US solar panels may be partially produced via slave labor

January 19, 2021 by  
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In his first few months in office, President-elect Joe Biden will need to choose between working with Chinese companies on developing affordable solar energy solutions for the U.S. or ditching the possibly “dirty” solar for an expensive alternative back home. This follows reports that Chinese companies responsible for producing polysilicon and other solar panel components for the U.S. could be using slave labor. Most of the solar energy products from China are manufactured in the Xinjiang region, which has become synonymous with detention centers and forced labor. Over the past four years, China has established a network of detention facilities in the region, most of which contain factories. These detention centers are used to hold Muslim minorities, who are believed to be forced to provide labor for solar factories. Related: The afterlife of solar panels Unfortunately, the U.S., like many other countries, relies on China for solar panel parts. These materials are imported from Xinjiang and other areas under heavy government surveillance, where external observers do not have access. China became the dominant supplier of polysilicon in the world, following the 2014 tariff war with the U.S. In retaliation to U.S.-imposed tariffs, China imposed tariffs on companies in the U.S., South Korea and the EU and ventured into producing polysilicon and other materials. With that said, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the legal authority to stop the importation of parts if it finds proof of slave labor in the manufacturing. In July 2020, the agency stopped a shipment of human hair extensions, based on reports that the products were made using  child labor . In December 2020, CBP also seized shipments of cotton and computer parts from the Xinjiang region that were also believed to have been made by  prison labor . “It’s quite possible solar companies could be scrutinized by CBP regarding Xinjiang-related forced labor risks in their supply chains even if there is no regional ban because this issue is getting more attention,” said Amy Lehr, director of the human rights program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the lead author of a report on forced labor in Xinjiang. At this time, the Solar Energies Industry Association is recommending that U.S. solar companies move their supply chains away from this region. John Smirnow, general counsel of the association, said, “We have no indication that solar is being directly implicated, but given reports, we want to ensure forced labor is never a part of the solar supply chain.” Via Buzzfeed News Image via Chuttersnap

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US solar panels may be partially produced via slave labor

A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

January 19, 2021 by  
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As part of Long Beach’s largest public-private partnership effort to date, international architecture firm SOM has helped inject new life into the downtown area with the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan. This 22-acre project celebrated its grand unveiling of multiple LEED-targeted civic buildings late last year. The Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan, which has redesigned the downtown as a new and vibrant mixed-use district, targets New Development LEED Gold certification. Launched in 2015, the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan provides a new heart for public life in the City of Long Beach. The LEED Gold-targeted, 270,000-square-foot City Hall and LEED Platinum -targeted, 232,000-square-foot Port Headquarters buildings, both completed in July 2019, are designed with energy-efficient, under-floor air conditioning systems and an abundance of natural light. The solar-powered, 93,500-square-foot Billie Jean King Main Library that opened to the public later that fall is also designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Related: SOM designs a low-carbon waterfront community for China’s “most livable city” The masterplan includes design guidelines for the development of 800 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial development. A regional bicycle network, buses and the Metro Blue Line have been woven into the design to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment. The historic Lincoln Park has been revitalized as well to better engage a greater cross-section of the city’s population. “Targeting New Development LEED ® Gold certification, the new Civic Center plan optimizes operations and maintenance, maximizes street parking, introduces plazas and promenades, and expands bike infrastructure to create a hierarchy and quality of place,” SOM explained in a project description. “The proposed sidewalk configurations, along with the scale and density of tree planting, create not only a welcoming and walkable environment, but a differentiated sense of place — one that befits the city’s dynamic center for culture, recreation, education, and government.” + SOM Images via SOM | Fotoworks/Benny Chan, 2020

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A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

