Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates

August 22, 2019 by  
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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed with environmentalists since taking office in January. But criticisms are climbing to new levels as Amazon wildfires reach an all-time high in Brazil following a significant increase in deforestation . Between January and August of this year, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) recorded almost 73,000 fires. This is nearly twice the number for the whole of 2018 — 39,759 — and marks an 83 percent increase over this same period last year. Since last Thursday alone, satellite images identified more than 9,500 new fires. Most of these are burning the globe’s biggest tropical forest, located in the Amazon basin. Related: Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro Bolsonaro has promised to promote mining and farming in the Amazon region, ignoring international worries about deforestation. While wildfires are common in the Amazon’s dry season, farmers sometimes deliberately start fires to illegally clear their lands for raising cattle. INPE said this large number of fires can’t be attributed to the dry season alone. “There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” said INPE researcher Alberto Setzer, according to Al Jazeera . Bolsonaro remains unconcerned about the rampant Amazon wildfires caused by queimada, the name for farmers clearing land by fire. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw,” he said . “Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada.” The president also posited another theory: environmentalists who hate him are starting fires to make him look bad. “They are now feeling the pinch from the lack of funding,” Bolsonaro said . “So, maybe the NGO types are conducting these criminal acts in order to generate negative attention against me and against the Brazilian government. This is the war we are facing.” Meanwhile, the Amazon wildfires continue to burn at the equivalence of more than 1.5 soccer fields per minute. Via CNN , Al Jazeera and Reuters Images via Pixabay and NASA

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Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates

United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

August 9, 2019 by  
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Humanity is having a hard time feeding itself, and it is only expected to get worse thanks to the climate crisis . This comes from a new United Nations report presented on Aug. 8 that states the globe’s land and water resources are being misused at “unprecedented rates.” Written by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary in Geneva, the report said the time to address the threat is now. Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk The report warned that climate change will make threats worse, as floods, drought, storms and other extreme weather patterns threaten to diminish the global food supply. More than 10 percent of the world’s population is currently undernourished, and some authors of the report said food shortages may result in increased cross-border migration. Other report writers said food shortages will hit poorer communities much harder than affluent areas. Food crises could form on a multiple continents at once, according to Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a lead author of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.” The report mentioned higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, in addition to lowering crop yields and hurting livestock. These obstacles could become overwhelming for farmers, and the industry might fail at adjusting. However, among the negatives, the report offered some hope and presented ways to address the possible food crisis, though a reevaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide would be needed, as well as a change in consumer behavior. Solutions include increasing land productivity, reducing food waste and encouraging meatless diets. “One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.” There is still time to turn things around, but it will require major changes in food production, soil and forest management, food distribution and consumer behavior. + United Nations Via New York Times Image via Pixabay

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United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

Satellites show hope for Brazil’s disappearing Atlantic forest

August 2, 2019 by  
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While international media focuses on the important and devastating losses in the Amazon rainforest, an extensive forest biome along Brazil’s eastern coast is rapidly disappearing. The Mata Atlântica biome hosts incredible biodiversity and is critical for fighting climate change through its massive contribution to carbon sequestration. It is considered one of the most threatened large tropical forest ecosystems, but a new study finally reveals a glimmer of hope — the area of deforestation is bad, but not as bad as it used to be. According to the joint report by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research and Fundação SOS, heavily deforested areas have nearly 10 percent more forest cover than previous years. Their findings are based on innovative satellite mapping. Related: Deforestation and climate change combined may split Amazon in two “Just as important as analyzing the loss of Mata Atlântica in the last [most recent] period is to look at the historical series and think about prospects going forward,” said André de Almeida Cunha, an ecology professor at the at the University of Brasília. The forest used to stretch down Brazil’s eastern coast and through Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Now, it has been reduced to small, fragmented protected areas. The majority of deforestation is because of cattle grazing and land clearing for other agribusiness as well as real estate development. “Mata Atlântica is still the most threatened biome,” explained Pedro Brancalion, a researcher at the University of São Paulo. “The [deforestation] process we see in the Amazon began 500 years ago in Mata Atlântica. There is still deforestation [underway] in Mata Atlântica [today] where biodiversity losses have not been offset by reforestation initiatives.” While the report shows that some reforestation efforts have been successful, not all reforestation is equal. Throughout Brazil and much of the world, some reforestation initiatives have focused on planting monocrop trees for agriculture, such as eucalyptus or palm oil. While these trees are better than nothing, they are eventually harvested and do not provide the benefits of biodiversity . Via Mongabay Image via ICLEI América do Sul

