Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests

March 8, 2019 by  
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Italy is facing a major climate change crisis as the country’s olive harvests continue to decline. Italy’s olive industry has witnessed a 57 percent decrease in olive production, and according to a leading climate scientist, extreme weather is at the forefront of the crop shortage. Olive tree farms across Italy have been devastated by weather-related events this past year, including heavy rainfalls, unpredictable frosts, droughts and powerful winds. All of these weather patterns coincide with what climate scientists have predicted would happen in the event of global warming . Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk “There are clear observational patterns that point to these types of weather extremes as the main drivers of [lower] food productivity,” Professor Riccardo Valentini explained. Valentini noted that below-zero temperatures are not common in Italy, and extremes like this were foretold through climate change models. Research from the United Nation’s climate change panel also predicted similar weather patterns and indicates that the worst is yet to come. When it comes to olive trees, any abrupt change in temperature can have a devastating effect on the harvest. Valentini explained how a day or two of freezing temperatures can harm the trees and hurt their development. After they have experienced extreme weather , the trees never fully recover and are more susceptible to disease and pest infestations. As a whole, temperatures in Italy and the surrounding Mediterranean have gone up by around 1.4C over the past century, while rainfall has decreased by a staggering 2.5 percent. The changes in weather have cost the country over 1 billion dollars in olive production. Government officials are scrambling to come up with a viable solution but have yet to offer any resources for farmers in the region. Italy is not the only country affected by the changes in weather. The European commission recently predicted that olive harvests in Portugal will decline by around 20 percent this coming year. Greece will take a much larger hit with a decline of around 42 percent. All signs point to a continually increasing problem for European countries, as putting a stop to climate change is proving to be an intricate issue. Via The Guardian Images via vpzotova

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Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests

TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

March 8, 2019 by  
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If you’ve purchased a TV or other appliance in the past few decades, you’ve experienced the massive chunks of polystyrene foam that came with it. Plastic foam as it is known, also commonly called by the brand name Styrofoam , has dominated the packaging and insulation industries for many years and brought with it tons of waste. Taking an estimated 500 years to break down, the product leaves much to be desired from a sustainability standpoint. There is no doubt that plastic foam is one of the least sustainable products on the market, yet it is still prevalent because it works so well. A newcomer to the market, TemperPack, has developed an eco-friendly option that hopes to eliminate the need for plastic foam altogether. Obviously, TemperPack is not alone in its desire to bring the product to market, as they have sourced around $40 million in funding to further develop the technology . Related: Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019 Longtime friends and now co-founders Brian Powers and James McGoff developed a patent-pending product called ClimaCell that is aimed at sustainability from production through the waste cycle. The company claims that the manufacturing produces 97 percent less carbon emissions than plastic foam manufacturing. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the ClimaCell is the ability to add it to curbside recycling where available. The company has taken the steps to obtain OCC-E certification, ensuring the product meets recycling standards equal to basic cardboard, which has an extraordinarily high recycle rate. The new product is set to replace large hunks and sheets of plastic foam with its cushioning capabilities. In addition, ClimaCell offers an alternative for disposable food shipping coolers while ensuring perishables arrive safely and remain cold during transport. Several thicknesses are available to cater to the different needs of businesses throughout seasonal and product changes. Using the technology in a similar way, TemperPack also produces a completely recyclable alternative to packing peanuts and bubble wrap for full-spectrum packaging and packing options. TemperPack aims to offer complete solutions to businesses in order to make it easier for them to lessen their environmental impact. In the end, its hopes to achieve its mission of solving packaging problems through sustainable design. High consuming industries include pharmaceutical and food companies with a need to keep products cold. The company estimates the use of ClimaCell has diverted 10 million pounds of plastic foam from the waste stream. + TemperPack Via Forbes Images via TemperPack

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TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

