European parliament bans Monsanto from entering

September 29, 2017 by  
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Monsanto recently refused to be present at a hearing in which the European parliament planned to dig into allegations the agrochemical company unduly influenced studies into glyphosate’s safety, according to The Guardian. The European parliament wasn’t too happy with that – and just banned Monsanto from entering parliament. The agriculture and environment committees of the European parliament had set up a hearing for October 11, at which academics, campaigners, and regulators were to be present – but Monsanto decided not to come. The hearing is expected to go over allegations the company influenced regulatory studies into the safety of a key ingredient in their best-selling product RoundUp . Angry, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) subsequently banned Monsanto lobbyists . The Guardian reports this is the first instance of MEPs utilizing new rules to withdraw access for businesses that disregard summons to hearings or inquiries. Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer The leaders of major parliamentary blocks supported the ban in a vote, according to a spokesperson for European parliament president Antonio Tajani, who also said, “One has to assume it is effective immediately,” even as officials need to work through a formal process. Under the ban, Monsanto officials will not be able to go to committee meetings, meet MEPs, or use digital resources in Strasbourg or Brussles on parliament premises, according to The Guardian. Green Party president Philippe Lamberts said, “Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament. U.S. corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this.” The vote comes before a decision on whether or not to re-license glyphosate later this year. Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president, said in a letter to MEPs, “We have observed with increasing alarm the politicization of the EU procedure on the renewal of glyphosate, a procedure which should be scientific but which in many respects has been hijacked by populism.” One expert World Health Organization panel has linked glyphosate to cancer , while another said it was safe for public use. According to The Guardian, Monsanto spends around €300,000 to €400,000 – or around $354,690 to $472,920 – on lobbying in Brussels. Via The Guardian Images via Die Grünen Kärnten on Flickr and BUND Bundesverband on Flickr

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European parliament bans Monsanto from entering

Evovelo unveils cute little solar car you can pedal like a bicycle

July 28, 2017 by  
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Today Evovelo unveiled a tiny solar-powered vehicle that combines the advantages of a car — such as safety, weather protection and stability — with the ease of a bicycle and the low energy consumption and space utilization of a light electric vehicle. The cute little trike is called Mö, and its practicality, customization, and sustainability make it a great fit for commuters looking to lower their environmental impact. Mö is perfect for short commutes, as it is made from sustainable materials and it has an all-electric range of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles). The vehicle has a top speed of 45 Km/h (about 30 mph), and a set of roof-mounted solar panels rapidly recharge the vehicle’s 1000Wh battery. A single hour in the sun will yield 5-10 kilometers of range, and the vehicle will fully recharge in 3-4 hours. The tricycle can also be propelled by pedal power to further extend its range, and a regenerative braking system stores energy as the vehicle slows down. Its dimensions of 140 cm wide, 200 cm long and 130 cm high means Mö doesn’t take up much space; however, it is large enough to seat two adults up front and two children in the back with optional kids seats. Because Mö has a full lighting system, turn blinkers, safety belts, a front crash crumple zone, side impact protection, and other safety features, one can feel comfortable commuting in the environmentally-friendly vehicle. The vehicle’s battery can be removed and charged at home, in the office, or in a garage – wherever one has access to an electrical outlet. Evovelo’s new prototype officially debuted today in Malaga, Spain, and more information — including its cost — will be released in the near future. + Evovelo

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Evovelo unveils cute little solar car you can pedal like a bicycle

