An increasingly intense allergy season is linked to climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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If you’ve found that you’re having a particularly tough time breathing through this spring’s allergy season, you’re not alone. This season has been especially difficult throughout North America due to intense pollen production, and recent research has found that the problem may be linked to climate change . “Some research has suggested that the warming trend that we have in our environment is causing the pollen seasons to start a little bit earlier, and extend a little bit longer,” Dr. Stanley Fineman, former president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told NBC News . “Consequently, patients are suffering because they’re exposed to pollen, for longer periods of time.” Winters that have been warmer and wetter than those in the past have combined with longer fall and spring seasons, contributing to an environment in which all manner of vegetation can produce greater amounts of pollen for longer periods of time. In  North America , oak, maple, and birch trees are currently producing plentiful amounts of pollen, as are poplar, alder and ash trees. Weeds and flowers, like dandelions, also contribute to the allergy season. Related: 5,000-year-old tree in Scotland is changing from male to female People are suffering from increased allergic symptoms because of the way we have dramatically altered the planet and our lifestyles. “Climate change, globalization, air pollution , and over-sanitization of the environment in the early years of life are just a few of the causes that, taken together, have introduced new allergens into our environment causing needless suffering,” medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York Dr. Clifford Bassett told NBC News . For those who are currently dealing with intense allergic symptoms or those who wish to avoid them, there are a few tips: use wraparound or large sunglasses to protect your eyes, wear a hat to prevent pollen from sticking to your hair, and choose your activities based on the weather report. Warm, dry, windy days typically have higher pollen counts than cloudy, wet days. Via NBC News Images via Depositphotos and   John Douglas/Flickr

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An increasingly intense allergy season is linked to climate change

California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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California is turning to dirt to help in the fight against climate change . The state’s  Healthy Soils Initiative draws on farming and land management techniques to build organic soil matter. The goal is to slash  greenhouse gas emissions and sequester more carbon . Multiple state departments and agencies, led by the state’s  Department of Food and Agriculture , are utilizing money from California’s  cap-and-trade program to target soil in the battle against climate change. According to the initiative’s website , around 75 percent “of the carbon pool on land” is found in soils, and about one quarter of the world’s  biodiversity  resides in soil. The initiative’s website quoted Governor Jerry Brown as saying, “As the leading agricultural state in the nation, it is important for California’s soils to be sustainable and resilient to climate change.” Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough How will the state boost soil health ? A 2016 action plan  pointed to agricultural practices like “planting cover crops, reducing tillage, retaining crop residue, managing grazing and adding compost .” Grist used farmer Doug Lo, who cultivates almond orchards, as an example. California is giving Lo $50,000 to try different techniques, such as putting composted manure around the trees and planting clover between the trunks as ground cover. In theory, the farming practices could help the soil absorb 1,088 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere yearly. “We’re trying to sequester some carbon,” Lo told Grist. “It should also help with the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the flowers in the cover crop should feed bees after the almond bloom is over.” + California Healthy Soils Initiative Via Grist Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

Experts believe climate change could be the cause of recent deadly dust storms in India

May 15, 2018 by  
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India is experiencing a powerful and deadly dust storm season this year. Over the weekend, 71 people were killed as a result of dust storms and related thunderstorms . The affected area stretches from the eastern state of West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh in the north. The storms are expected to continue through this week. Though dust storms are common during India’s dry season (from April to June), this year has been particularly intense and destructive. As the 67-miles-per-hour dust whips across the landscape, it tears down trees, destroys homes, disrupts transportation and, worst of all, ends lives. Earlier this month, a separate outbreak of storms killed more than 100 people. Indian state officials are working to assess the damage. Early estimates indicate that more than 120 million people were impacted by the recent dust storms. “Thunderstorms like these are a normal part of spring climate in India,” writer and meteorologist Bob Henson told Earther . “What’s unusual this year is the strength of the downdraft winds.” The hot, arid air rises into thunderstorms, where it is rapidly cooled. This cool air then returns toward the ground as strong winds . Related: For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity Scientists believe that this year’s intense dust storm season may be fueled by the record heat that South Asia has experienced lately. Earlier in May, Nawabshah, Pakistan  set the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, 50.2 degrees Celsius (122.3 degrees Fahrenheit). Under current conditions, the all-time heat record may not last long. This heat and the related dust storms are exactly the type of extreme weather events that scientists predicted would occur with greater frequency and intensity because of  climate change . Via Earther Images via Alan Stark/Flickr and Umer Malik/Flickr

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Experts believe climate change could be the cause of recent deadly dust storms in India

Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property

March 23, 2018 by  
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In nature, baby season usually rolls into full swing during spring. … The post Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property

