How to Keep Plastics Out of the Ocean

October 12, 2017 by  
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You’re probably already aware that millions of tons of plastic … The post How to Keep Plastics Out of the Ocean appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How to Keep Plastics Out of the Ocean

The entire world could be powered by one deep-sea wind farm

October 10, 2017 by  
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What if the world’s energy problems could be solved with one deep-sea wind farm ? A new study, conducted by the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, California, suggests it could. Scientists determined that if a renewable energy project the size of India were to be constructed in the ocean, enough electricity could be generated to fulfill the energy needs of every nation on earth. In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doctors Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira wrote: “On an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.” The duo noted that wind speeds are on average 70 percent higher over the Earth’s oceans than on land. In order to generate the equivalent of all energy used today, a deep-sea wind farm would need to span three million square kilometers. On land, the concept would never work. This is because when more wind turbines are added to a farm, the combined drag from the turning blades limits the amount of energy that can be obtained. As a result of this effect, electricity generation for large wind farms on land is limited to about 1.5 watts per square meter . In the North Atlantic, however, the limit would be much higher — more than six watts per square meter. Related: The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is being built in the UK The Independent reports that this is possible because more heat pours into the atmosphere above the North Atlantic Ocean. As a result, the problem of “ turbine drag” is essentially overcome. Said Possner, “We found that giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere whereas wind farms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources.” During the summer, the output from the vast North Atlantic wind farm would drop to one-fifth of the annual average. Despite this, enough energy would still be generated to meet the electricity demands of all countries in the European Union . The scientists added that a deep sea wind farm would have to operate in “remote and harsh conditions,” where waves heights often reach more than 3 meters. If these hurdles were overcome, political and economic challenges would need to be tackled next. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via The Independent Images via Wikimedia Commons [1] , Wikimedia Commons [2] , Wikimedia Commons [3] and Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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The entire world could be powered by one deep-sea wind farm

This incredible floating tent is the stuff of camping dreams

October 10, 2017 by  
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This incredible floating tent is one of those things you never knew you needed. Ohio-based outdoor equipment company SmithFly has designed what they describe as the world’s first floating tent , the Shoal Tent . With it, according to SmithFly, “the world is your waterbed.” SmithFly’s floating tent looks like way too much fun. The base is an inflatable raft, covered by a tent topper. There are no tent poles necessary, according to the company, because the tent structure is inflatable. They also say when it is inflated, it can endure high winds. Naturally, the tent fabric is waterproof . And it seems the Shoal Tent would be a pretty cozy place to spend the night; the “six inch thick drop stitched” floor basically acts as an air mattress. Related: See-through dome lets you immerse yourself in nature and sleep beneath the stars “The tent topper sides all attach and detach using heavy duty hook and loop for the ability to use just the top and get in and out easily through the sides if the need arises suddenly,” the company said in their product description, and the floor inflates to 10 pounds per square inch (psi), while the tubes inflate to three psi. The floating tent is eight feet by eight feet, measured from outside to outside. Inside, a person 6’3″ tall can lay down or stand up in the middle. The tent weighs around 75 pounds, and can fold down to a burrito shape to fit inside a storage bag that’s around 60 by 24 by 18 inches. The company suggests camping on “your favorite farm pond, salt water flat, spring creek, or eddie on your favorite river .” SmithFly launched in 2010, the brainchild of designer and fly fisherman Ethan Smith, who aimed to create a better fly fishing vest pack. The company offers products manufactured in the United States and lists sustainability as one of their top priorities. They aim to make multi-generational products, with the hope customers “only buy one of our vests and that it lasts long enough that your great-grand kids can use it.” The Shoal Tent costs $1,499 and is available to pre-order online; SmithFly says they’re not in stock yet but the first batch will be going out in December or January. The tent kit comes with a storage bag, manual foot pump, and patch kit. + SmithFly Images via SmithFly

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This incredible floating tent is the stuff of camping dreams

