Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

June 5, 2020 by  
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Last month, news media around the world heralded cleaner skies as a byproduct of the pandemic-induced quarantines. Alas, as lockdowns are lifted, air pollution is climbing back to pre-COVID levels in  China . Several European countries may soon follow suit. Concentrations of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are back to where they were a year ago, according to data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea). In early March, when China was suffering the worst of the  pandemic , the particle count was down by 34%, while nitrogen dioxide levels had fallen by 38%. Related: Air pollution could make COVID-19 more dangerous “The rapid rebound in air pollution and coal consumption levels across China is an early warning of what a smokestack industry-led rebound could look like,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Crea’s lead analyst, in an article from  The Guardian . “Highly polluting industries have been faster to recover from the crisis than the rest of the economy. It is essential for policymakers to prioritise clean energy.” Wuhan, the pandemic’s ground zero, is still experiencing lower than usual nitrogen dioxide levels — 14% lower than last year. However, Shanghai’s NO2 level has soared to 9% higher than in 2019. Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy group, expects that the second quarter of 2020 will see China’s  oil  demand recover nearly to its normal level. European cities are still enjoying significant dips in air  pollution . The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams) shows that 42 of the 50 European cities it tracks had below-average NO2 levels in March. This pollutant, which is largely produced by diesel vehicles, dropped by 30% in Paris and London during the pandemic. How fast and how much European air pollution will rebound depends on the decisions of citizens, companies and government officials. “We do not know how people’s behaviour will change, for example avoiding public transport and therefore relying more on their own cars, or continuing to work from home,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of Cams, told  The Guardian . Environmentalists hope that people will choose to  walk  and cycle more and drive their cars less. + The Guardian Images via Pexels

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Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

Heimplanet celebrates 9 years of innovative inflatable tents

June 5, 2020 by  
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For almost a decade, Heimplanet has offered adventure-seekers an option for quick and easy tent set up in a variety of environments. The company first released a line of inflatable tents in 2011; now, with summer 2020 approaching, Heimplanet is reminding  outdoor  enthusiasts that there has never been a better time to go camping. Founders Stefan Clauss and Stefan Schulze Dieckhoff got the idea for the inflatable tents while on a trip to Portugal in 2003. Traveling along the coast to surf, the two often found themselves setting up their  camp  late at night and experiencing the inconveniences of conventional tents, such as fussing with poles in the dark and the rain. Related: The North Face unveils a geodesic tent that can withstand 60 mph winds The company offers four regular tent models that sleep one to six people and are built to tolerate 80 mph winds. The four models include Fistral, The Cave, Backdoor and Nias. Those seeking a  tent  developed for more extreme use can also splurge for the Maverick, which features room for up to 10 people and the capacity to handle wind speeds up to roughly 111 mph. The inflatable tents incorporate an “Inflatable Diamond Grid” consisting of an inflatable,  modular  cage-like structure that works as a geodesic dome and says goodbye to traditional tent poles. This design allows for high stability even in volatile weather conditions — the company’s Maverick model has even protected researchers and equipment in Antarctica. Thanks to the patented multi-chamber system, the tent’s entire frame is inflated and divided into separate chambers with one easy step that takes under one minute. This multi-chamber system gives the tent its stability, while also ensuring that if one air chamber is damaged the other chambers will keep the rest of the tent erect. Separate chambers can also be replaced or repaired individually, prolonging the life of the whole structure. Resistant double-layer construction combining an airtight thermoplastic polyurethane bladder on the inside and strong polyester fabric on the outside keeps the tent  insulated  and protected. Heimplanet is also part of the 1% For the Planet community, pledging 1% of sales to environmental preservation and restoration. The company has also recently implemented a “re-store” program that  restores  and repairs used models. + Heimplanet Images via Heimplanet, Luca Jaenichen, Sondre Forsell, Kevin Ellison, and Thibault Bevilacqua

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High-tech wetsuit protects divers and surfers from toxic elements in the oceans

November 6, 2019 by  
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With ocean waters being polluted at an astonishing rate, swimmers, divers and surfers are putting their lives at risk simply by entering the water. Vissla and Surfrider have collaborated on a slightly depressing solution aimed to keep water-lovers safe. The Rising Seas Wetsuit is a high-tech body suit that uses nanotechnology to block the absorption of any harmful pollutants in the water. Additionally, Nitrile pads on the stomach, elbows and knees help surfers maintain their grip on the board, even in seriously slimy conditions. Unfortunately, despite concerted efforts around the world to stave off any more damage, oceans are becoming suffocated with harmful bacteria, viruses, algal blooms, oil spills, trash — you name it. It is becoming common practice to close beaches due to the presence of harmful bacteria. Related: Yves Béhar recycles wetsuits and boat sails into ocean-friendly bags The innovative wetsuit is designed to allow divers and surfers to enjoy the waters, no matter how toxic they become . According to the design team, the Rising Seas Wetsuit includes a built-in bio-defense system that offers an impenetrable level of protection to the wearer while they are in the water. The futuristic wetsuit is made out of an Anti-R material that uses nanotechnology to block the absorption of harmful pollutants. The suit includes sensors that monitor the water conditions for bacteria levels, radiation and overall toxicity. All of this information is displayed on a digital LED display that is controlled by a touchscreen control panel on the forearm. The system allows swimmers and divers to access information easily and set preferences, such as alerts for extreme conditions. It also comes with satellite GPS services that provide location-based swell charts and current weather information. According to Vissla, the wetsuit is in the concept stages, and the team emphasized that this is a project they “never want to make a reality.” But its design is meant to draw attention to the extremely urgent issue of ocean pollution and rising sea levels . + Vissla + Surfrider Via Uncrate Images via Vissla

