Amazon deforestation increased by 34% in 2019

June 12, 2020 by  
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Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has continued to be a thorn in the side of efforts to curb global warming . According to data released by Brazil’s space research agency INPE, 10,129 square kilometers of the rainforest were cleared between August 2018 and July 2019. Initially, INPE had reported that the deforested area in the same period was 9,762 square kilometers. In a recent report by the Brazilian government, adjustments have been made and the actual size of deforested land has now been revealed to be 29% greater than originally reported and 34% more than the same time frame the year prior. These figures pose a serious threat to the rainforest , given that the rate of deforestation has increased by 34% from the previous year. Even though Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro claims to be focused on saving the largest rainforest in the world, the figures show otherwise. In just one year, forest area equal to the size of Lebanon has been cleared. Related: Climate change, deforestation lead to younger, shorter trees Although there have been efforts to control deforestation in the Amazon, the Brazilian government keeps failing to meet its targets. The new figures that were reported on Tuesday, June 8, 2020 now present the highest level of deforestation since 2008. The newly revised data by INPE should serve as a wake-up call to the Brazilian government and all parties that are working to control deforestation. The Amazon covers about 60% of Brazil and is the largest rainforest on Earth; protecting the Amazon is important not only to Brazil but to the entire world. Environmental advocates and activists are now blaming the Brazilian president for allowing loggers and ranchers to grab forested land. Although he claims to have implemented measures to control logging, Bolsonaro has encouraged Brazilians to erect developments on protected areas of the Amazon. According to monthly data released by INPE, deforestation has continued to worsen in 2020 even during COVID-19 . INPE data shows that deforestation has increased by 55% between January and April compared to a similar period in 2019. Via Reuters Image via ESA

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Amazon deforestation increased by 34% in 2019

Pela offers biodegradable phone cases and other zero-waste products

June 12, 2020 by  
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Cell phones have become ubiquitous in the world, with the average phone being replaced every 1.5 to 2 years. Along the way, the plastic cases used to protect our expensive investment quickly become outdated and end up in landfills, where they sit for hundreds to thousands of years. This process leaves an unimaginable amount of garbage behind for generations to come. So Jeremy Lang decided to do something about this plastic waste by creating Pela phone cases, which offer protection for every major model of phone and completely biodegrade into the soil at the end of their lifecycle. Pela’s 100% compostable phone cases and other sustainable products are part of a larger goal to remove 1 billion pounds of plastic from the waste stream by using renewable resources and other waste materials in production. In the case of Pela’s phone cases, a byproduct of flax harvest creates the strong yet biodegradable material used in manufacturing.  Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones With an expansive collection of colorful or clear cell phone cases that offer a variety of etched designs, Pela has moved onto other endeavors with the same goal of eliminating plastic from the production stream. Other products include AirPods cases, a zero-waste liquid screen protector, radiation reduction inserts, sunglasses and a guidebook on how to cultivate a positive outlook in life, called Pela’s Guide to Positivity. Most recently, Pela acquired a fellow Canadian company in a partnership that includes a plastic-free personal care collection. Habitat Botanicals develops soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and even deodorants that are zero-waste and plastic-free. “Pela is proud to welcome Habitat, our new sister company, to our waste-free family,” said Matt Bertulli, CEO of Pela. “Like any family dynamic, there are different practices and products, but one thing that ties us together is our goal to reduce global plastic waste.” Pela is also committed to giving back to causes that support the planet. As a Certified B Corporation, Climate Neutral Certified business and member of 1% For The Planet, Pela supports several nonprofits in their efforts to clean up the oceans and coastlines . By using technology to produce materials without plastic while also working to remove plastic from the waterways, Pela is taking a two-sided approach to the problem. Even with the efforts to create bio-based materials for its products, Pela felt that it could do more to ensure plastic is properly disposed of, so the company implemented a program called Pela 360. This initiative allows customers to mail back their old phone cases from other brands when they purchase a Pela case, so Pela can ensure proper recycling . The program is one more way Pela hopes to help bring plastic waste to an end. + Pela Images via Pela

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Pela offers biodegradable phone cases and other zero-waste products

