Energy-efficient light bulb production could take a major hit

March 28, 2019 by  
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The production of energy-efficient light bulbs could be hurt by a new proposal. The Trump administration is looking to get rid of Obama-era laws that encouraged companies to make energy-efficient bulbs. If the regulations are rolled back, experts warn that less-efficient bulbs will increase energy bills and lead to additional pollution. The bulbs in question were not originally included in President George W. Bush’s 2007 law, which pushed for more LED bulbs . These products include decorative globes, often put on display in bathrooms, three-way bulbs and candle-shaped light sources. In total, these products make up around 2.7 billion bulbs on the market today. Related: This high-tech LED lighting could grow veggies in space The Obama administration attempted to place these specialty items under the 2007 regulations. But companies objected to the move and sued the government. According to  NPR , President Trump hopes to reverse the Energy Department’s position on the matter by not requiring specialty companies to follow the same energy standards as other bulbs. Experts, like Alliance to Save Energy’s Jason Hartke, believe the move does not make sense. Not only do these energy wasting bulbs drive up utility costs, but they are also terrible for the environment. In order to produce these specialty items, companies will have to waste enormous amounts of coal-powered energy for products that are inferior. “I just don’t understand the rationale behind trying to turn back the clock,” Hartke shared. “There aren’t many people out there clamoring for outdated light bulbs that use four or five times as much energy.” At the end of the day, the issue will likely end up in court, where a panel of judges will decide if rolling back energy policies is legal. Opponents of the move argue that the Department of Energy cannot reverse policies when it comes to energy standards. While the government and environmentalists battle it out in court, people within the lighting industry claim that they have no interest in producing bulbs that are not energy-efficient. The industry knows that efficient light bulbs are the future and that consumers want products that are both good for the environment and their pocketbook. + Department of Energy Via NPR Image via Geoffrey A. Landis and Kotivalo

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Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

March 25, 2019 by  
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Close to 300 climbers and explorers have died trying to summit Mount Everest, and the bodies of those that remain on the mountain are starting to become exposed because of  melting glaciers . Around two-thirds of the people who have passed on the mountain are believed to be encased in the ice and snow. Authorities are starting to remove the exposed bodies on the Chinese side of the mountain range, and efforts are picking up as spring arrives. To date, more than 4,800 mountaineers have summited Mount Everest , and more are expected to attempt the feat this year. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting, and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, who used to be the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, explained. It is unclear how many deceased individuals have been removed from the mountain so far, but government officials said that the number of exposed bodies has steadily increased over the years. According to the BBC , one of the challenges with removing these bodies is that government officials are required to be involved in the process. This has made it difficult to remove some bodies from higher elevations. Recent studies have shown that Mount Everest’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, leading to flooding in local lakes and rivers. Scientists attribute the melting glaciers to global warming , and the issue is affecting the entire mountain range. Seeing a few bodies emerge every now and then is completely normal on the mountain, and most climbers are prepared for the situation. A few bodies are even used as landmarks. Still, it costs anywhere between 40 and 80 thousand dollars to remove a body, especially at higher elevations. Officials also have to consider personal issues when they uncover a body as well as how to get in contact with family members of the deceased. While melting glaciers are the main cause of the exposed bodies, movement in the glaciers is also a factor in the number of bodies that become uncovered each climbing season. Via BBC Image via Guillaume Baviere

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Mount Everest’s melting glaciers expose the bodies of long-lost climbers

Crucial animal protection laws for the sage grouse being eliminated by the White House

March 19, 2019 by  
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The White House is eliminating crucial animal protection laws for the sage grouse. The protections, originally put in place by President Barack Obama , are being rolled back to open millions of acres of land for gas and oil development. Conservationists warn the move could land the sage grouse back on the endangered species list. The Donald Trump administration’s new plan targets 8.7 million acres of Sagebrush Focal Areas, an important habitat for the sage grouse and hundreds of other wildlife. Since 2015, oil and gas companies have been unable to set up shop in these areas, which has boosted grouse populations. Related: Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list Steve Holmer, vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, revealed that stripping away these protections has already cut down grouse populations in the Dakotas and Washington State. “These changes will put the grouse back on a path toward needing an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing,” ABC President, Mike Parr, shared. “That’s exactly the outcome that the 2015 cooperative plans had sought to prevent.” Trump first proposed the plan back in December with the goal of opening the door for more gas and oil development on public land. Trump is justifying his new initiative by calling for a new age of “ energy dominance” in America, and his Interior Department head, David Bernhardt, is helping make it happen. Bernhardt is also looking to revise the Endangered Species Act, which was put in place back in 1973. Bernhard, who used to be an oil lobbyist, wants regulators to consider the economic effects of placing wildlife on the endangered list. This would ultimately make it easier to justify developing in endangered habitats that were previously off limits. With Trump’s new plan threatening sage grouse populations across the country, conservationists are doing their best to protect the beloved bird. This includes studying population numbers and learning how gas and oil development affects those statistics moving forward. Conservationists are also looking to put the sage grouse on the endangered species list, something that has not been possible because of the previous animal protection laws. Via New York Times Image via Shutterstock

