Trump signs directive to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

December 12, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s administration has made overtures about sending American astronauts back to the Moon . Yesterday, he signed Space Policy Directive 1, calling for a United States-led program with private sector partners to do just that, and then send humans to Mars . Harrison Schmitt, the most recent living human to walk on Earth’s satellite, was present at the signing, which happened 45 years to the minute after he landed on the Moon. Space Policy Directive 1 says the NASA administrator should “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” The policy halts NASA’s current work to send astronauts to an asteroid . Related: Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon Trump said, “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972…This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints – we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.” In their statement on the directive, the White House said Trump is refocusing the space program on feasible goals. They also said the country isn’t the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but “should be a leader in space.” The White House aims to send astronauts to space aboard American-made rockets in upcoming years, and said American companies will provide rockets and engines to the Pentagon for national security payloads. The policy was inspired by a unanimous recommendation from the National Space Council , which the White House says Trump revived after 24 years. Vice President Mike Pence chairs the council. Via NASA and The White House Images via NASA/Aubrey Gemignani and NASA HQ PHOTO on Flickr

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Trump signs directive to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

December 12, 2017 by  
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Conservationist Paul Nicklen recorded this devastating video of a polar bear struggling to survive in a warming Arctic. With now-viral footage, which Nicklen describes as so wrenching that “it rips your heart out of your chest,” Nicklen hopes to motivate action to save the bears and their polar climate. If that fails, he hopes to at least document this tragic ecological period. “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” said Nicklen in an interview with National Geographic . “This is what a starving bear looks like.” Polar bears require solid sea ice to hunt its most essential prey, seals . If there is no sea ice, the bears have nothing to stand upon as they hunt for the mostly aquatic mammals. Polar bears are adapted for a food-free season of 3 to 4 months, the period during which the sea ice has historically melted in the Arctic. However, as climate change has extended the ice-free period in the Arctic , polar bears have suffered. Although the bears are not currently considered an endangered species, they are threatened and may slip into endangered status if their population continues to decline. Related: “You had to live it to believe it” – hundreds of polar bears rush to feast on one whale carcass Commentators on Nicklen’s video have questioned why he did not step in to help the starving bear, who spends much of the video desperately searching for something to eat. “Of course, that crossed my mind,” said Nicklen, according to the New York Times . “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” Feeding wildlife is also illegal in Canada, where the footage was taken. To effectively save the polar bears, rapid action must be taken to address climate change by shifting to a clean energy economy. Still, even as polar bears suffer an existential threat from melting sea ice, life seems to be finding a way; there are reports of polar-grizzly bear hybrids that have emerged as the two species increasingly share territory. Via New York Times and National Geographic Images via SeaLegacy

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Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites

August 25, 2017 by  
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The Donald Trump administration seems to be plugging its ears against the mention of any health risks of residing near coal mines. His Department of the Interior (DOI) recently shut down a study on potential health impacts for such people in Central Appalachia, reportedly citing a changing budget. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign representative Bill Price told The Washington Post, “It’s infuriating that Trump would halt this study…that people in Appalachia have been demanding for years.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were conducting a study on health risks for people living near surface coal mining sites when they were told to stop by the DOI as the agency reviewed projects needing more than $100,000. The National Academies was still allowed to hold scheduled meetings in Kentucky earlier this week. But they’ve been told to cease all other work on the project. Related: Montana judge stops massive coal mine expansion, citing climate impact Central Appalachia coal mining sometimes employs mountaintop removal , a practice scientists say is particularly destructive . Price told The Washington Post, “Everyone knows there are major health risks living near mountaintop removal coal mining sites, but communities living with daily health threats were counting on finally getting the full story from the professionals at the National Academies of Science.” The National Mining Association seemed to stand behind the Trump administration’s move, pointing to an analysis from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences examining multiple reports which said the studies usually didn’t account for lifestyle and extraneous health effects. The association also pointed to a United States Energy Information Administration analysis saying mountaintop mining only comprises under one percent of coal production and a study of health impacts may be unnecessary. The National Academies said they believe the study is important and they stand ready to continue the work, hoping they’ll be allowed to continue. But they don’t know the end date of the DOI’s review. Via The Washington Post Lead image via Pixabay , others via iLoveMountains.org on Flickr and Pixabay

