Half a billion Australian animals, even 30% of koala population, likely lost to wildfires

January 6, 2020 by  
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Record-breaking wildfires have ravaged millions of Australian acres for many months now. Ecologists estimate upward of 480 million mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects have died, as well as more than 8,000 koalas from New South Wales, equating to over 30% of the region’s entire koala population. Figures continue to rise as the fires rage on. Heat from the fires has driven many animals, such as kangaroos, to flee. But not all can escape, exemplified by flightless endemic birds unable to venture far from the ground. The plight is worse for koalas, already a vulnerable species experiencing significant habitat loss . Koalas are slow-moving by nature, incapable of escaping highly flammable eucalyptus trees. The flames will need to subside further before their losses can be fully assessed. Related: Koala-sniffing detection dog, Bear, helps save koalas from Australian bushfires Other species have been devastated as well. Insects, vital to pollination and nutrient cycles, have suffered massively. Many rare plants are also feared to be entirely decimated, with no chance of recovery for their species. These staggering losses jeopardize species populations and ecosystems in Australia. Environmental activists are consequently sounding alarms on climate change , demanding halts to logging and coal use due to their exacerbation of wildfire conditions. “The compelling issue here is climate change. Yes, Australia is burning, and national parks and our native animals are being decimated,” said Clover Moore, mayor of Sydney. “As the driest continent on Earth, we’re at the forefront of accelerating global warming . What is happening is a wake-up call for our governments to start making effective contributions to reducing global emissions.” Various animal care facilities are struggling to help the surviving animals. Eventually, once they have healed, these animals still need to return to their natural habitats. The surviving animals may have trouble finding food and shelter in the blazes’ aftermath. “We’re getting a lot of lessons out of this, and it’s just showing how unprepared we are,” said Kellie Leigh, executive director of Science for Wildlife, to the Australian parliament during an urgent December hearing regarding the koala population. “There’s no procedures or protocols in place — even wildlife carers don’t have protocols for when they can go in after the fire.” Typically, wildlife authorities advise against feeding wild animals . But the ravaging wildfires have prompted a message change — people are now encouraged to provide crucial food and water to wildlife in affected areas. Lands affected range from at least 8.9 million acres in New South Wales, 2.9 million acres in Western Australia, 1.8 million acres in Victoria, 618,000 acres in Queensland and 250,000 acres in South Australia. Via HuffPost Image via Simon Rumi

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Half a billion Australian animals, even 30% of koala population, likely lost to wildfires

COBE unveils images of LEED Gold-targeted Adidas HQ in Germany

January 6, 2020 by  
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After a year of operation, sportswear titan Adidas has finally released images of its new LEED Gold-seeking headquarters building in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Designed by Danish architecture firm COBE , the multipurpose building optimizes the work environment with a strong indoor-outdoor connection achieved with walls of glass, soaring skylights and an abundance of greenery throughout the building. Fittingly named HALFTIME, the versatile facility marks COBE’s first completed project in Germany. COBE’s HALFTIME design was selected as the winner of an international architecture competition held by Adidas in 2014. The facility, which officially opened October 12, 2018, is located in the sports brand’s corporate headquarters, “World of Sports,” in southern Germany. The 15,500-square-meter building includes a canteen for all HQ employees, meeting rooms, a conference center , a show room, a large events hall in the style of an old-school gym and 12 creatively styled workshop rooms, each representative of a different sport venue. The building also includes specially designed HALFTIME Chairs, a collaboration between COBE and Danish design brand HAY. Related: Copenhagen’s new eco-friendly “bicycle hills” hide parking for thousands of bicycles To meet LEED Gold standards, the energy-efficient building is topped with a 8,650-square-meter rhomboid roof structure that is covered in glass to flood the interiors with natural light. Large green walls , tall ceilings, a natural materials palette and indoor conservatories cultivate a healthy working environment. Moreover, the architecture features a flexible design for future modifications. “To accommodate the many internal and public functions that HALFTIME includes, we designed a versatile, multipurpose building that brings as many of the company’s activities and functions as possible together under one roof,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “The huge rhomboid roof covers the entire building like a carpet, bringing staff, visitors and brand ambassadors together in the same building and thus enabling more and wider contacts.” + COBE Images via Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST / COBE