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Episode 162: More voices from GreenBiz 19, parsing Lyft’s environmental ambitions

March 8, 2019 by  
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Among those featured: Beautycounter CEO Gregg Renfrew and Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp.

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Episode 162: More voices from GreenBiz 19, parsing Lyft’s environmental ambitions

Botswana considers lifting elephant hunting ban due to overpopulation

February 25, 2019 by  
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Botswana is contemplating removing an elephant hunting ban that has successfully boosted populations over the past four years. The country has seen the number of elephants increase over the years and officials believe culling is needed to prevent conflicts between the mammals and people. Experts believe there are around 130,000 elephants in Botswana, a number that has steadily grown since the country adopted a hunting ban in 2014. Although Botswana’s tourism sector has benefited greatly from the population boost, President Mokgweetsi Masisi advised ministers to re-evaluate the ban in light of overpopulation. Related: Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants Officials in Botswana deliberated for months and consulted with residents and companies about the elephant hunting ban before releasing any data. The research indicated that people and organizations are in favor of lifting the hunting ban and keeping elephant populations within their traditional range. The ministers also recommended limited culling efforts in the event that the ban is lifted. “I can promise you and the nation that we will consider it. A white paper will follow, and it will be shared with the public,” President Masisi stated. Masisi added that they plan on consulting with parliament before they remove the ban and allow hunting of elephants . The president is also open to keeping the ban in place if parliamentary leaders believe it should be upheld. Proponents of lifting the ban claim that the rise in elephant populations in Botswana has led to an increase in conflict between the large mammals and humans. Farmers have also complained that elephants have been ruining crops. In some cases, the interactions between elephants and humans has turned violent, even leading to deaths. Environmentalists, on the other hand, disapprove of lifting the ban and say that better conservation efforts are needed to protect these animals . Experts also believe that Botswana’s tourism sector could take a major hit if the country starts hunting elephants again. Following its productive diamond mining, tourism is the country’s next highest source of outside income. It is unclear when officials in Botswana will initiate a plan to remove the elephant hunting ban and what the culling process will entail. Via BBC Image via designerpoint

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This artist created a stunning art installation made from 168,000 plastic straws to encourage people to use less

February 25, 2019 by  
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The world produces 260 million tons of plastic every year, and 10 percent of it ends up in our oceans either degrading at a painfully slow rate or not degrading at all. Artist Benjamin Von Wong wants to send a message: The smallest action can make the biggest impact. Even something as simple as saying “no thanks” to a plastic straw. The numbers are constantly rising and soon the earth won’t be able to take it anymore. Among these troublesome pollutants is the humble plastic straw. Durable, too small to recycle and usually only used once, straws make up a huge portion of unnecessary plastic waste. Related: Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution Thankfully this epidemic is beginning to gain attention. With the help of volunteers, Starbucks Vietnam and Zero Waste Saigon, Von Wong spent six months gathering used plastic straws to turn into “The Parting of the Plastic Sea .” The art installation, also known as “strawpocalypse,” took over two weeks to create. To represent different parts of the wave, the straws were divided by color and connected together and formed into the flowing base, the white froth and the yellow sand. Volunteers spent hours arranging the straws to mimic paint brush strokes. Plastic bags were used to support the straws onto the structure and to act as a diffuser for the LED lighting . “The plastic problem is either out of sight, out of mind– or so omnipresent that it becomes invisible,” says Von Wong. “I wanted to use art to tackle both angles – by creating something beautiful and unique out of an environmental tragedy.” “Strawpocalypse” was truly a team effort. Along with the volunteers, Von Wong had the help of Nick Moser, a technical builder in SF, Stefan Suknjaja, an escape room designer in Serbia and Fosha Zyang, a local set designer . When it came to arranging the straws everything came together organically . Since it was difficult to predict exactly how the structure would look once finished, it was exciting for everyone when the piece finally began to come together. The piece currently resides inside the atrium at Estella Place in Ho Chi Minh City, giving viewers a chance to see “strawpocalypse” from a 360-degree angle. They also built a plastic background with a “sun” effect with LED light panels and galvanized wire to prevent distraction. The art installation is fitting, “something so large that if anybody walked by, they couldn’t help but ignore,” according to the artist. So next time you think to yourself “it’s only one straw,” just remember that eight billion other people are saying the same thing. “Strawpocalypse” will be looking for a new home starting in late March 2019, those interested can visit thestrawpocalypse.com + Von Wong Images via Von Wong