A puzzle-inspired sliding facade improves this buildings energy efficiency

June 12, 2020 by  
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In the Ballard neighborhood, close to Seattle’s downtown, local architecture firm Graham Baba Architects has completed the Klotski, a mixed-use infill building that emphasizes energy efficiency . Named after the sliding block puzzle that inspired its southern facade, the building uses a mix of high- and low-tech strategies to minimize energy use, including rooftop solar panels, radiant heating, operable windows and sliding metal sunshades. The Klotski is also equipped with rainwater cisterns that collect and recycle rainwater. Graham Baba Architects designed the Klotski to reflect the eclectic and industrial roots of the Ballard neighborhood. Built from concrete masonry units and a steel frame, the 10,041-square-foot building features an open floor-plan, exposed structural beams and tall ceilings for a loft-like, industrial feel. The three-story, mixed-use building houses the Trailbend Taproom beer hall on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, a maker space on a self-contained mezzanine level and a studio as well as a small caretaker’s apartment on the top floor. On-site covered parking is accessed off the alley. Related: Gensler upcycles an old warehouse into creative offices in Austin Designed to engage the street level, the building is set back from the property line by several feet to create space for outdoor dining while extensive glazing promotes transparency and connection to the community. Generous roof decks — such as the outdoor deck for the studio and apartment on the top floor — and an interior courtyard promote an indoor/ outdoor living experience throughout. Optimized for natural ventilation and daylight, the building features operable windows on the north and south sides. The Klotski-inspired sunshades on the south-facing exterior consist of 7-foot-by-10-foot perforated metal screens that slide up and down to respond to privacy and shading needs that change throughout the seasons. + Graham Baba Architects Photography by Kevin Scott via Graham Baba Architects

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A puzzle-inspired sliding facade improves this buildings energy efficiency

Czech Republics first 3D-printed floating home will take just 48 hours to build

June 12, 2020 by  
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The first 3D-printed house in Czech Republic is scheduled for completion by the end of June 2020. Not only will the project, called Prvok, only take about 48 hours to build, but this floating home will also set an example for innovative affordable housing solutions for the future. The project will be printed with partially self-sustaining green technology , including a re-circulation shower, a green roof and well reservoirs for water. It is a collaboration between sculptor Michal Trpak and building society Stavebni sporitelna Ceske sporitelny. Related: This clothing tech company is 3D-printing garments to help reduce waste Once completed, the home will have been built seven times faster than conventional houses, saving up to 50% of construction costs compared to a regular building, all while reducing construction waste and carbon emissions by about 20% along the way. It is printed using a highly advanced robotic arm that moves 15 centimeters per second. To create the structure, a specially developed concrete mixture enriched with nano-polypropylene fibers, plasticizers and a setting accelerator will flow through a tip in the robotic arm. While Prvok will have the ability to float via pontoon anchor, the house will also be designed to stand on land, suitable for long-term living in both the country and the city. The nearly 463-square-foot living space will feature three rooms in total: a bedroom, a bathroom and a combination living room/kitchen. The design renderings feature a substantial green roof as well as massive porthole windows, an exposed concrete exterior and wood plank flooring for a unique, nautical appearance. According to Trpak, future owners of the 3D-printed home will be able to crush the building once it has reached the end of its life and reprint it again using the recycled material at the same location, making it long-lasting as well as sustainable. Stavebni sporitelna Ceske sporitelny hopes that the Prvok home will demonstrate the possibilities for more accessible and affordable housing options throughout the Czech Republic. + Prvok Images via Prvok

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Czech Republics first 3D-printed floating home will take just 48 hours to build

We Earthlings: Saving a Rainforest Lowers CO2 Levels

November 26, 2019 by  
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Existing rainforests are our most effective natural method to prevent … The post We Earthlings: Saving a Rainforest Lowers CO2 Levels appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates

August 22, 2019 by  
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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed with environmentalists since taking office in January. But criticisms are climbing to new levels as Amazon wildfires reach an all-time high in Brazil following a significant increase in deforestation . Between January and August of this year, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) recorded almost 73,000 fires. This is nearly twice the number for the whole of 2018 — 39,759 — and marks an 83 percent increase over this same period last year. Since last Thursday alone, satellite images identified more than 9,500 new fires. Most of these are burning the globe’s biggest tropical forest, located in the Amazon basin. Related: Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro Bolsonaro has promised to promote mining and farming in the Amazon region, ignoring international worries about deforestation. While wildfires are common in the Amazon’s dry season, farmers sometimes deliberately start fires to illegally clear their lands for raising cattle. INPE said this large number of fires can’t be attributed to the dry season alone. “There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” said INPE researcher Alberto Setzer, according to Al Jazeera . Bolsonaro remains unconcerned about the rampant Amazon wildfires caused by queimada, the name for farmers clearing land by fire. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw,” he said . “Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada.” The president also posited another theory: environmentalists who hate him are starting fires to make him look bad. “They are now feeling the pinch from the lack of funding,” Bolsonaro said . “So, maybe the NGO types are conducting these criminal acts in order to generate negative attention against me and against the Brazilian government. This is the war we are facing.” Meanwhile, the Amazon wildfires continue to burn at the equivalence of more than 1.5 soccer fields per minute. Via CNN , Al Jazeera and Reuters Images via Pixabay and NASA