Vegan dog food company continues its international expansion

March 8, 2019 by  
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V-planet , the San Francisco-based company that manufactures 100 percent vegan products for dogs, has just expanded its market to Israel. Israeli shoppers can now buy vegan pet food through Vegpet , v-planet’s online store. Why Israel? “Israel is one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world, with more self-identified vegans per capita than any other country,” said Lindsay Rubin, vice president of v-dog. “With so many consumers interested in transitioning their dogs to a vegan diet, expanding our brand to Israel to offer a high-quality option to dog parents seemed like a natural fit for our brand.” Since 2005, the vegan-owned and family-operated business has offered its plant-based kibble to a U.S. clientele. Its international expansion now makes v-dog available in Canada, Australia and Israel. Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Switching dogs to vegan kibble could have a significant effect on the planet. “A 2019 study stated that if dogs and cats were a country, they’d rank fifth in global meat consumption,” Rubin told Inhabitat. “Caring for a large dog is environmentally comparable to driving an SUV. Pets are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gases from animal agriculture. Just like a human choosing a plant-based lifestyle, a dog can significantly reduce their carbon pawprint by going vegan.” By contrast, plant-based ingredients naturally use significantly less land, water and energy than meat-based counterparts, she said. According to Rubin, vegan dogs thrive. Customers have reported reduced allergies , better digestion, less arthritis and other joint inflammation issues and better overall health and energy after switching their dogs to a vegan diet. Still, it is  important to talk with a veterinarian  before making drastic changes to your furry friend’s diet, as it must be done very cautiously. The brand hopes to grow internationally and is actively seeking additional distributors in more countries. “At v-planet, we’re passionate about nutritious, yummy products for dogs that are cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable,” Rubin said. “We hope that by continuing to expand v-planet’s availability, we can help more dogs and save more farmed animals.” + v-planet Images via v-dog / v-planet

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This tiny home eschews minimalist design for vibrant colors and bold patterns

January 24, 2019 by  
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Most tiny homes tend to go for the standard “less is more” strategy when it comes to interior design. But one Texas designer, Galeana Younger from the Galeana Group , is breaking that mold with her stunning “maximalist” tiny home. Forgoing the typical neutral color palette, Younger decked out the 190-square-foot tiny home with a host of vibrant colors, funky patterns and plenty of personal touches that give the home a jubilant character. Recently, the designer told Lonny that she wanted the tiny home design to be full of fun. “I wanted to create an environment that would allow/encourage people to feel comfortable and happy but still slightly elevated and outside of themselves,” Younger said. “Like they were in a hip, urban locale that made them feel a little more chispa than usual.” Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes Accordingly, the bold interior design found throughout the home has quite a bit of “spark” from the moment you enter. The living space features a small wicker sofa covered with various pillows in an array of colors and textures. To the right, the bedroom is wallpapered in a lively black and white cactus print. Contrasting the busy pattern on the walls is the ceiling, which is painted a light ethereal blue. A triangle-patterned rug is on the floor, nicely connecting the black door and trim, which is found throughout the interior. Moving into the kitchen , the blast of fun, vibrant colors cannot be missed. The geometric backsplash is comprised of multiple hues and shades that add a sense of whimsy to the cooking area. Open shelving stores the home’s dishware along with decorative bottles in different shapes and colors. Further into the back of the space is the bathroom. Surprisingly spacious for a tiny home, this black and white motif still manages to be filled with personality. The shower stall was hand laid with the words, “Howdy, ya’ll.” Above the bathroom, a ladder leads to a compact sleeping loft . + The Galeana Group Via Curbed Photography by Mark Menjivar via The Galeana Group

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This tiny home eschews minimalist design for vibrant colors and bold patterns

Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi set to open in November

September 15, 2017 by  
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Jean Nouvel ‘s Louvre Abu Dhabi – the first universal museum in the Arab world – will open its doors to the public on November 11th. Nestled underneath a huge porous dome, the museum galleries will house an extensive collection of artworks, artifacts and loans from France’s top museums, with a particular focus on shared human stories across civilizations and cultures. The project is part of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates . Its 8,000 square feet of exhibition space will house permanent collections and temporary exhibits, combining artifacts and artworks from France’s top museums. Related: Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum that is its own work of art The museum’s most distinctive feature is its vast dome comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. This porous structure filters sunlight and creates a ‘rain of light’ effect reminiscent of overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases. Two prestigious events coproduced under the French-Emirati Cultural Program will mark the inauguration week. These events were initiated over a year ago by the two countries and supported by the creative momentum generated by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. + Jean Nouvel + Louvre Abu Dhabi Images by Muhamed Somji

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Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi set to open in November

Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

September 14, 2017 by  
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Even those who despise arachnids can’t help but admire the gorgeous peacock spider . And now there are even more of them to admire. Researchers from Australia have just announced the discovery of four new species and one subspecies, bringing the total number of peacock spider varieties to 65. Dr. Jurgen Otto in Western Australia has been studying peacock spiders for about a decade. Reportedly, four of the species are completely new to science and one is believed to a be a sub-species. “Each new species is a complete surprise — the patterns and colours of each species are so different and so unpredictable, you never know what the next one and its display and courtship dance will look like,” Otto told ABC News . Otto and Hill named 39 of the species and sub-species that have been discovered. Reportedly, the latest species were found in Western Australia , but the peacock spiders are more native to the southern part of the continent. Related: First spider-silk garment to hit the market is this necktie from Bolt Threads To help people easily identify the spiders, Otto has shared incredibly detailed photographs on his YouTube channel . “In most peacock spider species — and the new ones are no exception — the males are strikingly coloured, and the patterns and colours are very distinctive, making it easy to distinguish one from another,” said Otto. “Cristatus has a pattern on its back that resembles the Union Jack and in addition has eight plumes of white setae (hairs) at its back that no other peacock spider has.” “Electricus stands out by its striking pattern of parallel red lines that make it look like a circuit board, and trigonus can be easily recognised by the white crown at the tip of its abdomen that is not present in any known species ,” Otto added. “One could think that the novelty of this would all have worn off by now, but people still get excited when they see them.” These findings were published in the journal Peckhamia . + Peckhamia Via ABC News Images via Dr. Jurgen Otto

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Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

September 14, 2017 by  
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The game-changing power of solar energy is a gift to all of the global community. Nations of the world, having recognized the absolute necessity to do so, are slowly shifting towards a clean energy economy while reaping the benefits. These benefits are being particularly felt in the developing economies of the Global South , where communities are making the transition from no electricity access to resilient, local power through solar energy. SOLARKIOSK, a Berlin-based social enterprise, is supporting this movement and empowering local communities by installing innovative multi-purpose structures called E-HUBBs that are powered by the sun and operated by members of the communities they serve. SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge – read on for a closer look at this world-changing initiative. Although similar in appearance to shipping container homes , the E-HUBB is emphatically much more – it’s “an energy-connectivity gateway.” With the energy generated through its solar panels, a single E-HUBB can provide power for phone and computer charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an LED TV, a refrigerator, a printer, interior and exterior lighting, and more. It also offers a display area and storage space, solar products and sustainable consumer goods. “SOLARKIOSK is continuously working on the design of the E-HUBB, in order to make it more efficient in terms of maintenance, implementation and transportation,” said Marija Makejeva, Business Development Manager at SOLARKIOSK. “Over time, the design has evolved across 3 different E-HUBB models from an aluminum to a steel structure, which is more cost-efficient and easier to source. Solar components and remote metering options have also undergone significant improvement as technology has evolved.” Related: Compact OffGridBox provides drinking water and power where it’s needed most E-HUBBs have proven their versatility by serving the needs of different communities. A last-mile distribution retail E-HUBB brings underserved populations much needed products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also a Connected Solar Clinic operated by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, a banking kiosk that offers financial tools to off-grid populations in Nigeria , and a solar school unit for the displaced population at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan . In addition to the tangible impacts of power generation, commercial empowerment, and more, the E-HUBB also has the ability to positively impact and inspire younger generations who will one day inherit these changing communities. “The fascination always surfaces in the eyes of the kids as they gaze upon the site clearly delighted by the atmosphere emitted by SOLARKIOSK,” reads a statement by the company. “Being accepted and loved by the children is a great reassurance for our work directive and personal initiative; a true blessing.” Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty Each E-HUBB is uniquely fitted for the local community’s needs and is operated by members of the community, ninety percent of whom are women . “SOLARKIOSK sees great value in empowering women through job creation within the network of E-HUBBs,” said Makejeva. For its success in supporting localized community development, SOLARKIOSK has been nominated for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. “The Fuller Challenge was established to draw attention to a ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing some of the complex problems facing the world,” said Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Fuller’s hypothesis was that integrated solutions that focus on root cause, and are designed to be models for replication elsewhere, lead to long lasting, transformational change.” The prize winner receives $100,000 in funding as well as inclusion in the Challenge’s Catalyst Program, which offers support in expanding the winner’s work. “Our criteria have been distilled from Fuller’s voluminous writings and talks about the fundamental principles of what he called design science,” said Thompson. “The program set a very high bar for what we are looking for, so the projects selected as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are truly exceptional examples!” If it were to receive this award, SOLARKIOSK would be well-positioned to scale up its operations in the coming years. While the economic empowerment gained in a local community through the support of SOLARKIOSK is exceptional, the mission and impact is more than that. An E-HUBB is a center for the community, a gathering place around which people can share stories, build strong relationships, and find inspiration for a brighter future. + SOLARKIOSK + Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

