Japan relaunches its whaling industry

July 2, 2019 by  
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Japan has officially relaunched its commercial whaling industry, sending the first vessels out to sea this month for the first time in 30 years. Animal rights and marine conservation defenders have condemned the relaunch of the whaling industry as a loss for whales and marine ecosystems, but the Japanese argue that it is a traditional part of their culture and that it will not negatively impact whale populations. The first vessel returned with a 26-foot-long minke whale, but the ships will also hunt Baird’s beaked, sei and Brydes whales. In total, the Japanese Fishing Agency will allow 227 whales to be slaughtered and sold legally to restaurants and markets. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ According to Reuters, whales make up 0.1 percent of the total meat consumption in Japan , and the industry supports only about 300 jobs. Though it is seemingly insignificant as food stock, it does hold cultural importance for many Japanese who grew up eating whale. “It’s part of Japan’s food culture,” Sachiko Sakai, a taxi driver in Kushiro, Japan, told Reuters . “The world opposes killing whales, but you can say the same thing about many of the animals bred on land and killed for food.” Much of the momentum for the relaunch has been initiated by the prime minster, who received considerable election support from constituents from a whaling city. In 1986, Japan announced that it would allow whaling for scientific research, purportedly to quantify the populations and the impact of whaling. Many conservationists believed that commercial whaling continued under the guise of scientific exploration. Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International said, “The word ‘research’ may have been removed from the side of the factory ship, finally ending Japan’s charade of harpooning whales under the guise of science , but these magnificent creatures will still be slaughtered for no legitimate reason.” Via Reuters Image via Rob Oo

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Japan relaunches its whaling industry

This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

July 2, 2019 by  
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Earlier this month, Native Shoes showed its true sustainability colors with the unveiling of 100 percent biodegradable, plant-based shoes that are completely free of animal products, not to mention stylish and perfect for wearing all summer long. The natural-tone sneaker is a culmination of plant materials including a midsole composed of 90 percent cork and 10 percent sisal backing. The outsole material is produced from natural lactae hevea through a 50-stage process that takes up to two weeks to complete. An organic linen sockliner with kenaf originating in Africa and corn felt make up the insole. Rather than the toxic glues that hold together most shoes, the Plant Shoe is held together with olive oil-soaked jute thread and natural, latex-based glue. For the main upper, the material is formed from otherwise discarded pineapple husks along with eucalyptus and organic cotton fibers. The laces are 100 percent organic cotton as well. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic This plant-based and biodegradable design is in sharp, and much-needed, contrast to typical sneakers made from petroleum-based products, plastic , leather and other chemical-laden fabrics. Americans alone dump more than 300 million shoes into landfills every year, almost none of which will break down in a timely manner. Aimed at a completely sustainable model for shoe manufacturing, use and disposal, now and in the future, the Plant Shoe can be commercially composted at the end of its lifecycle. “The Plant Shoe was inspired by Native Shoes’ mission to become 100 percent lifecycle managed by 2023,” said Michael Belgue, creative director of Native Shoes. “The next step beyond our current recycling initiative was to create something that wouldn’t need to be reused or recycled but instead generates zero waste . Something that was born from the earth and could go back into it.” Although each component was scrutinized for the most sustainable options, the sneaker was designed to be stylish yet classic enough to outlast short-term trends. Unisex by design, Plant Shoes can be ordered directly from the company online or found at a brick and mortar location. They retail for $200 and are available in sizes 8-13 for men and 5-10 for women. Founded in 2009, Native Shoes is a footwear company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada with the goal of producing shoes that are light on you and the environment. Taking charge in the fight against post-consumer shoe waste, “Live Lightly” is the company motto and the Plant Shoe is here to prove Native Shoes’ dedication to that mindset. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

