Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

October 2, 2017 by  
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Pedestrians and cyclists cheered yesterday as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

June 24, 2017 by  
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The following is an edited excerpt from “Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community” by Kathleen O’Brien (New Hope Press, 2016).An introduction from the author:

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Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

June 24, 2017 by  
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The following is an edited excerpt from “Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community” by Kathleen O’Brien (New Hope Press, 2016).An introduction from the author:

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Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

June 12, 2017 by  
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The science is in on climate change – it’s real and hurting Earth right now. But not all Americans are aware of the threat, according to former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. She said the country’s citizens are “under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive.” Stofan said the science on climate change is unequivocal. Nevertheless there are still deniers of the phenomenon in the United States – some holding top government positions. Stofan said disinformation and half-truths designed to confuse people have been spread about climate change, and now many people in the country are unaware of the pressing consequences of carbon emissions continuing as is. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation She said oil and coal companies have been behind the disinformation, telling The Guardian, “Fake news is so harmful because once people take on a concept it’s very hard to dislodge it.” Stofan said she saw “an erosion of people’s ability to scrutinize information” across the political spectrum, not just on the left or the right. “All of us have a responsibility. There’s this attitude of ‘I read it on the Internet therefore it must be true,” she said. Stofan said the American science community has been realizing the threat of climate change fake news during the past six months, and are working to communicate more with the public and share information with the press. During her career Stofan pointed to planetary science as important for understanding the environment here on Earth. She said planetary science has offered proof that atmospheric carbon dioxide results in a warmer climate . She finds similarities between Earth’s carbon emissions and the runaway greenhouse effect on the planet Venus . Venus once had oceans but now the volcano and lava plain-strewn planet has temperatures nearing 500 degrees Celsius – Space.com described the planet as “our solar system’s analog to hell.” Stofan told The Guardian, “We won’t go all the way to Venus, but the consequences of putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere are really dire. There are models that suggest if we burn off all our fossil fuels , the Earth would become uninhabitable for humans.” She said our first job should be to keep Earth habitable. Via The Guardian Images via Pexels and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists unveil first printable, stable perovskite solar cell good for 10K hours

June 12, 2017 by  
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The mineral perovskite has been touted as the next big thing for renewable energy , potentially giving solar cells a 31 percent maximum efficiency – but water-soluble and perovskite solar cells typically don’t last long in the real world. 11 scientists at institutions in Switzerland and Italy may have finally achieved what researchers have been working towards since around 2009: a stable perovskite solar cell. Their solar cells stayed stable in real world conditions for longer than a year. Perovskite solar cells have already been built with an efficiency of more than 22 percent, but that’s in a laboratory. Oxygen and moisture go to work on the cells once they’re outside. But this team led by scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne drew on a new type of structure in the solar cell to create one the university says is ultra-stable. Related: Austrian scientists create a cheap, flexible solar cell just 3 micrometers thick They designed a hybrid 2D/3D perovskite solar cell. According to ScienceAlert, the 2D perovskite serves as a protective window to guard against moisture, so the 3D perovskite can generate electricity . The solar cells were built up layer by layer – like a sandwich, according to ScienceAlert – by putting different ingredients atop one another. The team built 10 by 10 centimeters squared solar panels , with what the university described as a fully printable industrial-scale process. The hybrid 2D/3D perovskite solar cells are resistant to oxygen and water, while still able to transport electrical charges. They absorb light from the whole visible spectrum, according to the university. The efficiency isn’t great yet – just 11.2 percent. But the university noted that efficiency was constant for over 10,000 hours, with zero loss in performance. Project leader Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin told ScienceAlert, “The important finding in this manuscript is identifying the presence of multi-dimensional 2D/3D interface. We believe [this] will trigger many further studies…widening the prospects for perovskite photovoltaics .” The journal Nature Communications published the advance online the beginning of this month. Via ScienceAlert and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

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Scientists unveil first printable, stable perovskite solar cell good for 10K hours

Gargantuan lace sea urchins light up the night along Singapore’s marina

June 12, 2017 by  
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A swarm of gigantic, glowing sea urchins recently appeared on Singapore’s waterfront for the iLight Marina Bay Festival. Choi+Shine Architects constructed the larger-than-life creatures as “lacy rooms” that invite visitors to walk inside and enjoy their intricate structure and visual effects. The structures are inspired by sea urchin shells, which are elnclosed yet lightweight and porous. The architects recreated the intricate patterns of urchins using white double-braided polyester chord woven in 20 segments and attached to a metal frame. It took 50 people to assemble the structures by hand over a period of two months. Related: Robots helped build and sew together this amazing sea urchin-inspired pavilion Each sea urchin measures 56 feet in size and weighs around 220 pounds. The lacy pavilions are illuminated by white spot lights, creating the illusion that they glow in the dark. The calming effect and simplicity of the installation visually contrasts Singapore’s skyscrapers and celebrates the city’s cultural diversity. + Choi+Shine Architects Photos © 2016, 2017 Choi+Shine Architects

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Gargantuan lace sea urchins light up the night along Singapore’s marina

At least 60 dead in Ethiopian garbage "landslide"

March 14, 2017 by  
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At least 60 people are dead after a mountain of trash collapsed at a dump in Ethiopia on Saturday night. The “landslide” at Koshe Garbage Landfill, which lies just outside the country’s capital of Addis Ababa, claimed mostly women and children, according to officials . With dozens still reportedly still missing, the final death toll could be even higher, they added. Around 150 people were present when the landslide occurred, a resident told the Associated Press . Several makeshift houses, inhabited by some of the landfill’s permanent residents, are now submerged under tons of refuse. Many of those who live at the 50-year-old landfill are scavengers who sort through the dross for items to sell. Others are there because it’s all they can afford. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.” Tebeju Asres, who lived at the site, told AP. Koshe, which means “dirty” in the local Amharic language, has experienced smaller collapses that killed two or three people, but nothing on this scale. Related: Ethiopia announces plans to build massive 1000MW geothermal power plant About 300,000 tons of waste from the capital’s 4 million people are deposited every year at Koshe, officials say. The city has been working to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy since 2013, when it began construction on what will be Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant when completed. The Koshe waste-to-energy center, which has $120 million invested in it, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity. “In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” Diriba Kuma, mayor of Addis Ababa, told AP. Via BBC News Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia Aid

