid water pollution . Nevada Question 6 – passed This initiative aims to put the state on track for renewable energy by 2030. Voters said yes to all utility companies investing in renewable energy over the next 12 years. The measure also requires electric companies to transform half of their electrical output to renewable sources by the projected date. Rhode Island Bond Measure – passed Voters approved this bond measure that authorizes $47.3 million in funds for various environmental projects throughout the state. The measure outlines where the money will be allocated and the different types of projects that will be funded, including coastal resiliency and access, clean water and treatment, dam infrastructure, bikeway initiatives, farmland access and local recreation. The largest project on the ballot is related to improving water quality and will receive $7.9 million. The measure passed with nearly 79 percent of voters’ support. Washington Initiative 1631 – defeated Initiative 1631 in Washington was designed to target greenhouse gases while rewarding companies that promote clean energy. The law would have imposed the nation’s first fees on carbon emissions, starting out at $15 for every metric ton of carbon and increasing every year by $2. The money from the fees was also going to go back into the environment and help improve air quality, raise awareness about clean energy and examine environmental issues in various communities. Companies that complied with the environmental standards could have also received credits from the added revenue. The U.S. oil industry pumped about $30 million into the race to stop this initiative from passing. Via EcoWatch , Green Tech Media and Forbes Images via Jomar , Tom Coe and Aaron Burden

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The votes are in for key environmental issues of the 2018 midterms

The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

November 7, 2018 by  
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Finally, some good news about the environment. Earlier this week, the United Nations announced in a report that the ozone layer is on the mend. If the current recovery rate continues, parts of the ozone could be fully repaired by the 2030s. The entire layer — even the highly damaged parts over the North Pole and South Pole — could be completely healed by 2060. The study, Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 , monitors ozone recovery, and it is the latest in a series of reports that the UN releases every four years. This year, it shows that the ozone has been recovering at a steady rate of 1 to 3 percent since 2000 because of the global efforts made to reduce CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Related: Levels of ozone-destroying CFCs are mysteriously rising Over the past few decades, humans have done significant damage to the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But through global agreements like the 1987 Montreal Protocol, we have made huge steps toward healing it. The protocol mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The EPA has described it as the most successful environmental global action in history, with 197 countries signing the agreement. “If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that,” said Paul Newman, a NASA scientist and co-chairman of the new UN report. Newman added that if we hadn’t made these changes, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065. Scientists have cautioned against claiming victory too soon. Banned CFC emissions are increasing in China , but the Chinese government has promised to fix the problem. Newman said we need to wait until 2060, and let our grandchildren do the celebrating. Still, these recent findings could help contribute to future climate action. In 2019, the Montreal Protocol is set to be enhanced with the Kigali Amendment, which hopes to tackle climate change by targeting greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. + Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 Via Huffington Post Image via Shutterstock

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The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