Erin Brockovich helps Oklahoma Pawnee Nation take on fracking companies

July 11, 2017 by  
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Oklahoma has become an earthquake hotspot in recent years, and many are blaming companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . Last year, the state saw its largest earthquake ever recorded at a 5.8 magnitude, close to the town of Pawnee. The Pawnee Nation is suing over 25 oil and gas companies, with the help of famous consumer advocate Erin Brockovich . The amount of earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 or higher in Oklahoma was greater than in California for the first time in 2014. Many people blame the practice employed by oil and gas companies of injecting wastewater from fracking into the Earth. Related: Oklahoma earthquake activity up 4000%, locals sue oil and gas companies National Geographic explained the amount of earthquakes in Oklahoma spiked as did activity from fossil fuel companies. Once the state saw either none or a couple of magnitude 3 earthquakes every year. In 2009 that number escalated to 20. From there the situation only worsened: the state had 109 magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes in 2013, 579 in 2014, 903 in 2015, and 623 in 2016. That’s two or three of these quakes every day. Brockovich actually used to spend her summers in Oklahoma with her grandparents as a child. She told National Geographic, “The only thing I’d worry about growing up there was tornadoes. Now I’d be afraid not of a tornado, but an earthquake? That’s just bizarre.” She said it’s hard “to go back to Oklahoma, to see how on edge [the Pawnee people] are. The question they keep asking is, ‘When will it end?’ The Pawnee Nation is suing Eagle Road Oil LLC, Cummings Oil Company, and 25 other companies for damage to reservation property and historical buildings, with the help of Weitz & Luxenberg along with Brockovich. They say the companies were knowingly causing the earthquakes and their actions “constitute wanton or reckless disregard for public or private safety .” Via EcoWatch and National Geographic Images via Sarah Nichols on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Erin Brockovich helps Oklahoma Pawnee Nation take on fracking companies

Give this clock a roll and it’ll show you the time anywhere on Earth

July 11, 2017 by  
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This World Clock is something that every global citizen needs today. The simple yet incredibly clever device quickly tells you what time it is anywhere on the planet. Developed by Japanese product designer Masafumi Ishikawa , the tiny clock has 12 flat edges and a single hour hand. Each side corresponds to a city – and as you roll the clock from one side to another, the hand automatically changes its position to show the time in that location. Masafumi Ishikawa’s World Clock is made of wood and finished with austere characters. It’s a handy and highly functional object that embraces traditional Japanese taste, minimalism and essentiality. The clock’s visual clarity mirrors its functional and technological simplicity. It doesn’t have multiple displays, and there is no need to manually set the time or adjust the mechanism – simple rotation is the only physical action necessary to tell the time anywhere on earth. The trick is a simple ball bearing that sets the new position of the hand when the clock is rotated. Masafumi Ishikawa has also developed a second version of the World Clock that addresses daylight saving time shifts adopted by some countries. This DST clock features an additional ring that advances the clock’s time by one hour during the summer months for cities where daylight savings time takes place. Related: This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise Masafumi Ishikawa’s World Clock by received a Lexus Design Award back in 2013, and it was presented during the Milan Furniture Fair 2017 at Salone Satellite in Rho Fiera. On this occasion the designer revealed to Inhabitat that he will shortly launch a crowdfunding campaign to put this bold prototype into production. + Masafumi Ishikawa Images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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Give this clock a roll and it’ll show you the time anywhere on Earth

Hundreds of radioactive wild boars run amok in Fukushima, Japan

March 18, 2017 by  
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Packs of radioactive wild boars are running loose in northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 forced entire towns and villages to abandon ship. Six years later, the beasts pose more than a minor nuisance to displaced residents, a number of whom are eager to return to their homes as the Japanese government begins to lift evacuation orders in certain areas. Besides their obvious toxicity—tests by officials show that some animals possess levels of cesium-137 300 times higher than what is considered safe—the boars are also known to attack humans. Swaths of farmland, now gone to seed, have become prime real estate for foraging varmints. According to Yomiuri , a local newspaper, boars have caused more than $854,000 in agricultural damage in Fukushima prefecture. Local authorities in the affected towns have hired teams of hunters to shoot the boars with air rifles, or trap them in cages using rice flour as bait. Related: Fukushima radiation levels at highest since 2011 disaster “After people left, they began coming down from the mountains and now they are not going back,” Shoichiro Sakamoto, who leads a group of 13 hunters in the town of Tomioka, told Reuters . “They found a place that was comfortable. There was plenty of food and no one to come after them.” A recent government survey found than half the 21,500 former residents of the town of Namie, one of the towns included in the proposed evacuation-order lift, have decided against returning, citing fears over the safety of the nuclear plant, which will take decades to dismantle. Several have also raised concerns about the bands of marauding boars. “I’m sure officials at all levels are giving some thought to this,” said Hidezo Sato, a former seed merchant in Namie. “Something must be done.” Via Reuters Image via Wikipedia

