Will California say bye to diesel-burning trucks and hello to zero-emissions ones?

October 9, 2019 by  
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A new rule in the state could tackle one of its largest sources of pollution.

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Will California say bye to diesel-burning trucks and hello to zero-emissions ones?

4 simple and collaborative business models to unlock Nigeria’s $1 billion undergrid minigrid market

October 9, 2019 by  
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The opportunity to invest is massive, and new ownership models from subcontracting to cooperatives can help communities get in on the action.

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4 simple and collaborative business models to unlock Nigeria’s $1 billion undergrid minigrid market

Washington’s wolf population is down to 122 after a pack is shot by state hunters

August 21, 2019 by  
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Washington’s wolf population has dropped to 122 after a pack of four were killed by state hunters on August 16 near a ranch in rural Ferry County. The incident has environmentalists up in arms as they believe the deaths of these wolves benefit this particular ranch. Sam Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that the hunters were inside a helicopter when they shot and killed the wolf pack. Related: Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list “It’s unbelievably tragic that this wolf family has already been annihilated by the state,” Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biological Diversity, which tried to stop the incident, told the AP. “It seems like Washington’s wildlife agency is bent on wiping out the state’s wolves.” The ranch where the wolves were recently killed is no stranger to this particular pack of wolves — originally a group of 7 — as its livestock have been attacked, killed and hurt at least 29 times since 2018 as well as another nine times in the past four weeks, the state agency reported. Before the wolves were killed on Friday, the owner of the ranch tried using horse riders to scare the wolves before the choice was made to shoot them, the agency said. Wolves in Washington nearly disappeared entirely in the 1930s, primarily because of the growing cattle industry. They began returning about 15 years ago. Many of the gray wolves today are said to live in rural and mountainous regions of northeastern Washington. They have also been seen roaming the Cascade Range. In the past, Washington has approved the killing of wolf packs if they have attacked cattle, but activists believe annihilating the animals won’t protect livestock. In the end, conservationists suggest other control methods, such as better management systems, to deter the wolves from preying on cattle. Via The Guardian and Associated Press Image via Krystal Hamlin

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Washington’s wolf population is down to 122 after a pack is shot by state hunters

Delaware becomes first ‘no-kill’ state for animal shelters

August 13, 2019 by  
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Nicknamed “The First State,” Delaware has racked up even more kudos: it has recently been named the first and only no-kill animal shelter state in the country. According to the Best Friends Animal Society website , a nonprofit animal welfare group, a no-kill community “is one that acts on the belief that every healthy, adoptable dog and healthy cat should be saved, and that its focus should be on saving as many lives as possible through pet adoption, spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return and other community support programs rather than achieving a specific numerical outcome.” Related: 7 ways to be a sustainable and eco-friendly pet owner In order to be considered no-kill, a state must report at least a 90 percent save rate for all cats and dogs entering shelters , the website explains. The nonprofit organization’s website also says the group is committed to aiding homeless pets from coast to coast. “That means leading local no-kill initiatives, working to end breed discrimination, eliminating puppy mills and keeping community cats (stray and feral felines) safe and out of shelters through TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs,” the site reads. Adding to the excitement, Brandywine Valley SPCA said it was also recognized by Best Friends for its leadership and dedication with the no-kill shelter plan. “The Brandywine Valley SPCA has a live release rate of 95 percent for the more than 14,000 animals a year we intake,” Linda Torelli, marketing director of Brandywine Valley SPCA, told CNN . “Within Delaware, we intake more than 60 percent of the animals entering shelters and more than four times the next largest shelter, so our policies have had a significant impact on the state becoming no-kill.” In 2018, about 733,000 dogs and cats were killed in animal shelters across the country, because the animals didn’t find homes. But Best Friends believes this can change in the U.S. by 2025 if everyone commits. Some of Delaware’s programs that earned the state its place as the first no-kill state include adoption events, trap/neuter/spay programs for cats that might not be adoptable, low-cost veterinary clinics, education programs and behavioral training for dogs that need additional attention. If you’re interested in working on a no-kill resolution for your community or state, you can obtain important information and guidelines from the Best Friends website . + Best Friends Animal Society Via CNN Image via Thomas Park

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Delaware becomes first ‘no-kill’ state for animal shelters

IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

August 12, 2019 by  
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The headlines have been filled today with stark warnings from scientists about the state of the world’s land masses — how will this impact the business community?