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Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites

US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump

June 2, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, as he withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement on Thursday. Pittsburgh, however, isn’t sticking with him – at least not on climate change. The mayor of that city, along with 29 other mayors, three state governors, over 80 university presidents, and over 100 businesses have banded together to commit to the Paris Accord without the president. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s helping lead the effort, said in an interview, “We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed.” Trump’s move to yank America out of the Paris Agreement was criticized by many as abdicating American leadership on the global stage in the face of the climate change crisis. But this group of states, cities, businesses, and universities won’t leave the world to battle the crisis alone. The unnamed group is working with the United Nations to see if their submission can be added to the Paris deal. Related: BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement Other mayors include those of Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City. Mars and Hewlett-Packard are among the businesses involved. And presidents or chancellors of universities like Wesleyan and Emory are getting on board as well. Bloomberg said businesses, states, and cities could reach the Obama administration’s Paris goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent down from 2005 levels by 2025. California Governor Jerry Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formed the United States Climate Alliance immediately in the wake of Trump’s announcement, and called for other states to join in. In a statement, Brown said he doesn’t believe “fighting reality is a good strategy” and that states will step up if the president won’t lead. Even former President Barack Obama broke the silence traditionally maintained by former presidents to help ease the country’s transition into new leadership. He released a statement published by The Washington Post , saying, “…even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” Via The New York Times Images via Fibonacci Blue on Flickr , The Climate Mayors on Twitter , and Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump

Muppet set designer’s Tower House is a psychedelic escape made from repurposed materials

June 2, 2017 by  
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This one-of-a-kind house near Woodstock has a history that is as unique as it is. John Kahn, the home’s creator, was friends with the late Muppet mogul Jim Henson and designed sets for the show. The secretary for the Grateful Dead also lived in the home for several years. Kahn built the Tower House over 15 years using re-purposed and locally available materials . If you want to experience the psychedelic home for yourself, you can nab the 3,518 square-foot building  for a cool $1.2 million. The Tower House sits on a wooded 5.5-acre estate located near Woodstock. In 2007, Kahn sold the house to its current owner, former secretary to the Greatful Dead, who was married to Owsley Stanley, a known 1960s music producer and sound engineer. John Kahn used repurposed materials including slate, copper, aircraft-grade aluminium and redwood, as well as local wood and bluestone to build this cylindrical structure that includes a guest house, a sauna, a large studio building and three storage buildings. Related: Small town restaurateurs transform former church into a stunning cafe The three-bedroom home looks different from practically every angle and resembles a set from a TV show. Each room in the house has a different visual theme, with artwork scattered all over the place. The eclectic use of materials was inspired by the Catskills wilderness, dotted with the artist’s sculptures . Via 6sqft Photos via Keller Williams Realty

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Muppet set designer’s Tower House is a psychedelic escape made from repurposed materials

These amazing terrarium lamps grow plants in even the darkest rooms

June 2, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever longed to have a lush garden inside your home, your wish is granted – thanks to these beautiful LED-lit Globe Terrariums . The hanging glass orbs, created by designer Richard Clarkson , are hand blown and come with an integrated LED light that lets the plants survive even in darker rooms. An integrated dimmer lets you create a green garden or a dark mystical rainforest inside your home. The suspended globes come in two sizes: 12″ and 8″ diameters, and look great as individual pieces or grouped together. The globe’s power cord is hidden inside a slim stainless steel cable that lets the globe “float” in the air from any height. Of course, for those with no interest in gardening, the globes can be also used as a stand-alone light source or a unique LED art display . Related: How to Make an Edible Terrarium Snow Globe Various greenery can be planted in the globes, including ferns, cacti, moss, succulents, and even aquatic fauna. Like most terrariums, creating a layered system is recommended for optimal planting. A few handfuls of small stones or gravel at the bottom of the globe will help with drainage and adding charcoal will assist with water filtration. Top that bottom filtration layer with soil suited to your plants of choice and you’re ready to go. The dimmable LED bulbs provide optimal control for the plant life inside the globe. As an adaptable light source, it can be adjusted at any time to meet the specific requirements of the greenery. + Richard Clarkson