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Hundreds of radioactive wild boars run amok in Fukushima, Japan

Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

February 28, 2017 by  
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A pod of swimming pigs has delighted tourists in the Bahamas for decades, but several of them were recently found dead. Wayde Nixon, who owns some of the pigs, said they appear to have eaten food they aren’t accustomed to. The tragedy has drawn criticism of irresponsible tourists who often feed the animals human food, including alcohol like rum or beer. About 20 swimming pigs once frolicked in the Exuma Cays, according to the Bahamas’ tourism website . Swimming alongside the animals and photographing them may be harmless, but Nixon said people have also tried to ride on top of the pigs or give them alcohol. He told The Nassau Guardian, “We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it. Right now it’s blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.” Related: Yoda the Piglet Escapes Slaughterhouse, Finds Love and Safety He blamed their deaths on someone giving them bad food, but Bahamas Humane Society president Kim Aranha said it could have been an accident, and the animals could have consumed something poisonous. She told The Independent, “It could be malicious but I don’t really see why anyone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals. I know there are a lot of silly sailors that go and feed them alcohol to try and get them drunk but that’s not to mistake them with the tour operators based out of Nassau who have treated them with excellent care.” Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray said the government will work to prevent tourists from feeding the pigs, such as through a boundary line so visitors could still see the pigs but wouldn’t be able to feed them. He said his department is working with the Ministry of Tourism to implement a safeguard for the remaining 15 or so pigs. Via The Nassau Guardian and The Independent Images via Pixabay and cdorobek on Flickr

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Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

Tesla is so confident in their vehicles they’re offering lifetime insurance

February 27, 2017 by  
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Once again Tesla is shaking up the automotive industry, this time through insurance for life. The company has started offering a lifetime maintenance and insurance package for some customers, meaning monthly car insurance bills could soon be a budget item of the past. Tesla President of Global Sales and Service Jonathan McNeill said, “It’s our vision in the future that we’ll be able to offer a single price for the car, maintenance, and insurance in a really compelling offering for the consumer. And we’re currently doing that today.” Assured of the features incorporated in a Tesla that purportedly make the vehicle safer than a typical car, such as Autopilot, Tesla has begun including lifetime insurance and maintenance package right in the initial price of their cars . The new package reflects the idea that their safety features could reduce the price of maintenance and insurance. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car In an earnings call, McNeill said, “We’ve been doing it quietly, but in Asia in particular where we started this, now the majority of Tesla cars are sold with an insurance product that is customized to Tesla, that takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features but also the maintenance costs of the car.” Such a package could allow consumers to know exactly how much a Tesla car will cost them over the long term, rather than facing unforeseen repair costs or rising insurance costs. Elon Musk made it clear Tesla is willing to offer the package if insurance companies aren’t on board, even though he said his company isn’t trying to disrupt the insurance market. He said of the insurance plan, “If we need to we’ll insource it, but I think we’ll find that insurance partners do adjust rates proportionate to the risk of a Tesla.” Via Mashable Images via Tesla Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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Tesla is so confident in their vehicles they’re offering lifetime insurance

Chilean home’s folding timber flap gives owners optimum temperature control

February 27, 2017 by  
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Designed by Santiago-based B+V Architects , the Folding House in Las Cabras, Chile was strategically wrapped with a wooden “flap” to give the owners optimal temperature control. The unique feature prevents excessive solar radiation during the searing hot summer months while inviting the heat in winter. In addition to providing year-round temperature control, the responsive design element pulls double duty as a sun-streaming cover for the rooftop deck, which offers spectacular lake side views. The stunning 900-square-meter home was tucked into a steep incline, exposing it to the area’s high temperatures. To create a responsive design that wouldn’t sacrifice aesthetics, the architects added the double-ventilated wooden façade as an attractive and protective element. The feature allows the homeowners to enjoy the amazing lake views year-round from the comfort of the outdoor deck, without overheating in the summer months. Related: Eco friendly origami house unfolds on Brazilian beach The double ventilated wooden flap facade shades the home’s exterior walls and roof. In summer, the wooden facade acts as an eave that protects the home from excessive solar radiation . During winter, on the other hand, the wooden envelope allows heat to enter the interior, which is stabilized by high-quality insulation , as well as elimination of all thermal bridges. For additional heating on cloudy days, a small wood-burning stove can be fired up. On the interior, large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the home with natural light and also enhance cross ventilation when opened. A large open courtyard sits in the center of the interior, seamlessly connecting the exterior with the interior. + B+V Architects Via FlipBoard Photography by Rodolfo Lagos Berardi Images via B+V Architects