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IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

Ecolab’s Doug Baker on the future of circular water

July 3, 2019 by  
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The host of Marketplace Tech, Molly Wood, and Ecolab Chairman and CEO Doug Baker have a conversation about the state of the world’s water and how industry can serve both the environment and the bottom line by getting smart about water.

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Ecolab’s Doug Baker on the future of circular water

Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

April 9, 2019 by  
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Last week, the Maryland General Assembly voted 100 to 37 to approve a ban on plastic foam containers. If the bill is approved by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland will become the first U.S. state to ban such containers because of their harmful impact on human health and the environment. The bill will now go to Republican Governor Larry Hogan for approval. Although Governor Hogan has not yet expressed a position, the bill has enough votes from the House and Senate that it would be able to override a potential veto, should the Governor decide to issue one. Related: TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste “After three years of hard work, I’m thrilled to see Maryland be a leader in the fight to end our reliance on single-use plastics that are polluting our state, country and world by passing a bill to prohibit foam food containers,” Brooke Lierman, Democratic representative from Baltimore and sponsor of the bill,  said in a statement . “The health of the Chesapeake Bay, our waterways, our neighborhoods and our children’s futures depends on our willingness to do the hard work of cleaning the mess that we inherited and created.” Plastic foam  is widely used for food containers, because it helps maintain temperature and prevents spills; however, the material is highly toxic to humans and the environment. The problem with plastic foam Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand name for the plastic material Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam. In her book  My Plastic-Free Life , Maryland based author and anti-plastic expert Beth Terry explained the four major problems with Expanded Polystyrene foam: 1. Polystyrene materials do not biodegrade. This means that every food container used once and thrown away will stay on the Earth forever. The containers do break apart into smaller pieces, but never compost . 2. Plastic foam is made with fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. Plastics are made from fossil fuel products and are detrimental to the Earth in their manufacturing, use and disposal. ESP includes the chemical polystyrene, which was labeled as a “ probable carcinogen ” by the World Health Organization. Not only does the manufacturing of polystyrene products pollute the air and cause serious health problems for factory workers, but the chemical also leaches into drinks and hot or oily food. This is especially problematic, considering plastic foam containers are frequently used, particularly for hot foods. Polystyrene is linked to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. As The Story of Stuff explained , “Yes it keeps your coffee hot, but it might be adding toxic chemicals to it, too.” By the Center for Disease Control’s current estimates,  100 percent of humans have traces of polystyrene in their fat tissues — an example of how pervasive this pollution and toxic problem is. 3. Animals try to eat it. Because plastic foam never biodegrades and floats on the surface of water, small pieces are often mistaken as food by marine animals , like sea turtles. In Baltimore Harbor, a trash-collecting machine has scooped up more than 1 million bits of plastic foam since it launched in 2014. The machine, locally nicknamed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” records approximately 14,000 plastic foam containers collected every month from the Harbor. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris 4. Plastic foam cannot be recycled. Unlike some other types of plastic, polystyrene products cannot be recycled in most facilities; therefore, they often end up in landfills if not carried out to the ocean. The few facilities that do accept plastic foam only allow clean, uncontaminated products, which rarely exist because the containers are typically used for messy food items. The first state-wide ban Several counties in Maryland and throughout the U.S. have already banned plastic foam , but this will be the first state-wide ban. To see what cities and counties have banned the hazardous material, check Groundswell’s map . Opponents of the bill argue that it will unfairly hurt small farmers, food businesses and nonprofits, because biodegradable food containers are more expensive to source. Eco-friendly alternatives include containers made from cardboard, bamboo , mushrooms and other organic materials. These novel inventions are significantly pricier than plastic foam. Maryland’s ban will notably not include plastic foam items packaged outside of the state, such as microwavable instant noodle bowls. It will also not include the foam trays sold with raw meat products, nor will it cover non-food related items. This is Representative Brooke Lierman’s third attempt to get the bill passed. If successful, the bill will go into effect in July 2020 and be punishable by a fine of $250. Via Phys.org Images via  Matthew Bellemare ,

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Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