6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

December 26, 2017 by  
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Unless you are from Denmark or Norway, the concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) was likely foreign to you until the past few years when this idea of “cozying around” began gaining serious traction. In this big, loud, harsh world, many of us desire a return to good company, simple pleasures, and mindfulness in the moment, and hygge embodies these ideas and more. We’re sharing six ways to help you create this restorative state of mind beloved for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway ). Image © @quizzically_yours 1. Host a low-key and intimate get-together Small hang-outs with friends are an ideal hygge-promoting gathering. Hygge get-togethers aren’t pretentious: think board game night , card night, or a bagel brunch in the comfort of your own home. The focus of these gatherings is on togetherness, not on spending five hours baking fussy hors d’oeuvres or desserts, so they are perfect for throwing together at a moment’s notice and are super potluck-friendly . An event that gets people absorbed in each other’s company and a low-tech activity that encourages them to detach from their phones is definitely high on the hygge scale. Linked to the concept of hygge is an appreciation of the outdoors, and Danes are known for prizing their open-air time from a young age: babies in Denmark and all over Scandinavia even take their naps outside . Take your gathering outdoors (weather permitting) to bring together the best of both worlds: huddling around an outdoor fire pit definitely fits the bill as does taking a dip in a hot tub. Image © Maria via Unsplash 2. Or make your own solo hygge experience Although hygge is often associated with cozy, candlelit get-togethers with dear friends, you can create your own hygge vibe when you are by yourself. Fredagsmys , a word from Denmark’s Nordic neighbor Sweden , is an actual term used for curling up indoors on a Friday night. So watch a movie, sit on the sofa, or make yourself some hot chocolate or tea and relax with a book (perhaps in front of a fire). Hygge is focused on the idea of enjoying and being aware of simple moments and experiences, so everything doesn’t have to be “just so”: partaking in a free flowing  yoga  practice or a nourishing  soup making  session applies. Image © Alisa Anton via Unsplash 3. Create hygge-friendly spaces in your home While it may be tempting to get caught up in the hygge-buying fever and feel the desire to suddenly possess a plethora of knit throws, cushy pillows, an array of scented candles, and more items, there’s no financial obligation required for creating a warm, comfortable, friendly space. Putting your favorite vintage and reclaimed  knickknacks on display creates a sociable, lived-in vibe. Ditto for items picked up during memorable vacations and roadtrips. If you have a home with large open spaces, consider arranging the furniture that you already own in configurations that encourage intimate tête à têtes. Even a small side table or an ottoman can be a place to gather around, set down your mug, or put your feet up. Interior designer Dani Arps for TaskRabbit suggests, “Texture and natural materials always add warmth; think chunky or nubby blankets stored in a mesh basket that sits next to a reclaimed coffee table.” Related: DIY Meditation Temple Built from Salvaged Materials Photo © Aaron Burden via Unsplash 4. Make space for quiet/meditation Mindfulness and gratitude are definitely components of a hygge mentality, and they dovetail nicely with many people’s goals of having a regular meditation practice. If sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, then consider making your cup of tea the meditation itself. Give yourself permission to really savor and enjoy your morning beverage  without feeling the need to check social media. Or take an invigorating walk with your dog by your side, soak in the tub , journal or even make a phone call to a friend or family member who you can’t connect with in person-these all align with the idea of creating a soothing and reflective practice. Since mindfulness is the goal, avoid multitasking while you are doing whatever activity you choose. Image via Inhabitots 5. Make comforting and nourishing food and drink If you were to scan Instagram, many of the images hashtagged with hygge would start to resemble each other: hands around a warm mug of something, a table laid out with humble but hearty fare, like this mushroom quinoa risotto , a bowl of oatmeal, or fruit and nut-studded granola. Another central tenet in Danish culture is spending time with family , so pulling out a favorite recipe that has been shared over generations for a family gathering is a great way to honor tradition (not to mention the fact that commonly beloved food seems to have a way of smoothing over many family riffs). A super hygge-friendly activity: create an intimate  multigenerational family cooking class with a matriarch or patriarch of the family teaching the younger set how to make a traditional family dish. A few other ideas to get you started include apple cider served in apple cups , a homemade vegan nutella-like spread , one pot sun-dried tomato and basil pasta , and a decadent vegan chocolate cake made with veggies . Image © Antonia Bukowska via Unsplash 6. Put hygge concepts to work year-round Although the idea of cozying around a fire or snuggled up on the couch with our favorites makes winter the season most associated with hygge, the concept of hygge can be employed throughout the year. After all, hygge is a mindset for making “ essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful ”. To that end, going for a midsummer midnight swim, having a backyard BBQ with a few friends, taking a hike in the spring rain, or organizing a pumpkin picking and carving session could all embody this mind/body/soul-nourishing concept. Lead image ©  Worthy of Elegance via Unsplash

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6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

Snhetta unveils striking new skyscraper for Manhattans Upper West Side

November 29, 2017 by  
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Snøhetta has unveiled a handsome skyscraper for Manhattan’s prestigious Upper West Side at 50 West 66th Street. Undeniably modern yet sensitive to its historic context, the striking mixed-use tower will soar to a height of 775 feet with 125 residential units. The chamfered form, cut into an angular shape, is “evocative of the chiseled stone of Manhattan’s geologic legacy,” say the architects. Snøhetta’s skyscraper comprises luxury residences stacked on top a mixed-use podium. The residential entrance will be located on 65th Street, while the entrance to a synagogue will be located on 66th. A large terrace is placed atop the podium on the 16th floor, where the building’s residential slab is set back from the multilevel outdoor plaza. The lushly planted terrace will offer views of the Hudson River, Central Park, and the city. Related: Times Square now has double the public space The architects carved away the skyscraper to create a dynamic form with a chiseled crown. Handset and textured limestone , bronze, and glass clad the building. Construction is slated to begin in Spring 2018. + Snøhetta Via ArchDaily Images by Snøhetta and Binyan Studios

