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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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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Harvard chemist engineers a superbug that converts inhaled CO2 into fuel

May 30, 2016 by  
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Over the past few years, the number of headlines relating to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide emissions have skyrocketed, and it’s pretty much all bad news. However, one scientist has been looking for ways to turn our collective frowns upside down, and now he thinks he’s found it. Harvard Professor of Energy Daniel G. Nocera says he’s engineered a bacterium that inhales CO2 and excess hydrogen and then turns them into alcohol fuel . Nocera, known as the man who invented the artificial leaf  five years ago, has been working in his research lab at Harvard to develop bacteria that could perform as well as plants, which convert carbon dioxide into fuel at a rate of about five percent. Skeptics said he would have a difficult time matching that rate, and many were stunned when the chemist announced that his engineered superbug converts sunlight 10 times more efficiently than plants. The bacteria, called Ralston eutropha , consumes hydrogen and CO2, and converts them into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nocera and his team drew from earlier research by Anthony Sinskey, a professor of microbiology at MIT, and inserted genes that cause the bacteria to convert the ATP to alcohol fuel and excrete it. Related: Liquid energy: scientists unveil microbes that turn sun and CO2 into fuel The practical applications of a CO2-breathing superbug are virtually unlimited, in part because the resulting alcohol fuels require no additional processing before being used. “Right now we’re making isopropanol, isobutanol, isopentanol,” he said in a lecture to the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago. “These are all alcohols you can burn directly. And it’s coming from hydrogen from split water, and it’s breathing in CO2. That’s what this bug’s doing.” During his announcement in Chicago on May 18, Nocera joked that the news of this development was “hot off the press.” His study results haven’t even been published yet, but they will be soon in an upcoming issue of the journal Science. From there, he expects a lot of people to get really excited about potential applications. Although, he warns that his superbug isn’t the solution to excess CO2 in our atmosphere . Rather, it could help keep fossil fuels in the ground. “This isn’t solving your CO2 problem,” he said. ”I’m taking CO2 out of the air, you burn it and you put the CO2 back. So it’s carbon neutral.” Via Forbes Images via University of Chicago  and Wikipedia

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Elon Musk promises to reveal plans for a SpaceX City on Mars

April 14, 2016 by  
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Of the many words used to describe Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, ‘ambitious’ is one of the most common – and perhaps an enormous understatement. Following last week’s launch (and successful drone-ship landing) of the Falcon 9 rocket, Musk made an impromptu visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to issue a unique ‘save the date’ to the press. The ingenious business man says he will make an announcement in Mexico later this year, describing his plans for colonizing Mars. Read the rest of Elon Musk promises to reveal plans for a SpaceX City on Mars

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These amazing crystal chandeliers are alive

April 14, 2016 by  
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Better Cement for Construction with Less CO2

November 25, 2014 by  
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Greener cement for construction may be already well within reach, based on a new study carried out by researchers from MIT in the United States and CNRS in France.  While modern-day cement has its roots extending back to the mid-1700s, the ratios of the two main ingredients, calcium (from limestone) and silica (from clay), which are used to manufacture it can vary widely, and had not been studied to this extent before. The potential reduction in carbon emissions from the production of cement could be as much as 60 percent, according to Dr. Roland Pellenq, the senior research scientist for the study.  The production of cement is presently one of the largest contributing industrial sources of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Consequently, changes in its manufacture could have significant and widespread benefits if a better production method is developed. “In conventional cements, Pellenq explains, the calcium-to-silica ratio ranges anywhere from about 1.2 to 2.2, with 1.7 accepted as the standard. But the resulting molecular structures have never been compared in detail. Pellenq and his colleagues built a database of all these chemical formulations, finding that the optimum mixture was not the one typically used today, but rather a ratio of about 1.5.”  Production of cement at this ratio would, according to the researchers, allow significant reductions in CO2 emissions.  In addition to the emissions benefit, the researchers also found that cement produced at this ratio would be stronger and more fracture resistant. Adaptation of this research will still take time to implement, as the new formulations will need to be studied by engineering standards organizations before this becomes the new standard for manufacture. There could even be a synergistic benefit in this, by significantly reducing the carbon emissions in the production of the cement, and then further reducing emissions due to less cement being needed due to the improved strength of the material. via: MIT Press Release image credit: Phlat Phield Photos

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Apple Cuts Toxic Chemicals to Make iPhones Friendlier to Assembly Workers

August 18, 2014 by  
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Apple just took a big step towards greening the iPhone by removing two toxic chemicals from part of the production process. While the rare earth elements that go into many modern gadgets might be too environmentally destructive to be called “green,” the Associated Press reports that Apple is abandoning the use of benzene and n-hexane, two potentially hazardous chemicals used in the final assembly process of iPhones. The move to protect workers in the Chinese plants that assemble the phones comes after China Labor Watch and Green America launched petitions calling for Apple to abandon the chemicals. Read the rest of Apple Cuts Toxic Chemicals to Make iPhones Friendlier to Assembly Workers Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: apple , benzene , carcinogenic materials , chemical , china , factory , greening iPhones , hexane , iPhone , iPhone toxic materials , manufacturing , toxic

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How Sick Plants Can Pinpoint the Location of Deadly Hidden Landmines

August 18, 2014 by  
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Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond just discovered an amazing way to save thousands of lives taken by explosive land mines every year. According to a recent study by the researchers, hidden land mine explosives not only explode on contact, but they also leak poisonous toxins into the ground, affecting the surrounding plant life. The discovery could lead to a safe way to locate and remove underground land mines, potentially saving thousands of lives in the process. Read the rest of How Sick Plants Can Pinpoint the Location of Deadly Hidden Landmines Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: buried explosives , ecological studies , Explosive Specific Index , humanitarian design , landmine toxicity , landmines , plant life , VCU researchers , virginia commonwealth university

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