Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

December 5, 2017 by  
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Patagonia won’t let President Donald Trump shrink Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments without a fight. After the president announced yesterday he aims to slash the monuments by around by two million acres, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said they’ll continue the fight to protect the land in court. Today, the company’s home page – instead of featuring photographs of adventurers exploring nature – is black, bearing the stark statement “The President stole your land.” Patagonia calls Trump’s move illegal, and says his decision marks “the largest elimination of protected land in American history.” Trump aims to reduce Bears Ears from 1.35 million acres to a mere 220,000 acres, and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante, which is nearly two million acres, in half. The area, which includes sacred Native American lands and archaeological sites, could be opened up to energy exploration and coal mining . Related: President Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 2 million acres Patagonia points to overwhelming public support for public lands – there were more than 2.7 million public comments during the Department of the Interior’s 60-day period – and over 98 percent supported maintaining or even expanding national monuments. The company also says it’s a myth that America needs to open more public lands for oil and gas development. They quoted a 2017 statistic from The Wilderness Society: “90 percent of U.S. public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation , and wildlife.” Meanwhile, the company pointed out the value of the outdoor recreation industry. According to Patagonia, relying on information from the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association Economic Report, the industry contributes 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in consumer spending every year, “far outpacing the jobs and spending generated by the oil and gas industry.” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard told CNN , “I’m going to sue him. It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. I think it’s a shame that only four percent of American lands are national parks . Costa Rica’s got 10 percent…We need more, not less. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.” Patagonia has a take action page on their website allowing users to tweet to the administration telling them they can’t take these lands away. They also listed 15 organizations fighting for public lands that you can support. + Patagonia Images via Patagonia , Depositphotos , and IIP Photo Archive on Flickr

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Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

December 1, 2017 by  
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The Trump Administration has signaled its intention to take a significantly tougher approach to trade with China, where most of the world’s solar panels are produced. This stance follows President Trump’s campaign promise to protect American jobs from being outsourced to another country. Due to increasing international competition in the solar industry, at least a dozen solar companies have closed factories in the United States . In response to Chinese domination of the global solar market, the United States had already raised tariffs on solar panels produced in China during the Obama Administration , prompting Chinese solar companies to relocate production to nearby Southeast Asian countries. Now, the Trump Administration may authorize tariffs on all solar panel imports into the United States, potentially raising costs to American consumers of solar power. China’s solar industry has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past decade. Though its contribution to the global solar industry was once relatively insignificant, China now produces more than two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. This economy of scale has enabled the global prices for solar panels to drop by ninety percent, positively contributing to the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The current conflict in which the Trump Administration seeks to escalate pits American consumers and solar installation companies, which have benefited from cheaper solar panels, and American solar panel producers, which seek to even the playing field with China’s solar industry. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 American manufacturers contend that Chinese solar panel production benefits unfairly from state subsidies and low-cost loans backed by government-run banks. These manufacturers “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of Phoenix-based First Solar, according to the New York Times . Interfering on behalf of American solar panel manufacturers is not without its risks. If the Trump Administration successfully implements a more expansive tariff system, which could happen as soon as January 2018, it raises the likelihood of retaliation from China and the potential for a broader trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Via the New York Times Images via The White House and Depositphotos

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Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

December 1, 2017 by  
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If you thought Microsoft’s awesome treehouse offices were the ultimate step in the tech giant’s efforts to make its employees a top priority, think again. The tech giant just announced that it will be razing its 500-acre Redmond campus in order to construct a sustainable Microsoft mini city, complete with 18 new buildings, a two-acre open plaza , retail space, jogging and walking trails, two soccer fields, a cricket field, and its own light rail station. According to the company, the expansive campus, which will be divided into “team neighborhoods”, will be focused on providing a “more open and less formal” working environment. Inside, the spaces will be filled with social hubs and light-filled offices, but the new layout will be primarily focused on providing plenty of outdoor and recreational space for the employees. Once complete, the campus will have 18 new buildings, offering workspace for the 47,000 employees that currently work on site, as well as extra room for an additional 8,000 people. The Redmond campus is already a Zero Waste Certified campus, but will be renovated with increased waste-reduction initiatives . Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air As part of the green transportation focus, all of the cars will be parked in an underground parking lot, so that above ground, the employees can travel by foot, bike or, eventually, by a light rail system scheduled for completion in 2023. As part of the green transportation focus, a new foot and bike bridge will be built over the WA-520 in order to connect both sides of its campus. This will connect with a planned Redmond Technology Transit Station where the Link Light Rail is expected to arrive in 2023. Microsoft president Brad Smith said the project will run approximately $150m, and expects the rebuild to create 2,500 construction and development jobs.”We are not only creating a world-class work environment to help retain and attract the best and brightest global talent, but also building a campus that our neighbors can enjoy, and that we can build in a fiscally smart way with low environmental impact,” explained Smith in the announcement. + Microsoft blog Via ZD Net Images via Microsoft

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Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