Polar bears invade small island in northern Russia, causing an emergency warning

February 12, 2019 by  
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Islands in northern Russia faced a crisis last weekend after a group of polar bears invaded the region. Officials in Novaya Zemlya issued an emergency warning for the small town of Belushya Guba, leaving residents scared to venture outside of their homes. Photos of polar bears invading garbage heaps surfaced over the weekend, while school officials say they have spotted the animals near buildings and homes in the area. Authorities claim they have seen polar bears enter the town in the past but have never experienced anything of this scale. Related: Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought “I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity,” Zhigansha Musin, an administrative leader in the town, explained. According to EcoWatch , Russia has placed polar bears on the endangered species list, which means killing them is not an option. Officials are currently using non-lethal methods to try to remove the bears, but if they are unsuccessful, then culling them will be explored. Unfortunately, the bears have not responded to any attempts to scare them off the island. The polar bear invasion started back in December. Since then, officials have counted more than 52 bears in the region. Local officials also say that the bears are becoming more aggressive toward residents, and a few have entered homes and businesses. Locals are scared to venture outside of their homes out of fear of an attack. It is sad to hear that residents are fearful of their own safety. It is also unfortunate that these polar bears could be killed if the situation continues to escalate. But the underlying issue at hand is the growing problem of climate change and the affects global warming is having on the polar ice cap. As temperatures continue to rise all around the globe, the Arctic is experiencing double the rate of melting than any other location on Earth. The melting of permafrost and the polar cap is driving polar bears out of the region, forcing them to invade human settlements out of a basic need for survival. Via EcoWatch Image via Unsplash

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Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the U.S.

December 17, 2018 by  
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The Asian longhorned tick used to be a species only found in China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Russia, plus parts of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. But last year, an established population was found in New Jersey, and since then, the ticks have been found in eight other states. Because the tick is parthenogenetic — which means the females can reproduce without needing male DNA — it is possible that it will soon occupy large parts of the Pacific Northwest and the eastern U.S. “There is a good chance for this tick to become widely distributed in North America,” said Ilia Rochlin, a researcher at the Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology. “Mosquito control has been very successful in this country, but we are losing the battle with tick-borne diseases.” Related: Winter ticks are responsible for New England’s moose massacres The Asian longhorned tick’s ability to clone makes it possible for them to cause “massive” infestations of hosts, and Rochlin said that researchers have already seen large numbers on livestock and dogs. He added that the ticks can bite humans, pets, farm animals and wildlife . The Journal of Medical Entomology published new research about the tick last week, and even though the tick can cause infectious disease, there have not been any reported illnesses in animals or humans in the U.S. One of the diseases the Asian longhorned tick can transmit is a hemorrhagic illness called thrombocytopenia syndrome. According to the CDC , the illness recently emerged in China, South Korea and Japan. The syndrome causes severe fever, nausea, diarrhea and muscle pain. Most patients must be hospitalized, and almost a third of infected people have died. The tick can also carry other illnesses like Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Rochlin said that all of these illnesses can lead to severe disabilities. Asian longhorned ticks can spread quickly in favorable habitats. If you add that to their aggressive biting behavior and potential for carrying pathogens, Rochlin said the tick is a significant public health concern. + Journal of Medical Entromology Via CNN Image via James Gathany / CDC

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Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the U.S.

Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for New Moscow

November 12, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects and Russian firm TPO Pride Architects have been selected as one of the consortiums to design the new Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye neighborhood, a new development on the western boundary of Moscow , Russia that’s been dubbed “New Moscow.” As expected of Zaha Hadid Architects, the renderings of the winning design depict curvaceous, futuristic architecture. The two other consortiums selected to develop the project include Japanese firm Nikken Sekki with local practice UNK Project as well as Italian architects Archea Associati alongside Russian partner ABD Architects. Spanning a site area of 460 hectares, Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye will serve as a new residential, employment, civic and cultural hub that will be connected to Moscow’s metro system with a 19-kilometer metro line scheduled to break ground in 2020. The neighborhood is expected to not only integrate smart technology  but to also serve as a beacon for sustainable development, with a total of 4 million square meters of new buildings developed. A third of that land will be dedicated to green space as well as a 30-hectare lake at the center. New houses will accommodate 66,500 residents who will enjoy access to everything from new schools and medical clinics to a wide variety of civic, cultural and retail options. A total of 800,000 square meters of office space will be added with a focus on accommodating the financial, consulting, legal and auditing sectors. An expansion project of this size has been deemed necessary to relieve Moscow’s increasing congestion due to a skyrocketing population that has seen a growth of over 3 million people (over 30 percent) to 12.4 million in the past 20 years. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects weaves energy-saving tech into an otherworldly UAE landscape “Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye will be a global benchmark for smart, sustainable cities,” Zaha Hadid Architects said in its press release. “Supported by the EDF Group’s platform for 3D simulations of energy and urban scenarios, the project will optimize the consumption and production of sustainable, local energy sources while integrating electric mobility, new technologies, services and infrastructure to increase connectivity and efficiencies. Its design also enables residents and visitors to unwind with their families, friends and the natural world that permeates through the heart of the city, creating an urban environment of ecological technology that seamlessly integrates natural and human-made systems.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Renders by VA and Flying Architecture via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Beer prices expected to soar as climate change challenges barley production

