Zoos struggling to survive during pandemic

August 4, 2020 by  
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Hundreds of zoos and aquariums across the U.S. risk being closed due to financial constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic . At the start of March this year, zoo and aquarium operators were forced to shut down to contain the spread of the virus. Four months down the line, the zoos are now on the brink of survival. Case in point is the Oakland Zoo, which has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Since zoo visitors stopped streaming in, it has been difficult for the zoo. The animals in the zoo require just over $50,000 worth of food on a daily basis, making it challenging for the zoo to continue operating without revenue from regular zoo visitors. Joel Parrott, president of the Oakland Zoo, said in an interview that the zoo will soon run out of supplies and may not survive further without funding. Related: Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens “We have already lost the bulk of our summer revenue and are living off whatever reserves we have left, but they are going to run out at some point,” Parrott said. The situation being faced by the Oakland Zoo is replicated across hundreds of other zoos and aquariums in the country. This month, the state of California allowed the Oakland Zoo to reopen its doors to visitors. But the slow revenue generated from reopening activities cannot sustain the daily maintenance and feeding needs of the animals . Zoos and aquariums in most states are seeing fewer numbers of visitors, prompting administrators to appeal for support from the local communities and governments. The National Association of Zoos and Aquariums says that about 75% of the zoos represented by the association have reopened. However, reopening does not solve the problem of financial constraints. According to Dan Ashe, president of the association, most zoos are only hitting 20% to 50% of their normal revenues. This leaves a big gap that has to be filled from other sources. With a significant drop in revenue, it becomes impossible to continue running these facilities. Tara Reimer, president and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center, said, “If we don’t have enough money to make it through the winter, we have no option but to send these animals away and close the facility.” Via Huffington Post Image via Todd Dailey

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Zoos struggling to survive during pandemic

COVID-19 reduces UK carbon emissions by 30 million metric tons

August 4, 2020 by  
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Toward the end of March, the coronavirus pandemic began to take over in many European countries. Since then, major cities across the world have experienced some form of lockdown. While the virus has come at many costs, the lockdowns have had some positive environmental impacts. Research carried out by The Eco Experts between the months of March and July has revealed that carbon dioxide emissions in the U.K. dropped significantly — by 30 million metric tons — due to reduced travel and power consumption. The report shows that carbon emissions have dropped in five key areas: public transport, road vehicles, air travel, energy usage and pollution in London. In the past 3 months, public transport journeys have dropped to a mere 11.7% of normal levels, leading to 1.89 million metric tons less of carbon emissions. Further, road journeys decreased to 52.6% of normal levels, leading to a reduction of 15.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions Besides public transport and road vehicles, the study also surveyed air transport and energy consumption throughout the U.K. It found that there were 295,713 fewer flights than normal. This led to a 6.9 million metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions. However, the study established that there has been an increase in domestic power consumption, which rose by 30%. On the flip side, the overall power consumption reduced by 15%, because of the reduction in power demand in businesses. Since March, most major industries have either been closed or have reduced production. Consequently, less power has been consumed over this period. In this sector, the U.K. has saved up to 6.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions . The reduction in power consumption and transport has impacted emissions in many cities. The analysis took a closer look at U.K.’s most polluted city, London, and found that the restrictions have led to a reduction of 1.17 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Further, there has been a 26% reduction in nitrogen dioxide in central London . Globally, there have been significant drops in greenhouse gas emissions over the past few months. As the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, it is a time to reflect and look for the positives. We could take some lessons from this pandemic that will help us care for the environment in the future. + The Eco Experts Image via Liushuquan

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COVID-19 reduces UK carbon emissions by 30 million metric tons

Solar-powered House of Music mimics the shape of an orchestra

August 4, 2020 by  
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Bologna-based Mario Cucinella Architects has crafted the House of Music, a solar-powered community landmark in the nearby commune of Pieve di Cento that celebrates the town’s long-standing musical tradition. Designed to represent an orchestra with its individual instrumental sections, the timber-clad building comprises nine small, circular music rooms that connect to a central open space. The ventilated curved oak facade, a nod to musical instruments, not only helps to amplify sound like an instrument’s music box, but it also ensures high levels of energy efficiency .  Completed in 2017 after four years of planning and construction, the House of Music for Pieve di Cento is located in the former Lamborghini production area that had been previously reclaimed and transformed into a recreational park. The recently completed building benefits from an existing cycling path that connects the House of Music to the town center and beyond to an expansion area to the south. The public is encouraged to engage the building via the long curved bench that wraps around the exterior of the building and faces views of the park. Related: Mirage Architecture envisions a solar-powered glass cube for Lithuania’s national concert hall To maintain high levels of thermal inertia and sound insulation, Mario Cucinella Architects constructed the House of Music with a load-bearing masonry structure wrapped in curved oak slats. The flat roofs are topped with a series of curved and elevated disks that help deflect unwanted solar gain and are engineered to promote natural ventilation into the building. A photovoltaic array is located atop the roof as well. The energy-efficient design was informed by the architects’ bioclimatic study of the site.  The well-insulated interiors feature materials that enhance acoustics and reduce reverb. The nine music rooms open up to a central outdoor space that serves as a meeting space and area for ensemble rehearsals and recitals. The architects noted, “The House of Music’s exterior lighting makes it some sort of comforting lighthouse that encourages people to resume musical and recreational activities after the earthquake that shook the area in 2012.” + Mario Cucinella Architects Photography by Moreno Maggi via Mario Cucinella Architects

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Solar-powered House of Music mimics the shape of an orchestra

Pratima Rao Gluckman on the promise of blockchain for accelerating circular solutions

November 6, 2019 by  
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Pratima Rao Gluckman, Senior Engineering Leader at VMware, shares insights on where and how blockchain will enable and accelerate solutions to critical environmental and social challenges on the VERGE 19 main stage in Oakland, California.

