Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

August 23, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists are alarmed by recent data that reveals Spain’s pig population now outnumbers its human one by 3.5 million. This is the first time the number of pigs in Spain has exceeded that of humans, and the discrepancy is adding to concerns about the environmental impact of the pork industry. This impact stems primarily from greenhouse gas emissions , nitrate discharges, and water consumption. The number of pigs in Spain has increased by nine million in the last five years; in 2017 alone, Spain’s pork industry produced about four million tons of pork products. Environmentalists are calling on producers to slow down, and for good reason. Each pig in Spain drinks close to four gallons of water per day, and the total amount consumed is enough to satisfy the water needs of Spanish cities Zaragoza, Seville and Alicante combined. Pig farming also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions from livestock overall, which is the fourth-largest emissions generator in the country. Related: Muscle-packed pigs in Cambodia raise alarms The enormity of the industry also makes it difficult to regulate. “When you don’t control an industry in which traditionally there’s a lot of fraud, because there’s a lot of demand but not a lot of product, this is what happens,” said Francisco Espárrago, a  jamón ibérico de bellota producer in Extremadura, in reference to numerous quality control issues that have plagued Spain’s pork industry. It appears that stricter – or perhaps better enforced – regulations would benefit Spain’s longstanding pork traditions that have existed since Roman times, protect local producers, and alleviate environmental infractions which are cause for national concerns. Via The Guardian  

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Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

Electric scooter networks charge up as Scoot drives into Barcelona

May 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco’s home-grown e-scooter startup is headed over to moped-loving Spain.

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Electric scooter networks charge up as Scoot drives into Barcelona

Incredible glass home stays comfortably snug even in extreme temperatures

March 6, 2018 by  
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OFIS Architects tackles the ultimate indoor-outdoor living experience with Glass Pavilion, a retreat with full-height glass structural walls that provides total comfort even in extreme desert conditions. Initiated by Guardian Glass , this thermally efficient prototype home will operate off-grid and offer lucky guests stunning and uninterrupted views of Spain’s Gorafe desert. Completed this year, the compact 215-square-foot Glass Pavilion is part of OFIS Architects’ ongoing collaboration with AKT II structural engineers , where the firms test the structural possibilities of glass and timber in extreme climates. “This project is a response to the local, desert climate conditions,” wrote OFIS Architects of Glass Pavilion. “Instead of focusing only in ‘a glass as a window element’ the concept explored its advanced potentials, e.g. transparent but shading element, a thin but thermally efficient envelope that is also the sole structural support.” Related: Exceptional prefab alpine shelter overlooks mind-boggling mountain views Triple-glazed walls create a thermally efficient envelope, while near-invisible coatings, operable shades, and roof overhangs protect the interior from solar gain . The Y-shaped interior is evenly split between a living area with a kitchenette, a bedroom with storage, and the bathroom. All three rooms open out to a wraparound terrace deck. “The Glass Pavilion will be the setting of a 1-week retreat for a single person or a couple,” added the architects. “The guests will be selected from different tourist sharing platforms.” + OFIS Architects Images @ Jose Navarrete

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Incredible glass home stays comfortably snug even in extreme temperatures

Neanderthals, not homo sapiens, responsible for 64,000-year-old cave art

February 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers have discovered that Neanderthals, not  homo sapiens , created a series of 64,000 year-old cave drawings in Spain . Published in the journal  Science , this study marks the first time that Neanderthals have been credited as cave painters – and it deems the works of art the oldest known cave paintings. Utilizing advanced radioactive dating, the scientists determined that paintings made in three separate caves are far older than originally thought – they were created 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in the area. The Neanderthal’s reputation as a bulkier, dumber kind of human seems to be misinformed. “It’s impossible to say that one is more clever than the other,” archaeology professor Marie Soressi told the Verge . An earlier theory speculated that Neanderthals only developed a culture after the arrival of modern humans in Europe between 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. The Neanderthal cave artwork proves that the species were creative and maintained their own culture and accompanying art. Neanderthals are also known to have used eagle claws and shells in their clothing as well as pigments to add color. Related: Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa Previous efforts to determine the age of cave art were complicated by dating technology limitations. The most common method works exclusively with organic matter; using uranium ‘s radioactive decay as a metric requires a great deal of material to be dated, something that is not possible in rare, delicate discoveries like early human cave art. The scientists used a new method of dating in which they scrapped off only the crust of the cave painting, samples which are then dated in a laboratory. Via The Verge Images via D.L. Hoffman, C.D. Standish, et al.

