Most active volcano in the Philippines sends locals and tourists fleeing

January 16, 2018 by  
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Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines , sent lava billowing down its slopes on Tuesday and prompted an evacuation of more than 21,000 locals who live in threatened areas. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, lava flowed as far as 1.2 miles from the crater while ash from the volcanic activity spread to several communities in the northeastern Albay Province, where Mayon is located. Although the sight of an active volcano is breathtaking, authorities have advised that people remain beyond the 3.7-4.3 mile danger zone around Mayon. “They say it’s beauty juxtaposed with danger,” Office of Civil Defense regional director Claudio Yucot said, according to CBS News . Of the at least 21,800 people to be displaced by Mayon’s most recent eruptive episode, over 16,800 have taken shelter in 22 schools throughout the region. Others found safety at the homes of relatives far from the danger zone. Locals have expressed concern for their livestocks, which authorities have met by setting up evacuation areas for animals such as pigs, poultry, water buffalo, and cattle.  Despite the vivid display of danger, the volcano’s current lava spell was sparked by lava fragments splitting from the lava flow, not from an explosive eruption from within the crater. Further, scientists have not observed the level of volcanic earthquakes that would indicate an imminent eruption. If such an eruption were to appear imminent, authorities say that they are ready for a large-scale evacuation operation. Related: Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot Mayon has erupted about 50 times in the past 500 years, often with great strength. Its first recorded eruption was in 1616 while the most destructive occurred in 1814, when 1,200 people were killed and the town of Cagsawa was buried. The most recent episode before the current occurred in 2013 when an eruption of ash killed five people who attempted to climb the volcano despite warnings. While Mount Mayon may be the most active, it certainly is not the only volcano in the Philippines. Mayon is a part of the Ring of Fire, an area in the Pacific in which seismic faults are plentiful and often produce earthquakes and volcanic activity. Via CBS News Images via Denvie Balidoy/Flickr and Tom Falcon/Flickr

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Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first

January 3, 2018 by  
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Iceland has been making headlines lately – first by electing a 41-year-old environmentalist as prime minister , and now by becoming the world’s first country to legalize equal pay for men and women. Al Jazeera reports the tiny Nordic nation first introduced legislation last March to help close an existing wage gap, but the law did not come into effect until the first day of 2018. “The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations … evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally”. She adds that existing legislation designed to close the wage gap had failed to do the job, although the World Economic Forum (WEF) has consistently rated Iceland as one of the world’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender equality. Related: Iceland elects 41-year-old environmentalist as prime minister This new law will require companies that have at least 25 employees to obtain certification proving that men and women receive the same pay for their jobs. Failure to comply will result in fines. “Women have been talking about this for decades, Aradottir Pind told Al Jazeera, “and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more”. In a WEF post , Magnea Marinósdóttir and Rósa Erlingsdóttir with the Equality Unit of Iceland’s Ministry of Welfare says their fight for gender parity did not happen by accident: “What is the secret to Iceland’s success? What are the lessons learned? In short, it is that gender equality does not come about of its own accord. It requires the collective action and solidarity of women human rights defenders, political will, and tools such as legislation, gender budgeting and quotas.” The United States failed to make it into the top 10 of WEF’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index , which includes Nicaragua in 6th place and the Philippines, led by “The Punisher” President Rodrigo Duterte, in 10th. Via Al Jazeera Images via DepositPhotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first

This low-cost forest house on stilts is a minimalist dream in Vietnam

January 3, 2018 by  
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This charming forest house on stilts allows two people to experience the beauty and simplicity of living in a remote mountain setting. Architect Chu V?n ?ông designed the structure as a low-cost dwelling that is easy to build and that places focus on the surrounding environment, rather than on interior luxuries. The house is nestled in the lush wooded landscape of Northern Vietnam . As a simple, temporary residence, the Forest House offers a minimalist space that draws the eye toward the surrounding greenery. Large glass surfaces blur the line between the interior and the exterior and allow natural light to bathe the living area. Related: Incredible daylit house in Vietnam is filled with living trees The building can accommodate two people. Its interior is stripped down to the essentials and includes a wood-burning stove , a bed that doubles as a bay window bench, and a wooden table top that can be used for dining and work. The designer hopes that the project, which was built on a small budget, will inspire other temporary housing projects in the area. + Chu V?n ?ông Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Handyman

