Humanity’s footprint is weighing down the planet with 30 trillion tons of junk

December 6, 2016 by  
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Everyone knows that humanity has an enormous footprint on the planet – but few of us have thought to ask just how much our collective impact weighs . A new study published in The Anthropocene Review examines exactly that question, and has found that the so-called human “technosphere” is bogging down the planet with a staggering 30 trillion tons of infrastructure, development, and manufactured products. To understand the sheer volume of our impact on the planet, it’s important to recognize what’s being included in the tally. The paper includes all of the structures people have built or modified, as well as all of the gadgets and junk we’ve created – that means everything from farmed land to smartphones is being counted in that estimate. It includes all of our buildings, factories, roads, and trash, “active urban, agricultural and marine components used to sustain energy and material flow for current human life, and a growing residue layer.” Related: Scientists say that we are entering a new geological epoch thanks to human activity The mass of all the technosphere was estimated using an interesting method – basically, the authors compiled information on the area, thickness, and density of our cities , roads, croplands, and other structures worldwide. This is just one more piece of evidence that the Earth has entered a new geological era, what some are calling the “ Anthropocene ” epoch. In order to declare the current era its own geologic epoch, scientists need to be convinced that our footprint will last throughout the planet’s history, -even if our species fades away – as part of the fossil record. It’s hard to argue against the theory – after all, many of our structures will never decompose and may be preserved into the far future. But where previous epochs have been marked by the evolution of new life, our era will be marked in history by “techno-fossils” – the structures and trash we leave behind. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Humanity’s footprint is weighing down the planet with 30 trillion tons of junk

Repaired sinkhole in Japan is sinking again

November 28, 2016 by  
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Earlier in November a sinkhole that ravaged a five-lane intersection in the city of Fukuoka, Japan was rapidly fixed and reopened in just a week. But now part of the repaired street has shown signs of sinking again. Around a 30 square meter, or 322 square foot, area, on the roadhttp://inhabitat.com/tag/road/”> road> sunk seven centimeters, or 2.7 inches. The sinkhole in Japan, which was near the JR Hakata Station, was repaired in around 48 hours , filled in with cement and sand. Only a week after the sinkhole closed the road, officials reopened the street. Fukuoka mayor Soichiro Takashima said the repaired road was 30 times stronger than it had been previously. Experts said new subway construction had likely led to the large sinkhole. Related: Japanese fix massive city sinkhole within 48 hours But over the weekend, officials discovered the road sunk 2.7 inches across 322 square feet. No one was injured by the newly sinking road, nor were there any gas leaks or power outages caused by the new sinking. Officials closed the road at around 1:45 AM local time, but reopened the area almost four hours later at 5:30 AM local time, according to Channel NewsAsia. Authorities determined the small sink wasn’t dangerous for people walking or driving on the road. Officials told CNN they had expected some movement after the sinkhole was fixed, and Takashima apologized on Facebook for not letting locals know that the road could sink once more. He said officials would continue to monitor the area. A government spokesperson told local news that when the cement mixed with special soil compressed, the motion could have caused the small sinking. The original sinkhole was 98 feet long, 88 feet wide, and almost 50 feet deep . No one was seriously hurt, yet the sound of a ” loud boom ” startled locals as the sinkhole opened. Fukuoka is home to around 1.5 million people, and is the fifth biggest city in Japan. Via CNN and Channel NewsAsia Images via Soichiro Takashima Facebook ( 1 , 2 )

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Repaired sinkhole in Japan is sinking again

The promise of self-driving trucks

October 4, 2016 by  
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Self-driving technology can drastically reduce the thousands of unnecessary fatalities on our roads, in addition to providing positive environmental impacts. The co-founder of Otto (recently acquired by Uber) will address long-haul inefficiencies through self-driving innovation, tackling issues including fuel consumption, carbon emissions, traffic congestion, and accidents.

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Sweden opens one of the world’s first electric roads

June 23, 2016 by  
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Sweden is making headlines for a brilliant environmentally conscious move: electric roads . They just opened a two kilometer test stretch in Sandviken on the E16 where electric vehicles can connect to an overhead system similar to light rail. They are now among the first countries globally to test electric power on public roads for ” heavy transports .” The move could bring them closer towards the country’s goal of operating a fossil fuel-free fleet by 2030 . The electric road system, which is similar to a light rail , allows trucks to run on electric power while on the unique road, and then on regular roads they operate as hybrid vehicles. On the electric road, trucks gain power from a pantograph which connects to power lines overhead. Not only does this allow the trucks to run on clean energy, but enables them to avoid recharging quite as much. Automotive company Scania is supplying the hybrid trucks, which also run on biofuel . Scania researcher Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt said electrification could result in sizable fuel savings . Related: Swedish students design one of the world’s most energy-efficient rail-bound vehicles Swedish Transport Administration Director General Lena Erixon said , “Electric roads will bring us one step closer to fossil fuel-free transports, and has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions. This is one way of developing environmentally smart transports in the existing road network. It could be a good supplement to today’s road and rail network.” The testing will go on until 2018 and allow Sweden to see how the technology functions in the real world. Along with the transport administration, Sweden’s energy and sustainable growth agencies will help fund the project. Scania and Siemens, who developed the conductive technology, will also help pay. Region Gävleborg will act as the project coordinator. Swedish Energy Agency Director-General Erik Brandsma said , “Electric roads are one more piece of the puzzle in the transport system of the future, especially for making the heavy transport section fossil fuel-free over the long term.” Via Green Car Congress Images via Wikimedia Commons and Trafikverket

