Plant Power: Creating Community & Healing Through Food

August 5, 2019 by  
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On a beautiful, crisp summer day in Southern California, my … The post Plant Power: Creating Community & Healing Through Food appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Plant Power: Creating Community & Healing Through Food

Earth911 Quiz #46: Extreme Weather & Wildfire Everywhere

January 24, 2019 by  
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The Northern and Southern Hemispheres alike are experiencing extreme weather … The post Earth911 Quiz #46: Extreme Weather & Wildfire Everywhere appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #46: Extreme Weather & Wildfire Everywhere

Solar-powered smart home puts a modern spin on rural Italian architecture

December 28, 2018 by  
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Montebelluna-based architecture firm Reisarchitettura, has put a contemporary twist on the traditional countryside vernacular of Southern Italy with the BS House— a modern energy-efficient dwelling in the rural outskirts of Ostuni. Defined by large stone walls and muted natural material palette, the seemingly rustic home boasts a modern interior and energy-efficient systems including home automation technology that allows the homeowners to remotely control the home with their smartphones. To maximize energy savings, the BS House is powered with solar energy as well as an integrated heat pump. Commissioned by a German executive and his journalist wife, the BS House serves as a live-work house rather than a holiday getaway. The clients selected an elevated site with beautiful olive trees and stellar views of the landscape. The design of the house also pays homage to nature through its natural material palette that comprises dry stone and lime plaster for the walls, minimal window frames made of oak wood, and Apricena stone paving; architectural detailing gave these traditional materials a contemporary twist. “The project started from the idea of a central patio, used since antiquity in the hot climate of the southern Mediterranean as passive protection from the sun,” explains the architecture firm of the 170-square-meter home. “The house shaped as a C around the patio facing north to protect the large windows from the hot Apulian sun and enjoy the best view. To the east are the living area and the studio of the owner, in the center the dining area with kitchen and to the west the master bedroom with a second studio for his wife. At the west end is a guest room with separated entrance and services. North of the House, in front of the patio, the swimming pool, with gazebo, services and sauna, overlooks the countryside.” Related: Solar-powered home embraces sustainable design in Chihuahua In anticipation of future business trips, the clients requested that their home be equipped with a KNX home automation system that allows for the remote control of everything from the safety and alarm systems to the air conditioning and lighting. Solar panels power the house as well as the recharging station for the clients’ electric vehicle . + Reisarchitettura Via ArchDaily Images by Alessandra Bello

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Solar-powered smart home puts a modern spin on rural Italian architecture

How environmental policies changed in 2018 under Trump

December 28, 2018 by  
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There is no doubt that President Trump has significantly changed environmental policy since taking office that have caused a great deal of public outcry. The current administration’s decisions have affected everything from rolling back on policies enacted by former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to cutting funding for different environmental and scientific programs. With so much to keep up with, here is a rundown of the Trump Administration’s environmental action in 2018 and how it has impacted the planet. EPA loosens toxic air pollution regulations A Clinton-era policy known as “once in, always in” or OIAI was an effort to permanently reduce the hazardous air pollution from industrial sources. The law required major sources of pollution to retool their processes and reduce their emissions to lower levels set by industry peers. This was known as Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or MACT, standards. Industry lawyers have long argued that eliminating OIAI would give businesses a stronger incentive to reduce emissions , and in a brief legal memo, Trump’s EPA abruptly dropped OIAI at the beginning of 2018. NASA climate monitoring program cut Back in May, the Trump administration ended NASA’s carbon monitoring system (CMS), which was an effort to improve the monitoring of global carbon emissions. The program cost $10 million a year, but a March 2018 spending deal did not include funding for the program. CMS supported work was relevant to the Paris Agreement because it verified if other nations were meeting their pledges to reduce carbon emissions. But the Trump administration has rejected that agreement and is downsizing the NASA climate science program. Rollbacks proposed for Endangered Species Act rules This summer, the Trump administration proposed to make several key changes to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, including eliminating a rule that forbids referring to the economic impact of listing a threatened species. The changes would still allow for determinations to be based on biological considerations, and they also would give regulators more freedom, so they can avoid designating critical habitat for endangered species . Fuel economy rule change One of the signature climate change policies from President Obama was a plan to increase vehicle mileage standards for cars made during the next decade. However, the Trump administration is dismantling the plan, but not nixing it entirely. President Obama’s plan required light cars made after 2012 to average almost 54 miles per gallon by 2025, with hopes that the new efficiency standards would save billions of barrels of oil . However, President Trump has mileage targets of 34 miles per gallon because some automakers believe anything more than that would be too difficult to reach. Methane rules repealed Another rollback to Obama’s climate change policy, Trump’s EPA reduced the requirements on oil and gas companies to monitor the releases of methane from wells. Some in the industry had complained that the Obama rules were too much of a burden and a “record-keeping nightmare” that was impossible to execute. However, when the EPA announced this new rule, the attorneys general in California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit to challenge the change. EPA air pollution review panel disbanded The Particulate Matter Review Panel – made of scientists who are experts in the health dangers of soot – has advised the EPA over the years about safe levels of air pollution. However, they will no longer meet starting in 2019, but they didn’t reveal why. Conservation groups believe that eliminating the panel will make it easier to roll back pollution standards, but they had also complained that the panel wasn’t robust enough to protect public health. Ocean plastic cleanup bill In October, President Trump signed legislation to improve efforts to clean up plastic trash from the world’s oceans. He also called out nations like China and Japan for using the oceans as landfills and said that he will do everything he can during his Presidency to stop them. The law passed with bipartisan support, and it amended the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Act. It also funded the program through 2022. Arctic offshore drilling approved Earlier this year, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued Hilcorp a conditional use permit for its Liberty Project, and they will begin drilling from an artificial island in the Beaufort Sea. The federally controlled waters of the U.S. arctic have been cleared for oil and gas production wells after years of debate about the risks and rewards. Coal power plant rollback In 2015, the Obama Administration adopted a rule restricting carbon dioxide pollution from future power plants. The energy industry criticized the rule, saying the technology was unproven and the required equipment was extremely expensive. So, earlier this month, the Trump administration rolled back the climate rule by lifting some of the restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants. The goal is to spur construction of new coal plants and to relieve America’s energy providers of excessive burdens. Via National Geographic Image via Sam Jotham Sutharson