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Celebrate the Sustainable Spinoffs from the Space Program

July 19, 2019 by  
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Fifty years ago (July 20, 1969), the Apollo 11 lunar … The post Celebrate the Sustainable Spinoffs from the Space Program appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

July 11, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the tropical heat in southern Vietnam’s Long An province, Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm Tropical Space created a home that maximizes natural ventilation. Dubbed the Long An House, the residence takes inspiration from traditional Vietnamese architecture but uses contemporary design elements to create an energy-efficient house that follows the local vernacular yet stands out with a minimalist design. Topped with a sloped roof divided in two parts, the home features porous brick walls, an open-sky courtyard and a layout that harnesses the region’s cooling crosswinds. Spanning an area of nearly 3,230 square feet, the Long An House includes two floors arranged around a central courtyard open to the sky. A simple construction palette of brick and concrete defines the minimalist building, which is punctuated by views of greenery throughout. Brick is featured in the home in a variety of ways, not only as a structural and facade material but is also used for cooling the home. The front yard is paved with hollow clay bricks, which can absorb the rain and reduce heat on the floor, while porous brick walls let wind and light through without compromising privacy. “The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces,” the architects noted in a project statement. “These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. The layout utilizes the wind direction of the local area in different seasons.” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat Oriented east to west, the Long An House is entered from the west-facing front yard with a vegetable garden that connects to the living area through massive glazed doors that fold open to allow cross-breezes to blow through the length of the home. The courtyard with a pool occupies the center of the home and is flanked by two corridors. The one to the north contains a galley kitchen, while a terrace is found on the south side. The rear of the home comprises a master bedroom and another courtyard (also with folding glass doors) with access to the chicken coop. Two en suite bedrooms are located on the upper floor. + Tropical Space Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via Tropical Space

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Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

This minimalist prefab playhouse features locally sourced timber, recycled rubber flooring and all-natural finishes

July 8, 2019 by  
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While many children’s playhouses might be filled with overly complicated bells and whistles, sometimes the minimalist route is the best way to go when it comes to connecting young minds with nature. Already known for its exquisite minimalist prefab structures , Japanese firm Koto Design has unveiled the Ilo Playhouse, a tiny prefabricated cabin made out of sustainable materials. Inspired by the simplicity of Scandinavian log cabins, the Ilo Playhouse was designed to create a space where kids could be inspired by nature. The tiny cabin is an angular volume with a sloped roof, adding a geometric aesthetic to the interior and exterior. Three walls envelope the interior with the fourth wall left entirely open to create a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. Related: BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC According to the architects, the openness of the design, enhanced by additional cutouts in the walls, was intentional so that the space could be open just enough to not feel isolated. It also makes the structure a fun place to play in inclement weather, providing shelter from light rain, for example. The minimalist layout on the interior allows for children to make the space their own, with furniture, toys, art and craft tables, or to simply take in the fresh air during a good old-fashioned game of tag. In addition to being a nature-inspired design, the cabin is also entirely constructed out of sustainable materials chosen for their durability. The playhouse is clad in an attractive, locally sourced larch wood, and the flooring is made out of recycled rubber . Additionally, all of the paints and finishes used in the cabin’s construction were all sourced from natural products. The structures are prefabricated in the U.K. and can be delivered to nearly any location. + Koto Design Photography by Tracey Hosey via Koto Design

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With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