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How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

October 24, 2017 by  
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Volcano eruptions could have helped precipitate unrest in ancient Egypt , according to a new study. An international team of researchers led by Joseph Manning of Yale University discovered volcanic eruptions in northern latitudes can impact the flow of the Nile River . Ancient peoples depended on Nile River flooding to irrigate crops, and if that flood didn’t happen, there could have been political or economic consequences. The researchers connected historical analysis with paleoclimatology – what Yale described as reconstruction of global climates in the past – to make the startling find. Volcanoes in Russia, Greenland, Iceland, or Alaska could have disrupted the daily lives of people in ancient Egypt. While volcanic eruptions weren’t the sole cause of unrest, the researchers think they did play a role. In years with volcanic eruptions, the Nile didn’t flood as much, which Manning said led to social stress. He told The Washington Post, “It’s a bizarre concept that Alaskan volcanoes were screwing up the Nile, but in fact that’s what happened.” Related: The world’s mightiest river is dying Manning and colleagues took an interdisciplinary approach, scrutinizing ancient papyri and inscriptions for descriptions of Nile flooding, and combining that historical information with climate modeling of big 20th century volcanic eruptions and yearly Nile summer flood height measurements between 622 and 1902. Manning told The Washington Post, “It’s an indirect response, but because of atmospheric circulation and energy budgets, we find that large volcanic eruptions cause droughts .” He described the Nile and Egypt as sensitive instruments for climate change , and said the research was important in today’s debate on climate change. The study offers new insight into how climatic shocks impacted societies in history. Manning said in a statement, “There hasn’t been a large eruption affecting the global climate system since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991…Sooner or later we will experience a large volcanic eruption, and perhaps a cluster of them, that will act to exacerbate drought in sensitive parts of the world.” The journal Nature Communications published the study online this month. Five other researchers, from institutions in Ireland, California, and Switzerland, contributed to the work. Via Yale University and The Washington Post Images via Michael Gwyther-Jones on Flickr and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr

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How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

October 24, 2017 by  
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Six years ago, Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled plans for a ski slope power plant that could provide the city of Copenhagen with electricity, hot water, and a steady stream of recycled materials. It’s a wild design, and we never thought it’d see the light of day – but fast forward to 2017, and Copenhill is nearly complete. The waste-to-energy plant is currently operational, and by the end of next year it will be topped with 30 rooftop trees, the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall, and a 600-meter ski slope. Inhabitat recently traveled to Copenhagen for a first look inside this landmark building – hit the jump for our exclusive photos. When it officially opens next year, the Amager Bakken waste-to-energy plant will process 400,000 tons of waste annually to provide 160,000 homes with hot water and 62,500 homes with electricity. The new plant replaces the aging Amager Resource Center, and it’s able to produce 25% more energy while cutting CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons per year. Despite the fact that the plant effectively burns trash, its emissions are remarkably clean thanks to advanced filtration technology – the air in the plant’s vicinity is actually healthier than in Copenhagen’s city center. The plant will also enable the city to salvage 90% of the metals in its waste stream, and it will yield 100,000 metric tons of ash that will be reused as road material. Did we mention that it’s designed to blow enormous smoke rings? BIG Project Manager Jesper Boye Andersen told Inhabitat that “The completion date is after summer 2018, we are still pushing for the smoke rings, and we have proven that the technology works.” The building’s facade is made up of staggered metal planters that vary in size and shape to carefully control solar exposure. When it rains, each planter will drain into the one below it to sustain a flourishing vegetated wall. Copenhill’s roof will made from an artificial turf material, and it will be open to skiers and snowboarders all-year-round. In addition to the ski slope, the roof will feature a cafe, a running path, and the world’s largest artificial climbing wall, which will measure 86 meters tall by 10 meters wide. According to recent estimates, the total cost of the plant will be 4 billion DKK (about $632 million). It was financed by five nearby municipalities that will benefit from the energy, hot water, and other resources it produces. + BIG + Amager Resource Center Inhabitat was invited to Denmark by Visit Copenhagen , which paid for meals and lodging for 3 days