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Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates

This lake house in Chile was designed to complement the surrounding environment

July 29, 2019 by  
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The BEG House by Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos is located off of Lake Riñihue in the Los Ríos Region of Chile. With stunning views of the lake and the Andes Mountains to the south, the designers made sure to prioritize these vistas from each of the main spaces. Sunlight brightens the home through two large northern skylights and spreads through the use of circulation spaces. The walls to the south are made almost completely out of glass sliding doors, so the residents can either open them to enjoy the fresh air or close them while still receiving a majestic lake view. To provide even more light and ventilation, there are several interior courtyards built into the home as well. The region is known for rain, so the windows and glass doors separating the interior to the courtyards give one the feeling of being outside and enjoying the cool rain while staying comfortable and dry inside. These courtyards also allow for the merging of the property with the surrounding natural spaces for the home and the environment to work as one. Related: Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico The dark color of the exterior of the house, constructed of pre-painted metal sheets, helps the structure blend into the environment with thoughtful pops of brightly-colored wood used as a slight contrast. The metal brings the walls and the roof together, and the slopes of the roof on the interior are built at different heights to mimic nature. The natural, organic shades of wood on the interior gives the residents even more connection to the setting while contrasting beautifully with the dark metal exterior. With the exception of the kitchen, the entire inside is unpainted to show off the light wood. The abundance of rain also nourishes the dense, rainforest shrubbery that surrounds the property, creating plenty of greenery to complement the lake views and make this home truly unique. + Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos Images via Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos

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This lake house in Chile was designed to complement the surrounding environment

This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

May 9, 2019 by  
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There’s a good reason why this beautiful, natural wood treehouse blends in perfectly to its surroundings on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica — the entire structure was built using the trees from the property site. Nestled in the jungle and complete with ocean views, the house, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig , was inspired by the owners’ love for surfing and environmentalism. There are three floors to the treehouse , with the top floor visible from above the tree canopy, and the bottom two levels hidden among the dense trees. Occupants are able to check the surf at nearby Playa Hermosa Beach from the comfort of the top floor. Related: A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach Wood has the power to be a green, renewable resource when used with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, there are plenty of companies that offer certifiably sustainable wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed to avoid things like erosion, pollutants and habitat loss. Locally harvested trees, like the ones used to build this surfer’s treehouse, can reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Apart from contributing to social aspects of sustainability by utilizing local employment, green construction using locally harvested trees also helps to minimize carbon emissions from transportation. The designers took advantage of the natural sea breezes and tropic environment through the passive , open-air design of the structure. The lush vegetation is accessible from the bottom floor, which opens to a courtyard that helps blend the house into its setting. A double-screen shutter system, also made of teak wood, allows the two bottom floors to either open up to the elements, ventilation and natural light, or close to provide privacy. The treehouse is powered using a 3.5 kW solar array, and a rainwater collection system helps reduce the house’s  carbon footprint . In the evenings, the lights shine through the slatted walls to create an ethereal glow that shimmers through the thick leaves and trees that surround the property, making this unique treehouse an even more beautiful addition to the area. + Tom Kundig Photography by Nic Lehoux via Olson Kundig

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This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

Brazilian Biodiversity Information System is bringing Brazil’s biological diversity to the internet