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Chilean home’s folding timber flap gives owners optimum temperature control

Alison Canyon natural gas facility could reopen despite unresolved issues over leak

January 18, 2017 by  
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In a troubling decision , California state regulators could allow the Aliso Canyon natural gas site near Los Angeles to reopen, despite the fact that the cause of 2015’s massive gas leak has never been determined. In October, a pressurized gas well blew out and released a massive plume of natural gas for five months before it was sealed permanently with cement, forcing thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes. It’s unclear exactly when the site will reopen, and there are still two public hearings in February before regulators make a final decision. So far, only 34 of the remaining 114 wells on the site have been tested for safety. While those particular wells have passed pressure tests, there are indications that some may have below-ground leaks. The extent of them, however, is unknown. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Santa Susana Fault runs through the gas field, yet seismic testing has yet been completed verifying the safety of the facility in the event of an earthquake . Geologists tapped by the state in December 2016 warned regulators that a significant earthquake is likely to hit the area sometime in the next 50 years. Related: Damage report reveals LA methane leak is one of the worst disasters in US history Despite this, there is some good news: the state is requiring Southern California Gas Co. to take new safety precautions that weren’t in place before the leak. For one thing, the utility is required to monitor wells for leaks now. Regulators are capping the production of the field – while it has a capacity of 83 billion cubic feet, it’s only going to be allowed to operate at 29 billion cubic feet going forward, with surface pressures nearly 20 percent less than what the gas company has requested. While reopening the facility still poses risks, it seems the state is doing what it can to reduce them in the future. Via Los Angeles Times Images via SoCalGas

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Alison Canyon natural gas facility could reopen despite unresolved issues over leak

Snhettas luxury cabin with Aurora Borealis views opens at Treehotel

January 18, 2017 by  
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If a room with Aurora Borealis views sounds like the perfect getaway, you’ll love what’s popped up at Sweden’s Treehotel . The boutique hotel, which comprises designer treehouses near the Arctic Circle, just welcomed its first guests to the 7th room, a luxury elevated cabin designed by architecture firm Snøhetta. Hovering ten meters off the ground, the elevated dwelling is a contemporary take on the traditional Nordic cabin and comfortably immerses guests in the beautiful Lapland landscape. Nestled within the evergreen canopy of a tall pine forest, Snøhetta’s 7th room offers stunning views of the Lapland treetops and the Lule River. The cabin is clad in dark-colored pine and thrust into the air by twelve columns. The architects blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living by adding large panoramic windows , a netted terrace suspended above the forest floor, an opening for a tree to pass through the cabin, and even an optical illusion: the cabin’s bottom surface is covered with a large black-and-white print of pine trees to make the cabin appear invisible from below. The elevated cabin is accessible via a staircase and a small lift. In contrast to the dark facade, the 55-square-meter interior features light-colored ash wood floors and birch plywood walls. Built to accommodate five, the cabin comprises two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and terrace spread out across two floors. The bedrooms are located on the upper level. Ample glazing allows copious amounts of natural light to pour in and frame landscape views. Expansive, openable skylights in the bedroom as well as a north-facing floor-to-ceiling window in the living room offer prime viewing opportunities of the Northern Lights. Related: Stunning Swedish Treehotel Opens This Weekend! “The design of the 7th room aims to bring people and nature closer together, extending the cabin’s social spaces to the outside and further blending the distinction between indoor and outdoor,” writes Snøhetta. “With its wooden characteristics and unique location in the treetops, the 7th room is a celebration of the Nordic cabin and the pine tree forest.” + Snøhetta Images © Johan Jansson

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