November 17, 2020 by  
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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda Aron Cramer Tue, 11/17/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . Now that the results of the United States presidential election are in, it is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy.  The U.S. government has been either absent or counterproductive on sustainability issues the past four years. This will change in a Biden-Harris administration. How much it changes will depend greatly on the actions and influence of the business community. BSR exists to catalyze business leadership to achieve a just and sustainable world. We believe strongly that sustainability is a primary source of strategic business advantage. We believe that comprehensive business action calls for companies to “act, enable, and influence,” creating change both through actions in the “real economy” and also in advocating for policy solutions. With a new government coming into power, now is the time for business to use its voice and influence to call for decisive action from a more receptive administration in Washington. With this in mind, here is the agenda that BSR urges businesses to call on the Biden administration to adopt, in the spirit of the campaign’s “build back better” mantra. It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. Employment and economic Repairing the safety net:  It is time for business to engage with government in remaking the social safety net for the 21st century. 2020 has exposed the serious holes in the safety net, not least access to health care. It is also time to develop a consensus on portable benefits for people who change jobs or who work outside traditional jobs. Innovations such as the tax-deferred “401(j)” accounts proposed by Al Gore to allow employees to save for lifelong learning also would be a good step. These steps not only would enable economic security and mobility, they also would ensure opportunities for innovation and a dynamic workforce that businesses need. Income inequality: t is long past time for Americans to reverse the deep and widening inequality that plagues our country. While there are multiple reasons for this problem, three topics deserve to be made a priority. First is the need to raise the minimum wage to a level that is a genuine living wage. This would both enable families to support themselves and also reward labor in an economy in which capital has been rewarded more than it should be. Second is executive compensation, which has continued to rise far too fast. It is time for business leaders to take voluntary steps to reduce executive pay and for boards to commit to the same. Third, income inequality strikes communities of color especially hard and all pathways to prosperity need to address the wealth gap directly. Future of work: The changing nature of work is accelerating due to the confluence of COVID-19 and automation. Contingent or non-traditional work is the fastest growing category of work. There is no consensus on the rules governing such work or universal benefits people can access regardless of how their work is classified. Dialogue between business, government and workers’ representatives is needed to establish the rules of the road. Climate and environment Net zero target for the U.S.: Returning to the Paris Agreement will happen Jan. 20 — that is only the start. The U.S. should commit to a net-zero target the way that the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and others — including many U.S. states and cities — have. The need for renewed climate diplomacy, with the U.S. playing a crucial role along with the EU, China and Japan, could not be more important in the run-up to COP 26. Climate justice/just transition: Awareness of the disparate impacts of climate — mainly hitting communities of color and those with less formal education — means that environmental justice should come to the forefront. The shift to net-zero is a generational opportunity for progress, not only removing the most toxic elements of the existing energy system but also generating economic opportunities in the clean energy economy as a means of combatting poverty and discrimination. Business should insist that the transition to net zero include policies that prioritize the phase out of toxic impacts on communities of color, incentives for investments that ensure that the clean energy economy delivers training, and employment for people who need opportunities the most, in both rural and urban communities. Green infrastructure:  Even with divided government, investment in green infrastructure is possible as a means of generating employment at a time when it is badly needed and to reduce the operating costs of U.S. infrastructure. Business should advocate for built environment and transport systems that accelerate and prepare for the net zero economy. The long debated Green Infrastructure Bank should become a reality, not least with the rise of green and “olive” bonds. And this is also the place where serious — and badly needed — resilience objectives can be achieved. Regenerative agriculture: At long last, there is mainstream recognition of the deep intersections of climate, human health and the vibrancy of America’s agricultural economy. What’s more, the political opportunity to bring the country together through heartland interest in thriving agriculture and coastal interest in climate action is one that could help unify a country that is divided against itself on climate action. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Social Racial justice: The Biden campaign made clear that racial justice was one of its four priorities, along with climate action, economic opportunity and public health. In fact, these four topics are interrelated and should be addressed as such. The business community should make sure that the many statements of support for Black Lives Matter in 2020 are strengthened by a long-term commitment to ensure that decisive action is taken to end the centuries-long scourge of systemic racism. As noted above, the wealth gap that exists in communities of color is a legacy of longstanding oppression. Steps taken to address climate, strengthen the social safety net, restore public health and invest in green infrastructure offer great promise in addressing the wealth gap, and business should support this objective vocally. In addition, business also should make clear its support for criminal legal system reform, starting with policing, but also including access to the court system and incarceration rates. Finally, business should call for mandatory disclosure of employee demographic information, which leverages transparency in support of greater equity. Technology and human rights/privacy: It is well understood that policy moves more slowly than technology. At a high level, the U.S. government should establish the principle that new technologies should adhere to international human rights standards in their design, development and use. In addition, the U.S. government can introduce a federal privacy law along similar lines to the GDPR, ensure that any revisions to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 are consistent with the protection of human rights, and introduce sector-based approaches to regulating disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometric technologies. Companies from all industries should advocate for a technology policy and regulatory context that protects interdependent rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, security, freedom of assembly, non-discrimination, public health and access to remedy. Restoring support for human rights and democracy: The U.S. government has provided implicit and explicit support for some of the governments most responsible for the worst human rights abuses over the past few years. The business community shied away from calling this out the way they challenged the Trump administration’s approach to climate. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Human migration and refugee policies: The xenophobia unleashed in the first days of the Trump years must be relegated to the past. Business consistently has called for immigration policies that enable the U.S. to welcome the breadth of human capacity that comes from literally every corner of the world. This is needed both for humanitarian reasons, which speak for themselves, but also because of the positive impact open societies have on economic vitality and innovation. What’s more, this will also help to restore America’s soft power around the world, something that benefits U.S. businesses and which has been seriously damaged since 2016. Governance Corporate governance reforms and listing requirements: It is time for boards to reflect more fully the world in which business actually operates. This means diversifying board composition. It also requires that so-called “non-financial” considerations be embedded in corporate governance and listing requirements. A good first step towards integration of ESG into corporate governance would be business advocacy for making the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory. This then can be extended to other steps including mandatory human rights diligence, executive compensation and workplace diversity. All these steps will strengthen the resilience of business and bring America’s trading rules in sync with advances in Europe and elsewhere. Restoring democracy: 2020 has made clear, yet again, of significant structural flaws in American democracy. Business associations stepped up to call publicly for democratic processes to be honored — and have continued to call for this post-election. This remains important as many have chosen not to honor the clear outcome of the election. Despite this, American democracy appears poised to survive in the wake of this unusual election, but issues remain. Business should use its voice to call for reforms that address voter suppression, campaign finance, gerrymandering and a judicial system infected by hyper-partisanship. This is an issue that many CEOs will seek to avoid for fear of appearing to pick sides, and that is understandable. But the reforms called for here should not be seen that way, as they are necessary for our system to function, for all people to have their voices heard and for faith in the system be restored. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Rules-based trading system with multilateral agreements: The U.S. was the primary architect of the rules-based trading system in the wake of World War II and the primary protector of that system over the past 75 years. While this system certainly needs significant reforms, the past four years have taken a scorched-earth approach that leaves us no hope of managing an interdependent world well and fairly. Business could not have more of a stake in restoring support for the concept of multilateralism and more of a need to make sure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Procurement: Finally, business should call on government to partner more aggressively on procurement policies. The U.S. government has immense purchasing power and it is not being used as fully as it could be to promote the creation and efficiency of markets for sustainable products and services. This is also a uniquely valuable way to address the wealth gap, with government partnering with BIPOC-owned businesses as suppliers. There will be a time to get more specific on policy solutions. For now, however, it is essential to define the areas where progress is necessary. Much of what is advocated here is also found in BSR’s call for business action to promote a 21st century social contract . The temptation to “go back to business as usual” will be strong for many, but that would be a mistake. Building a just and sustainable world never has been about opposing any single political leader. It always has been about building a future in which we can all thrive. It is about what we are for, not what we are against. After four years when the U.S. government failed to embrace — and often thwarted — the achievement of sustainable business, the business voice remains a powerful tool in creating an economy that works for all. Pull Quote It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Topics Policy & Politics Policy & Politics Paris Agreement Climate Justice Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware during the 2020 election campaign. Photo by  Stratos Brilakis  on Shutterstock.

