Tennessee floods represent worldwide climate crisis

August 26, 2021 by  
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At least 21 people have been reported dead and more still missing following heavy flash floods in Tennessee . The floods occurred last weekend as a result of a heavy downpour in Middle Tennessee. Some parts of the state witnessed up to 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. As a result, streets turned into rivers, leading to massive property destruction and loss of lives. The floods witnessed over the weekend were the second major flooding event in the state this year alone. Early in the year, torrential floods in Nashville killed at least four people. As is the case with this latest flooding, property damage also occurred. Related: Will Lagos be submerged by 2100? The extreme weather events witnessed in Tennessee are not isolated. For a long time, scientists have been raising alarms over the effects of climate change. In recent years, the cost of climate change has started manifesting in an unprecedented manner. Flash floods, famine, and forest fires have become the order of the day in many parts of the world.  As Earth warms up, more people are at risk of flash floods. Hot air holds more moisture and dries out the soil , making it less absorbent. When torrential rainfall happens in such an environment, the result is flash floods. The water overwhelms dams and pipes and can destroy other drainage infrastructure systems. These flash floods aren’t limited to Tennessee. This summer, about 180 people were killed in flash floods in Germany and Belgium. In central China, 25 people were reported dead after being trapped by rising water. In western India, over 100 people died following a landslide after heavy rains. These events have cumulatively claimed over 300 lives in less than a year.  Global leaders have been reluctant to adopt critical measures to prevent global warming. The  Paris Climate Accord  of 2015 required the world to keep global warming from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Failure to achieve this would cause irreversible environmental damage. Scientists predict this would mean more diseases, severe weather events and loss of lives.  Currently, the situation does not seem to be getting better. Early this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) released data showing that  July 2021 was the hottest month in history . Via NPR Lead image via Pixabay

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Tennessee floods represent worldwide climate crisis

Extreme heat leads to extreme behavior in humans

August 26, 2021 by  
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Many individuals have personally experienced that when folks are uncomfortable warm, they are correspondingly cranky. And many studies have found a correlation between rising temperatures and violence. But as we experience more extreme  heat  episodes around the world, scientists are finding that heat may not only increase our aggression but also reduce our coping mechanisms and lower our cognitive abilities. And who is likeliest to be affected by extreme heat? Lower-income individuals and countries with no way to cool off. “The physiological effects of heat may be universal, but the way it manifests … is highly  unequal ,” said economist R. Jisung Park of UCLA, as reported by Science News. Related: Gradient offers cooling and heating with a lower energy footprint Park analyzed test scores of nearly a million New York City students who took a combined 4.5 million exams between 1999 and 2011. Students took tests in rooms in their home schools with temperatures ranging from 59 to almost 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Park concluded that if the temperature was about 90 degrees or higher, students were 10% less likely to pass their test than if the exam day temperature had been a balmy 75. Park also did a nationwide review of 21 million PSAT scores, examining data from weather stations and digging up info on schools’ air conditioning systems. The verdict? The air conditioning gap of  schools  in lower-income neighborhoods could account for between 3-7% of the PSAT’s notorious racial achievement gap. Things are even worse on hot days outside the classroom. Violent crime can rise 12% in Los Angeles on 95 degree days compared to when the temperature is 65 to 70 degrees. But this, too, is uneven. “Beverly Hills doesn’t have much violent crime on any of those days,” said environmental economist Matthew Kahn of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, as reported by Science News. “But in the poorest communities in  Los Angeles , you see a larger correlation between heat and violence.” So, does fairness mean everybody should have air conditioning? Uh, maybe not. In 2018, AC and other cooling equipment hogged about 17% of the globe’s total  electricity  demand. And as emerging economies install more AC units, we’re going to be even farther from hitting those Paris agreement targets. Instead of more fossil fuel-powered AC, cooling through green energy could be a strong solution. Via Science News Lead image Pexels

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Extreme heat leads to extreme behavior in humans