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Episode 137: Greener plastics, electrifying everything and (yes) another blockchain app

August 24, 2018 by  
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Plus, some insight into Southern California Edison’s strategy for electrifying transportation and building thermal loads.

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Episode 137: Greener plastics, electrifying everything and (yes) another blockchain app

This cedar-clad tiny home radiates true southern charm

June 9, 2018 by  
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Although we’ve seen some seriously modern and sophisticated tiny homes  over the years, it’s always nice to go back to the movement’s minimalist roots. The Old Blue Chair  is a classic example of tiny house design done right. From its beautiful cedar block siding to the sweet powder blue dutch door, this beautiful cottage exudes simple southern charm. Located just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, this lovely tiny cabin , which peers out over Lookout Mountain, is designed to let guests unwind from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The wooden deck outside the bright blue front door is just the place for socializing and passing the hot southern summer nights by with a mint julep or two. Related: Minimalist living meets luxury in the Sturgis Tiny Home The interior design proves to be just as inviting as the charming exterior. Guests enter the home through the hand-crafted dutch door. The top section of the door can be left open to enjoy the beautiful views of the valley 1,400 feet below. White shiplap walls and dark wood flooring create a contemporary cabin feel. The living space is split between a large sofa and a cozy reading nook with a circular window hidden under the stairs. The kitchen features a four-burner stove and plenty of shelving to keep the space organized. In between the living room and the kitchen, a high-top table is used for dining. The tiny home sleeps up to five people, who can choose between the dual sleeping lofts on each end of the interior and can be reached by ladders. Of course, to really relax, guests can enjoy the central fire pit and outdoor hot tub while taking in the incredible 180-degree view of Lookout Valley. + Live a Little Chatt Images via Live a Little Chatt

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This cedar-clad tiny home radiates true southern charm

Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

May 18, 2018 by  
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Climate change is doing more than causing  sea levels to rise or sea ice to dwindle — it’s pressuring  fish to move far away from their typical habitats. Warming waters have already prompted some fish to migrate south or north. As the climate continues to change, marine species’ shifts could be challenging for fisheries as the fish potentially move into new areas altogether — some hundreds of miles away. Fish are already seeking more favorable habitats in a changing world, and a team of six scientists at institutions in the U.S. and Switzerland decided to predict how they might move in the future. In research published this week in PLOS One , the team modeled the habitat of 686 species. Ecologist and co-author Malin Pinksy of Rutgers University told NPR they have high certainty for how far around 450 of those species will shift in the future. Related: Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time “We found a major effect of carbon emissions scenario on the magnitude of projected shifts in species habitat during the 21st century,” lead author James Morley of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in a statement . “Under a high carbon emissions future we anticipate that many economically important species will expand into new regions and decline in areas of historic abundance.” Some species might just shift a few miles. But others might move so far that they become out of reach for some fishers. For example, the Alaskan snow crab could move north as far as 900 miles. A shift of just a couple hundred miles could place lobster or other fish out of the range for fishers with small boats — and limited time and fuel. The scientists aren’t sure when the shifts might happen; it depends on how much the waters warm. But the movement could pose challenges for resource management — co-author Richard Seagraves, formerly with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council , told NPR that states get a catch limit, or quota, for fish. The catch limit is based on where the fish were decades ago. Seagraves said, “Some of the Southern states are having trouble catching their quota, and states to the north have more availability of fish.” + PLOS One Via NPR and EurekAlert! Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

