Native American tribe is fighting against the Pilgrim Pipeline in New Jersey

January 2, 2017 by  
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As oil and gas companies race to plan more pipelines to criss-cross America, conservationists are similarly ramping up their efforts to resist the environmentally destructive projects, and one such controversy in New Jersey is heating up quickly . The planned Pilgrim Pipeline would carry crude oil back and forth along the 178 miles from Albany, New York, to New Jersey’s Linden Harbor. The pipeline’s proposed route cuts through forests and a drinking water reservoir, prompting members of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation to organize a resistance camp, similar to the months-long backlash against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota. While that struggle has been long and difficult, the Ramapough Lunaape in New Jersey will face a different and perhaps even more challenging fight against corporate interests, for a number of reasons. As is often the case with resistance efforts led by indigenous people , the Ramapough Lunaape must first defend their right to protest. Last week, the New Jersey town of Mahwah issued summonses against the protesters for setting up a camp and erecting protest signs without permits, even though the activity is all taking place on tribal land. One of the key obstacles for the Ramapough Lunaape is that their nation is not recognized by the federal government, so they are not protected in the same way. The Ramapough Lunaape Nation is instead only recognized at the state level in New Jersey and New York. It doesn’t take an expert to understand how this issue will complicate their fight against the proposed pipeline . Related: US Army blocks Dakota Access Pipeline in major victory for protesters The tribe has made numerous attempts to gain federal recognition, but those efforts have all failed. One such bid, in 1993, was struck down after Donald Trump (yep, that guy) campaigned against the nation’s recognition in order to eliminate the possibility of competition for his casino in Atlantic City. The tribe hasn’t given up, though, and an ongoing petition is still active to collect signature in support of adding the Ramapough Lunaape Nation to the list of federal recognized tribes. The Pilgrim Pipeline has been in planning for more than two years, and local communities along its proposed route have been protesting the whole time. The planned route would loosely follow the New York State Thruway and I-287 and then through North Jersey’s environmentally sensitive Highlands. Protesters are worried about the pipeline’s proximity to the Highlands reservoirs, which provide water to 5 million New Jersey residents. Much like other pipeline projects across the country, the developers Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings have pledged to go “full steam ahead” despite the environmental and public health concerns. Via Grist Images via Northjersey Pipeline Walkers and  Pilgrim Pipeline

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Native American tribe is fighting against the Pilgrim Pipeline in New Jersey

Ford to unveil new driverless Fusion Hybrid at CES

January 2, 2017 by  
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Ford is revving up the future of autonomous vehicles with its new Fusion Hybrid . The second-generation Fusion is a departure from previous self-driving cars we’ve seen in testing. Ford opted to disguise the sensors and cameras that aid the Fusion in its operation, resulting in a sleeker body that looks more like a “regular car” than a car of the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI1kf-a-pVo With just a few teaser images released so far, Ford is intentionally building up suspense for the full unveiling, which is planned for CES 2017 in Las Vegas later this month. Ford’s chief engineer for the autonomous vehicle program, Chris Brewer, elaborated on the technological advances in a post on Medium . The second-generation driverless Ford Fusion, he says, can “see” two football fields of distance in every direction, and its advanced field of vision means it requires fewer sensors than previous models. Related: Ford’s self-driving car will have no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brakes Ford also announced that it will expand its self-driving test fleet from 30 cars to around 90 in 2017, a big leap forward after just three years of development. The car maker is currently testing autonomous vehicles in California, Arizona, and Michigan, and will soon roll out pilot programs in the United Kingdom and Germany as well. Via The Verge Images via Ford

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Ford to unveil new driverless Fusion Hybrid at CES

Self-inflating HEXA raft automatically deploys upon contact with water

January 2, 2017 by  
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At sea, situations often emerge where crew and passengers have to quickly evacuate the vessel, causing panic, and jeopardizing safety and organization. To help simplify such scenarios, designers Yoo JiIn and Lee Ji Sang created HEXA, a six-sided life raft that automatically activates upon contact with water. In order to be deployed, HEXA requires only that it be dropped in the water where it automatically self-inflates into a life-saving device. Six inflatable sections allow people to climb onto the raft. In addition to the efficiency of its design, the device also sends a RFID signal that can help rescue teams pin point its location. Related: The SeaKettle is a Raft + Water Purifier That Could Save Your Life Various survival supplies like food, drinkable water, flares and lifejackets are available inside the center of the pod, providing survivors with all the essential things which will allow them to survive while waiting to be rescued. Via Yanko Design

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Self-inflating HEXA raft automatically deploys upon contact with water

Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees

January 2, 2017 by  
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Until recently, the indigenous Croton megalocarpus tree common to central and east Africa was used mainly for firewood. But now Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) is pioneering sustainable biofuel from croton nuts – without planting a single tree. As opposed to jatropha biofuel, once thought to hold immense promise as an alternative fuel but which required expensive plantations, croton nuts can be sourced from farmers. Managing Director Myles Katz described EFK’s approach as “completely local.” Research revealed croton nut oil could be a “direct replacement for diesel fuel” in some engines, according to EFK, who describe themselves as the first and only croton nut processing company. As the tree is so common, EFK hasn’t yet needed to plant new ones. Instead, as more people found out the nuts once considered useless could bring in extra income, EFK’s harvester network grew to over 3,000 farmers. This year EFK handled 1,000 tons of nuts. Related: Manta moves forward with revolutionary solar-powered algae harvester that makes crude oil Katz told CNN, “We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground…Everything we source, process, and sell should be within 100 kilometers of the factory.” On their website, EFK describes croton nut oil as “entirely environmentally friendly.” The tree flourishes without extra fertilizer or irrigation, and the nut oil production process requires little energy compared with traditional fuel production. Farmers don’t have to switch away from other crops to focus solely on croton nuts, and can even store the nuts for a year. The group says, “Croton trees’ newfound economic value promotes reforestation all over East Africa, which improves soil conditions as well as combats climate change . [Croton nut oil] replaces harmful natural fuels and since it’s produced locally and not imported, it saves carbon emissions as well.” The group also produces organic fertilizer from croton nut shells, and makes seedcake from pressed nuts to feed poultry. Croton nut oil is largely sold to local businesses to power generators. EFK ultimately aims to plant 300,000 trees between 2016 and 2022. + Eco Fuels Kenya Via CNN Images via Eco Fuels Kenya Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees

Spectacular Congress Hall curves upwards like a sail to bridge a Russian river

January 2, 2017 by  
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Government meeting halls don’t often inspire awe and wonder—but the Russian city of Chelyabinsk’s planned Congress Hall will be an exception. Russian architecture firm PIARENA recently revealed their competition-winning designs for the Congress Hall of the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS (an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summits. The sculptural building will span the Miass River like a bridge and curve upwards like a sail on two ends, rising to heights of 61 and 150 meters. The new Congress Hall will primarily cater to the BRICS and SCO events, however, its placement across two riverbanks also opens the site up to public use opportunities along the bridge . The bridge, located at one of the river’s narrowest points and arched to allow small boats to pass under, divides the complex into two sail-like parts to create a dramatic urban landmark. Both curved structures are clad in glass and topped with observation decks . Related: Spectacular Lucky Knot bridge in China twists and turns like a Möbius Strip The larger, 150-meter-tall swooping structure will house the congress hall, mixed-use concert hall, hotel, office complex, conference hall , and VIP offices. The 61-meter-tall structure opposite contains the recreational area and exhibition hall. The landscape design, including the plantings, paving, and street furniture, will be based on a parametric grid pattern of parallelograms. + PIARENA Via ArchDaily Images via PIARENA

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Spectacular Congress Hall curves upwards like a sail to bridge a Russian river

Tiny ‘prison-like’ apartment in Beijing reborn as a light-filled family home

January 2, 2017 by  
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OEU-ChaO Architects have worked absolute magic on this tiny 300-square-foot home in Bejing. What was once an incredibly dark and dingy space has been transformed into a welcoming family home that uses an outer courtyard and sloped wooden ceiling to bring optimal natural light and character to the small space. Located on the second ring road of Beijing City’s Xirongxian Hutong, the tiny structure is squeezed in-between five other homes, virtually hidden from the narrow street out front. Taking into account the restrictive spatial limits of the space, the renovation strategy focused on opening up the area to provide natural light and air circulation as well as a comfortable living space. To do so, the architects chose to incorporate a series of independent, easy-to-install units into the original space. Related: Playful renovation in Barcelona squeezes more out of a tiny home The first unit was installed as a hallway that leads to a well-lit courtyard at the back of the home. This outdoor space is strategically blended into the home’s interior living space through two long tables that run the length of the window on both the outside and the inside. The large window not only adds airiness to the interior, but serves as the heart of the home by allowing the family to enjoy a nice sitting area in good or bad weather. The second unit is what gives the home its cabin-like character: a sloped wooden gallery roof . The high wooden beams add personality and a distinct openness to the compact living area and small bedroom space located on the first floor. The high ceilings were also useful to install the children’s room, which sits on the second level and is accessible by ladder. + OEU-ChaO Architects Via Archdaily Images via Zhi Cheng

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Tiny ‘prison-like’ apartment in Beijing reborn as a light-filled family home

Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks

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If you thought camper vans couldn’t be elegant and cozy, think again. Jack Richens of This Moving House converted a 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a roomy camper van that can accommodate a four-person family on week-long holidays to the forest or the beach. Inspired by boat bunk designs, Richens added details like stacked beds to really open up the long wheelbase van and maximize space. Richens and his girlfriend enjoyed traveling in a converted mail delivery van until it died. They then shopped around for an alternative mode of getaway transportation , only to find hideous motor homes and impractical camper vans. So his girlfriend designed their dream camper van, and Richens built it largely by himself, with some advice from his dad. Related: Man quits desk job to transform van into a digital nomad’s dream home At the front of the van, four captain chairs – the original fixtures – provide seating. The front two chairs can swivel around, and a table in-between the chairs allows everyone to grab a bite to eat together. Behind the dining area is a little kitchen, which is equipped with a sink, two burners, some cabinet space, and a small counter for preparing food. Ingenious storage beneath the floor provides an extra place to stash shoes – and lessen the amount of sand and dirt tracked into the camper. The camper’s boat inspiration is most apparent in the bedroom. Stacked beds provide room for all four to sleep rather comfortably, and a porthole at the top bed keeps things open. Richens said , “The clever bit of design is an old boat bunk construction technique…The beds are only full height from the waist up and your legs slide into a space only as high as your hips are wide. Importantly, this enables you to sleep on your side or roll over without getting wedged or tearing your kneecaps off. Using this space-saving technique three tiers of sleeping can be cunningly shoe-horned into the available area.” The cool camper cost about $10,000, with equipment and materials costing $8,500. You can read more about the construction process on This Moving House’s blog , and Richens has also started taking commissions to convert other vehicles into comfortable homes away from home. + This Moving House Via Treehugger Images via This Moving House

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