Shellfish farmers push to use pesticides in oyster beds

February 12, 2019 by  
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Pesticide use for oyster beds is once again threatening Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Shellfish growers are making another push to allow for the spray of pesticides on clam and oyster beds in the region, which environmentalists and state officials say is a major risk to invertebrates, like the Dungeness crab. Oyster growers claim they need the pesticides to kill burrowing shrimp that harm oyster beds and prevent them from harvesting their product. The companies are looking to reverse a current ban on the use of pesticides such as the neurotoxic imidacloprid. They area also supporting three bills in the state legislature. If passed, these initiatives would make it legal for the companies to spray pesticides in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The Ecology Department has already put measures in place that prevent the use of pesticides on oyster and clam beds. Related: France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths Officials with the state and federal government claim that there is strong evidence that suggests these pesticides are harmful to the environment . While the chemicals are effective against burrowing shrimp, they also kill other forms of ocean life that include the Dungeness crab. Fortunately, there are a variety of groups that are fighting the oyster growers and the newly proposed laws. This includes the Western Environmental Law Center, the Center for Food Safety, the Center of Biological Diversity and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, all of which are filing appeals to keep the pesticide ban in place. The appeals will be heard at the Pollution Control Hearings Board over the next few weeks. It is unclear if the oyster growers will be successful in their attempts to lobby for legislation that makes it legal to spray pesticides in oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Via Capital Press Image via SeahorseDigital

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Shellfish farmers push to use pesticides in oyster beds

Trump threatens to halt federal disaster relief funding for California wildfires

January 11, 2019 by  
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President Trump has threatened to withhold federal disaster aid from California after a series of deadly wildfires devastated the state. For months, the POTUS has accused California of bringing the wildfires on itself because of poor forest management. But in a recent tweet, he took things further by threatening to halt federal aid, and this drew criticism from lawmakers in his own political party. “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted just one day after Western governors asked for greater federal funding for wildfire prevention. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!” the president wrote, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, this appears to an empty threat, because President Trump lacks the authority to cut funding under federal statutes. One law specifically bars the president from delaying or impeding disaster relief once there has been a disaster declaration. The research shows that the growing rate and intensity of California wildfires is largely because of the prolonged drought in the state, which is a symptom of climate change . But the Trump administration has downplayed the role of climate change in the worsening wildfires. The president’s recent tweet drew criticism from California’s top republicans, like Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher, who said in a joint statement that Trump’s threats are “wholly unacceptable.” They added that people have lost everything in the fires, and they expect the federal government to follow through on its promise to help. In November, Trump toured the Camp Fire zone and promised to “take care of the people who have been so badly hurt.” FEMA said that it can’t respond to questions about Trump’s order because of the partial government shutdown. Federal agencies manage more than half of California’s 33 million acres of forest lands, with state and local agencies controlling only 3 percent. The rest of the forest lands are privately owned. Via Reuters Image via Peter Buschmann

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Trump threatens to halt federal disaster relief funding for California wildfires

Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

January 11, 2019 by  
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When tasked with creating a family home in Austin, local firm, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture , decided to go with a blend of charred wood , locally-sourced stone and glass panels. The result is the stunning Llano retreat, a design that was strategically built to embrace the natural landscape, while providing a contemporary, but cozy living space.   Situated along the Llano River in central Texas, the building site was used for years by the family as a camping and fishing spot for the weekends. After years of spending the warm Texas nights under a pole structure with metal roof, the family finally decided to put up a proper shelter, in the form of a beautiful family home that was specifically designed to take advantage of the idyllic natural setting. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool “After years of getting to know the ranch land, the family chose a site for their home at the top of a hill overlooking the river, only accessible through a low-water crossing,” said the team. “The design is a result of the knowledge of the landscape and the desire to retain the connection to nature.” The U-shaped layout of the home allowed the architects to bring the outdoors into the living space via a front courtyard . In the back of the home, the natural landscape consisting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers was left in its natural state. The home’s exterior is clad in locally-sourced limestone and wood charred in the Japanese shou sugi ban style.   Large glass panels not only further connect the interior with the exterior, but also flood the home with natural light. Large roof overhangs shade the windows during the hot summer months, but allow sunlight to enter the home during the colder months, reducing the need for artificial heating. The home’s doors and operable windows were strategically placed to enable air circulation. Inside the home, the interior design , led by the team from Laura Roberts Design, was focused on providing the family with a rustic yet cozy atmosphere. Double-height ceilings were clad in warm Douglas Fir and crossed with expose beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels enable the homeowners to comfortably enjoy the stunning views from virtually any corner of the home. From the large kitchen, sliding glass doors open up to an outdoor space. + Michael Hsu Office of Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Casey Dunn

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Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

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