VIDEO: Man saves rabbit from raging California fire

December 8, 2017 by  
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Fires continue to ravage Southern California . While the Thomas Fire rages in Ventura County, one man was captured on video rescuing a wild rabbit hopping near Highway 1 in La Conchita. As the animal jumped near the flames, the man followed until he was able to pick it up and carry it away. Local outlet KABC reported a news photographer captured the scene on video on Wednesday. A man pulled over and appeared to be panicking as a wild rabbit hopped near flames. The man managed to catch the animal and held it in his arms as the blaze burned close to the freeway. The man declined an interview, but KABC reported he risked his life to save the rabbit. Related: Out of control wildfires force thousands to flee their homes in Southern California The unnamed man has been hailed as a hero, but some people are questioning whether or not he made the right choice. California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira told SFGate , “Fire is something animals have to deal with constantly. If you encounter a wild animal in your neighborhood, leave it alone. Fire or no fire, just let the animals be.” Small animals are generally good at handling fires, according to Live Science . A rabbit that hasn’t fled a blaze might have a good reason for being there – like saving its young, according to researcher E.V. Komarek, who once observed a cotton rat run to the edge of the flames of a controlled burn to herd juveniles away. It doesn’t appear there are similar direct reports of rabbits behaving similarly, but researchers have noted cottontail rabbits are good at surviving wildfires with their young. Desert cottontail rabbits are common in Southern California, although we don’t know the species of the rabbit in the video. We also don’t know for sure why the rabbit was in the area. Live Science staff writer Rafi Letzter suggests “if you see a wild animal moving around near a fire, the best thing you can do is leave the creature to its business.” On Friday President Donald Trump declared an emergency and ordered federal aid following a request from Governor Jerry Brown. Via KABC , Live Science , SFGate , and The Washington Post Images via ABC7 on YouTube

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VIDEO: Man saves rabbit from raging California fire

18 fun and educational gifts for tots

December 8, 2017 by  
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This holiday season, delight the tots in your life with playful  eco-gifts  that educate and inspire creativity. From this Waldorf and Montessori-inspired game  to this ingenious easy weaver , all of the gifts in our gift guide for tots will be sure to bring joy to little ones, while encouraging cognitive and imaginative play. Check out all  18 awesome green gifts for little kids here . GIFTS FOR LITTLE KIDS >

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18 fun and educational gifts for tots

Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

July 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been stumped for years over why the southern Amazon rainforest ‘s rainy season begins two to three months earlier than they’d expect. But now an international team that includes researchers from NASA and Google has discovered the forest actually triggers its own rainy season, thanks to water vapor off plant leaves. The finding points to one disastrous consequence of deforestation in this part of the world: as trees are cut down, it appears there’s actually less rainfall. Monsoon winds and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which NASA describes as a belt of converging trade winds that shifts depending on the seasons, control when the rainy season begins in many tropical locations, and the southern Amazon experiences both factors. But they don’t kick in until December or January, while the southern Amazon’s rainy season typically begins in the middle of October. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” To try and find out why, the team of scientists led by Jonathon Wright of Tsinghua University scrutinized data on water vapor from NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, aboard the agency’s Aura satellite , together with other satellite measurements, to discover clouds in the southern Amazon at the dry season’s close form via water rising from the rainforest. But the southern Amazon’s rainy season already begins nearly a month later than it did back in the 1970’s. Evidence indicates if the region’s dry season stretches longer than five to seven months, there won’t be enough rain for the rainforest to remain a rainforest – it could transition to grassy plains. But the dry season is already a few weeks shorter on average than that benchmark in parts of the southern Amazon. The new study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , bolsters the idea that deforestation is partly to blame for the delayed start of the rainy season. The rainforest’s capacity to develop clouds dwindles as trees are chopped down. And if deforestation harms the forest to the point where it can’t trigger its own rainy season, the southern Amazon’s rainy season likely wouldn’t commence until December or January. Such changes could have far-reaching impacts. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “The loss of a major Amazonian forest ecosystem could increase Brazilian droughts and potentially disrupt rainfall patterns as far away as Texas.” Via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Images via Center for International Forestry Research and Jay on Flickr

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

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