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This artist created a stunning art installation made from 168,000 plastic straws to encourage people to use less

The world is close to annihilation according to the iconic Doomsday Clock

January 31, 2019 by  
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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has announced that the iconic Doomsday Clock is remaining at two minutes to midnight because of the dangers of climate change and the lack of progress on nuclear risks. Midnight on Doomsday is a symbolic point of annihilation and has reached the familiar point it was once in at the peak of the Cold War in 1953. The Science and Security Board made the decision to keep the clock in its current standing with the Board of Sponsors — which includes 14 Nobel Laureates — and have dubbed the situation as “the new abnormal.” In addition to climate change and nuclear risks, another factor in the decision was “the increased use of information warfare.” “It is still two minutes to midnight. Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats — nuclear weapons and climate change  — were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger,” read the 2019 Doomsday Clock statement. The statement went on to say that this “new abnormal” is unsustainable and extremely dangerous, but nonetheless, the power to improve the severity of the situation remains in the hands of world leaders. The clock can move away from catastrophe if leaders act under pressure from engaged citizens. Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need? Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , says that they are describing a frightening reality and the clock is the closest it has ever been to an apocalypse and should be recognized as a stark warning by all leaders and citizens of the world. The 2019 Doomsday Clock statement emphasized #RewindtheDoomsdayClock and recommended multiple action steps be taken. They included U.S. and Russian leaders resolving their differences over the INF treaty, adopting measures to prevent peacetime military incidents on the NATO borders and American citizens demanding climate action from their government . Other recommendations were for countries around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement and for the Trump administration to revisit their decision to exit the plan for limiting Iran’s nuclear program. Via Bulletin.org Image via Shutterstock

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The world is close to annihilation according to the iconic Doomsday Clock

5 ways to throw a zero-waste Super Bowl party

January 31, 2019 by  
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Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest party days of the year. For many people, that means a house full of friends and family as well as pizza boxes, chip bags, beer cans and football decorations. However, it is possible to have an epic Super Bowl party without a ton of waste . It just takes a little bit of planning to go green, and the planet will thank you for your zero-waste celebration. Tell your guests There is no need to keep your guests in the dark about your goal of having a zero-waste Super Bowl party. When you send out your e-vites, make it clear you are going green, and encourage guests to do their part by carpooling and bringing their own cups and reusable containers for leftovers. Related: How to start the journey to zero-waste living You can also ask some of your guests to bring a dish they made at home. You might be surprised how many people are willing to do their part. DIY decor Instead of using plastic decorations, you can make your own with fabric. At your local craft store, you should be able to find fabric in team colors, and you might be able to find some with team logos. Use the fabric to make table cloths, napkins and banners. When the game is over, you can use the DIY decorations as cleaning cloths. Also, you can light up the room with strings of LED lights that you can easily find in team colors. If you are really crafty, you can make decorations with newspaper clippings about the game. Carefully plan the menu The food is the biggest source of waste at a Super Bowl party, so if you are going green, this is the part that takes major planning. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days of the year for pizza delivery and beer drinking, and both of those things can produce a ton of trash. So ditch the pizza delivery and beer cans, and instead, make your own pizzas and finger foods and order a keg. Related: 6 tasty vegetarian Super Bowl snacks that will fool carnivores Homemade pizza and finger foods (sliders, chips and dip, deli meats and cheeses, chicken wings, cookies, brownies) will remove the need for plastic utensils. Buying your ingredients at local farmer’s markets will also reduce your environmental footprint. A keg will remove the mountain of beer cans and bottles in your trash can. Just remember to use glassware or mason jars instead of plastic cups, or have your guests bring their own. If you have guests that aren’t beer drinkers, you could opt for a root beer keg or large containers of non-alcoholic drinks that you can find at big box stores like Costco. If you can’t imagine a Super Bowl party without pizza delivery, you need to compost those greasy cardboard boxes instead of throwing them in the trash or recycling . When it comes to the dishes, ditch the disposable plates and instead opt for reusable, stainless steel camping trays or recyclable dishes. Or use your real, everyday dishes. Serve your food in large, reusable containers so you can easily store leftovers and make clean up a lot easier. Another fun idea for the party is to provide reusable glass straws in team colors. Label trash, recycling and compost areas Use different containers for your trash, compostables  and recyclables and clearly label them, so your guests know exactly where everything goes. A large pot is a great option to collect food waste, reusable dishes can go in the sink, paper goes into the compost or recycling piles and any cloth materials will need to be laundered. Enjoy yourself Throwing a zero-waste Super Bowl party is a great goal, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is possible that some of your guests aren’t familiar with the concept of zero-waste, so be patient and answer their questions. Explaining what you are trying to do is a great way to spread the message. You are planting a seed among your friends and family. Even if your Super Bowl party isn’t completely free of waste, reducing the waste is a great first step. Related: The Super Bowl of DIY beer Last year, the Super Bowl itself aimed for a zero-waste event called Rush2Recycle . Even though it wasn’t perfect, it was a gigantic step in the right direction. The program successfully recovered 91 percent of the trash, with 63 tons of game day waste being recycled or donated for reuse and composting. Relax and have fun. Don’t worry about perfection. Taking these steps toward reducing your Super Bowl party waste is reason enough to celebrate and have a good time. Via ECOlunchbox Images via Manuel Hoster and Shutterstock