July 5, 2019 by  
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Although some people might be under the impression that tiny homes don’t have enough space for a family, one savvy, space-efficient design is proving otherwise. Designed and built by New Zealand-based Build Tiny , the Dance Tiny House was custom designed to be a durable family home that boasts beautiful and child-proof interiors. Clad in very practical gray vinyl siding, the tiny home on wheels is durable yet lightweight enough to be towed easily. Double-glazed aluminum windows and quality insulation allow for a tight thermal envelope, reducing energy costs as well as maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. Related: Keep your tiny home safe with these 9 security tips Inside, the space is bright and open with a minimalist interior design that manages to avoid clutter. All-white plywood walls and honey-toned wood flooring, along with an abundance of natural light, gives the home a fresh, modern feel. A compact, open-plan living room with a small sofa and chair make up the social area of the home. To the left of the entrance is the kitchen with full-sized appliances. Although small, the cooking area includes ample counter space thanks to an ingenious rolling butcher block extension. Most of the home’s furnishings, including the counters, feature curved edges to ensure optimal safety for little ones. The far end of the residence houses the bathroom, which has a shower and plenty of storage space. The home’s dual sleeping lofts are accessible via a staircase in the kitchen, with the steps pulling double duty as storage in the form of pull-out drawers and cubbies. At the top, the master bedroom has plenty of room for a queen-sized bed and also includes a full-height closet and built-in storage . Connected by a narrow hallway, the children’s room is located on the opposite side. With plenty of space for a single or double bed, there is also room for play or study. The entire loft is made child-proof thanks to a gate and a metal safety barrier. + Build Tiny Via Tiny House Talk Images via Build Tiny

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With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours

June 25, 2019 by  
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Canadian company DROP Structures is on a mission to allow people to “drop” the company’s incredible cabins (almost) hassle-free in just about any location. One of the most versatile designs is the minimalist Mono, a tiny prefab cabin that runs on solar power and can be set up in just a few hours. Although the minuscule 106-square-foot cabins take on a very minimalist appearance, the structures are the culmination of years of engineering and design savvy. According to Drop Structures, the cabins, which start at $24,500, typically require no permit. Thanks to their prefabricated assembly, they can be installed in a matter of hours. Related: Low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’ Built to be tiny, but tough, the Mono tiny cabins are clad in a standing seam metal exterior, which was chosen because the material is resilient to most types of climates and is low-maintenance. The cabins also boast a tight thermal envelope thanks to a solid core insulation that keeps the interior temperatures stable year-round in most climates. The Mono features a pitched roof with two floor-to-ceiling glazed walls at either side. This standard design enables natural light to flood the interior space and create a seamless connection between the cabin and its surroundings. The interior space is quite compact but offers everything needed for a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The walls and vaulted ceilings are made out of Baltic Birch panels that give the space a warm, cozy feel. The biggest advantage of these tiny cabins is versatility. The structures can be customized with various add-ons including extra windows or skylights, a built-in loft, a Murphy bed and more. They can can also go off the grid with the addition of solar panels . + DROP Structures Via Dwell Images via DROP Structures

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These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours

Tyson’s plant-based nuggets could disrupt and dominate the market

June 17, 2019 by  
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Major meat corporation Tyson Foods is planning to join the alternative meat industry with two new products launching this year. Nuggets and burgers made of pea protein will hit grocery stores in the summer and fall, and more products are in development. With billions of dollars in profits and more factories than any alternative meat competitor, Tyson could potentially disrupt and dominate the growing market. In response to rising concerns about the environmental and ethical impacts of the meat industry, more people are seeking alternative or plant-based protein sources. The so-called ‘ alternative meat ‘ industry is predicted to grow by 78 percent in the next four years, according to one report. By 2023, the industry is expected to be worth $2.5 billion in the U.S. and up to $23 billion globally. Companies like Impossible Foods have a number of products in stores and restaurants around the world. Related: Impossible Burgers are such a success, they might run out Despite dominating the animal-based meat industry and pushing to prohibit plant-based companies from using the term “meat,” Tyson executives saw a huge opportunity to invest in the growing industry. In 2016, Tyson owned 5 percent of Beyond Meat, and this year it is releasing its own products under brand name Raised and Rooted. Tyson’s alternative nuggets are made from peas, eggs, flaxseed, bamboo fiber and other plant-based ingredients. The company is also experimenting with sausages and meatballs that contain less meat products and mix in alternative proteins such as chickpeas and quinoa. “It became apparent we had the capability not only to compete but to lead in this space,” said Justin Whitmore, lead for Tyson’s alternative protein brand. Based on Tyson’s size and profits, many are fearful it will take over the industry. Nestle and Perdue also announced that they will be launching plant-based proteins in the near future, and they are in a position to be potential challengers to Tyson, given their large-scale operations and profit margins. + Raised and Rooted + Tyson Foods Via NBC Image via Shutterstock

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Tyson’s plant-based nuggets could disrupt and dominate the market

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