SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon

April 17, 2019 by  
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Just a few months ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) released designs for the first full-time human habitat on the lunar surface. Created in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the conceptual settlement — dubbed the “Moon Village” — outlines ways humans could live in an otherwise uninhabitable setting through self-sufficient means. Envisioned with a series of inflatable living modules, the Moon Village would not only harness resources for sustaining life and industrial activities, but would also be able to conduct research for sustaining life on terrestrial planets other than Earth. Because the Moon Village would harness sunlight for energy , the rim of Shackleton Crater near the South Pole has been selected as the project site, as it receives near continuous daylight throughout the lunar year. In situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiments would generate food and other life-sustaining elements, such as breathable air, which would be created from water extracted from the crater’s water-ice deposits near the South Pole. “The project presents a completely new challenge for the field of architectural design,” said SOM design partner Colin Koop. “The Moon Village must be able to sustain human life in an otherwise uninhabitable setting. We have to consider problems that no one would think about on Earth , like radiation protection, pressure differentials and how to provide breathable air.” Related: Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency The settlement would comprise clusters of inflatable pressurized modules that could easily expand to accommodate future growth and programmatic needs. Designed for self sufficiency, each three- to four-story modular unit would not only include living quarters and workspaces, but also environmental control and life support systems within a regolith-based protective shell resistant to extreme temperatures, projectiles, regolith dust and solar radiation. The settlement would allow mankind to conduct a more thorough exploration of the moon for research and development purposes and help pave the way to potential human settlements on Mars and beyond. + SOM Images via SOM

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SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon

Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

April 17, 2019 by  
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A new study published in Nature Communications reveals alarming amounts of microplastic particles in the air, even in the most remote, mountainous areas. News about microplastics throughout the ocean, soil and every marine mammal studied has been widely documented and publicized in recent years. ‘Microplastic’ was even called the “2018 word of the year” for its number of mentions by the news media. However, very few studies have researched the abundance of microplastics specifically in the air we breathe. In addition to the recently published research, two previous studies analyzed airborne microplastics in France and China. Those analyses from 2016 and 2017 revealed a steady rainfall of microplastics in the air — findings that are unfortunately further confirmed by the results of this most recent study. Related: Microplastics have made their way into human poop The authors counted 365 plastic particles falling per square meter, every day, with comparable results from Paris to isolated areas of the Pyrenees mountains. The researchers concluded that the amount of microplastics is correlated with the strength of the wind, but not necessarily with proximity to major urban areas or even villages. The fact that plastic particles are found so far from urban areas and direct sources of pollution indicates that the world’s plastic crisis is not a localized issue, but a global problem that affects everyone, regardless of their location or sustainable habits. The new findings are a major public health concern. The vast majority of the plastic particles identified were polystyrene and polyethylene — toxic materials often used in single-use packaging and plastic bags. Microplastics have also been found in human lung tissue, but scientists are still unsure of exactly what impacts this could have on long-term human health. “When you get down to respiratory size particles, we don’t know what those do,” research team member Deonie Allen told The Guardian . “That is a really big unknown.” + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

February 5, 2019 by  
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Climate change may be linked to heart defects in newborns. The Journal of the American Heart Association just released new research that shows how higher temperatures are related to congenital heart issues in babies born in warmer months. With climate change worsening, mothers in the U.S. are exposed to more heat than ever before. Scientists have previously shown that women who are exposed to heat during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a baby born with a congenital heart defect. Every year in the U.S., around 40,000 newborns have heart issues at birth. Related: Follow this diet for both personal and planetary health According to CNN , the number of babies born with heart defects is expected to rise between 2025 and 2035 as temperatures continue to heat up across the U.S. The study predicted that around 7,000 additional cases of heart defects will occur during the 10-year stretch, with the Midwest region seeing the biggest rise. “Our results highlight the dramatic ways in which climate change can affect human health and suggest that pediatric heart disease stemming from structural heart malformations may become an important consequence of rising temperatures,” Dr. Wangjian Zhang explained. Heart problems are among the most common issues doctors see in newborns. Babies who are born with heart defects have poor overall health and can experience issues in early development as well. It is unclear why excess heat contributes to heart problems in newborns. Previous studies conducted on animals have shown that heat is detrimental to fetal cells and can disrupt proteins that are important in development. This could be what is going on in human pregnancies, though more research is needed to confirm. With heat being linked to heart problems, doctors are now warning women to avoid excess heat exposure while pregnant. This is similar to what doctors have been telling people with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease for years. Unfortunately, climate change will continue to drive temperatures up all across the U.S. Locations that will be directly impacted include the Midwest, the South and southeastern states, like North Carolina and Georgia. In addition to heart issues, women exposed to heat are also at a greater risk of giving birth early. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