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Pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 91 and counting

January 23, 2019 by  
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Last week, a gasoline pipeline exploded in central Mexico , killing 91 people, with numbers expected to surpass 100. Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Pemex, did not respond properly to the initial leak, which resulted in backlash from citizens towards the newly appointed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The leak is believed to have been caused by thieves attempting to steal fuel after President Lopez Obrador mandated all pipelines close in an effort to crackdown on criminal activity in late December. According to Reuters, Pemex held a press conference on Monday where an engineer stated the leak began as a “small puddle” in the Tlahuelilpan district of Hidalgo, and later resulted in a “fountain” of fuel. The engineer added that the company was able to “take actions.” What those actions were exactly isn’t clear, and the company didn’t say when they shut off the flow of fuel . Hundreds of local residents rushed to the punctured pipeline to collect fuel and were caught in the explosion. Related: Virgin Atlantic plane takes flight with fuel from recycled waste Pemex Chief Executive Octavio Romero defended the company’s actions and said that they followed protocol, but would not admit to any negligence or corruption. “Everything will be looked at,” said Romero. However, Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said there is a current  investigation underway into possible negligence and will call in all of the officials involved to answer questions this week. Additionally, a nearby pipeline a few miles southwest of Tlahuelilpan was also breached on Monday by suspected thieves, according to Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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Pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 91 and counting

Green-roofed home is built of waste bricks and wood in Poland

January 23, 2019 by  
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Environmentally friendly with a beautifully textured facade, this brick house built of recycled materials in Poland has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019. Polish architecture firm Biuro Toprojekt designed the dwelling — fittingly named the Red House — that pays homage to the Cistercian landscape and history of Rudy Wielkie, a region in the Upper Silesia known for its brick architecture, with its walls built from hand-sorted waste bricks sourced from nearby brickworks. Environmentally friendly principles guided the design of the Red House, which was built mainly from locally accessible timber and bricks. The spacious, 364-square-meter building was constructed on a clearing at the edge of the forest. Views of the forest are embraced through full-height glazing that pull the outdoors in. A green roof was also installed and will blend the building into the landscape as the roof grows increasingly lush and the brick walls develop a patina. Unlike traditional brick construction, Red House adopts a more textural approach to its brick walls inspired by chiaroscuro, an art term describing the contrast between light and dark. The architects explained how they achieved this effect: “A variation of cross-linking was used, in which two bricks next to each other with heads on top of each other are pushed out on one side and pressed on the other side in relation to the face of the wall. This simple treatment significantly enriched the work of chiaroscuro on the façade. By completely removing the same pair of bricks , an openwork wall was created, concealing the window openings that could break the clean structure of the façade.” Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade Roughly square in plan, the Red House is accessed through an outdoor brick courtyard that takes up approximately a quarter of the home’s footprint. The entry foyer opens up to a stairway leading up to a small upper floor as well as the L-shaped, open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen. The master bedroom is located to the south of the living areas. A large outdoor patio on the west side of the house connects seamlessly to the living spaces and the master bedroom through sliding glass doors. + Biuro Toprojekt Photography by Juliusz Soko?owski via Biuro Toprojekt

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