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High-tech wetsuit protects divers and surfers from toxic elements in the oceans

Artist suspends a giant cube filled with images of ocean plastic inside a London museum

September 26, 2019 by  
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Architectural and design studio Sam Jacob Studio has unveiled a new installation that highlights the burgeoning threat that plastic waste poses to the planet. Suspended from the ceiling of London’s V&A Museum, Sea Things is a giant, mirrored cube that emits a cartoon-style animated video. The animation takes spectators on a poignant journey from the year the first commercial plastic products were launched to 2050, the year some scientists estimate that the volume of plastic will be greater than fish in the world’s oceans. As part of London Design Festival , Sea Life greets visitors as they enter the V&A Museum’s great hall. Suspended in the air, the massive, transparent cube was inspired by a Charles and Ray Eames textile pattern found in the museum that depicts a pattern of fish and other sea creatures. However, the artist has updated the Eames pattern to reflect today’s growing ocean pollution issue. Along with a bevy of fish, a variety of waste objects found in the ocean these days, namely plastic bottles , has been added floating around in the cube. Related: Artist submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste The animation begins in 1907, the year that one of the first commercial plastic products (Bakelite) was launched. The animation continues through the years, showing how the ocean waters have become more and more polluted with massive amounts of waste. The animation ends in 2050, the year that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has estimated that the volume of plastic waste in our oceans will be greater than the amount of marine life. During the inauguration of the eco-art installation , Sam Jacob explained his inspiration. “The Eames’ were working in a very optimistic time when consumerism was linked to freedom. For us, now, we’re working in a very different context. Our relationship to things, to production, to ecology is far more difficult and complex,” he told journalists. “So, what we’ve done here is to remake the Eames’ pattern from the perspective of 2019.” While Sea Things is located on the ground floor, Jacob is also exhibiting a collection of ceramic water vessels in the museum’s ceramics gallery. The series reimagines some of the museum’s most historic objects remade in modern materials. For example, a water pot from China’s Ming Dynasty is reproduced in recycled plastic, and a 4,000-year-old beaker from Scotland was remade using bioplastic made from sea shells. + Sam Jacob Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Ed Reeve via Sam Jacob Studio

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Artist submerges 24 portraits underwater to raise attention about our plastic waste

August 29, 2019 by  
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It’s common knowledge that our oceans are suffocating because of our addiction to plastics . But there are some eco-warriors, like Austrian artist Andreas Franke , who are determined to bring more visual attention to the burgeoning issue, all in the name of saving our planet. Franke has recently installed Plastic Ocean, a project that saw 24 portraits of various people being drowned in a sea of plastic, submerged into the depths of the actual sea off the coast of Key West. Although the world seems to be on board with reducing our plastic waste , the action to actually doing it is moving at a snail’s pace. To instigate change, Franke decided to create a series of portraits that depict various people being drowned by plastic objects. Related: Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C. Not only are the images provocative for their message about how our oceans are being converted into massive trash dumps, but the collection also features a series of generations. By using images of tiny babies, toddlers and adults, the message is clear: there is an urgency here that cannot be overlooked if we want to provide a safer world for the next generation. The underwater art exhibition was installed on the wreckage site of the USS Vandenberg off the coast of Key West, where divers from around the world were invited to check out the installation. The exhibition ran until late August. Now, the artworks are being prepared for a land-based exhibit (location to be announced). After four months at sea, the artwork is covered with a unique patina, which was left as-is to give visitors to the upcoming exhibition a small glimpse into the beauty of the ocean. Franke hopes this small detail, along with the installation’s overall message, will inspire people to do their part in helping the cause. + Andreas Franke + Plastic Ocean Gallery Via Matador Network Images via Plastic Ocean Gallery

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Babylegs the inexpensive, educational way to monitor ocean plastic pollution