Scientists locate half of the universe’s missing ordinary matter

October 10, 2017 by  
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Scientists have discovered the location of the universe’s missing matter, the other half of ordinary matter that could not be previously observed but which scientists knew to exist. Two independent teams of astronomers, one at  the Institute of Space Astrophysics (IAS)  in Orsay, France and the other from the University of Edinburgh, have recently released studies that outline how they may have uncovered this missing matter and where it may be. Spoiler alert: it isn’t between the cushions of your couch. Both teams concluded that the universe’s previously astray ordinary matter can be located in the filaments of hot dispersed gas between galaxies . The teams’ work focused on the universe’s ordinary matter, matter composed of protons, neutrons and electrons, as opposed to mysterious dark matter , which make up most of the known universe. Up until these studies were released, we knew approximately how much ordinary matter existed in the universe, but we did not know where this matter was found. Now that it has been accounted for, scientists can feel more confident in their work. “This goes a long way toward showing that many of our ideas of how galaxies form and how structures form over the history of the universe are pretty much correct,” said Ralph Kraft, a professor at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts . Related: Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space Although strands of baryon, the ordinary-matter holding gas linking galaxies, were thought to exist, the phenomenon was not observable through X-ray telescopes . To solve this challenge, both teams incorporated the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect, which occurs when enduring light from the Big Bang travels through hot gas. This interaction leaves behind markers of the gas that can be captured and studied. Using data from over 1 million pairs of galaxies, both teams discovered that the baryon gas strands were three to six times denser than normal matter in the universe. This breakthrough confirms what scientists have suspected for decades. “Everybody sort of knows that it has to be there,” said Professor Kraft, “but this is the first time that somebody – two different groups, no less – has come up with a definitive detection.” Via Futurism Images via NASA (1)

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Kenya introduces world’s harshest law on plastic bags

August 28, 2017 by  
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Kenya has been a major plastic bag exporter to the nearby region. But now the country is cracking down on the polluting bags with the toughest law of its kind in the world. Kenyans selling, producing, or just using plastic bags could face a $40,000 fine or imprisonment for as long as four years. Kenya’s plastic bag law came into effect just this week. According to Reuters, the country in East Africa joins over 40 countries worldwide that have either banned, partly banned, or put a tax on single-use plastic bags, such as Rwanda, Italy, and China. Under Kenya’s new law, police can target any person carrying a plastic bag, although environment minister Judy Wakhungu told Reuters enforcement would initially prioritize suppliers and manufacturers, and that the common man “will not be harmed.” Related: Morocco just officially banned plastic bags Not everyone is happy with the new law, which took Kenya more than 10 years – and three attempts – to pass. Kenya Association of Manufacturers spokesperson Samuel Matonda said 176 manufacturers will have to close, with around 60,000 jobs lost. But other people point to the environmental cost of plastic bags: it can take between 500 and 1,000 years for them to break down. And the bags have been showing up in cows intended for human consumption. In slaughterhouses in Nairobi, some of these cows had 20 bags taken out of their stomachs. County vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui said, “This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis.” Kenya borders the Indian Ocean, and plastic bags can drift into the ocean and end up consumed by whales and dolphins, who ultimately die as their stomachs fill up with trash. The bags can strangle or suffocate marine creatures like turtles and seabirds. Plastic also ends up in fish later eaten by humans. Marine litter expert Habib El-Habr, working with the United Nations Environment Program in Kenya, said, “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.” Supermarket chains in Kenya such as Nakumatt and Carrefour have begun offering cloth bags as alternatives to plastic for customers. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Elon Musks Boring Company receives green light to dig a two-mile test tunnel

August 28, 2017 by  
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Progress is being made on Elon Musk’s version of the Hyperloop , a supersonic train that could potentially travel up to 700 mph. Last week, the City Council in Hawthorne, California voted four to one in favor of allowing Musk’s Boring Company to dig a two-mile-long underground test tunnel. The newly-approved extension will stretch beyond the company’s property line outside of Los Angeles and will run 44 feet below the public roads and utilities that surround SpaceX headquarters. Reportedly, consumers won’t even notice the construction. The test tunnel will allow Boring Company to test its own version of the supersonic train which Musk previously shared open plans for. As The Verge reports, the planned route doesn’t go under any privately-owned residential or commercial property, aside from that owned by SpaceX. When the test tunnel is completed, the city can request the company fill it with concrete or soil. Read more: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system Brett Horton, senior director of facilities and construction for SpaceX , assured the Council that people in the area won’t even notice the construction — or the testing. He said, “They won’t even know we’re there” even though digging will take place below their feet. To assuage concern, Horton added that the company thoroughly tests the soil and will deliver the results to the city on a daily basis. If the ground is found to move as little as half-an-inch in either direction, work will stop until a solution is found. If the public has concerns, they can contact the city or visit SpaceX headquarters, he added. “Our operations team is on site at the entrance shaft, so we’re easy to reach,” said Horton. Hawthorne’s Mayor Alex Vargas said, “This is groundbreaking, this is establishing a precedent, and I think we all agree that we want to make sure that this goes off without a hitch.” The Boring Company still needs to obtain an “encroachment permit” before it can dig the test tunnel. Because some are still wary of the proposed Hyperloop , the company might still run into challenges. Regardless, the City Council’s approval is an essential step for Musk’s latest project. + Boring Company Via The Verge Images via Boring Company , Optimist Daily