A quick guide to the environmental issues you’ll find on the ballot

November 2, 2018 by  
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The general election for 2018 features many interesting issues related to environmental improvements. But with these environmental proposals competing with other issues on the ballot, it is easy for them to get lost in the shuffle. From funding eco-friendly projects to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, here is a quick guide to some of the environmental issues on the 2018 ballots around the U.S. Alaska Salmon Initiative The first measure on Alaska’s ballot is an initiative that would force the state’s Department of Fish and Game to hand out permits for projects and activities that might harm fish . The measure also focuses on improving habitats for anadromous fish, like salmon, by looking at water quality, stream flow and temperature. If passed, the measure will create a system for processing permits, which includes allowing public input on major permits. The fish and game department will still have the authority to deny permits if the project or activity harms fish or habitats. Any existing projects would be exempt from the new permit system. Arizona Proposition 127 In a push for clean energy, this proposal would mandate that 50 percent of electric utilities come from renewable sources by 2030, and the percent required would steadily increase each year. The acceptable renewable energy sources would include solar , wind and biomass as well as certain hydropower, geothermal and landfill gas energies. California Proposition 3 There are a number of propositions on California’s ballot related to environmental issues, but Proposition 3 is one of the most significant. This initiative will give the green light for close to $8 billion in funds for surface and groundwater storage, watershed protection (habitat restoration) and water infrastructure. The measure outlines where all of the money will be dispersed and how much funding each project will receive. Colorado Proposition 112 This proposition on Colorado’s ballot would limit the areas available for oil and gas development, including fracking , in an effort to maintain public health and safety. If passed, oil and gas developments would have to maintain a distance of 2,500 feet from occupied structures and vulnerable areas, including homes, schools, hospitals, parks, lakes, rivers, sporting fields and more. Florida Constitutional Revision 4 Florida is taking a major step against offshore drilling this election. Constitutional Revision 4 could ban offshore drilling, putting an end to oil and gas mining on lands under state waters. Lumped into this revision is a ban that will prevent individuals from vaping inside closed workplaces. The ban includes any electronic device that generates vapor, such as electronic cigarettes. The ban would only be enforced in indoor workplaces. Georgia Amendment 1 This amendment would allow up to 80 percent of the revenue from sales and use taxes of outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailers to go to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund for land conservation, including protecting water quality, conserving forests and wildlife habitats and improving state and local parks. Montana Ballot Issue #14 I-186 This initiative will help regulate new rock mines in the state. If passed, new mines would be required to have plans for reclamation, restoration or rehabilitation to receive permits. More specifically, the new mines would be required to have adequate plans to avoid water pollution. Water contaminated by acid mine drainage often results in perpetual treatment to make the water safe for consumption. The measure also gives the Department of Environmental Quality the right to reject permits that do not have a reclamation plan in place. Nevada Question 6 Nevada’s environmental initiative this year will put the state on track for renewable energy by 2030. Question 6 on the Nevada ballot proposes that all utility companies invest in renewable energy over the next 12 years. If passed, the measure would require electric companies to transform half of their electrical output to renewable sources by the projected date. The current law requires utility companies to use 25 percent of renewable electricity by 2025. Rhode Island Question 3 This measure would authorize $47.3 million in funds for various environmental projects throughout the state. The measure outlines where the money will be allocated and the different types of projects that will be funded. The projects include coastal resiliency and access, clean water and treatment, dam infrastructure, bikeway initiatives, farmland access and local recreation. The largest project on the ballot is related to improving water quality and would receive $7.9 million. Washington Initiative 1631 Initiative 1631 in Washington targets greenhouse gas pollutants and rewards companies that promote clean energy. If voted in, the law would impose fees on carbon emissions. The price of the fee starts out at $15 for every metric ton of carbon, increasing every year by $2. The money generated from the fees will go right back into the environment. The revenue would help improve air quality, raise awareness about clean energy and examine environmental issues in various communities. Companies that comply with environmental standards could also receive credits from the added revenue. The measure also requires that Native American tribes have their voices heard on projects that affect their land. All of the money dispersed from the carbon fee will have to be approved by a public board first. Via Vote Smart , Ballotpedia and NCSL Image via Element5 Digital

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A quick guide to the environmental issues you’ll find on the ballot

Rising Seas: Hawaiian Island Wiped off the Map

October 28, 2018 by  
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Have you heard of Hawaii’s East Island? Probably not, but … The post Rising Seas: Hawaiian Island Wiped off the Map appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Rising Seas: Hawaiian Island Wiped off the Map

California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

October 24, 2018 by  
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With 3,427 miles of coastline , one would think establishing wind farms in California would be a cinch. As it turns out, the depth of the waters has kept the idea of offshore wind in this area at bay. Energy companies have been eagerly awaiting the curtain fall from government regulators that was finally announced on Friday by the U.S. Department of the Interior. While turbine installation will prove to be a challenge because of unique terrain demands, offshore wind turbines could help California’s plans to reach 100 percent green energy by 2045. If all goes as planned, the wind farms could be operating within the next six years. “We are early in the process here,” explained California Energy Commission member Karen Douglas. “Offshore wind has potential to help with our renewable energy goals.” California’s first ever offshore wind auction, allowing energy companies to lease waters in certain areas of the Pacific Ocean, was announced alongside two other wind farm initiatives already underway in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. So what’s slowing down California’s state officials and utility companies? “They would be in much deeper water than anything that has been built in the world so far,” Douglas said. Because the ocean’s depths are substantial — even close to shore — California’s coastline is not ideal for offshore wind farms . Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland Regardless, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ( BOEM ) followed up on the announcement with a “call for information and nominations” from energy companies looking to develop the offshore technology. Submissions will be accepted over a 100-day period that will close on Jan. 27, 2019. The state’s new wind farms will be concentrated within proposed areas off of Central and Northern California. In total, the 658 full and partial blocks on the Outer Continental Shelf that are offered for commercial wind energy leasing cover an area of 1,073 square miles (687,823 acres). The announcement is good news for Gov. Jerry Brown and his office of environmental reformers. In September, the governor signed a bill that mandated California’s energy reliance be supplied solely through renewable sources by 2045. The addition of offshore wind turbines could propel this shift to happen much faster than expected, as the state is now able to look beyond land-based wind farms and solar panels to meet demand. Via The New York Times , NOAA and BOEM Image via Lars Plougmann