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These amazing terrarium lamps grow plants in even the darkest rooms

Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding

May 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is still trying to take a swing at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The White House’s most recent budget proposal, released yesterday, would cut money for environmental cleanup, clean air , and water programs. And thousands of people could lose their jobs as the number of full-time employees drops from 15,416 to 11,611 . The recent Trump budget proposal lowers EPA funding to $5.65 billion. If that still sounds like a hefty sum, consider what the EPA won’t be able to do with this slashed budget: restore areas like the Great Lakes and Puget Sound and run a lead risk-reduction program. They also won’t have as much money for climate change research, environmental justice efforts, or radon detection programs. The White House proposal also just about halves categorical grants which help states and local areas address water and air quality. Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stood behind Trump’s drastic cuts; the agency put out a statement praising the returned “focus to core statutory mission,” which we guess means dirty air and polluted water for all. Pruitt even decided to say Trump’s “budget respects the American taxpayer.” This praise comes even though the proposed budget would reduce funding for Pruitt’s Superfund cleanup program – which he’s listed as a priority – by almost one third. Toxic accidents or industrial activity have polluted these Superfund sites, many of which, according to The Guardian , are close to low-income or minority communities. National Association of Clean Air Agencies executive director S. William Becker said he was astounded the administration didn’t change much from their initial March budget proposal, even after bipartisan opposition from Congress. Lawmakers recently reached a deal for government funding through September that cuts the EPA’s budget by around one percent. In a statement on the recent proposal, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said, “This isn’t a budget – it’s a road map for the President, EPA Administrator Pruitt, and polluters to see that millions of Americans drink dirtier water, breathe more polluted air, and don’t have enough nutritious food to lead healthy lives.” Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency on Flickr

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Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

May 16, 2017 by  
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If President Donald Trump is waging a war on local farmworkers in California , he’s winning. His Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened up the use of a pesticide called chlorpyrifos to agriculture in March, and then this month when at least 50 laborers were exposed to the pesticide Vulcan, of which chlorpyrifos is an active ingredient, some of them vomited or fainted; one person had to go to the hospital. Chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned under Barack Obama’s administration. But at the end of March , EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt denied a petition that called for the ban. Then in Bakersfield, California a Sun Pacific farm sprayed Vulcan on their mandarin trees, and it drifted over to Dan Andrews Farms where workers harvesting cabbage began to feel sick. Grist said Kern County officials have not yet determined if chlorpyrifos was indeed present in the Vulcan sprayed, but both Grist and Kern Golden Empire described chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient in Vulcan. EPA documents from February 2017 also listed chlorpyrifos as the active ingredient in Vulcan. Related: Trump’s EPA chief lifts ban on pesticide that poisons children 12 workers reported symptoms of nausea or vomiting. One person fainted and another went to the hospital. Kern Golden Empire reported 12 other laborers didn’t show systems, but that over half the workers had left before medical aid could arrive. Officials described Vulcan as highly toxic, and the Kern County Fire Department and Kern Country Environmental Health and Hazmat came to do a mass contamination of the area. Kern County Public Health Public Relations Officer Michelle Corson called for anyone exposed to seek out medical attention right away. So why, exactly, was chlorpyrifos not banned? Touting a return to sound science, Pruitt apparently didn’t think there was enough evidence to ban the pesticide, even though, according to Grist, multiple studies link exposure to the harmful chemical with lowered IQ in kids and neurological defects. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Pest Management Policy director Sheryl Kunickis welcomed Pruitt’s decision. She said it was good news for consumers, meaning they’d have access to fruits and vegetables. Guess she forgot to mention chlorpyrifos could also send people to the hospital. Via Grist and Kern Golden Empire Images via Wikimedia Commons and Austin Valley on Flickr