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Pratima Rao Gluckman on the promise of blockchain for accelerating circular solutions

Saul Griffith on the Green New Deal and the enormous opportunity in shooting for the moon

November 6, 2019 by  
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On the main stage of VERGE 19, Saul Griffith argues that the conversation about a Green New Deal is bold, timely and necessary.

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Saul Griffith on the Green New Deal and the enormous opportunity in shooting for the moon

Surround yourself with Californias wildlife and flora at Oakland Zoos eco-minded California Trail

July 17, 2019 by  
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If you’re looking for a unique, family-friendly activity in the Bay Area, look no further than the California Trail at the Oakland Zoo . Now celebrating its one-year anniversary, the eco-friendly exhibit offers gondola rides, an immersive experience in nature and up-close encounters with native California species. Designed by Berkeley-based architectural firm Noll & Tam Architects , the $72 million California Trail project is a triumph in environmental conservation, education and research. When the California Trail project was completed last July after 20-plus years in the making, the project doubled the size of the Oakland Zoo and added several new native California animal species including American buffalo, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, jaguars, California condors and gray wolves. The 56-acre exhibit includes 26 structures and was carefully designed and constructed for minimal site impact. To further reduce landscape impact, Noll & Tam Architects decided against developing roads and parking lots in favor of an aerial gondola that whisks visitors over the landscape to the start of the trail. “We worked closely with the zoo to minimize impact to the natural landscape, from the placement of the gondola that eliminates auto traffic to the careful siting of the boardwalk that preserves oak trees,” noted Janet Tam, principal in charge of the project. “The design intertwines animal habitats with human habitats; animals have their feeding grounds and night houses to retreat to, much like visitors enjoy the Landing Cafe for refreshment then stroll over to the Interpretive Center for quiet reflection.” Related: Newly opened Los Gatos Library by Noll & Tam Architects pursuing LEED Gold Visitors journey to different exhibitions via an 800-foot-long elevated boardwalk , which loops back around to the 20,150-square-foot Visitor and Interpretative complex that offers information about the history of the animals and the state of California. The California Trail also includes The Landing Cafe, an overnight campground and a playground designed to reflect the ecological zones of California. The buildings’ environmental impact is reduced even more with the use of solar power and rainwater harvesting. + Noll & Tam Architects Photography by Eric Dugan Photography via Noll & Tam Architects

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Surround yourself with Californias wildlife and flora at Oakland Zoos eco-minded California Trail

Smart fertilizers help farmers and fight climate change

July 9, 2019 by  
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Synthetic fertilizers aren’t great for natural ecosystems, but they do help farmers produce the crop yields needed to feed the world’s skyrocketing population. Since major chemical companies began pushing fertilizers, farmers have been spraying their fields and hoping for the best. Over the past two decades, however, controlled-release fertilizers have become available with high-precision release formulas that are not only better for the plants but are arguably better for the planet. Controlled release fertilizers contain nutrients in capsules instead of the soluble granules of conventional fertilizer. The capsules slow down the release of the nutrients, which gives the plant more time to absorb everything rather than having to take up the nutrients all at once. Recently, slow-release fertilizers have become even smarter. Companies like Haifa Group and ICL Specialty Fertilizers have capsules that release at different intervals depending on the soil conditions — such as temperature, acidity or moisture level. Related: Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry? When combined with GPS sensors, soil quality mapping and artificial intelligence , precision farming technology can save farmers and neighboring ecosystems from serious fertilizer waste and pollution. A recent study by Michigan State University revealed that smart fertilizers also benefit the planet. According to the research, precision fertilizers and remote sensing technology could save 6.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere — the equivalent of 1.5 million cars per year. The technology they studied identifies a farmers’ most productive land using historical yield data and fertilizer rates. With this knowledge, large-scale farmers can focus crop production and fertilizer use on only the most productive land and reduce their use of fertilizers on land where the crops simply won’t perform as well. The researchers also suggest that farmers could use these least productive zones to develop “wild areas” specifically for important pollinators like the honeybee . “Nobody wins when fertilizer is wasted on areas that won’t produce,” the Michigan State researchers wrote in the published study . “Once farmers identify these areas, they can both save money and help the environment.” Via Scientific American Image via Binyamin Mellish

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Smart fertilizers help farmers and fight climate change

GreenBiz Group announces first conference on the business of carbon removal

March 20, 2019 by  
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VERGE Carbon slated for October 22-24 in Oakland

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GreenBiz Group announces first conference on the business of carbon removal

An open letter to Marriott about VERGE 18 and workers’ rights

October 11, 2018 by  
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We are committed as ever to Oakland and the Bay Area, and to the rich and beautiful diversity of our community.

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An open letter to Marriott about VERGE 18 and workers’ rights

Bill Weihl leaves Facebook; a McKinsey partner goes solo

March 9, 2018 by  
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An Alliance to Save Energy leader electrifies energy efficiency, Terry Yosie asks for career inspiration and mission-driven capital gains Oakland grit.

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Bill Weihl leaves Facebook; a McKinsey partner goes solo

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