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California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

Elementary teacher installs a dreamy tiny cabin on his pickup truck

October 24, 2018 by  
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Cabin builder and second-grade teacher  Jacob Witzling has spent much of his 35 years either living in or building fairytale-like tiny cabins made out of reclaimed wood . But now the ambitious builder is taking his creative cabin-making craft on the road in the form of an itsy-bitsy cabin installed on the bed of a pickup truck. Today, Witzling and his partner, Sara Underwood, are roaming from one amazing destination to another in their amazing Truck Cabin. Since he was young, Witzling has always been inspired by fairytales, forts and ewoks. In fact, as a teenager, he moved out of his parents’ house into an old cabin in the woods. He would go home to eat and wash his clothes, but he would always head back to his tiny cabin tucked deep into the wooded forest. It’s this love of nature that continues to drive his passion for constructing dreamy woodland dwellings. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials After years of building enchanting, off-grid cabins in remote forestscapes, the crafty duo decided to take their love of tiny living on the road. This Truck Cabin is a tiny structure built onto the bed of Witzling’s pickup truck. Clad in reclaimed wood, the home on wheels has just enough space for the couple to relax when they are not busy exploring new and exciting destinations. The cabin features an elongated volume with an asymmetrical roof. The front cantilevers over the cab of the truck, adding extra space for a tiny sleeping loft inside. Below the loft, the living space is comprised of a bench with comfy pillows and a compact but functional kitchen. Various windows, also made out of salvaged wood, flood the interior space with natural light and provide natural ventilation. The Truck Cabin is surely one of the most innovative tiny cabins we’ve ever seen, but the traveling couple have even bigger plans. Jacob and Sara are planning to open a “cabin land” in the Pacific Northwest where they will build a series of tiny cabins with views of the mountains. Guests to the cabin community will be able to rent out the cabins individually or for large group events. + Jacob Witzling Via Dwell Photography by Sara Underwood and Jacob Witzling

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Elementary teacher installs a dreamy tiny cabin on his pickup truck

Indonesia accepts plastic bottles in exchange for free bus rides

October 23, 2018 by  
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Plastic waste is a huge problem in Indonesia , and this has led the country’s second-largest city to come up with a novel approach to encourage residents to recycle — free bus rides in exchange for used plastic bottles and cups. The city of Surabaya launched the initiative back in April, and commuters can ride city buses by either dropping off the plastic bottles and cups at terminals or using the plastic items to pay their fare directly. Under the new recycling initiative, a two-hour bus ticket costs up to five plastic bottles or 10 plastic cups, depending on the size. The city hopes this scheme will help it meet its target of becoming free of plastic waste by 2020. “ Garbage , like plastic bottles, piles up in my neighborhood, so I brought it here, so the environment is not only cleaner but also to help ease the workload of garbage collectors,” said Linda Rahmawat, a resident of Surabaya. Related: Indonesia mobilizes 20,000 citizens to clean up plastic pollution According to Reuters , Surabaya is the first Indonesian city to implement this program, and data show that 15 percent (nearly 400 tons) of the city’s daily waste is plastic. The data also show that one bus can collect up to 550 pounds of plastic each day, totaling about 7.5 tons each month. After collecting the plastic waste, workers remove labels and bottle caps before the plastic is sold to recycling companies. This money then goes toward bus operations and to fund urban green spaces. The head of Surabaya’s transportation department, Irvan Wahyu Drajad, said that Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest contributors of plastic waste , and the city hopes that this new system will raise public awareness for the environment and the problem of pollution. Via Reuters Image via Rudi Lansky

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Indonesia accepts plastic bottles in exchange for free bus rides