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Neanderthals, not homo sapiens, responsible for 64,000-year-old cave art

IKEA renewable electricity plan could save customers 300 per year

February 23, 2018 by  
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IKEA has set a goal of running on 100 percent renewable energy by 2020 — and they want their customers to live more sustainably too. That’s why they’ve partnered with Big Clean Switch to help people transition to clean power. Using a collective switch model, they’ve secured “an exclusive tariff on 100 percent renewable electricity” — which could save households more than £300 each year . IKEA aims to help people make the change to a renewable electricity provider. According to Big Clean Switch , renewable electricity tariffs work like this: “When you’re on a renewable electricity tariff, your supplier promises to match the amount of electricity you take out of the National Grid by ensuring the same amount of renewable electricity is put in. The more this happens, the greener the Grid should get.” Related: IKEA plans to cut food waste in half by 2020 — here’s how The deal is just for the United Kingdom — but if you live there, you could save hundreds of pounds on your electricity bill each year. Big Clean Switch said making the change is easy; they estimate it will take under five minutes, with no engineer visits necessary, and supply won’t be disrupted. IKEA UK sustainability manager Hege Sæbjørnsen said in a statement, “At IKEA, our commitment to sustainability goes beyond minimizing the impact of our own operations to having a positive impact on the world around us. We want to provide our customers with innovative solutions that will help them live a more sustainable life at home and save money in the short and long term.” IKEA UK started offering solar panels and battery storage for homes last year — we’d love to see the products in the United States! If you live in the UK and want to sign up for the IKEA renewable electricity offer, you can express your interest here . Suppliers will compete to offer their best value tariff, and when the campaign goes live on March 6, IKEA and Big Clean Switch will get in touch with people who expressed interest to let them know the cost. The tariff will only be available from March 6 through March 26. + IKEA + Big Clean Switch Images via Depositphotos and Karsten Würth on Unsplash

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IKEA renewable electricity plan could save customers 300 per year

Nissan to debut its self-driving taxis in Japan

February 23, 2018 by  
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Nissan will begin testing its Easy Ride self-driving taxi service in Yokohama , Japan on March 5, 2018, with plans to launch the full service by the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In collaboration with Tokyo-based mobile app developer DeNA, Nissan will run the trial service on a 2.8 mile-route running from their headquarters to the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. While limited to start, the opening of Nissan’s Easy Ride service marks an significant step forward into the future of autonomous vehicles and urban transportation. The Easy Ride system is designed to incorporate user interests into its presentation, offering helpful information on points of interest, events, and shops. To build further ties between the self-driving taxi and local business, Easy Ride will offer coupons for recommended restaurants and businesses for users to exchange after they’ve departed their self-driving taxi. Easy Ride will also record feedback from users regarding their ride experience and their opinion on what a fair fare should be. Related: Dubai tests the world’s first autonomous mobility pods Nissan’s initial trial is planned to run for only a few weeks. However, the company plans to conduct further, more extensive tests. Recognizing the need to serve an Olympic -sized constituency as well as Japan’s aging population, the automaker plans to add more routes, implement a multi-lingual interface, and refine arrival and departure procedures over the next two years. To assuage any concerns regarding the safety of the self-driving taxis, Nissan will link each taxi to a remote monitoring center, where workers observe each ride and could take the wheel from afar if necessary. Via Engadget Images via Nissan and aotaro/Flickr

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Spectacular aerial sculpture hovers above a Madrid plaza

February 20, 2018 by  
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A symphony of color has taken to the air above Plaza Mayor. The instantly recognizable aerial sculpture is the work of none other than American artist Janet Echelman , who the City of Madrid commissioned to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Plaza Mayor. Titled 1.78 Madrid, the sculpture “explores the cycle of time” and the far-reaching effects of natural phenomenon and the built environment on our lives. Unveiled February 9 this year, 1.78 Madrid was displayed for a 10-day celebratory event that concluded yesterday. Highly engineered colorful fibers 15 times stronger than steel by weight were braided, knotted, and spliced together to create a dynamic form that constantly changes in the wind and provides a soft counterpoint to Plaza Mayor’s hard edges. At night, the sculpture was illuminated with colored lights. 1.78 Madrid is the latest addition to Echelman’s Earth Time Series that began in 2010 with works exhibited across the world. According to project statement on Echelman’s website, the number “1.78” within the title “refers to the number of microseconds that the day was shortened when a single physical event shifted the earth’s mass, thus speeding up the planet’s rotation of one day,” however it’s not clear what specific event the “1.78” alludes to. In Echelman’s previous works titled “1.8,” the number was a reference to how the 2011 Tohoku earthquake shortened the length of the day by 1.8 microseconds. Regardless, the cycles of time and causality are explored in all her works. Related: Janet Echelman’s dazzling aerial sculpture maps the devastating power of an earthquake “The artwork reminds us of our complex interconnectedness with larger cycles of time and the systems of our physical world,” continues the project statement. “The sculpture’s materials embody this. When any one element in the sculpture’s network moves, every other element is affected. Our surroundings affect how we feel and how we experience our lives – we are responsible for the way our cities look and function.” + Janet Echelman Images via Janet Echelman , by João Ferrand

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Spectacular aerial sculpture hovers above a Madrid plaza

