Antarctica reaches record high temperature

February 11, 2020 by  
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The frozen continent recently logged its warmest temperature to date, a whopping 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s quite a leap from its previous record of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit, set five years ago in 2015. The reading was documented at the Argentine research base of Esperanza and will soon be verified by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record. But we will, of course, begin a formal evaluation of the record, once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event. The record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional ‘foehn’ event over the area: a rapid warming of air coming down a slope or mountain,” Randall Cerveny, the WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes rapporteur, shared. Related:  NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Scientists advise that unless global warming is reined in, the South Pole’s ice and snow will disintegrate and cause sea levels to rise drastically. Currently, Vice reports that Antarctica sloughs off 127 gigatonnes of ice mass annually, equivalent to roughly 20,000 Great Pyramids of Giza! The warmer temperatures of the Antarctic are taking its toll on some of the continent’s well-known denizens. Frida Bengtsson, part of a Greenpeace expedition, told Time magazine in an email, “We’ve been in the Antarctic for the last month, documenting the dramatic changes this part of the world is undergoing as our planet warms. In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine  environment .” Certain areas of the frozen continent have become the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The WMO has even cited Antarctic temperatures to have risen almost 3 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the UN has been advising nations that global temperatures should not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The WMO website further explained, Antarctica  measures nearly twice the size of Australia and generally measures annual temperatures ranging “from about -10 degrees Celsius on the Antarctic coast to -60 degrees Celsius at the highest parts of the interior. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8 kilometers thick and contains 90% of the world’s freshwater, enough to raise sea level by around 60 meters were it all to melt.” + World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Via Vice , CNET and Time Images via Pixabay

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Antarctica reaches record high temperature

Odd.Bot, the weed-pulling robot that could eliminate herbicides

February 11, 2020 by  
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The aging adage, “there’s an app for that,” is evolving into, “there’s a robot for that.” More and more automation is finding its way to the market for household chores like cleaning floors, and now that innovation is in farmer’s fields with Odd.Bot, an automatic weeding robot. Odd.Bot made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month with an informational booth and the weed-plucking device on display. Martijn Lukaart, Founder and CEO, explains that Odd.Bot is currently intended for use in organic farming fields to make the weed-pulling process easier for large farms who currently do all the work by hand. Many large-scale farmers have already invested in a platform that allows workers to lay face down on a bed as they are propelled through the rows of crops. This provides workers a quicker and more comfortable way to pull weeds manually. However, Odd.Bot’s goal is to work the fields ahead of humans with many advantages for the  crops , farmers and workers. Related: California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate Firstly, Odd.Bot can improve crop yield by tackling weeds early on and continuously. This gives crops more room to grow without competition from weeds, and thus a larger yield. Additionally, Odd.Bot is 100% organic by achieving the task without any chemicals or harm to the plants . Using the robot provides farmers an alternative to the struggles of finding and keeping as many employees. Plus, it makes the job much easier for those workers who are on staff. Odd.Bot works by autonomously roving along rows of crops, propelled on heavy-duty tires. A mechanism in the center of the robot then extends down to extract weeds as it moves. Cameras and sensors keep the robot on task and away from growing crops, regardless of row width. The robots can be rented to clear fields for a jumpstart to the growing season or as helpful “hand” as crops mature. In addition to reducing the manual workload and minimizing the need for gas-guzzling tractors that pollute the environment, Odd.Bot also hopes to move into the traditional farming market where they can influence a diversion from traditional herbicide usage. On the company website, they state, “With our Weed Whacker we aim to save more than 170.000 liters of chemical herbicides in the next seven years.” By making organic farming more profitable, Odd.Bot also hopes to directly or indirectly contribute to providing healthy food at reasonable costs. + Odd.Bot Images via Odd.Bot

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Odd.Bot, the weed-pulling robot that could eliminate herbicides