Trump administration quietly accepts 2016 climate deal

November 30, 2017 by  
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Will President Donald Trump respect a climate deal finalized while Barack Obama was still president? After pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement , and working to undo many of Obama’s climate regulations , the idea seems unbelievable – but it appears Trump’s administration won’t try to back out of the 2016 Kigali Amendment, under which the government would have to limit climate change -contributing refrigerants and coolants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Last year in Rwanda, delegates struck a deal to mandate countries to phase out the production and use of HFCs. The man-made chemicals “can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change,” according to the United Nations Environment Program . And it appears the Trump administration won’t bow out of the deal. Related: This could be the most important climate action in 2016 Judith Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of State, said last week in Montreal , “The United States believes the Kigali Amendment represents a pragmatic and balanced approach to phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs, and therefore we support the goals and approach of the Amendment.” She noted America was among the first countries that ratified the Montreal Protocol . But there’s no word yet on when the move could occur for this new amendment. Speaking at the 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, Garber said, “There are a number of steps in our domestic process that we would need to complete before reaching a final decision on transmittal of the Kigali Amendment to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent. There is no timeline currently determined for these steps, but we have initiated the process to consider U.S. ratification of the Amendment.” Scientific American said America has taken around two to four years to ratify amendments in the past. 20 countries have already approved the Kigali Amendment, so it’s already achieved the required threshold of support and will go into effect in January 2019. Via Scientific American Images via Depositphotos ( 1 ,

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Trump administration quietly accepts 2016 climate deal

Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

November 3, 2017 by  
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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beloved national parks , attracting over four million visitors annually — but President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to care about that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed lifting a ban on new uranium mining near the national park, as part of a broader effort, according to Reuters, to do away with regulations hindering development after a March executive order from the president. The Forest Service , which is under the USDA and manages the land that could be re-opened to uranium mining , prepared a report in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13783 titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” They proposed lifting the mining ban, put in place in 2012 to protect the watershed around the Grand Canyon. Related: Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks Uranium mining pollutes water, and impacts animals and plants as it removes water sources, according to Earthjustice . The Center for Biological Diversity reports past uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area “has polluted soils, washes, aquifers, and drinking water.” They said that according to nonpartisan polls, 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Arizona voters back permanent protection in the Grand Canyon region from new uranium mining. According to Reuters, global demand and prices for uranium are weak. The new report even says uranium mining doesn’t generate revenue for America, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement, “This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it.” Via Reuters , the Associated Press , Earthjustice , and the Center for Biological Diversity Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

California becomes first state to require pet stores to sell rescue animals

October 17, 2017 by  
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In a move which is being applauded by animal rights activists, California is officially the first state to ban puppy mills. The revised measure AB485 requires pet stores to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits from animal shelters, rescue groups or adoption centers. The goal? To ensure better treatment of animals and to secure homes for some of the 1.5 million animals which are euthanized across the United States each year. On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation which will go into effect January 1, 2019. Stores could be fined up to $500 for the sale of an animal that is not a rescue . Before the measure was signed, 36 cities — including Los Angeles and San Francisco — passed similar bans on mass breeding operations. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade Supporters of the legislation include The Humane Society  and the  American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (ASPCA). Both groups agree that the bill will ensure better treatment of animals, prevent unnecessary cruelty (which is prevalent among puppy mills) and promote more rescue adoptions. Not everyone is pleased with the development, however. Private pet store owners fear the puppy mill ban will hurt business and “limit consumer access to the most popular breeds,” reports Today . Animal rights activists argue that animal welfare is the number one priority and that the new mandate is a “win” for voiceless, defenseless pets . Supporters of California’s new law hope it will inspire other states to pass similar legislation. After all, puppy mills — from which 99 percent of pet store puppies are sourced — are notorious for being inhumane and unsanitary. As DoSomething reports, female dogs are bred at every opportunity, which exhausts them and results in premature deaths. Plus, puppies sourced from the facilities oftentimes have bleeding or swollen paws, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration , and lesions. These are but a few reasons puppy mills should be banned nationwide, and why animal lovers are celebrating California’s new law. Via Today , DoSomething Images via Pixabay

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California becomes first state to require pet stores to sell rescue animals

As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

October 17, 2017 by  
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Thawing permafrost is set to radically alter the landscape of northern parts of the United States. Roads, homes, and infrastructure built atop permafrost can crack or collapse as it melts. And whole villages may have to relocate. Vladimir Romanovsky, University of Alaska in Fairbanks geophysics professor, told the BBC “by now there are 70 villages who really have to move because of thawing permafrost.” Permafrost covers almost 90 percent of Alaska – so if the thawing keeps up, people will have to leave their homes as building foundations and infrastructure collapse. Sewer and water lines buried in permafrost can also break as the frozen soil melts. Villages that depend on lakes for water can be hit as nearby permafrost thaws and a lateral drain happens. Related: Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change Some people are already seeing impacts. Materials engineer for Northern Region of the Alaska Department of Transportation Public Facilities Jeff Currey told the BBC, “We are seeing some increased maintenance on existing roads over permafrost. One of our maintenance superintendents recently told me his folks are having to patch settling areas on the highways he’s responsible for more frequently than they were 10 or 20 years ago.” United States Geological Survey research indicates that villages, such as Kivalina in the southwest part of the state, will have to move away within the coming decade. Romanovsky said it could cost around $200 million to move a 300-person village. And permafrost holds a large amount of carbon , which stands to be released into the air. Romanovsky said, “Theoretically if this carbon is released to the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 will be three times more than what is in there [in the atmosphere ] now.” And it would be difficult to refreeze permafrost in our lifetime. Via the BBC Images via Andrea Pokrzywinski on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