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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

Could Bloom fuel cells be a solution for maritime emissions issues?

August 18, 2020 by  
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Could Bloom fuel cells be a solution for maritime emissions issues? Zac Estrada Tue, 08/18/2020 – 01:00 In the race to drastically cut emissions in shipping, one of the industry’s biggest names, Samsung Heavy Industries, is teaming with fuel cell company Bloom Energy to develop a more sustainable fuel designed to meet steep international targets. Under the partnership, announced in June, the companies will collaborate on creating fuel cell powertrains for commercial ships, potentially providing one critical path to a clean technology future for marine shipping. The goal is to replace oil-based power generation.  Samsung is one of the largest shipbuilders in South Korea, along with the Hyundai Group and the Daewoo Group, and employs nearly 13,000 people . It’s aiming to be the first shipbuilder to deliver a cargo ship for ocean operation that runs entirely on fuel cells powered by natural gas. Currently, an estimated 80 percent of the vessels in the world’s shipping fleet operate using bunker fuel. “Bloom thinks Samsung is a good partner and information on what the company sees as a trend for more efficient transportation and heavy shipping,” Preeti Pande, vice president of strategic market development for Bloom, told GreenBiz. “Both companies have a shared vision of powering ships with fuel cells. In that sense, there is a really good partnership that is not in name only, but in values and goals.” Both companies have a shared vision of powering ships with fuel cells. In that sense, there is a really good partnership that is not in name only, but in values and goals. And the goalposts are high . In 2018, the International Maritime Organization set the goal to halve emissions for commercial ships from 2008 levels by 2050. But by 2030, zero-emissions vessels will need to start being introduced. Bloom and Samsung want to show off their workable design in 2022. “Shipping is 80 percent of all trade. … It’s also responsible for a lot of trade, it’s also 13 percent of all emissions,” Pande said. “[Fuel cells] meet the demands for efficiency. It’s one of the lowest producers of CO2. And then you have the [nitrogen oxide] and [sulphur oxide] taken care of. In that manner, you’re really addressing the goal with technology we have today.” Bloom already has a lot of experience with fuel cell technology on land, she said, which is why the company is confident it can set up similar systems for marine purposes. Some of its high-profile customers include AT&T, Equinix, FedEx and Google. Some skeptics, however, said the global nature of the shipping industry could pose challenges. “I think the industry is kind of agnostic on fuel, but they have some concerns regarding supply and resilience of supply because they need their ships going,” said Thomas Koch Blank, a senior principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute.  Blank, who specializes in heavy transport issues, said the biggest issue for the industry’s mandate to cut emissions will be decarbonizing the ports the ships land in. Because the International Maritime Organization (IMO) emissions drive isn’t a law so much as a pledge, the task of finding alternative fuels and propulsion technologies falls on individual ports and the complicated structures in which vessels are owned. “It’s just really tricky to find a single point here. What we hope to find is a winning strategy for the principles is to find a single point that cuts through this quite differentiated ownership structure and to the vessel,” he said. “It’s not deterministic, and we can’t forecast what the fuel mix will be, nor is there a single regulatory body that can enforce anything on fuel.” That’s not to say there won’t be emerging demand for alternative fuels, Blank said. But it may require ships to have more of a flexible fuel technology in the interim. That includes hydrogen. “Ports can play an interesting role,” he said. “You have industry clusters co-located with the port, and you have lots of trucks at the ports. There’s a clustering of hydrogen of demand that could be very interesting.” While Bloom looks to the first fuel cell-equipped vessels to leverage existing liquefied natural gas stations at ports worldwide, it’s already looking to get hydrogen in the picture. The company announced in mid-July that it would enter the hydrogen market next year, first in South Korea.  “Today, we have a proven technology that can help shipbuilders with reaching IMO targets on GHG emissions and improve efficiency, all while emitting virtually no NOx and SOx,” the company said in a statement. “Looking forward, as nations and ports develop their hydrogen infrastructure, fuel cell-powered ships could transition from utilizing natural gas fuel to hydrogen fuel.” Hydrogen is already becoming a way ports are meeting local goals to cut emissions, but they’ve mainly been looking to power trucks with the fuel. After some government wrangling, the Port of Los Angeles in Long Beach, California, got approval in March to develop a hydrogen plant that first would power heavy-duty trucks supplied by Toyota to pick up deliveries from the ships. Meanwhile, Bloom already envisions other applications for fuel cell technology on the water. Pande said the cruise liner industry previously had expressed interest, although that was before the COVID-19 pandemic hobbled its business globally. Eventually, however, much smaller vessels could be adapted with fuel cells, she said. “This is a start for us,” Pande said. Pull Quote Both companies have a shared vision of powering ships with fuel cells. In that sense, there is a really good partnership that is not in name only, but in values and goals. Topics Transportation & Mobility Sustainable Shipping Fuel Cells Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