August 14, 2019 by  
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Plastic pollution is a frequent topic around the planet, especially when referencing marine life and water pollution. Microplastics can’t be seen by the naked eye but are showing up in water tests nearly everywhere. Do you have plastic in your nearby waterway? If you want to find out, you can collect a sample for testing using Babylegs, a trawl for monitoring ocean plastic. Currently fully funded on Kickstarter, Babylegs was introduced by Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a self-proclaimed feminist and anti-colonial marine science laboratory. CLEAR is working on the project in conjunction with another organization called Public Lab, a community that develops open source tools in the hopes of motivating community involvement. Together, the groups aim to provide tools the public can use to help gather information about environmental quality issues. Related: New line of men’s swimwear is made from recycled ocean plastic Babylegs offers a simple design and is sourced from inexpensive and recycled materials. It’s a do-it-yourself kit that you put together before use. This isn’t the product of a company looking to make a profit. Babylegs is a tool that the company wants to provide to as many people as can use it, inexpensively and efficiently. With the easy-to-source materials, anyone can put together Babylegs, including classrooms of students. The basic supply list is baby leggings, a water bottle, sandpaper, a drill, scissors, rope, a plumber’s clamp and a screwdriver. With these few supplies, plus some in the kit and some provided by you (like the water bottle), you can make your Babylegs and head out to the closest body of water In addition to providing the Babylegs kits, the company has a goal to facilitate education regarding plastics in the water. The concept is that an increased number of people taking and evaluating samples will provide a larger database of water plastic information that everyone can rely on. Of course, making the Babylegs and collecting the water sample with a simple trawl behind a boat or from a boat, bridge or dock is the easy part. The science comes in through the evaluation of the data you collect, so the kit helps with that, too. According to the Kickstarter campaign, “The activity guides included with this kit are divided into sections on building the BabyLegs trawl, deploying BabyLegs in the water, processing the sample in a kitchen, school or laboratory, where plastics are sorted from organics and finally forensically analyzing the microplastics so you can learn about pollution in your waters.” The idea is solely focused on information and education, so there’s nothing fancy about the product. Instead, most of the components are from recycled materials and many are reusable at the end of the Babylegs lifecycle. Kits are shipped in fully recyclable packaging that is also reused when possible. + Babylegs Images via Public Lab and Max Liboiron / CLEAR Lab

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Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during worlds deepest dive

May 15, 2019 by  
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This May, American Victor Vescovo broke the standing record of the world’s deepest solo dive, venturing 7 miles into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, where he discovered four potential new species as well as plastic waste and candy wrappers. Vescovo is a wealth equity investor with an interest in ocean exploration . He traveled in a high-tech submersible that can withstand enormous amounts of pressure from the 35,849-foot descent. In fact, the submarine is capable of withstanding the weight of “50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person,” according to the BBC . Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic “It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” Vescovo told BBC. “This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving — rapidly and repeatedly — into the deepest, harshest area of the ocean.” The mission was to collect data and video footage of what is thought to be the deepest ocean trench in the world. During his expedition, Vescovo also may have found a new crustacean as well as three other new species , including a relative of the sea cucumber. Samples of the new species will also be tested to see if they contain microplastics . The discovery of plastic in the farthest reaches of the world is disappointing, but not surprising given the scale of the plastic waste problem. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Data collection expeditions to the ocean trenches also contribute to increasing evidence that these deep sea depressions can store higher amounts of carbon than the rest of the ocean and therefore may play an important role in mitigating climate change . Via BBC and  Technology Review Image via Jessie Sgouros

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Washed Ashore: 4 Innovative Products From Upcycled Marine Plastic

December 4, 2018 by  
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Every minute, one garbage truck full of plastics is added … The post Washed Ashore: 4 Innovative Products From Upcycled Marine Plastic appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

October 3, 2018 by  
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LEGO Group has just released a  LEGO Creator Expert set from the ‘vault’ that focuses on sustainable energy. The company announced its Vestas Wind Turbine creation at New York Climate Week in hopes of encouraging creativity while spreading the word about renewable and sustainable energy sources. The revamped wind turbine set will be the first LEGO set featuring the new plant-based plastic LEGOs, Plants from Plants. LEGO collaborated with Vestas, a leader in sustainable energy, to make the new and improved wind turbine set. Not only does the kit represent renewable energy, but some of the included plant elements are made from a plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. This is the first time LEGO has issued a set including pieces from its Plants from Plants initiative, and customers will be able to purchase the wind turbine this coming Black Friday (November 23). Related: LEGO is rolling out its first plant-based plastic pieces The Vestas Wind Turbine set is comprised of 826 pieces and stands 3 feet tall. The wind turbine overlooks a wooded area complete with spruce trees — made in part from sugarcane — as well as a cottage with a working porch light. The set will be available for $200. The toy company plans on using only sustainable materials in core products and product packaging by 2030. In addition to this commitment, LEGO has also pledged to become eco-friendly in the production of its plastic bricks. To that end, LEGO incorporates wind power in the production process and generates as much power from sustainable sources as it does from traditional ones. “We strive to make a positive impact on the environment and are committed to climate action and to use sustainable materials in products and packaging,” said Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO. “This wind turbine celebrates our first steps in bringing these ambitions to life, and we hope it will inspire builders to learn about renewable energy.” + LEGO Images via LEGO

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