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Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

Henning Larsen Architects dramatically pointed skyscraper will transform Manila skyline

September 6, 2017 by  
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Henning Larsen Architects just won an international competition for a new landmark building in the heart of Manila, Philippines. Designed in collaboration with landscape architects SLA and BuroHappold Engineering , the dramatically tapered high-rise for Bonifacio Global City is a sculptural beauty that combines Filipino traditional design with contemporary influences. The mixed-use building will be filled with natural daylight and prioritize access to nature. Rising to a height of 308 meters, the landmark tower is designed to redefine the skyline of Bonifacio Global City, a centrally located financial district in Manila . The high-rise will comprise state-of-the-art workspaces, restaurants, a civic center with exhibition spaces, and a public observatory at the top of the structure. The large public plaza that surrounds the building will be densely planted with tall trees and mimic the shade and ambiance of a Filipino tropical forest. The plaza serves as a protected public space for large gatherings and celebrations, a tradition emphasized in Filipino culture. Related: Incredible museum by Kengo Kuma will be set inside a lush nature-infused cave in Manila “We aimed to create a design that will be the benchmark of how a high-rise can give back to a city and its people. The project is characterized by a high degree of responsibility, in relation to not only materials and production but also regarding positive, social spaces encouraging intimacy and community,” says Claude Bøjer Godefroy, Partner and Design Director in Henning Larsen’s Hong Kong office. “This building represents a milestone for Manila and the Philippines. We aimed to make it a truly Filipino building by understanding and integrating elements of Filipino nature, culture and climate.” Trees grow inside the building and will be visible through the glazed facade. At night, the tower is illuminated and doubles as a kind of lighthouse for the city. + Henning Larsen Architects

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Philippines president Duterte signs Paris agreement

March 1, 2017 by  
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It’s been almost a year since leaders from 170 countries met in New York City to formally sign the Paris climate change agreement , and almost four months since the agreement officially went into force . But president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is only now jumping on the climate change -fighting bandwagon, finally signing the historic accord. Duterte initially resisted signing the agreement; he claimed it favored rich countries like the United States, and threatened to boycott the agreement because it would hurt industrialization in the Philippines. But his protests subsided last November, when he said a cabinet decision swayed him to support the Paris agreement. Now that he’s signed the deal, it will need to go through the country’s Senate. Related: Hard-won Paris climate agreement officially goes into force Senator Loren Legarda said, “We are a step away from full ratification and it is my commitment to actively shepherd the Senate’s immediate concurrence.”It’s expected the Senate will back ratification as Duterte’s allies populate the governing body. Should the agreement finally go through, the Philippines would receive access to the Green Climate Fund , a global initiative slated to send billions of dollars to developing nations to help them combat climate change. Manila , the country’s capital, has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030. The ambitious target will require financial and technical support. Duterte has been labeled a strongman and a firebrand. Vox described him as the Donald Trump of Manila, although the former Davao City mayor has been in politics for decades. Trump and Duterte have become fast friends – Trump reportedly praised Duterte’s war on drugs, which is so violent it sparked a January report from Amnesty International . Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Fisherman kept $100M pearl for 10 years without realizing its worth

August 24, 2016 by  
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For 10 years, a Filipino fishermen kept a large pearl under his bed for good luck without knowing it could be the largest natural pearl in the world . He found the pearl while trying to free his anchor after being caught in a storm, but he had no idea that the lucky charm could be worth a small fortune. Measuring 1 foot wide by 2.2 feet in length and 75 lbs, the irregularly shaped pearl is thought to be the largest natural pearl ever found. If it is verified as authentic, it will be worth $100 million.