September 14, 2017 by  
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As more people purchase electric vehicles (EVs) – and countries move to ban sales of gas-guzzling cars – the world will need more charging stations . German company Sortimo plans to build what’s been described as the world’s biggest EV fast-charging station – with 144 charging ports. It is slated for construction near the A8 highway in Germany . 4,000 cars a day could be charged at Innovationspark Zusmarshausen, Germany’s upcoming charging station, according to the company. 24 of the 144 charging ports could be supra-superchargers with charging capacities of 350 kilowatts (kW), which beats out the Tesla Supercharger with its capacity of around 150 kW. According to Sortimo, Innovationspark Zusmarshausen could offer savings of 29.5 million liters, or around 7.8 million gallons, of fuel , and could save nearly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Related: This electric car charging tower can power up a dozen EVs at the same time Innovationspark Zusmarshausen goes beyond the typical vision of a gas station. According to FAZ, the station could also feature offices, shopping, and eateries; Sortimo said people could order food before they arrive so they could eat while their car charges. Commuters might be able to park and charge their vehicles simultaneously in DC parking, perhaps even while working in the offices onsite. Images of the planned station suggest it could be topped with green roofs , and Sortimo mentions in their press release that Innovationspark Zusmarshausen “is very close to nature and architecturally aware of the environment,” so they envision people resting in a park at the charging station as well. As you may have guessed, renewable energy is part of the plan for the massive charging station. Sortimo said solar power can be stored at the station and used during peak times “in a network of surrounding companies and private households.” The charging stations are also integrated into Innovationspark Zusmarshausen’s thermal station management, according to Sortimo, so waste heat can help supply the buildings. FAZ said engineering firm Steinbacher Consult is also behind the design, technology, and operation. A translated version of the German press release suggests the charging station, which is receiving support from the Ministry of Transport, will be constructed in 2018. Via Sortimo , FAZ , and CleanTechnica Images via Sortimo

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Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

September 14, 2017 by  
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Australia’s first carbon positive and zero waste home to achieve a “10 Star” energy rating has popped up in Cape Paterson, Victoria. Designed in collaboration with Clare Cousin Architects , this impressive dwelling is one of the latest projects produced by The Sociable Weaver , an innovative design and build company that creates affordable, beautiful, and sustainable architect-designed homes for the masses. The coastal home, called the ’10 Star Home’ after its energy rating, is naturally heated and cooled thanks to passive solar strategies and maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, even in mid-winter. Built in the green coastal development The Cape, the 10 Star Home is permanently open to the public as a display home to educate architects, builders, and students on sustainable architecture . The Sociable Weaver and Clare Cousin Architects considered all aspects of the home, from the building materials to the bedsheets, to achieve their stringent requirements for sustainability, affordability, and social responsibility. The architects even worked with suppliers to reduce packaging delivered to the construction site, and recycled and reused material wherever possible, such as composting plasterboard off-cuts in the garden. A five-kilowatt rooftop solar panel powers the home, which experiences minimal energy loss thanks to superior under-slab insulation, industrial concrete floors that improve thermal mass, and double-glazed windows. The hardwood used is FSC-certified . Non-toxic materials line the interiors, from natural sealants and paints for the floors, walls, and ceilings, to organic and sustainable furnishings like the organic cotton bedding. The display home is fully furnished and decorated with hand-selected products that are stylish and beautiful, yet meet high environmental standards. Related: A Tiny Timber Box in a Tiny Urban Flat Makes Room for a Couple’s First Child In addition to environmentally conscious building practices, the 10 Star Home is designed to inspire a more sustainable lifestyle. The architects followed Building Biology principles to create an edible garden where occupants are encouraged to compost and grow their own food. To keep the home healthy and non-toxic, the 10 Star Home is also equipped with a “green switch” that turns off all power to the home, except for the fridge, so that occupants can reduce the impact of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) at night. “Through Life Cycle Analysis by eTool, modelling shows that over the lifetime of the home, the 10 Star Home will not only negate its carbon footprint but will positively exceed it,” said The Sociable Weaver, according to Dezeen . “This equates to 203 kilograms of carbon emissions saved per year per occupant, equivalent to planting 9.55 million trees or removing 48 million balloons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” + The Sociable Weaver + Clare Cousin Architects Via Dezeen Images via The Sociable Weaver

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Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

Dangerous Heat and Storms to Peak Today in Northeastern US

July 19, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock High temperatures have left large parts of the US sweltering in recent days, and today those temperatures are predicted to reach “dangerous” heights. Temperatures broke 100 degrees at JFK airport yesterday, while the heat index ranged from 105-115 degrees in some areas. Today’s hot weather is expected to be broken by heavy storms, golf-sized hail and possibly tornadoes in some areas. But the extremity of the weather is not even the strangest part—meteorologists are taking particular note of the fact that the system is moving “backwards” from east to west . READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: dangerous heat , east coast , extreme heat , extreme weather , global warming , heatwave , NOAA , tornadoes , weather forecasts , weather patterns        

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