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COBE unveils images of LEED Gold-targeted Adidas HQ in Germany

Australia’s solar energy capacity could almost double in one year

February 13, 2018 by  
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Australia seems to be in the midst of a solar power boom. According to The Guardian, industry analysts said the country’s solar energy capacity could nearly double in a single year thanks to large-scale solar farms and a month of rooftop installations that broke records. Solar power is flourishing in Australia. January 2018 was the best January ever in the country for rooftop installations, according to a RenewEconomy article drawing on data from industry analysts SunWiz – boasting 111 megawatts of new solar panel installations. Australia saw a 69 percent rise compared against the same time a year before. Related: South Australia to host world’s largest thermal solar plant And almost 30 new solar farms are slated to go online, according to The Guardian. The Queensland and New South Wales governments approved what The Guardian described as an unprecedented amount of industrial solar farms in 2017. There are 18 large-scale projects being built in Queensland. And New South Wales approved 10 solar farms in 2017, which is twice as many as 2016, and have already approved one this year. Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes told The Guardian the new solar farms could be operational in 2018, as they can be built in weeks. Grimes said, “Rooftop installations and utilities are both booming and could turbo-boost the solar numbers overall.” Rooftop solar installations could add 1.3 gigawatts (GW) while large-scale solar projects add between 2.5 GW to 3.5 GW. As Australia’s current solar capacity is 7GW, all together the projects could almost double the nation’s solar power capacity, according to The Guardian. Residential solar panels are the biggest source of power in Queensland already – a bit under a third of homes there have solar installed. And in New South Wales, planning minister Anthony Roberts said the 10 solar farms would cut carbon emissions by over 2.5 million metric tons – which would be like taking around 800,000 cars off the streets. Via The Guardian Images via Jeremy Buckingham on Flickr and Michael Coghlan on Flickr

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Australia’s solar energy capacity could almost double in one year

New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

February 13, 2018 by  
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Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms . But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University -led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported . The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat. 12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA . They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics. Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds. They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.” Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria . These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.” The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed. Via the BBC Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

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Carnivorous marsupial alive and well after being presumed extinct for 100 years

December 18, 2017 by  
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A carnivorous marsupial thought to be extinct for a century has been found alive in the Australian state of New South Wales. The crest-tailed mulgara, one of two mulgara species, is known to have endured in the arid region of Central Australia. Its discovery in Sturt National Park near the northwest corner of New South Wales is a surprise, considering that the crest-tailed mulgara’s presence in the region was previously limited to fossilized bone fragments. Documenting the crest-tailed mulgara’s population distribution was also complicated by the fact that until 2005, crest-tailed and bush-tailed mulgaras were considered to be the same species. The crest-tailed mulgara was one of Australia’s many native species that fell victim to invasive animals . “The crest-tailed mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy desert environments in inland Australia, but declined due to the effects of rabbits, cats and foxes,” said Rebecca West of the University of New South Wales . West’s team at the university’s Wild Desert project discovered the crest-tailed mulgara in New South Wales during a recent scientific monitoring trip. Mulgaras are nocturnal and do not need to drink water , instead gaining the moisture that they need through the insects, reptiles and small mammals that they eat. Related: Google Street View captures the migration of millions of crabs on Christmas Island The mulgara’s rediscovery comes at an opportune time for the team, which is preparing to implement a predator reintroduction and rabbit eradication effort. “The aim of this project is to return mammal species not seen in their natural habitat for over 90 years in Sturt National Park,” said Jaymie Norris, National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager.“Rabbits, cats and foxes will be eradicated from two 20-square-kilometre fenced exclosures in Sturt National Park, before locally extinct mammals are reintroduced.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Reece Pedler/UNSW and Depositphotos

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India plans to build the worlds largest solar-wind power plant