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Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

August 24, 2016 by  
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®Flickr/ David Edwards The cucamelon,  Melothria scabra , is similar to a cucumber with a crisp bite and an aromatic, citrusy flavor. Its petite striped appearance lends it a number of alternative nicknames, from ” Sandia de Raton” (” Mouse Melon”) to “Mexican Sour Gherkin.” Image via Underwood Gardens Can’t find cucamelons at your farmer’s market? While August is probably too late in the summer to start growing your own (unless you live in Hawaii or the very warmest parts of the Southern US), you can bookmark these green cuties in your favorite seed catalog and look forward to starting the seedlings early next spring . Cucamelons are reputedly easy to grow and even if your garden consists of containers on a balcony, you can still grow them up a trellis or inside a tomato cage. RELATED: 30 easy and delicious popsicle recipes While you might be tempted to Instagram them instead of cooking, you can slice up tiny cucamelons to make a refreshing, colorful radish salad. If you don’t want to slice up the adorable baby watermelons, you can also serve them whole as a garnish on a summer cocktail – try spearing a cucamelon on a swizzle stick and serving it with a refreshing mint julep. Image via Snaplant Cucamelon-Radish Salad Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need about 14-16 cucamelons, 5 radishes, rice vinegar, fresh dill, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Step Two: Slice and mix Slice the cucamelons lengthwise and add them to a salad bowl. Slice the radishes into thin rounds and mix in. Drizzle the salad with about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Toss with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with fresh dill fronds and serve. Serves 4. RELATED: 6 super easy gardening projects to do this weekend Can’t find any cucamelons to cook with? Try one of these refreshing summer recipes made with watermelon or cucumber instead, and bring along to your next BBQ or picnic. Image via Pixabay Frozen Watermelon Smoothie Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need one small seedless watermelon, or about 4 cups of diced watermelon with seeds removed, 2 bananas, 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 one-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root. Step Two: Freeze Pop cubed watermelon in the freezer for a couple hours, or until completely frozen. You can prepare extra frozen watermelon in plastic bags or food storage containers so its ready to use later. Step Three: Blend Fire up your blender and drop in the coconut water and peeled ginger. Blend until the ginger is well chopped. Add the 2 bananas and blend. Finally, add the frozen watermelon and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve in a glass with a straw and enjoy! Serves 4. Image via Wikimedia Yogurt-Cucumber Dip Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need: 2 cups of Greek yogurt, 2 large cucumbers (or 4 small Persian cucumbers), 1 small clove garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill. Step Two: Grate and dice If you’re using regular large grocery-store cucumbers, you’ll need to peel the thick, bitter skin off first. If you’re using thin-skinned Persian cucumbers, you can simply wash them and chop off the ends. Using a box grater, grate all of your cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumbers gently and drain off any excess water and juice. Finely dice the small clove of garlic. Step Three: Mix dip In a bowl, mix the two cups of Greek yogurt with the grated cucumber, diced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, and chopped dill. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and some ground black pepper and taste, adding more if desired. Let the dip sit in a covered dish in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or freshly warmed baguette or pita bread.

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How Opera used 1,000 old floppy disks and other e-waste in their new Poland headquarters

August 24, 2016 by  
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Opera’s new headquarters are located in two prestigious townhouses in the heart of Wroclaw. The buildings-one built in the 19th century and the other dating back to 1913-are part of the city’s rich architectural heritage. The architects combined this historic narrative with the atmosphere of modern-day Wroclaw to create a design that references several city landmarks, but feels contemporary. Related: mode:lina architekci design a playful new restaurant for LIDL Poland The construction of Market Hall, Central Railway Station hall and Szczytnicki’s Park are referenced in the kitchenette , while the design of the meeting rooms is associated with IT and computers. The latter space features an integrated circuit, fans and decor made out of nearly 1,000 old floppy disks and over 200 keyboards. + mode:lina architekci Photos by Marcin Ratajczak , Maciej D?browski

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