Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

August 13, 2018 by  
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Many countries are fighting plastic pollution by enforcing harsher regulations such as special labels and plastic taxes, but the island nation of Dominica is now leading the pack by announcing that it will ban plastic foam and common plastics by 2019. With less than five months left to go, the heroic stand involves the elimination of single-use items such as plastic straws, plates, forks and knives as well as plastic foam cups and containers. “Dominica prides itself as the ‘Nature Isle,’” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in his July 2018  budget address . “We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation. The issue of solid waste management affects that perception and we continue to grapple with it.” His hopes are to inspire not just a more environmentally prominent Dominica through successful sustainability measures , but to also create the world’s first-ever climate-resilient nation. Related: Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam” This undertaking to fight plastic pollution and become climate-resilient complements the country’s aim to better protect itself from natural disasters. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, which is still grappling with the humanitarian and economic effects of the disaster. “Extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense, brought on by climate change impacts that are real, visible, devastating and unrelenting,” Skerrit said. “We must rebuild and reset our society and economy and protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica.” Dominica follows in the footsteps of countries such as the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, which have seen a significant reduction in plastic pollution after taking measures against single-use plastic bags. Major companies such as Starbucks and Disney have also gained traction in their battles against plastic straws. Dominica will be the first nation to launch such a strict initiative against the major pollutants of plastic and plastic foam, and hopefully many countries will look to the nation’s progress when adopting their own action plans. + Dominica Via CNN Image via JD Lasica

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Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as a necessary lifting of burdensome regulations on automakers and to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos  and the White House

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USDA withdraws Obama-era animal welfare standards for organic meat, eggs and dairy

March 14, 2018 by  
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The United States Department of Agriculture has officially withdrawn an Obama-era rule that would have established basic animal welfare standards for organic meat, eggs, and dairy products. The Trump Administration justified its reversal by claiming the rule “exceeds the department’s statutory authority and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program.” The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, which was originally set to go into effect in March 2017, would have required that organic laying hens have access to a full square foot of space indoors. It also would have clarified exactly what qualifies as “access to the outdoors” and introduced additional regulations regarding the transportation of animals for slaughter and general animal handling. In making its decision, the USDA cited the recent success of the American organic food industry. “The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach said in a statement . “The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.” According to the USDA, the number of certified organic farming operations in the United States grew by seven percent in 2017, while organic sales in the United States expanded nearly $3.7 billion from 2015 to 2016, for a total of nearly $47 billion in sales in 2016. Related: Trump’s USDA staff told to use ‘weather extremes’ instead of ‘climate change’ Despite the growing popularity of food labeled organic, the lack of clarity regarding whatis or isn’t organic can leave consumers in the dark over what exactly they are purchasing. The Trump Administration’s withdrawal of animal welfare regulations for organic products shines a light on the hazy definitions that guide the industry’s practices. One would expect that “organic” animal products are ethically sourced from animals that are raised in humane conditions. As it stands, with the rule withdrawn, “organic” simply means that the animals were provided with organic feed. For those hoping for stricter standards, state-level initiatives such as those in Vermont may offer some promise. Unfortunately, it may require a very different White House and Congress for meaningful animal welfare regulations to be put in place. Via One Green Planet Images via Depositphotos (1)

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USDA withdraws Obama-era animal welfare standards for organic meat, eggs and dairy

Germany just banned fracking for all practical purposes

June 27, 2016 by  
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On June 24, German lawmakers approved a measure that, for all practical purposes, bans fracking within the European nation. This follows years of debate within the country about the safety and legality of the practice, which has until now been largely unregulated. Though the fossil fuel industry has lobbied hard for fracking to remain an option within the country, this latest decision is in line with public opinion in Germany , which is deeply suspicious of the technology. The new law allows conventional drilling for oil and gas to continue, however hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will be banned in all but a handful of cases , mostly non-commercial projects. It does allow for scientific test drilling with the permission of relevant state governments and the supervision of independent experts. Related: Tasmania bans fracking for five more years, but the battle rages on Critics claim the ban doesn’t go far enough . For one thing, while it is supposed to be indefinite, it will also be reviewed again in five years, leaving the door open for it to potentially be lifted down the road. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are protesting the five-year term as well as the exception for test drilling, saying that this could open up loopholes allowing oil and gas companies to continue fracking. They also believe the new legislation does not contain sufficient safeguards to protect the environment from toxic fracking fluids and wastes. Via Phys.org Images via Wikipedia

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Solar-powered home in Tainan puts a modern twist on the traditional courtyard house

June 27, 2016 by  
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WLA built the Spring House for a single client who wanted a clear delineation of space between her personal living area and the rooms for entertaining guests. As a result, the 288-square-meter home is split into two interconnected sections: a three-story structure that houses the homeowner’s main living areas and is set farthest from the busy roadways on the northeast side; and a two-story L-shaped structure on the opposite side that’s mostly used for visiting friends and family. The communal areas are kept on the ground floor, while the guest bedrooms, master bedroom, and library and located on the upper levels. In keeping with the vernacular courtyard house style, the home is centered on an open-air space used as a light well for bringing natural light and ventilation deep into the building. Like its courtyard house neighbors to the north, the Spring House also makes use of wood and brick building materials. The architects combined those traditional materials with glass, concrete, and a steel framework for a contemporary finish. “The location was formerly agriculture-based settlement, and there are many local industrial factories appeared through the changing times,” said the architects. “After the completion of the high speed railway in recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that the area is intertwined with old and new, tradition and technology, quiet and speed…such contrast characteristics, these qualities create a unique geographical character. Therefore, while we follow the example of Taiwan’s traditional architecture that combined with wood structure and load-bearing brick structure, and combine them into a modern steel structure with brick, on the one hand, we use this combination to produce a unique local architectural type whereby create the symbol of the janus characteristics of the environment on the other.” Related: Stunning South Korean Courtyard Home Balances Tradition With Modern Design The client’s desire for a self-sufficient, disaster-ready home was born from fears of climate change and seismic activity. Thus, WLA equipped Spring House with rooftop solar panels and rainwater collection . The roofs are sloped to facilitate rainwater runoff and to maximize rooftop solar exposure. Natural ventilation and solar shades were also carefully attended to as a means to mitigate Taiwan’s hot summers. + Wu & Liu Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Wu & Liu Architects , by AKIRA Photography