Automatic, soil-less garden system lets you grow 76 plants in your own home

October 29, 2019 by  
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One of the biggest complaints about urban living is the lack of space to grow your own veggies, but this automatic home garden can fit in nearly any kitchen space. Recently launched on Kickstarter, Verdeat is an indoor garden system that uses soil-less, organic plant cultivation to grow up to 76 plants. Additionally, the innovative gardening system is made out of 95 percent recycled materials and is designed for zero waste. Although there are quite a few home garden systems on the market, Verdeat stands out in that it is designed to be flexible. The garden comes in three different sizes to better suit your needs. The system is arranged in a tower shape, made up of one, two or four stacked trays that use a soil-free organic system for cultivation. Each tray is suitable to a certain type of growth using a natural substrate (such as coconut fiber). For lighting, the system has an integrated lighting system that mimics sunlight and promotes faster growth. Related: This sleek lamp provides light and grows food Depending on the size, the trays are arranged precisely for seeds or microgreens but can also be ordered to include a tray of small potted plants, perfect for strawberries, flowers, peppers, onions and more. No matter the size, the entire system is designed to be user-friendly and produce zero waste . Better yet, the garden system is nearly 100 percent self-sufficient for weeks at a time. Almost entirely maintenance-free, the gardening tower only needs to be watered every 1 to 3 weeks. To make it even easier, there is even a handy app to take care of the plants while you are away from home. The app monitors the amount of water, energy and nutrients and adjusts automatically according to the needs of the plants. This precise system allows Verdeat to grow plants without generating unnecessary waste. + Verdeat Via Yanko Design Images via Verdeat

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Automatic, soil-less garden system lets you grow 76 plants in your own home

This Dark Beacon warns of the dangers of sea level rise

October 29, 2019 by  
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On the Greek island of Spetses, Irish designer Kieran Donnellan and a group of participants from the 2019 international festival Meetings of Design Students (MEDS) have installed a striking charred-wood pavilion that warns of the dangers of sea level rise. Set atop a small hill overlooking the old harbor, the installation — titled the Dark Beacon — is placed close to an existing lighthouse that serves as a counterpoint to the pavilion; whereas the lighthouse warns of immediate dangers, the Dark Beacon warns of future dangers. Inspired by the maritime culture of Spetses, the Dark Beacon takes the shape of a boat flipped on its head. Charred timber was used to clad the structure in a nod to the charring techniques used in traditional boat building and to allude to the overarching theme of global warming . Sea level rise is symbolized by two pools of water, one located on the ground floor and the other on the upper level connected via ladder. The distance between the two pools is approximately the maximum estimated sea level rise by the year 2100. Related: Giant totems in Poland warn against climate change catastrophe Located at the end of a long tree-lined avenue, the pavilion invites visitors through a triangular doorway that references the motion of boats in a confined shipyard. Inside, visitors walk on a bent ramp with an incline “designed to cause a brief moment of balance adjustment, just like the effect of stepping from land onto a boat,” reads the project statement.  The ramp leads to a visual cue for the sea level rise baseline: a pool of water with large stepping stones. A ladder provides access to the upper level, a viewpoint with seating and a pool at its base. The designer said, “This allows visitors to see just how vulnerable places like Spetses are to the impacts of sea-level rise .” + Kieran Donnellan Images via Kieran Donnellan

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This Dark Beacon warns of the dangers of sea level rise

Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

September 17, 2018 by  
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Lace up your hiking boots and trod into places inaccessible via horse, quad or car. Backpacking allows you to explore the outdoors while enjoying a little distance from the crowds squished together at the state campgrounds. There’s just something about planning for and carrying all the supplies you need for backwoods camping that is empowering and exciting. Once you’ve decided to give backpacking a try, make sure you’ve got the essentials covered. You will find that you can survive with very few comforts while backpacking, but there are some “must-haves” on the list. Here’s a backpacking checklist to ensure a successful start to your adventure! Sleeping and Camp Supplies Backpack — Choose a bag with either an internal or external frame, with the capacity to hold your necessities. Aim for the size that will hold the maximum weight you’re comfortable carrying, even though the goal will always be to avoid filling it completely. The capacity is measured in liters, so look for indicators like 60L or 90L in the product description. It’s best to get fitted by a professional at an outfitter such as REI for the most comfortable experience with your backpack. A 45L is adequate for overnight trips, while a 60L will meet the needs of most multi-day trips. Sleeping bag — Be sure to bring one rated for your weather conditions to ensure that you stay warm and dry. Also consider the weight and packability of the sleeping bag you choose. Roll pad or inflatable backpacking mattress — This is a welcome addition for both comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Tent — This is optional but recommended for protection from bugs and other critters that scurry in the night as well as rain. Some backpackers opt for a hammock instead of a tent . If this is your plan, seek out a lightweight one with a bug net and sturdy straps. Backpacker’s pillow — This is a comfort item. A rolled-up sweatshirt will do the job if needed. Related: Six tents perfect for camping this summer Cooking and Food Supplies Cookstove and fuel — These are lightweight and offer different gas options. A JetBoil or similar device quickly boils water (in less than two minutes) for your morning brew, oatmeal or dehydrated chicken fettuccine. White gas stoves work well at lower temperatures, and gas is easy to find. There are now stoves that heat with sticks and pine cones with the added luxury of a recharging attachment for electronics , too. Any variety will do the job. Just make sure you have the right gas and give it a trial run at home before you go. Food — The lightest and easiest food for backpacking is the pre-packaged, easy-to-find dehydrated meals such as Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry or AlpineAire. However, these meals are typically high in salt and can lead to dehydration and puffiness. In my opinion, most of them are only moderately palatable. There are harder-to-find brands, like Food for the Sole, that offer a shorter shelf life but higher quality ingredients and less processing. Because they are cooked in their own bags with the addition of only water, dehydrated meals eliminate the need for pots, pans or additional ingredients. They are a great place to start, but with a little experience, you’ll soon find many alternatives to add to your cooking repertoire. In addition to dehydrated meals, pack snacks with high protein and a combination of carbs and sugar, such as trail mix or protein bars. Jerky, dried fruit and durable fig bars are other good options. Supplies — Pack a pot and/or skillet for cooking and a cup, a plate and silverware for dining. Related: Camping kitchen checklist Water Supplies Access to water is the most essential portion of your planning process. If you are hiking along a river or will camp at a lake, you can plan to sterilize water. Otherwise, you will need to pack in all of your water. The average person will use around one liter of water per hour of hiking. Plus, meals require a lot more water than you might realize. With the weight of water coming in around 2.20 pounds per liter, you can easily tack 10 pounds onto your pack weight. It is essential to map out your water sources and plan accordingly. Water filtration system, Steripen or iodine (affects taste and is really only used for emergency situations) — These items ensure the water you drink is safe. Water bladder (2L or 3L) and collapsible water bottles — Each item will make it more convenient and efficient to grab a drink of water. Clothing Supplies Moisture is not your friend on the trail, so select your clothing carefully. When choosing clothing for your outdoor adventures, consider fabric performance. Avoid cotton, because it does not have good wicking abilities. Instead, pack wool-blend socks, shirts and long Johns. Opt for polyester/nylon options that wick away sweat and dry quickly. Depending on the weather, you can expect to bring several articles of clothing: at least two pairs of socks, underwear, shorts or convertible pants, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, a jacket or sweater, rain gear, lightweight sandals, sturdy trail shoes or boots and a stocking cap, neck gaiter and gloves if necessary. Safety Supplies Map and compass — Make sure you know where you’re headed. Leave your itinerary with someone at home and avoid backpacking alone. For an added level of safety, consider a portable GPS device such as the SPOT or Garmin eTrex. Multi-tool or Knife — It’s amazing how handy a multi-tool can be thanks to having small screwdrivers, pliers, an opener and a knife in one small device. Paracord — This can be used for a clothesline, to make repairs, to hang a hammock or anything else for which you would generally use rope. Matches — A lighter is great, but also bring some waterproof matches. You can make your own by dipping strike-anywhere matches in melted wax. Store in a small mint tin. Flint and steel — Once you learn to use it, the flint and steel works great for backpacking and is also a basic survival supply. Bring a few cotton balls rolled in petroleum jelly or melted wax for an easy fire starter. First-aid kit — Include ibuprofen for sprains and stings, Benadryl for allergic reactions, bandages, gauze, tape, tongue depressors (they can be used as a small splint) and moleskin for blisters. Bathroom items — Don’t forget to pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medications, a toothbrush, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. Light trowel — This is helpful for burying waste (6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from any water source), and bring a resealable bag to carry out garbage at the end of your trip. Camp soap (biodegradable) — This can be used to wash your body, hair, dishes and more. Other essential items include several pieces that can come in handy for safety reasons: a flashlight or headlamp, bug spray, sunscreen , sunglasses and/or a hat, lip balm, heavy-duty tape for repairs, a needle and thread, pen and paper, a small amount of cash, personal identification, a backcountry access permit (if needed) and trekking poles (optional). Related: 4 must-have camping essentials Packing Tips With each item you pack, think about weight and size. Focus on putting the heaviest items at hip level with lighter supplies above and below it. Although many packs are set up for the sleeping bag at the bottom, we recommend putting it into a waterproof bag in case your water bladder leaks (we’ve seen it happen too many times!). Alternatively, pack your sleeping bag at the top of your backpack. Also look for ways you can minimize the size of supplies, such as wrapping the paracord around the bug spray container or taking tape wrapped around the tongue depressors. Use compression sacks to reduce the size of clothing and your sleeping bag. Place first-aid or food items in resealable bags, which can be used as a garbage bag on the trail. Once you’ve worked your way through this backpacking supply checklist, you should have everything you need to head out and enjoy the backcountry. Images via Ted Bryan Yu , Wilson Ye , Kevin Schmid , Colton Strickland , Emma Van Sant , Simon Migaj and Josiah Weiss