Google maps the solar system for armchair space travelers

October 17, 2017 by  
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Google has recently added 12 celestial bodies to its Google Maps application. Although armchair space travelers have been able to virtually cruise around the Moon and Mars for years, the list of planets and moons to discover now includes Mercury, Venus, the dwarf planets of Ceres and Pluto, six of Saturn’s moons, and three moons of Jupiter, including Io and Europa. The additional content would not have been possible without Cassini, the recently deceased spacecraft that captured hundreds of thousands of images as it traveled the galaxy over the past two decades. To compile these digital versions of objects in our solar system, the team at Google Maps used images captured by NASA, ESA, and other space agencies and combined them to create a seamless scrollable map, if enough high quality images were available, or a general overview of the planet or moon. Through these maps, earthbound space travelers can explore the mountains , valleys, and wide open plains of planets like Mars or moons like Titan. To reach the outer space section of Google Maps, all you have to do is zoom out far enough from Earth. Related: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is almost ready to launch into outer space Many of the images used to create the Google Maps of our solar system were gathered through the Cassini-Huygens mission, commonly referred to as Cassini for the Cassini orbiter probe which traveled from Earth to Saturn. Huygens refers to the Huygens lander, which achieved the first landing ever in the outer solar system when it arrived on Saturn’s moon of Titan in 2005. In its 20-year flight,  Cassini  captured countless, invaluable photographs of the solar system and was widely recognized as a “mission of firsts” for the way in which its discoveries revolutionized the way we understand our solar system. Thanks for  Cassini, Google’s Maps are filled with breathtaking images for people to explore from wherever there is Internet access. Via New Atlas and Google Images via Google Maps

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Google maps the solar system for armchair space travelers

Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon

October 9, 2017 by  
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Humankind took steps on the moon for the first time in 1969, and now vice president Mike Pence says it’s time to go back. He penned an opinion editorial piece for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) stating “America will lead in space again,” and also spoke on the topic at the first meeting of the revived National Space Council in Virginia at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This isn’t the first time Pence has hinted at a return to the moon. He talked about the idea back in July at the Kennedy Space Center. At the National Space Council meeting, he said, “We will return NASA astronauts to the Moon – not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation, we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.” Related: Pence vows America will put ‘boots on the face of Mars’ in near future The Verge pointed out this would mark a shift for NASA , which since 2010 has concentrated on sending humans to Mars without a return to the moon. They said the goal of a presence on the moon surface is a return to President George W. Bush’s vision . Pence described the move to go back as a vital strategic goal, saying NASA should refocus on human exploration and discovery. NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement , “The National Space Council acknowledged the strategic importance of cis-lunar space – the region around the moon – which will serve as a proving ground for missions to Mars and beyond and advance our stepping stone approach to going farther into the solar system .” Pence also said according to the intelligence community, China and Russia are developing antisatellite technology, saying in his article, “We will renew America’s commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security.” The vice president did look ahead to the red planet in his WSJ article, saying, “America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars.” Via The Verge Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon

Solar SILO home uses light to feel much larger than its actual size

October 9, 2017 by  
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Daylight, fresh air, and greenery fill this self-sufficient solar home that feels much larger than its actual size. Students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology designed this net-zero dwelling, named SILO, short for ‘Smart Innovative Living Oasis.’ Inspired by farmhouse architecture, SILO blends a rustic aesthetic with cutting-edge technology to create a homey and completely automated dwelling that ensures stress-free comfort year-round. Home automation is at the heart of SILO. From the HVAC system to lighting, these engineered systems work in tandem to create a comfortable and energy-efficient living space. An energy monitoring system sends feedback to the central control system to improve efficiency and includes the ability to sell excess energy generated by the 8.5-kW rooftop solar array back to the grid. The homeowner can also control all of the home’s systems manually via smartphone or voice commands. Related: The Nest home is a solar-powered prefab made from recycled shipping containers SILO features a flexible open-floor plan that emphasizes views of the outdoors and access to natural light. The light-filled home feels much larger than its actual size thanks to a high-ceiling living area and glazing that wraps both ends of the home. A graywater system feeds into a beautiful water wall, while treated water is reused for irrigation of non-edible landscaping such as the movable green wall. A clay plaster made partly with recycled materials was used as wall paint and boasts air-purifying and humidity-regulating benefits. SILO was designed and built for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 and will return to Missouri to be part of the university’s eco-village after the competition. + Solar Decathlon Images by Mike Chino

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Solar SILO home uses light to feel much larger than its actual size

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