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Sweden opens one of the world’s first electric roads

New wave energy generator taps into hard-to-reach low frequencies of the ocean

June 23, 2016 by  
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Wave power —energy harvested from ocean currents—is likely to be the next big thing in renewable energy generation, so researchers are spending quite a bit of time on new technologies to take advantage of the sustainable energy source. A new device has emerged that taps into hard-to-reach low frequencies of the ocean wave energy spectrum, utilizing energy that most harvesters cannot access. This makes it possible to draw even more power from calm, slow-moving seas, amplifying the potential of wave energy. Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology created the new device to capture “blue energy,” another name for wave power. It’s a hybrid system that combines the efforts of two generators: an electromagnetic generator (EMG) and a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG). EMG systems are the most common in existing wave energy harvesters, because they target high frequencies of fast-moving ocean currents. The more recently developed TENG technology is the one that taps into the lower frequencies, making Wang’s wave energy generator more efficient than existing models. By combining the two approaches, the generator captures a broader spectrum of ocean energy. Related: New Swedish wave energy buoy boasts 5x the output of existing technology “The TENG has the unique advantage of high output voltage, and its output power is linearly scaled with frequency, making it ideal for harvesting low-frequency energy,” Wang told Phys.org. “On the other hand, the EMG’s output power is proportional to the square of the frequency, so the EMG is ideally suited for harvesting high-frequency energy. At low frequency, (< 5 Hz), the effective output of the TENG is much higher than that of the EMG.” The research results were recently published in the journal ACS Nano . Via Phys.org Images via Saltvand/Flickr and Zhong Lin Wang

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New wave energy generator taps into hard-to-reach low frequencies of the ocean

Samsung designs “see-through” trucks to make the roads safer

June 22, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Most of us have been there at one time or another; stuck behind a truck on a narrow two-lane road with the choice between cruising impatiently at the back or taking a potentially hideous risk of blindly overtaking. So what if the truck in front of us had a screen that displayed a real-time video of the road ahead? It’s not an entirely new concept , but one that Samsung has revived in Argentina. Sure, it’s partly an ad campaign, but is the idea genius or just really, truly terrible? Read the rest of Samsung designs “see-through” trucks to make the roads safer Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Argentina , green transportation , led monitor , LED screen , outdoor LED , road safety , safety truck , samsung , see through truck , traffic safety

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Samsung designs “see-through” trucks to make the roads safer

How to Carpool with Strangers

June 28, 2013 by  
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Written by Ben Jervey, Shareable Magazine Since 1999, Steven Schoeffler has run the site eRideShare.com, which helps connect fellow commuters into car pools and rid the roads of single occupancy vehicles. Schoeffler gave us some tips on how to…

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BlackBerry Outage Made Roads Safer for Everybody

October 17, 2011 by  
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Flickr / CC BY 3.0 Don’t Text and Drive! For years I’ve been saying that to make cities greener, we need to encourage more people to walk , bike , and take mass transit. There are many things to do to achieve that goal, and one of them is m… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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BlackBerry Outage Made Roads Safer for Everybody

Number of Teleworkers In America Takes Dramatic Dive

July 12, 2011 by  
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Image Credit Telework 2011 Report, pdf here click to enlarge We’re big fans of Teleworking or homeworking or whatever you want to call it; doing so keeps cars off the roads and saves a lot of energy.

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Number of Teleworkers In America Takes Dramatic Dive

Wind Turbine Bridge Transforms Italian Viaduct Into Public Space

February 5, 2011 by  
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A bridge that repurposes abandoned viaducts, produces energy AND looks futuristically sleek? Yes, it can be true, and it is Italy’s proposed Wind Turbine Viaduct called “Solar Wind.” Southern Italy is dotted with unused viaducts, and rather than spending $50 million to tear them down, town officials near Calabria held a competition called “Solar Park South ,” open to designers and engineers asking them to come up with an environmentally conscious way to re-use the existing structures

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