Microplastics have made their way into human poop

October 23, 2018 by  
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Each year, humans around the world produce about 882 billion pounds of plastic waste, and about 80 percent of it ends up in landfills or in the natural environment. Now, scientists are beginning to study the effects of microplastics on people, and it turns out that they are showing up in human poop after contaminating our food . Microplastics are the smallest particles of plastic waste — so small that most are invisible to the human eye. They are found in most bottled and tap water, soil and sea, rock and lake salts. Related: Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics A small pilot study being presented this week at the 26th annual United European Gastroenterology conference in Vienna, Austria looked at stool samples from eight people from eight different countries, and every sample tested positive for up to nine different types of plastic . Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environmental Agency Austria conducted the study and found an average of 20 particles of plastic per 10 grams of stool. “Personally, I did not expect that each sample would … [test] … positive,” said Dr. Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna and lead researcher of the study. “Is it harmful to human health? That’s a very important question, and we are planning further investigations.” In this first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that all eight samples contained polypropylene and polyethylene-terephthalate particles, which both make up a majority of plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps. According to NPR , each person kept a regular diet and maintained a food diary during the week before the stool samples were collected. Everyone had been exposed to plastics via beverages in plastic bottles and foods wrapped in plastic. No participants were vegetarian , and six of the eight had consumed wild fish. Schwabl said the concern is whether or not microplastics are entering the bloodstream, the lymphatic system and possibly the liver. In studies of animals, microplastics have caused intestinal damage and liver stress. Now that this initial study has shown we are ingesting microplastics, two questions remain: what is staying in our bodies rather than leaving as waste, and what impact will the microplastics have on our health ? Schwabl said that he and his colleagues are applying for funding for a larger study, so they can attempt to replicate their findings. Via  NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Microplastics have made their way into human poop

Japanese cherry blossoms spring into unusual fall blooms

October 22, 2018 by  
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The springtime cherry blossom festival in Japan is an annual celebration that draws in spectators from all around the world. For the Japanese, the ‘hanami,’ or flower viewing, is a moment shared among family and friends who gather to celebrate nature’s beautiful and awe-inspiring rebirth. This week, however, cherry blossoms have been blooming two seasons ahead of schedule following two recent typhoons in the area. The premature fall blooms are extremely uncharacteristic of the sakura trees, which seemed to have been tricked by the extreme weather events to spring before … well, spring. “I have never seen anything like this,” tree surgeon Hiroyuki Wada said to local broadcasters. “This year’s storms affected wide regions, and the strong winds may have caused the blooming.” The strength of the September and October typhoons stripped many cherry blossom trees of their leaves, which experts are saying caused early indications for the trees to bloom. Furthermore, warm temperatures following the typhoons misled the trees by inviting the early flowering. Related: Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks Normally, the earliest blooms are witnessed in the northern parts of Japan , where cherry blossom festivals begin as early as February in Naha. For the rest of the nation, the viewing season is concentrated around the first week in April, and the latest viewings in Hakodate and Sapporo occur in early May. While the current blooms are not expected to affect this year’s spring hanami, the unusual events are drawing attention to the issue of earlier bloom patterns. Last year, a report in The Washington Post shed light on the work of Yasuyuki Aono, an environmental sciences professor at Osaka Prefecture University, who assembled a data set of Kyoto’s blossom-flowering dates . The research chronicles blooms as far back as A.D. 850 and, when graphed, shows an undeniable and worrisome change in bloom periods over the past 200 years. Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said, “Kyoto is just one location on the planet. But the large-scale warming of the past century is so distinct and widespread that it is increasingly evident from diverse records all around the globe.” Mann isn’t wrong. In 1912, Japan gifted Washington D.C. 3,000 sakura trees as a sign of friendship between the two nations. The National Park Service’s records, dating back to 1921, show a similar pattern of earlier and earlier blooming each year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow explained, “In both Kyoto and Washington, the warming trends and earlier blooms are most likely due to a growing urban heat island effect and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” Beautiful though they may be, the second blooming of the cherry blossom trees are not a welcome sight for the Japanese nor for scientists. While there is hope that this is a once in lifetime event, there is still much work to be done in ensuring this anomaly doesn’t become commonplace. Via NPR , The Washington Post  and Japan Specialist Image via Don Kawahigashi

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Japanese cherry blossoms spring into unusual fall blooms

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