October 17, 2018 by  
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Shrinking barley yields caused by climate change will be disrupting the beer industry in the coming decades. The grain is central to beer production, and a new study published on Monday signals trouble for brewers who rely on the failing crop. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, and consumers are equally as dismayed by the report, which will cause a surge in beer prices up to two times its current cost for some nations. The shortages in barley production are caused by extreme weather that has intensified because of global warming . Both heat waves and droughts are expected to decimate the beer industry in the second half of the century. These events, which are predicted to occur every two or three years, are directly linked to rising temperatures. At the current expected rates of temperature rise, experts say the production drop is inevitable. Related: A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves The study, published by researchers at the University of East Anglia, said that brewery troubles are minor in comparison to other challenges the planet will face from climate change. Among these are food security, fresh water and storm damage. Even so, the 3 to 17 percent drop in barley yields is disheartening for beer fans who will face shortages and price spikes. China is set to face the most shortages this century, with the U.S. as a runner up. Beer production in Germany and Russia will also fall on hard times, but Ireland, Italy, Canada and Poland will see the largest price increases. In Ireland, which is home to a popular brew culture, the price for a 500ml bottle could rise from $2.50 to a whopping $5. “Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries,” said Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics and lead author of the study. Guan emphasized the importance of recognizing that climate change is not something that developed nations will be immune to. Ultimately, the answer lies in supporting policies that reduce the emissions causing this climate disruption, and many companies are moving forward and instating their own regulations. One such company is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewing house, which is planning on cutting its emissions by 25 percent by 2025. The company is also working on a drought-resistant strain of barley that could offset shortages as well as strains that could be grown throughout the winter. Via Reuters Image via Raw Pixel

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Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building

October 17, 2018 by  
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Delft-based architectural office cepezed recently completed a solar-powered branch for Graafschap College in Doetinchem that — unlike most school buildings in the Netherlands — eschews natural gas in favor of a power supply that’s 100 percent electric. Built for the students of the Sports & Exercise and Safety & Craftsmanship departments, the new school building prioritizes a healthy indoor learning environment that maximizes access to natural daylight and views of the outdoors. In homage of the many oak trees that grow around the building, the architects partially wrapped the structure in tree-shaped weathered steel cladding that serves as a double skin for solar shading. Built to house approximately 700 students, the new Graafschap College branch at Sportpark Zuid features at its heart a large, light-filled atrium named The Midfield in reference to sports and teamwork. The Midfield is organized into a series of cascading terraces with large landing areas that serve as informal meeting spaces. The glass atrium roof floods The Midfield with natural light and is combined with sensor-enabled LED lighting to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. “In order to be able to look over the car park from the ground floor, and to give the building the appearance of a pavilion in green surroundings, the school has been elevated by a half-story and placed on a basement,” the architecture firm noted. “Beside the car park, the height difference is bridged by an elongated, landscaped staircase, which also incorporates a ramp.” Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 For the facade, the architects installed alternating strips of glass and black aluminum panels to create a sleek and modern appearance. A second skin of perforated Corten steel cut into the shapes of oak trees is laid over the east, west and south facades of the building and helps deflect unwanted solar gain without preventing daylight from entering the building. cepezedinterieur handled the interior design, which also follows a contemporary aesthetic but with brighter colors and patterns that allude to sports and movement. In addition to solar panels, the school also uses solar boilers for water heating. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building

Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

June 14, 2018 by  
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Today, at 6 p.m. local time in Moscow , the 2018 World Cup will begin with a match between host country Russia and Saudi Arabia. This year’s tournament will be the first in which FIFA required that all stadiums be built and renovated with sustainability in mind. Despite this requirement, some stadiums, such as Kaliningrad, have been less than environmentally friendly. Kaliningrad Stadium was built on one of Kaliningrad’s last wetlands, a habitat for rare birds, on October Island. “It was a typical delta island, with peat and a wetland reed-bed. It was a little corner of heaven in the city, where birds lived,” local ecologist Alexandra Korolyova told ABC News . “Really, if Russia paid more attention to protecting the environment, it could potentially have become a reservation or national park within the city.” The fate of Kaliningrad’s wetlands was sealed in 2014 when much of the habitat was buried beneath more than a million tons of sand to prepare the grounds for the stadium . While Kaliningrad Stadium was constructed with green materials and features energy efficient ventilation and electrical systems, its impact is not ecologically sustainable, particularly considering how the wetlands once served as a natural cleaner of the nearby polluted river. “We’ve lost a lot, and I don’t see what we’ve gained,” said Korolyova. Related: Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers From the Russian state perspective, not much was lost at Kaliningrad. “Everything was done in accordance with best practice,” chairman of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee Arkady Dvorkovich told the Associated Press . “This place, in my view, was more like wasteland than a place with very good nature. Theoretically, of course, you can call any swamp a very beautiful and environmentally clean place, but it’s not really correct in relation to the city infrastructure and the cities .” Via EcoWatch , ABC News and Associated Press Images via Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia and A. Savin/Wikimedia

