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

Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

July 21, 2017 by  
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Need a quiet space to get away from it all? French architecture firm,  Les Etablissements Tourneux has created a multi-use wooden shelter that hangs from the tree tops. Although compact in size, the Sequoia Shelter is incredibly flexible thanks to multiple wooden planks with hinges, which allow the structure to be configured in a variety of shapes without causing harm to the tree or its branches. The shelter is made out of individual panels of spruce that can be configured in different shapes. It’s also possible to create various awnings and terraces within the design. The narrow apex at the top and flexible configuration were strategic to creating a hanging treehouse that causes little to no damage to trees and branches. Aesthetically, the natural spruce planks give the treehouse a light, airy feel. Related: Kengo Kuma envisions shapeshifting nomadic shelters woven from hundreds of identical wooden pieces The structure is incredibly easy to put together, making it a practical solution for off-grid living , an additional guest room, or just for plain, old fun. A flat base means it can be set on the ground and easily transported. Recently, the shelter was used as a music studio and lecture space for the Embranchements Festival in Nancy, France. + Les Etablissements Tourneux Via NotCot Images via Les Etablissements Tourneux

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Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

May 2, 2016 by  
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Urban farming is a trend that appears to be here to stay, and is even catching on at airports, shipping containers and rooftops. I recently attended a lively session at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference in Lexington,…

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Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

Green Power, Meet Fiddler (On The Roof)

April 1, 2016 by  
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Wind energy is green power. On that we can agree. Where there hasn’t been widespread agreement however is in how to best harness the potential of wind energy – on a mass scale.  Five Southern Methodist University seniors believe they have harnessed…

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Green Power, Meet Fiddler (On The Roof)

Has Solar Energy Technology Evolved?

April 1, 2016 by  
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Installed solar energy capacity in the U.S. is growing dramatically, with numerous record-shattering years in a row. There is now enough installed solar energy to power over 4.6 million U.S. homes and a new solar project is installed every two…

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Has Solar Energy Technology Evolved?

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