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Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil

August 25, 2017 by  
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A beached whale is a tragic sight – but a community of sun-worshippers in Brazil refused to sit by when it happened on their beach. Hundreds of people rallied around a stranded humpback whale in Buzios, digging around the animal in hopes of saving its life. They spent hours trying to save the whale, and were rewarded with the return of high tide. A humpback whale was recently stranded on the beach of Praia Rasa in Buzios, and people on the beach jumped into action. They tossed water and dug around the whale to keep it alive for hours. Biologists on site said the whale was young, weighed as much as 15 tons, and was around 45 feet long. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding When high tide returned, the whale was at last able to leave the beach. A Buzios City Hall spokesperson said the whale found its way back to the ocean . Amateur video footage shows crowds of people standing on the beach watching the whale reenter the water. We don’t fully understand why whales strand themselves, although several reasons have been suggested. University of Aberdeen professor David Lusseau published a piece on The Conversation detailing some of these reasons, like that whales beach themselves because they are injured or sick, or have become disoriented. They also might behave differently if food stocks plunge, temperatures are strangely low or high, or if pollutants seep into the water. Lusseau said often whales that are returned to the ocean will re-strand themselves hours or days later (especially if they were ill) – but some whales are able to escape. If you come across a beached whale, the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation said your first response should be to call an expert for help – many countries have stranding networks that can help ensure the whale is treated correctly. Via The Telegraph Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

August 25, 2017 by  
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If your #lifegoals include living off the grid in some stunning locale, then check this out: we’ve rounded up the best pod homes that can be installed in even the most remote locations. From a futuristic 3D-printed shelter to the nature-influenced Baobed , there’s something for every world traveler (and almost every budget). Pod Space Pod Space’s award winning pre-fab pods can be installed just about anywhere you can dream of. The modular pods are customizable, so you can use them as a backyard office, an extra room, or even a fully-equipped tiny home . The best part is the floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can let nature in while keeping the elements out. Podzook If you are the type to think outside the box – literally – you’ll dig the spherical Podzook. With its locally-sourced shingled wood exterior and its space-age interior, the Podzook is what you’d get if you combined traditional Maine craftsmanship with an alien space pod. Each one is made to order and comes with a skylight and a futuristic gull-wing door. Prices range from 28 – 32k depending on the options you choose. 3D-Printed SOM shelter Architecture firm SOM is taking off-grid living into the future with a 3D-printed shelter that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It features rooftop solar panels for power and comes with its own vehicle that generates its own power. Best of all, the structure and the vehicle can share power wirelessly when you need an extra bit of juice. The SOM shelter can be “printed” right on site, illustrating what is possible in the future of home building. ALPOD The 65k ALPOD is a high-tech solution to skyrocketing real estate prices. The prefabricated structure is made of lightweight aluminum, so it can be moved where needed and then recycled when has reached the end of its life. The pods can even be stacked, so you could create an entire skyscraper of them. With 480-square feet of living space, it’s a great solution for both urban locations, since it can be hooked up to the grid, and off-grid with it solar power option. POD-Idlada POD-Idladla is a prefabricated home that can be shipped flat-packed for on-site assembly in a snap. The 186-square foot tiny home is powered by solar energy and is modular, so it can be expanded if necessary. Tall ceilings help make the space feel large without increasing its footprint, and costs start at just $15k. Ecocapsule The egg-shaped Ecocapsule is the stuff that off-grid dreams are made of. The ultra-portable house is powered by solar and wind, with rainwater collection and filtration built-in. The 86-square foot space manages to pack a lot of features, with a folding bed, dining area, shower and toilet, storage and a kitchenette. Each capsule fits inside a shipping container so it can go nearly anywhere. Ecocapsule homes start shipping this year, so save your pennies, because owning one will set you back $94,000. Drop Pod The DROP Eco-Hotel is different because it isn’t designed as a permanent home, but as a pod-like hotel room for modern nomads that can be installed in some truly incredible places – including elevated above the earth. The prefabricated structure is clad in slotted wood to control solar gain, features a skylight for daylighting and a rainwater recycling system. Harwyn Pod The Harwyn Pod is a tiny space for distraction-free work. Designed to be an office, art space or yoga studio , each pod can pop-up on-site in just 5 hours and comes complete with built-in furniture. With a footprint of only 2.5 by 2 meters and luxury car-inspired design, each tiny dwelling is fully insulated against the elements. Baobed Sleeping Pod The Baobed pod is a treehouse for adventure-seekers. The sleek pod can be suspended in the treetops, nestled on a beach, and plopped on a rooftop or even in the middle of a pond. The fruit-like shape was inspired by the fruit of the baobab tree and provides a tiny, safe space for travelers. Thanks to its tiny footprint and light weight (just 992 pounds), it can be transported on a trailer and can be equipped with a platform, mosquito nets and storage options.