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Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

New Block design offers a low-cost and sustainable solution to urban infill

June 14, 2018 by  
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Los Angeles-based architecture firm Newman Garrison + Partners has unveiled New Block, a patented “green building solution” for urban developers nationwide. Created with affordability and livability in mind, New Block offers a cost-effective strategy for landowners and developers to maximize density on smaller lots, typically two-acre urban infill sites. Elements such as multi-family housing and an abundance of open space are part of New Block’s long-term sustainable concept. All architectural units in the New Block design concept would be built with Type V wood-frame construction, while 24,000 square feet would be leftover for usable open space — 45 percent of that as park landscape. The design also includes a green roof system. The concept’s licensing structure allows developers to hire Newman Garrison + Partners or a local architect of their choice to execute the development. “The difficulties and challenges we face today are quite different than the ones we faced nine years ago,” explained NG+P Chairman Kevin Newman in a statement. “The continuing rise in land costs, construction and materials have created road blocks within the industry to develop and build a more affordable housing type within our urban neighborhoods. New Block is a bridge between lower density three-story garden walk-up apartments and four-story over podium construction typologies, a design concept that ultimately offers developers construction plans that address the constraints surrounding the maximization of density, while meeting the open space and sustainability requirements of smaller land sites at an affordable rate.” Related: Solar-Powered OnTop House Can be Added to the Top of Almost Any Urban Home New Block is a proven design concept. In 2010, Irvine-based affordable housing developer Jamboree Housing Corporation and the City of Buena Park tapped Newman Garrison + Partners to apply New Block in a project now known as Park Landing. The project has won 10 industry awards for design excellence as well as LEED Gold certification for its homes. + Newman Garrison + Partners Images via Newman Garrison + Partners

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Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid to masterplan Russias largest port

June 8, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won the Admiral Serebryakov Embankment competition, an international masterplanning contest for Novorossiysk, a Russian city on the Black Sea coast with the nation’s largest shipping port. Created in collaboration with local architecture firm Pride TPO, the winning masterplan aims to reconnect the city with its coast and celebrate the region’s rich industrial history and relationship with the sea. The masterplan will introduce a diverse mix of programming and facilities that prioritize non-vehicular circulation. As the nation’s main port on the Black Sea, the southern Russian city of Novorossiysk connects the country with the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Suez Canal. The city is the third-busiest port in Europe by turnover and is the leading Russian port for exporting grain. Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO tap into Novorossiysk’s rich history and traditions as a center of trade in their masterplan. The masterplan is organized on the concept of “instancing,” a concept borrowed from photography in which a subject is slightly manipulated in between frames. Here, it is applied in the 13.9-hectare masterplan’s nine main buildings, each a manipulation of the same form in response to the individual structure’s functions, site conditions, and requirements. The design was informed through digital computation models . Related: Zaha Hadid’s only house rises like a spaceship in a forest near Moscow “Connected at various levels with walkways, squares, and podia and controlled by parametric [tools], the relationships of volumes are informed by multiple simultaneous iterations that test the orientation, height and thickness of these volumes. Utilising this parametric model allows the designers and stakeholders alike to accommodate fluctuations in the financial, volumetric, functional and time-related projections of the client without losing control of a coherent and architecturally elegant urban formation,” explained Zaha Hadid Architects. “Setting the orientation perpendicular to the sea, the Masterplan ensures maximum open unimpeded views towards the sea, as well as a comfortable layout considering the wind movements in and around the site. This results in a configuration that is porous and well-knit with the city fabric, inviting residents as well as visitors in and around the volumes.” The first phase of the masterplan will start construction in the second half of 2019. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects, by VA

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