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Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

May 16, 2017 by  
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Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke has profited from offshore drilling . But now the businessman, who started as a fisherman, wants to give back with a colossal yacht for marine research . The vessel will be able to scoop up around five tons of plastic every day, and then melt it down – all in yet another private effort to help clean up the ocean . Røkke, who’s worth around $2.6 billion , owns almost 67 percent of shipping and offshore drilling conglomerate Aker ASA . But now he’s contracted a 595-foot Research Expedition Vessel (REV) to be built by VARD and designed by superyacht designer Espen Oeino . Scientists and marine researchers will be invited aboard to study and innovate around issues like climate change , overfishing, plastic pollution, and extraction, according to owner Rosellinis Four-10 , a subsidiary of the Røkke family company TRG. Related: The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic Rosellinis Four-10 will collaborate with none other than World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Norway , who will manage the ship. Aboard, scientists will have access to laboratory space, sea and air drones, an auditorium, two helipads, and an autonomous underwater vehicle. 60 scientists and 40 crew could travel aboard the immense ship. According to Yacht Harbour, the REV will be largest yacht in the world – it will narrowly beat out the 592-foot Azzam yacht rumored to be owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. You may be wondering about the carbon footprint of such a massive ship. According to VARD , environmental performance was important in the vessel’s design. The REV will be equipped with an “energy recovery rudder system, medium speed engines, a direct drive diesel-electric propulsion system with battery package, and an exhaust cleaning system.” An energy management system will also help the crew lessen the REV’s carbon footprint. Røkke told Oslo’s Aftenposen publication, “I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of it…sea covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and much is not researched.” He’s given WWF Norway total independence over the REV’s mission. WWF Norway Secretary General Nina Jensen told Aftenposten they may disagree over oil, and the organization is willing to challenge Røkke when they disagree, “but in this project we will meet to collectively make a big difference in the environmental struggle.” The REV should be ready to go around 2020. + Rosellinis Four-10 Via Time Money and Yacht Harbour Images via VARD

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Norwegian billionaire funds world’s largest yacht to scoop up plastic

17 states challenge Trump’s climate policy in court

April 6, 2017 by  
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17 American states are pushing back after President Donald Trump ‘s executive order targeting the environment last week. The New York -led coalition is legally challenging the Trump administration after the president’s attempts to undo Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan . They say it’s the administration’s legal duty to regulate climate change -causing emissions . Trump’s executive order called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend, rescind, or revise the Clean Power Plan, a law that would have required states to cut carbon dioxide emissions at power plants but which was challenged by 26 states led by Republicans. After the recent executive order, the EPA asked the United States court of appeals for the District of Columbia to delay proceedings over the law to give them time to review it. The 17 states say this move could delay litigation for years – time we need to spend acting on climate change. They asked the court to toss out the EPA’s request. Related: 75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement: “The law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants. In order to repeal Obama-era protections, the Trump administration must replace those protections, as well – and we know how well repeal-and-replace went the first time around. My office will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan and aggressively oppose any effort to stand down from our shared responsibility to protect our environment and our climate.” The 17 states – New York, California, Connecticut, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oregon, Iowa, New Mexico, Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington – were also joined by seven localities: the District of Columbia; New York City; Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; South Miami, Florida; Broward County, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to New York’s press release, the Clean Power Plan could eliminate as much pollution as more than 160 million cars – 70 percent of America’s passenger cars – yearly could emit. Via The Guardian Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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17 states challenge Trump’s climate policy in court

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