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9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

Scientists just discovered snow on Mars

August 25, 2017 by  
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Forget everything you think you know about Mars. In a study published in Nature Geoscience , scientists confirm that there is snow on the Red Planet. It’s not what you might think, however. Mars experiences explosions of snow known as “ice microbursts” that only occur in the shadows and are very unlike snowfall on Earth. This finding is challenging previous notions about the planet’s history and the likelihood of future generations colonizing it. On Mars, the clouds have to be very low to the surface (about 1 to 2 kilometers, or 0.61 to 1.24 miles), or else the snow will be annihilated before it even reaches the rusty soil. This is because the air pressure increases rapidly as it descends downwards. In turn, the local temperature is increased and snow reaches evaporation-ready temperatures. As IFLScience reports, scientists previously believed snow precipitation occurred only by “the slow sedimentation of individual particles.” The authors now know this isn’t the case. Their research shows that the sudden snow explosion mechanisms must have affected “Mars’ water cycle, past and present.” Related: NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars Because the red planet’s atmosphere is incredibly thin, its thermal insulation is pretty low. At night, the mercury can drop as low as -73°C (-100°F) on the equator surface, and -125°C (-195°F) at the poles. When sunlight glances Mars, water at the equator is given just enough energy to evaporate. This results in the formation of low-pressure clouds — a phenomenon NASA is already tracking. Because the temperature of the Red Planet drops considerably at night, the rapid and localized redistribution of heat results in air currents becoming unstable. Water ice crystals then fall out in rapid succession. Some crystals may reach the surface, but others sublimate into a gas . The streaks of snowfall that fail to reach the surface are known as “virgas.” For now, only robots are able to experience Mars’ unique snowfall. But if humans ever do colonize Mars — a feat Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are ambitious to see accomplished in their lifetimes , maybe we’ll get to experience the planet’s unique weather patterns firsthand. + Nature Geoscience Via IFLScience  Images via Pixabay , NASA/JPL

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Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

August 16, 2017 by  
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Humanity is entering a phase of grave uncertainty as rising temperatures wreck havoc on our planet. Researchers from Yale University and the University of Southhampton have found evidence that Arctic ice loss may be having a negative impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , the largest ocean circulation system on the planet. A complex system not easily explained by talking heads scoring political points, AMOC helps regulate ocean and atmospheric temperatures – and its collapse would have repercussions that not even scientists can properly predict. “The ongoing decline of Arctic sea ice exposes the ocean to anomalous surface heat and freshwater fluxes, resulting in positive buoyancy anomalies that can affect ocean circulation,” the researchers wrote in a new study published recently in Nature . “It is found that on decadal timescales, flux anomalies over the subpolar North Atlantic have the largest impact on the AMOC, while on multi-decadal timescales (longer than 20 years), flux anomalies in the Arctic become more important. These positive buoyancy anomalies spread to the North Atlantic, weakening the AMOC and its poleward heat transport. Therefore, the Arctic sea-ice decline may explain the suggested slow-down of the AMOC and the ‘Warming Hole’ persisting in the subpolar North Atlantic.” Related: How climate change could alter the environment in 100 years So what does this mean? Trevor Nace, a geologist, explains for Forbes : “This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe…” Since this is largely unprecedented, it is uncertain exactly what will happen if the AMOC collapses, or how it will affect global weather patterns. But we do know that even small shifts in climate can result in dramatic changes – evidenced by the growing number of droughts, floods and other natural disasters worldwide. In November, temperatures in the Arctic were 20C degrees higher than normal, according to an Arctic Resilience Report . The best way to slow down this trend is to release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which requires a shift away from burning fossil fuels and other carbon-producing industries. And that requires leadership. Via Forbes Images via NOAA, NASA

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Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

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