A new frontier in wind energy on Native American land, cultivated by six Sioux tribes

October 17, 2018 by  
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Wanted: corporate backers for two massive new projects in South Dakota.

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A new frontier in wind energy on Native American land, cultivated by six Sioux tribes

A British billionaire is building the world’s biggest battery to rival Elon Musk’s

March 16, 2018 by  
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British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is building the world’s biggest battery in South Australia, knocking Elon Musk’s battery project from the title. South Australia is home to a 100MW battery the size of a football field, which switched online last November. Gupta plans to build his own 120MW battery at a storage facility at Whyalla Steelworks , which he purchased last year. A once-in-a-lifetime storm caused blackouts throughout South Australia in 2017, prompting the state to secure its energy grid against future disruptions. The state began investing in renewable energy – and it’ll invest $7.8 million into Gupta’s project. The SIMEC ZEN Energy storage facility will be located 186 miles north of Adelaide in Port Augusta. Gupta’s GFG Alliance bought the struggling steelmaking giant Arrium last year, of which the Whyalla Steelworks is a part. Related: Tesla’s South Australia battery starts delivering power a day early Musk pledged last year to build a South Australia battery facility in 100 days – or the project would be free . He built it in just 63 days, and the project switched online last November. Musk’s battery is connected to a wind farm operated by energy firm Neoen, and it provides enough energy to power 8,000 homes for 24 hours during a blackout. Via Phys.org Images via GFG Alliance and Tesla

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A British billionaire is building the world’s biggest battery to rival Elon Musk’s

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

Remarkable bacteria survives extremely harsh conditions by eating nothing but air

December 11, 2017 by  
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Scientists have discovered a strange new bacteria in the Antarctic that can survive the planet’s most extreme conditions just by breathing air. The discovery could help us find alien life in space. Scientists found microbes in Antarctica that exist on a diet of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen, in places where other life forms could never survive. But if life can survive in the extreme temperatures, darkness and strong radiation found in Antarctica, it stands to reason that life could survive in similar conditions in space. Related: Scientists warn thawing soil could suddenly unleash deadly pathogens unseen in centuries “The big question has been how the microbes can survive when there is little water, the soils are very low in organic carbon and there is very little capacity to produce energy from the Sun via photosynthesis during the winter darkness,” said Belinda Ferrari, lead researcher of the University of New South Wales team who made the discovery. Via Science Alert Lead image via Desposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Remarkable bacteria survives extremely harsh conditions by eating nothing but air

One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted

May 16, 2017 by  
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There’s a lonely island in the Pacific Ocean that has no human inhabitants, yet it’s completely covered in trash. Henderson Island is so remote, humans only visit it for research every five to 10 years. But the island is also home to the highest density of plastic debris found anywhere on Earth, according to the University of Tasmania . Scientists found the island’s beaches are polluted with around 671 pieces of trash per 10 square feet. No humans live on Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands that are British territories in the southern Pacific Ocean. Henderson Island is 3,106 miles away from the closest major population center. But it’s located near the middle of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current, and waste from South America rolls up on its shores. Jennifer Lavers of the university and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds , with colleague Alexander Bond, recently found an estimated 37.7 pieces of plastic on the remote island. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain Lavers said, “What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans .” The research was published online yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . The amount of trash shocked Lavers, who told The Guardian she’s seen plastic pollution around the world but still expected Henderson’s remote location to provide it some protection. Instead, she found a staggering amount of garbage and hundreds of crabs dwelling in our trash. She told The Guardian, “This plastic is old, it’s brittle, it’s sharp, it’s toxic. It was really quite tragic seeing these gorgeous crabs scuttling about, living in our waste.” She estimates 3,570 new pieces of trash wash up on Henderson Island every single day on just one of the island’s beaches. Around 17 metric tons of plastic has likely been deposited on the island, based on sampling at five different sites. She said 55 percent of the seabirds in the world are at risk – two of the species at risk live on Henderson. Via the University of Tasmania and The Guardian Images via Jennifer Lavers/University of Tasmania and Wikimedia Commons