Scientists made the coldest liquid water ever – and it’s crazy weird

January 9, 2018 by  
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Water freezes at zero degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, right? While that’s water’s freezing point, under certain conditions liquid water can be supercooled – and still be liquid . Two groups of scientists recently uncovered new details about supercooled water, showing there could still be a lot we don’t know about this fairly common substance. Water just got weirder. We know supercooled water drops can exist naturally in the planet’s atmosphere , at temperatures as low as negative 35 degrees Celsius, according to Gizmodo . It isn’t easy for scientists to measure the temperature of supercooled water droplets, but a team led by Goethe University Frankfurt pioneered a new technique – for drops as small as a micrometer – that shows liquid water can exist at negative 42.55 degrees Celsius. Their research was published in Physical Review Letters earlier this month, with scientists at institutions in Germany, Italy, France, and Spain contributing. Related: Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases Meanwhile, Stockholm University published other groundbreaking research on supercooled water last month in Science – and here’s where things get really weird. The scientists found that at normal pressure and a temperature of negative 44 degrees Celsius, water “can exist as two distinct liquids with different ways to bind the water molecules. The water can not decide what shape to be in without fluctuating between these two,” per the university’s press release . They explained it’s similar to how we may be unable to make up our minds on a decision and go back and forth over different options. They discovered many of water’s weird properties “reach a maximum at negative 44 degrees Celsius.” Supercooled water may be a cool topic, but why should you care? Physics said in their synopsis of the Goethe University Frankfurt research, “Knowing when water freezes and when it stays liquid at these low temperatures could improve understanding of atmospheric ice formation and help researchers develop more reliable climate models.” Via Stockholm University , Physics , and Gizmodo Images via chuttersnap on Unsplash and Stockholm University

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Scientists made the coldest liquid water ever – and it’s crazy weird

Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

December 12, 2017 by  
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France’s president Emmanuel Macron had an answer to President Donald Trump’s decision to tug America out of the Paris Agreement : invite scientists to research climate change solutions in his country instead. The Make Our Planet Great Again initiative now has its first class: 18 scientists from around the world. They’ll move from institutions like Princeton University, Stanford University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work in France. Macron announced the 18 grants with French research minister Frédérique Vidal right before the One Planet Summit , a meeting convened by Macron, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work towards climate action . 12 of the 18 scientists were based at American research centers, laboratories, or universities. Others come from institutions in Canada, Spain, India, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy. Related: Macron and Schwarzenegger throw shade at Donald Trump in new climate video Thank you for your answer to this first call, your decision to move and come to Paris. Here you have a hub to do more. pic.twitter.com/TFoGRLG5J8 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 One of the scientists is University of Plymouth professor Camille Parmesan, who hails from Texas and was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for her work as a lead author. She said Make Our Planet Great Again is “absolutely fabulous, and a very appropriate response to Trump pulling out of the Paris accords.” Bravo à tous ceux qui ont répondu au projet #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain . Vous allez nourrir la vitalité dont nous avons besoin ! pic.twitter.com/X9t0sXdFd4 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 The French government is offering three to five year grants of up to 1.5 million Euros, or around $1.7 million, each, with a goal of attracting around 50 climate researchers. Over 1,800 scientists expressed interest. Of those, 450 were considered eligible and 255 turned in applications. 90 were invited to offer proposals, working with a French institution, and 57 proposals were turned in to the French National Research Agency. An international panel comprised of nine members reviewed the proposals. France will go through a second round of proposal evaluations next year, with Germany, which joined the project and committed 15 million Euros, or around $17.6 million. You can see the full list of the 18 winning scientists here . Via Science Magazine Images via Emmanuel Macron Facebook and Depositphotos

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Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

World’s first ocean pollution-eating Seabin launches in the UK

October 11, 2017 by  
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UK waterways are about to get a lot cleaner with the launch of the world’s first production Seabin in Portsmouth harbor. The device, which was developed by a pair of Australian surfers, works by sucking in various kinds of pollution (including oil) and spitting out clean water. The Seabin can collect approximately 1.5 kg of waste each day and has a capacity of 12 kg — and in a given year, a single bin can collect 20,000 plastic bottles or 83,000 plastic bags. The Seabin was first unveiled in December 2015. To fund the invention , founders Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski created an IndieGoGo campaign. With little time to spare, the campaign exceeded its goal. Equipped with $250,000, Turton and Ceglinski are now prepared to follow through with their plan, which entails cleaning up marinas with the natural fiber garbage bin and an automated, above-the-water pump. The device was designed with marine safety in mind – only debris and chemical pollution on the surface of the water is collected; fish and other aquatic creatures are left alone. The Times reports that the Seabin was installed near the base of the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team in the Portsmouth harbor. The group is passionate about environmental efforts – not only have members pledged to give up meat every Monday, they only consume sustainable seafood. Now, they’ve agreed to oversee the Seabin, which will improve the quality of water while protecting the cage of over 1,000 oysters near the pontoon. Related: New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected The Seabin team are also conducting trials at Spain’s Port Adriano and the Port of Helsinki (Finland). In early November, the innovative device will go on sale for £3,000 ($3,957). + Seabin Project Via The Times , Engadget Images via Seabin

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