December 18, 2017 by  
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When it comes to  clean energy , few nations stand out like India . The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has announced plans to build the world’s largest solar-wind hybrid project in the district of Anantapur in the state of Andhra Pradesh. According to Cleantechnica , the plant will have a capacity of 160 megawatts—120 megawatts coming from solar and the other 40 megawatts via wind. And, in line with a pledge to end investment in fossil fuels , the World Bank is putting up $155 million for the project. The massive solar-wind complex will cover roughly 1,000 acres of land and include a battery storage system that will allow it to function around the clock irrespective of wind and weather conditions. Anantapur has struggled with grid failure and power fluctuations in the past and the hope is that the new system will offer a steady, reliable flow of power to residents through energy storage. Related:  India added more rooftop solar in 2017 than the past 4 years combined If all goes as anticipated, the pilot project will be scaled to serve other areas of Andhra Pradesh experiencing grid failures. And while this is not the first time this sort of technology has been proposed, it is the biggest solar-wind hybrid project on the books. The World Bank will work with the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the renewable energy agency of Andhra Pradesh, NREDCAP, and Andhra Pradesh Transco, to bring it to fruition. The Andhra Pradesh government is shooting for 10 GW of solar and 8 GW of wind by 2022. Hybrid-wind and solar plants are expected to account for 3GW of the total. Via Cleantechnica Images via Pixabay

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India plans to build the worlds largest solar-wind power plant

Mysterious radio signals baffle scientists for 17 years, found to be caused by staff microwave

May 11, 2015 by  
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In 1998, astronomers at the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, noticed their iconic radio telescope was picking up an odd signal. These signals, known as perytons, continued to be detected once or twice a year, and were described by scientists as “millisecond-duration transients of terrestrial origin.” For 17 years, the best explanation for the signals that astronomers could come up with was that the “reasonably local” interference was in some way connected to lightning strikes. That is, until the astronomers of Parkes Observatory installed a new receiver that was better able to monitor the interference—and with this, they found that the signals were coming in at 2.4 GHz. By no small coincidence, 2.4 GHz is the signature of a microwave . As the astronomers explained in a recent paper “We have identified strong out-of-band emission at 2.3-2.5 GHz associated with several peryton events. Subsequent tests revealed that a peryton can be generated at 1.4 GHz when a microwave oven door is opened prematurely and the telescope is at an appropriate relative angle.” That is, when the telescope is aimed at the kitchen, and someone really wants their cup noodles. Which, at Parkes Observatory, is a phenomenon that occurs once or twice a year. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: astronomy , new south wales satellite , parkes astronomer , parkes microwave , parkes observatory , parkes peryton , parks radio satellie , peryton

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Mysterious radio signals baffle scientists for 17 years, found to be caused by staff microwave

Qatar’s largest labor ‘city’ to hold 70,000 migrant workers

May 11, 2015 by  
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Qatar has announced plans to build seven cities to house the migrant workers on whose backs the 2022 World Cup stadiums will be built. The largest, called “Labor City,” will hold 70,000 people as well as the second largest mosque in Qatar, a mall and clinic, and a 24,000-seat cricket stadium, according to AFP. This announcement comes after a series of damning reports that likened the country’s abhorrent living and working conditions for laborers to modern-day slavery . Read the rest of Qatar’s largest labor ‘city’ to hold 70,000 migrant workers Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: foreign workers , HUman Rights Watch , indentured servitude , labor camp , labor cities , Labor City , migrant workers , modern day slavery , News , qatar , workers rights , World Cup , world cup 2022

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Qatar’s largest labor ‘city’ to hold 70,000 migrant workers

UNSW’s Sunswift IVy sets Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered vehicle

January 10, 2011 by  
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Eco Factor: Zero-emission electric car powered exclusively by silicon solar cells.

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UNSW’s Sunswift IVy sets Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered vehicle

Solar Car Sets New World Record in Speed

January 7, 2011 by  
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A solar car designed and built by University of New South Wales students broke the Guinness World Record for fastest solar vehicle.

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