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At least 60 dead in Ethiopian garbage "landslide"

Rogue NASA Twitter account strikes back at Donald Trump

January 27, 2017 by  
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Yet another “rogue” Twitter account has cropped up in response to Donald Trump’s efforts to muzzle government agencies: this time, Rogue NASA is taking to social media to spread climate science. The new, unofficial account is one of a number of accounts purporting to be run by national park employees in their off hours. While the account makes clear in its bio that it’s not run by government employees, its mission is clear: to spread information about climate change in the event that Trump orders the agency to go silent.

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Rogue NASA Twitter account strikes back at Donald Trump

Greenpeace activists hang "Resist" banner above White House to protest Trump

January 27, 2017 by  
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This week seven Greenpeace U.S.A. members scaled a crane near the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s policies – and they unfurled a 70-by-35-foot-banner emblazoned with a single exhortation: “Resist.” The protestors had climbed the roughly 300-foot crane around 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and they came down close to 10 p.m., after which they were taken into custody. They are currently facing charges for “second-degree burglary, unlawful entry. and destruction of property,” a District of Columbia police spokeswoman told reporters on Thursday. Karen Topakian , chairwoman of the Greenpeace Inc. board and one of the climbers, said the protestors were there to “resist Trump’s attacks on environmental, social, economic, and educational justice to contribute to a better America.” Just days after taking office, the Trump administration has revived the dormant Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects , ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove climate change from its website, and suppressed communications between federal scientists and the public. Although some of these restrictions were loosened following a public backlash, many view these strikes as symptomatic of Trump’s anti-intellectual, anti-science agenda, one that is best encapsulated by the president’s previous insistence that climate change is a “hoax” perpetuated by the Chinese government. Related: Rogue national park tweets climate change facts in defiance of Donald Trump The fact that Trump has tapped Scott Pruitt , a climate-change denier with close ties to the fossil-fuel industry, to lead the EPA, does current optics few favors. In a meeting with automakers on Tuesday, Trump called himself “to a large extent, an environmentalist” but also said that regulations were “out of control.” Greenpeace isn’t about to let that behavior slide. “Greenpeace has been using nonviolence to resist tyrannical bullies since 1971, and we’re not going to stop now,” Topakian wrote in a blog post . “When Trump tries to weaken the Paris Climate Agreement so fossil fuel companies can profit on climate destruction, we will resist . When he tries to fast-track dangerous projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines with no regard for Indigenous sovereignty, we will resist . When he tries to block our communities from building the clean energy future we deserve, we will resist .” Viva la resistance. + Greenpeace Photos by Greenpeace

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Greenpeace activists hang "Resist" banner above White House to protest Trump

Tesla opens the Gigafactory’s doors for a first look

July 27, 2016 by  
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Tesla opened its sprawling Gigafactory to members of the press on Tuesday for an exclusive tour, as well as a chat with CEO Elon Musk . Reporters got a sneak peek at the factory’s progress, now two years in construction, just two days before the facility’s official grand opening party on July 29. The factory, just outside Reno, Nevada, is around 14 percent complete, with some sections already bustling with robotic assembly machines. Once the plant is up and running at full capacity, Musk says it will cut the cost of the lithium-based car batteries by 30 percent. Construction on the massive battery factory is ongoing with an ambitious goal to reach completion by 2020. Then, the Gigafactory is expected to wind up being the largest building in the world at a whopping 5.8 million square feet. Part of the factory, called Section A, is already operational; giant robotic arms are taking battery cells manufactured at one of Tesla’s other facilities and assembling them into battery packs for the company’s electric cars. Reporters on the tour noted that Sections D and E will soon have floors poured, suggesting that things are moving right along. The factory’s current output isn’t clear, but once the entire plant is up and running with two or three floors of robotics, it is projected to nearly double the world’s production of lithium-based batteries. Related: Tesla’s Gigafactory to host grand opening party on July 29 The Gigafactory is a $5 billion project and Panasonic, the Japan-based electronics company that already makes Tesla’s battery cells, invested $2 billion to make it happen. Reporters on the tour weren’t allowed to see or photograph any of that company’s equipment, though. It, like much of the other equipment already installed inside the factory, is still something of a secret. During the event, Musk talked about the Gigafactory’s progress, as well as his broader vision for the future of the company. The entrepreneur is known far and wide for his ambitious goals and wild ideas. With his hands on the wheel of the world’s most successful private space exploration company SpaceX and Tesla’s recent offer to purchase SolarCity , in addition to pushing Tesla forward into battery country, it’s a wonder the man has any time left to come up with new ideas. But he does. “I believe we are on track to meet the half million by 2018,” Musk told reporters during a Q&A session, when asked about Tesla’s ramped-up car production goals . The company had originally planned to hit the half million mark by 2020, but recently accelerated the already ambitious goal by two years. In an effort to hit that target, the Gigafactory will eventually employ up to 10,000 people, which is 4,000 more than initially estimated. For those of us not lucky enough to visit the Gigafactory in person, journalists from Wired put together a video with some glimpses inside the enormous manufacturing plant, which can be viewed here . Via Phys.org and BBC Images via Tesla Motors

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