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One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted

Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

May 16, 2017 by  
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If President Donald Trump is waging a war on local farmworkers in California , he’s winning. His Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened up the use of a pesticide called chlorpyrifos to agriculture in March, and then this month when at least 50 laborers were exposed to the pesticide Vulcan, of which chlorpyrifos is an active ingredient, some of them vomited or fainted; one person had to go to the hospital. Chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned under Barack Obama’s administration. But at the end of March , EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt denied a petition that called for the ban. Then in Bakersfield, California a Sun Pacific farm sprayed Vulcan on their mandarin trees, and it drifted over to Dan Andrews Farms where workers harvesting cabbage began to feel sick. Grist said Kern County officials have not yet determined if chlorpyrifos was indeed present in the Vulcan sprayed, but both Grist and Kern Golden Empire described chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient in Vulcan. EPA documents from February 2017 also listed chlorpyrifos as the active ingredient in Vulcan. Related: Trump’s EPA chief lifts ban on pesticide that poisons children 12 workers reported symptoms of nausea or vomiting. One person fainted and another went to the hospital. Kern Golden Empire reported 12 other laborers didn’t show systems, but that over half the workers had left before medical aid could arrive. Officials described Vulcan as highly toxic, and the Kern County Fire Department and Kern Country Environmental Health and Hazmat came to do a mass contamination of the area. Kern County Public Health Public Relations Officer Michelle Corson called for anyone exposed to seek out medical attention right away. So why, exactly, was chlorpyrifos not banned? Touting a return to sound science, Pruitt apparently didn’t think there was enough evidence to ban the pesticide, even though, according to Grist, multiple studies link exposure to the harmful chemical with lowered IQ in kids and neurological defects. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Pest Management Policy director Sheryl Kunickis welcomed Pruitt’s decision. She said it was good news for consumers, meaning they’d have access to fruits and vegetables. Guess she forgot to mention chlorpyrifos could also send people to the hospital. Via Grist and Kern Golden Empire Images via Wikimedia Commons and Austin Valley on Flickr

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Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

Integrated $1B solar farm in South Australia includes world’s largest battery

March 30, 2017 by  
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South Australia is about to get a huge clean energy boost with a $1 billion solar farm . The farm will pump and store 300MW and 100MW of clean energy respectively with 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries . It is expected to start running later this year. The Lyon Group , a partnership of three companies, is building the massive solar farm in the Riverland region of South Australia. Construction should commence within months. The Riverland initiative will allow for 330 megawatts (MW) of power generation and at minimum 100 MW of battery storage . In a video Lyon Group partner David Green said it will be the largest integrated project and the largest single battery on Earth. The solar system will be built on privately owned land and paid for by investors. Green said the solar farm will be a significant stimulus for the region. Related: South Australia Projected to Reach 50 Percent Renewable Energy Within the Next Decade Green told The Guardian, “We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonize. Any short-term decisions are only what I would call noise in the process.” Lyon Group plans to build a similar system near Roxby Downs as well. Greens said the battery and solar combination will greatly enhance South Australia’s capacity. Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia, praised the effort, saying, “Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future.” The South Australia government recently announced a power plan that will be bankrolled by a $150 million renewable technology fund. They will consider bidders for a 100 MW battery in upcoming weeks; Weatherill said Lyon Group is among the companies interested in constructing the battery. But the Riverland farm will be constructed no matter the results of the government’s tender for the large battery, according to Lyon Group. Via The Guardian Images via Australian Renewable Energy Agency Facebook and screenshot

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