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Snhetta unveils striking new skyscraper for Manhattans Upper West Side

Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

July 7, 2017 by  
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Nuclear power has dominated alternative energy sources in the United States for decades – that is, until this spring. Statistics recently released by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable energy surpassed nuclear energy in power generation in March and April of this year. Wind , solar , and hydroelectric power made that feat possible – the first two set records for generation, while hydroelectric generation surged after heavy rainfall in the country’s West. Utility-scale renewable sources generated more power than nuclear energy in the spring of 2017 in America, and it’s the first time they’ve done so since July 1984. According to the EIA, part of the reason for this fact is nuclear power plants often undergo maintenance when electricity demand is lower, like in the spring or fall. But renewable energy is also generating more and more power in the country. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time In March, hydroelectric power generated 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is the most amount of power from hydroelectric in almost six years. California’s emergence from their drought had a role to play in that – both record precipitation and the snowpack have made the state wetter than it’s been in years, which is great for hydroelectric generation. And with more wind and solar installations, the two sources have been offering record amounts of clean energy . The EIA said between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16 percent, while solar generation spiked by 65 percent. Net generation from nuclear has stayed largely flat since the late 1990s, according to the EIA. Many plants have also been retired. Even so, the EIA doesn’t expect the trend to continue. They said nuclear will probably overtake renewables during this summer, and looking at 2017 as a whole, nuclear power will likely generate more energy than renewables overall. Via the United States Energy Information Administration Images via Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash and the United States Energy Information Administration

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Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

April 14, 2017 by  
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Poppies, dune evening primrose, lupine, and other wildflowers are blanketing California in a super bloom so immense you can see it from space. After an especially wet winter, most of the state is finally drought-free – and it’s flourishing with a colorful floral array that spans miles and miles. California received above-average rainfall this year, and the state is being rewarded with several distinct super blooms. Los Padres National Forest, Carrizo Plain National Monument, and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge are all exhibiting spectacular super blooms that can be glimpsed from space thanks to Planet Labs , a company offering stunning satellite images of Earth . Related: Death Valley springs to life with millions of flowers in rare ‘super bloom’ March saw the height of the bloom, but in some snow-covered areas like Lassen Volcanic National Park and the High Sierra, wildflowers might not arrive until June or July – so there’s still time to see the natural beauty. If you’re hoping to glimpse California’s super bloom in person, Visit California put together a list of where and when to see spring wildflowers. The California Department of Parks and Recreation also has a site with information on where and when you can see the blooms, along with phone numbers to check if the landscape is in bloom and which types of flowers are showing. Planet Labs was launched by a team of former NASA scientists, and they debuted a Planet Explorer Beta tool in March that allows the public to see satellite images for 85 percent of Earth’s terrain. In February they acquired Terra Bella , thesatellite business behind Google Earth – and they now control the world’s biggest fleet of satellites imaging the Earth. You can check out other satellite images around the world thanks to Planet Lab’s gallery , which highlights images ranging from illegal mining in Peru to sugarcane deforestation in Bolivia to the Disneyland parking lot in California. + Planet Labs Via EcoWatch and KQED Science Images courtesy of Planet Labs and KQED

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California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

March 30, 2017 by  
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Travelers have been drawn to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon for decades, eager to take a dip in the steamy, mineral-rich water nestled in the heart of a lava field. Hundreds of thousands of visitors make the journey every year to experience the magical, intensely blue pools for themselves. Now, the spa is making plans to expand into a full-fledged resort with the 62-room Moss Hotel, a new Moss Restaurant, and a new spa called Lava Cove. The man-made lagoon is filled with the waste seawater released from a nearby geothermal power station. While the water is perfectly safe for visitors to take a dip in, the high mineral content makes it unsuitable for recycling and it must be filtered through the porous rock of the lava field before it can be returned to the landscape. The lagoon gets its trademark milky blue shade from the silica, sulfur, and other minerals infused in the water, which is said to aid relaxation and heal skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. Related: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is an Incredible Hot Spring Spouting from the Runoff of a Geothermal Power Plant The new hotel will offer visitors stunning views with floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces leading directly to the geothermal waters. For a broader view, guests can visit the hotel’s balconies to see the stunning scenery of the lava field. The goal of the new resort is to make its connection to nature as seamless as possible. The subterranean Lava Cove spa takes advantage of the natural landscape, offering visitors the chance to explore lava corridors, waterfalls, and other geological features while they rest and relax. The new Moss Restaurant will serve up fresh, local, seasonal ingredients inspired by Icelandic cuisine, along with stunning views of the resort. The new resort is currently under construction and set to open in Autumn of 2017. + Blue Lagoon Hotel Via CNN

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Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

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