November 21, 2019 by  
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When designing the House of Three Trees, Seoul-based architecture practice Jae Kim Architects & Researchers (JK-AR) started with a question: What would Korean architecture look like if timber remained the dominant construction material from ancient times until today? To answer this alternate-reality proposition, the architects conceived a project representative of “the rebirth of East Asian timber architecture of the 21st century” that blends digital design and fabrication with traditional Korean architecture. Built with sculptural, tree-like structures that employ the iconic wooden bracket systems of ancient times, the experimental home also relates to the local vernacular with low-cost materials commonly used in rural Korean buildings. During the late Joseon Dynasty of Korea in the 17th and 19th centuries, timber resources were mostly exhausted until globalization led to the import of cheaper wooden materials from around the world. Due to the popularization of reinforced concrete structures and the high cost of timber construction, development of timber architecture slowed. Using algorithmic tools, JK-AR envisions how timber architecture could have evolved had timber resources continued to be readily available with The House of Three Trees. The experimental home features tree-like supporting structures solely composed of wooden joinery — using more than 4,000 timber elements — constructed with traditional techniques and zero additive fasteners. Related: Moon Hoon’s funky new home captures sunlight on Jeju Island “The house criticizes today’s application of traditional buildings that is superficial, merely imitating traditional expressions in architecture, or too abstract,” the architects explained. “Rather, the house redefines the virtue of East Asian timber buildings in its tectonic aspect which is a combination of structure and ornamentation. Moreover, the house serves as an example of how contemporary technology, such as design computation and digital fabrication, can reinterpret traditional architecture. Technology can give East Asian timber construction the potential to evolve in a new direction.” The home takes on a hexagonal shape, influenced by the irregular building plot, with an interior defined by three tree-like columns that support the roof. Covered in asphalt shingles, the butterfly roof is raised to provide a glimpse of the trees inside. Polycarbonate corrugated panels wrap around the home in a nod to rural Korean construction; these panels also create a double-skin around the plywood facade to improve the building’s insulation performance and water resistance. + Jae Kim Architects & Researchers Photography by Roh Kyung via Jae Kim Architects & Researchers

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Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

A modern home in South Korea is embedded into its environment via an expansive green roof

June 26, 2019 by  
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Tucked into a rolling green hillside of Cheongdo-gun, South Korea, the Baomaru House by Busan-based firm Rieuldorang Atelier blurs the lines between nature and the man-made. Embedded into the sloped landscape, the home is split into two separate structures, which are connected by an expansive green roof that pulls double duty as a terrace for both sides of the home. Although the house is designed to blend into its surroundings, the unique design takes on a bold, modern appearance thanks to a series of gabled roofs that jut out of the landscape, creating a fun, pop-art effect. Once the residents and the architects found a building site for the home that was far from the hustle and bustle of city life, they were discouraged to learn that the back of the lot would soon be developed. As a solution, the architects decided to use the existing landscape to their advantage. Related: The Felderhof House in Italy is built into the ground and topped with a green roof “It is a general idea that the earth is a space that houses nature, and the house is a space that houses human beings,” the firm said. “In order to overturn this idea, we planned the earth as a space for human beings and the house as a space for nature. We did not want to design on the land … by cutting the ground or building up the soil. The point was to actively use the surrounding natural environment and land while complying with the slope of the land.” To work within the parameters of the natural topography, the architects decided to embed part of the 2,026-square-foot home into the landscape so that the structure would follow its contour. They also decided to split the structure into two parts, with one side housing the private bedrooms and kitchen and the other hosting the main living space. The two halves are split by a large entrance and underground garage, which is embedded completely into the hillside. Although the design was created to blend the structure into the natural surroundings, it takes a modern turn with a series of large white gabled roofs  that jut out of the green landscape. The bold modernity of the exterior continues throughout the interior living spaces. Double-height ceilings, white walls and light wood run through the home, enhanced by an abundance of natural light . With the bedrooms on one side, the main living room takes on a personality of its own. This structure mimics the same volume as the other but has a large cutout in the gabled roof, creating a brilliant open-air terrace that frames the views. On the bottom floor, the living space opens up to a large swimming pool that looks out over the mountains in the distance. + Rieuldorang Atelier Via Dwell Photography by Joonhwan Yoon via Rieuldorang Atelier