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Solar-powered home in Tainan puts a modern twist on the traditional courtyard house

Charming upcycled Igloo parklet brings the community together with a place to leave wishes

June 27, 2016 by  
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The Wish-Igloo parklet is part of the Renaissance Covington’s Curb’d program which focuses on temporarily repurposing parking spaces throughout the city. It was selected as one of five winning entries to the design-build competition, all of which are based on the idea of repurposing small chunks of urban space into engaging spatial experiments. Related: Mini Gabion Parklet pops up in a Brazilian neighborhood The structure is installed in front of Left Bank Coffeehouse in Covington, where it will stay throughout the summer. Passersby and customers of the coffee house can pin their wishes to the fabric of the Wish-Igloo and move its operable panels to personalize the space. Related: Portable ParkedBench parklet injects a breath of fresh air in London The upcycling design strategy the architects deployed is reflected in every aspect of the project, which comprises a curved roof structure with a single steel spine, together with laminated ribs made of marine grade plywood. Every element of the structure -from planters and timber ribs, to steel components – can be upcycled. This philosophy includes the timber flooring and decking which the team reused from an old barn in Ohio. + fieldCRAFTstudio

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This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

June 27, 2016 by  
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Pink snow might sound outlandish, but it can actually be found around the world. While it may be pretty, it turns out it really isn’t a good look: the color is caused by blooming algae , which cause the snow to melt quicker. As the climate changes, these algae thrive – but their presence has ominous implications for glaciers . In a study published this week in Nature Communications , scientists from the UK and Germany scrutinized the algae and an effect called “bio-albedo.” White surfaces, like glaciers and snow, reflect sunlight, and that’s called albedo. When those glaciers and snow melt, they reveal darker surfaces beneath, like mountains or oceans, and those surfaces have a lower albedo, or absorb greater amounts of sunlight. That effect is important because red algae actually gives snow a lower albedo and makes it melt faster. Related: Arctic temperatures are literally off the charts Lead author Stefanie Lutz told Gizmodo, “The algae need liquid water in order to bloom . Therefore the melting of snow and ice surfaces controls the abundance of the algae. The more melting, the more algae. With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect.” Lutz’s study reveals ” red pigmented snow algal blooms ” can decrease snow albedo by 13 percent during a melt season. The phenomenon takes place all around the world, too, from the Arctic to Antarctica. Greenland, the European Alps, and Iceland are a few other places where people have noted the algae. The algae is especially prevalent in the Arctic during the summer, when Lutz says by her estimation at least 50 percent of snow on a glacier displays the blooms. Lutz and her colleagues recommended the algae be taken into account in future climate models, because warmer temperatures will likely mean more algae, and therefore even more melting. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Dick Culbert on Flickr

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Obama’s plan for methane regulations targets oil and gas industry

January 13, 2015 by  
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Barack Obama will officially add methane to his list of climate offenders in the new plan he’ll outline in his upcoming State of the Union address . New methane regulations are the key to reaching Obama ’s ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025. Read the rest of Obama’s plan for methane regulations targets oil and gas industry Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: barack obama , Climate Change , Environment , environmental protection agency , epa , fracking , gas , global warming , methane , obama , oil , president , regulations , rules

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DIY: Force flower bulbs and seeds to beat the winter blues

January 13, 2015 by  
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There’s something extraordinarily beautiful about fresh flowers in the depths of winter , especially if they’re living plants that won’t lose their vibrancy and fragrance after a couple of days in a vase. “Forcing” bulbs or sowing seeds in pots allows you to enjoy bright blooms indoors while storms may rage outside, and if you start them now, they’ll bloom in time for Valentine’s Day. Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of DIY: Force flower bulbs and seeds to beat the winter blues Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: calendula , crocus , daffodils , daisies , DIY , diy gift ideas , flower bulbs , flowers , forced bulbs , gifts , green gift ideas , green gifts , green xmas gifts , hanukkah , herbs , homemade christmas gifts , homemade gift ideas , how-to , hyacinth , lavender , marigolds , narcissus , presents , Valentine , valentine’s day

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FDA Proposes New E-Cigarette Regulations That Ban Sales to Minors

April 29, 2014 by  
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Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a 241-page proposal that would for the first time impose federal regulations on the use of battery-powered electronic cigarettes — a booming industry that is seen by many as a healthy alternative to conventional cigarettes because vapor is used instead of smoke, which is linked to lung cancer. The rules also cover currently unregulated tobacco products such as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs. The regulations would ban sales to minors under 18, and they require producers of cigars and e-cigarettes to register with the FDA and submit ingredients, manufacturing processes and scientific data to the agency. Read the rest of FDA Proposes New E-Cigarette Regulations That Ban Sales to Minors Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: big tobacco , cigarettes , e-cigarettes , electronic cigarettes , fda , Food and Drug Administration , Health , lung cancer , regulations , rules , smoke , vapor

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