March 18, 2019 by  
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As one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth, Brazil is taking steps to consolidate all of the nation’s biodiversity data and information into one place to support scientific research , as well as decision-making and creation of eco-friendly public policy. In an effort to achieve those goals, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC) has created the Brazilian Biodiversity Information System (SiBBr), which is an online platform that gives free access to a collection of the largest amount of data and information on biodiversity in the South American nation. What is Megadiversity? In 1998, Conservation International made a list of 18 megadiverse countries, which meant that those nations harbored the majority of Earth’s species, as well as a large number of endemic species. The term megadiversity defines an area that features a significant amount of biodiversity . According to the UN’s Environment Program, Brazil is at the top of their list of the 18 most megadiverse countries in the world. With more than 120,000 species of invertebrates, 9,000 vertebrates and 4,000 plant species, Brazil hosts nearly 20 percent of Earth’s biological diversity. These natural assets can be a significant factor in Brazil’s future economic growth, but to avoid losing their biodiversity, the country wants to monitor conservation efforts and make sure their natural resources are sustainably used. Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk On average, “700 new animal species are discovered every year in Brazil,” says UN Environment. Considering how large Brazil is— as well as the numerous institutions researching the country’s biodiversity— putting all of that information in one easily-accessible place is a formidable challenge. “When the information is spread around different institutions, one is less able to find it, judge the quality of the data and understand how it can be used. Besides, the time needed to compile the data can make its use inefficient, as is the case in public policies,” explains Andrea Nunes, general coordinator of biomes of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology , Innovations and Communications, and national director of the Brazilian Biodiversity Information System project. To illustrate her point, Nunes talked about Brazil’s special map that highlights the areas of the country that are a top priority for conservation and sustainable use. The map is a tool for public policy decision-making that takes two years to develop and is updated every four to five years. Nunes says that in terms of “territory dynamics and land use changes,” five years is a long time. However, SiBBr can change all of that. How SiBBr works Currently, the SiBBr gathers information and data from 230 Brazilian institutions, like state agencies, research centers, museums, and zoos. It has more than 15 million records about different species in the country published by those institutions. Researchers can use the database to find information on different species, as well as share their findings. Farmers can use the platform to calculate environmental compensation credits and get information about endangered animals and plants. There is also a way for Brazilian citizens to contribute their own information, like pictures and documentation on biodiversity in their area. There is also a tool called Biodiversity and Nutrition, which is a nutritional database of native Brazilian species. But, they aren’t just keeping all of this information to themselves. The SiBBr is also part of the Global Biodiversity Information Platform, which is “an international network and research infrastructure” that provides free biodiversity data from hundreds of institutions across the globe. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa This is the largest global initiative aiming to give people virtual access to free biological information, and it currently spans 60 countries and has more than 570 million species records. Conservation and sustainability is a top priority, and knowing Brazil’s biodiversity is key to achieving those goals. With SiBBr, anyone from government organizations to students and educators can access this vital information. According to their website, SiBBr is an accessible platform filled with tools to help with the “organization, publication, and consultation” of: Occurrences of species A catalog of species Ecological data Biodiversity projects The use of biodiversity Registration of the country’s biological collections The database continues to grow, and in the coming months SiBBr will switch to a new platform to make using the data even easier. BaMBa Connected to SiBBr is BaMBa, the Brazilian Marine Biodiversity database, which has the same goal for collecting data about the country’s marine life as SiBBr does for species on land. The information comes from sources like integrated, holistic studies and fish surveys which can be used for governmental policies related to the use and management of marine resources. Via U.N. Environment , SiBBr Images via Shutterstock

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Brazilian Biodiversity Information System is bringing Brazil’s biological diversity to the internet

A modern timber house in Indonesia celebrates mummified wood

March 18, 2019 by  
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When Bandung-based architectural studio Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture was asked to renovate an old house in the West Java neighborhood of Kiaracondong in Indonesia, they made a surprising discovery. During the demolition process, the architects found that the wooden roof truss structure was in very good condition, despite its age, thanks to a culturally significant type of timber, a kind of Albizzia wood that’s been mummified to improve strength and durability. Described by the architects as a “local treasure,” the timber was not only preserved in the roof truss, but also becomes a defining element in the contemporary home, aptly named the Albizzia House. Completed in 2019, the Albizzia House spans an area of approximately 2,000 square feet across two floors. The existing timber house was partly demolished to allow for a reorganization of the layout and a structural expansion. Organized around a light-filled atrium housing the primarily living spaces, the home now includes three bedrooms, garden and terrace spaces, a reading room and a ground-floor prayer room. Natural light and ventilation is optimized in the renovated dwelling. One of the key changes to the house was the addition of timber cladding as a secondary skin to mitigate unwanted solar heat gain and privacy concerns. The vertical timber slats—and interior wooden furnishings—are a visual continuation of the Albizzia wood used as accents in the ceiling and reading room. The preserved wood in the existing building’s roof truss is also highlighted with the expansion of the truss into the new structure. Related: Green-roofed Hanging Villa is embedded into a lush jungle landscape Although Albizzia, a fast-growing and economical timber, is typically considered low-grade due to its weak and brittle qualities, local farmers in Ciamis, West Java, discovered long ago a method to improve upon the strength of the wood. In this “long-established technology,” the locally procured wood is buried under the paddy fields after the harvest season and the timber is then “mummified” in the compaction process, which, according to the architects, greatly increases the wood grade. + Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture Via ArchDaily Images by KIE

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