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A modern home in South Korea is embedded into its environment via an expansive green roof

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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Groundbreaking new energy storage device charges up in just 20 seconds

March 2, 2018 by  
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A new aqueous storage device can be fully charged in a mere 20 seconds. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Kangwon National University scientists developed the device suited for portable electronics , with KAIST emphasizing in a statement that their device is both safe and environmentally friendly. Aqueous storage devices are less flammable than today’s lithium batteries , and could be cheaper too, according to ScienceAlert , but limitations have held scientists back. Cells comprising a battery transfer electrons between two materials, but aqueous solutions limit voltage range between the points, according to ScienceAlert. But scientists at institutions in South Korea , according to KAIST, “came up with new structures and materials to facilitate rapid speed in energy exchange on the surfaces of the electrodes and minimize the energy loss between the two electrodes.” They described their strategy for high-performance aqueous hybrid capacitors in the journal Advanced Energy Materials in January . ScienceAlert said hybrid capacitors like this one are basically a mixture of capacitor and battery. Related: Scientists just created a new type of battery inspired by electric eels Graphene to the rescue again: the scientists utilized graphene-based polymer chain materials for anodes. Graphene’s web-like structure afforded a high surface area, enabling higher capacitance, according to the institute. Metal oxide nanoparticles served as cathode materials. KAIST said, “This method realized higher energy density and faster energy exchange while minimizing energy loss.” The device they developed can charge up in 20 to 30 seconds via low-power charging systems like flexible solar cells or USB switching chargers. It boasts a power density 100 times greater than conventional aqueous batteries. And it can sustain capacity for more than 100,000 charges, according to ScienceAlert. KAIST professor Jeung Ku Kang said in the statement, “This eco-friendly technology can be easily manufactured and is highly applicable. In particular, its high capacity and high stability, compared to existing technologies, could contribute to the commercialization of aqueous capacitors.” + KAIST Via ScienceAlert Images via

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New Italian ice cream shop reflects its delicious ‘clean label’ products

March 2, 2018 by  
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Italian architecture firm NINE Associati designed this stunning ice cream shop in the Italian village of Isola del Liri to reflect the company’s commitment to serving “clean label” products. Started by the Masci family in 1989, ZERO-E serves up traditional Italian gelato made with zero preservatives. The company’s commitment to serving all-natural ice cream inspired the architects to create an elegant, breezy shop with bespoke furnishings made by local Italian artisans . Located in the small town of Isola del Liri, about 100 km south of Rome, ZERO-E stands out for its commitment to serving “clean label” ice cream . It’s the first shop of its kind in the area, and it’s a breath of fresh air – both in terms of its product and its design. Related: Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie With just 38 square meters to work with, the architects wanted to leave the interior open and uncluttered. They developed a 3-point strategy that optimized the space, provided tailor-made furniture, and created flexible areas that can adapt to new uses in the future. The shop’s walls are painted a light blue hue, and the atmosphere is clean and vibrant. Subtle graphics add a bit of flair to the space – from the tiny bathroom signs to the ice cream menu and ingredients listed on the walls. In addition to designing the shop, NINE Associati also provided branding for the company. + NINE Associati Photography via Alessandro Zompanti

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Will the Environment Medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea?

February 9, 2018 by  
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For the Winter Olympics, South Korea is rocking an array of … The post Will the Environment Medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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