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Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials

Covestro’s manifesto for a sustainable, clean economy

April 12, 2018 by  
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Richard Northcote, chief sustainability officer at the chemicals giant, proves it’s not the size of the carbon reduction, but what you do with it, that counts.

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Covestro’s manifesto for a sustainable, clean economy

Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

June 27, 2017 by  
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When humans abuse the environment and dump nitrate-and phosphorous-heavy pollutants into rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, oxygen-deprived “dead zones” form. This is exactly what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and is leading to the formation of the world’s largest algae bloom on record. Roughly the size of Connecticut, the substantial “dead zone” should be a wake-up call for consumers to change their habits — hopefully before it is too late. Algae blooms , such as the one disrupting the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico , upset the balance of the food chains in the region. With too many algae in the same area, an abnormal amount dies then sink to the seafloor, where the bacteria that break them down use substantial amounts of oxygen. This results in a huge drawdown of oceanic oxygen and ultimately results in a mass die-off of larger marine life. The occurrence is known as “hypoxia,” and it’s the reason the Gulf of Mexico is in the state it is. According to new research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico is becoming progressively worse. In fact, it is now roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. Based on the agrochemical and wastewater runoff expected in the coming months, NOAA now predicts the dead zone will expand to encompass an area the size of New Jersey. To clarify, that is a 47 percent increase in just one year — and that’s a conservative estimate. Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change According to The Washington Post , other researchers in Louisiana predict that the dead zone will actually increase to the size of Hawaii. If that happens, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will become the largest ever recorded. As IFLScience reports, these are only predictions at this present time. However, there is cause for concern, as scientists who set off on patrol boats to measure the size of the dead zone have been scarily accurate with their estimates. Whether the numbers are perfectly accurate or not, the persistent issue of pollution cannot be ignored. If humans fail to remedy their habits, continuing to live with little regard for the environment, environmental phenomenon worse than the present algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico will result. Via IFLScience Images via SEOS Project , Wikimedia

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Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

Why One Family Of Four Chose To Downsize To 900 SF

April 8, 2016 by  
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As the US economy improves, the size of most new homes continues to expand. The average new home is now more than 2,600 square feet, compared to less than 1,000 square feet in 1950. Keep in mind that the average family size has shrunk considerably…

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Why One Family Of Four Chose To Downsize To 900 SF

Fish farm the size of Central Park planned for waters off San Diego Coast

September 21, 2015 by  
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A fish farm with a footprint about the size of Central Park could be coming to Pacific waters just off the coast from San Diego. A project put forward by a partnership between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and a private investment firm, the 1.3-square-mile Rose Canyon Fisheries aquaculture facility is planned for a location about four miles offshore from San Diego and projected to produce about 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass per year. According to NPR , the proponents say the farm will help fix a “seafood imbalance,” while a local environmental group has some serious concerns about the project. Read the rest of Fish farm the size of Central Park planned for waters off San Diego Coast

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Community solar and the large corporate user quandary

August 24, 2015 by  
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Many businesses, especially those without sun-exposed rooftops, could benefit by joining a community solar plan but their size hinders them. Now Rocky Mountain Power and others offer options.

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Community solar and the large corporate user quandary

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