This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views

August 26, 2021 by  
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The province of Pichincha in the northern Sierra region of  Ecuador  wraps around the slopes of a dormant stratovolcano. Although its capital and largest city is Quito, one of the most visited destinations in the entire country, Pichincha also boasts some spectacularly secluded forested landscapes in the highland areas of the Andes Mountains. It was here that architects at RAMA Estudio were tasked with a modular home expansion for a largely nomadic family that decided to stay put in their home during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Whereas the family could previously get away with smaller spaces due to keeping their stays short and sporadic in the house (which totaled just 65 square meters) pre-COVID, the challenge came in creating a larger space once they decided to move in permanently. The clients requested expanding the existing home to include social areas and independent bedrooms for each of their children, all to be completed within three months. RAMA Estudio responded with an industrially  prefabricated  piece that could subtly sit on the ground, attaching itself to the existing structure. Related: Stunning family home in Ecuador offers serenity in an increasingly noisy world As the home is positioned over a slope overlooking the valley, care was taken to understand the natural environment and refrain from disturbing the soil or degrading the vegetation. Additionally, no construction waste was created that wasn’t reused for other projects or within the site itself. For example, all material that could be reused from the facade demolition was sorted to improve the ground in areas surrounding the building. The project features a system of metal channels that work as the structure for the floor and roof, both of which are thermally  insulated  and allow for vegetation to grow, similar to a green roof. Hanging plants overflow from the rooftop to complement the floor-to-ceiling windows, helping the building camouflage into its naturally vegetated surroundings. Regular modules built with  plywood  panels run from each end to create storage, decorative surfaces and screens toward the bedrooms. There are separate modules for the stove and television, including one for the kitchen that contains other appliances and cabinets. + RAMA Estudio Via ArchDaily Images courtesy of Jag Studio

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This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views

How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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Governor calls for reduced water usage amid 2021 California drought

July 12, 2021 by  
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Governor Gavin Newsom has placed 50 of California’s 58 counties under a drought  emergency  order, and the number may grow. The latest to join the order are those located north of the Tehachapi mountains. This includes Marin, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Inyo, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara counties. “Those are the effects of climate change. It’s here, and it’s human-induced,” Newsom said, as reported by ABC. “I think in the state of  California , we’ve moved beyond the debate and are moving toward finding a solution.” Related: California farmers find ways to work with less water Instead of mandating and enforcing water restrictions, Newsom is asking for people to voluntarily comply. The goal: reduce  water  usage by 15%. This goes for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as residential. “We’re hopeful that the people in the state of California will take that mindset that they saw in the last drought and take that forward,” Newsom said. California has allocated $5.1 billion to deal with the drought, including emergency response and investing in the state’s water infrastructure. California’s largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, hold less than half their usual amount of water, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Both  lakes  are in Northern California. Southern California is currently faring better, with Castaic Lake at 58% of its average level, and Lake Perris with notably more water than it usually holds this time of year. Last year’s dry winter means California fell below its usual snow total. Pair that with extreme heat, and you have severe  wildfire  risk this summer. For those who want to think of new ways to save water during the California  drought ,  Save Our Water  has conservation tips for your home and yard. If you tend to do many small loads of laundry, leave the water on while brushing your teeth or enjoy hosing down your sidewalk, consult this site immediately for alternatives and advice. Via ABC Lead image via Pixabay

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Gray wolves killed after removal from endangered species list

July 8, 2021 by  
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Up to a third of Wisconsin’s gray wolves may have been killed following their removal from the endangered species list. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study estimates that 313 to 323 wolves were likely killed by humans between April 2020 and April 2021. In Wisconsin, locals can hunt the gray wolves between November and February when there is no federal prohibition. Early this year, wildlife officials in the state were forced to end legal hunting in just three days after hunters killed 216 wolves in 60 hours. The figure shocked conservationists, as it passed the set limit of 119 wolves for the whole season.  Related: Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction Professor Adrian Treves of UW-Madison said that these figures should be a big concern, especially during future hunting seasons. “Although the [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources] is aiming for a stable population, we estimate the population actually dropped significantly,” Treves said in a statement. Since 1974, the Endangered Species Act has protected Wisconsin’s gray wolves from public hunts. The recent hunt only came after the Trump administration delisted the wolves, a decision that went into effect in January of this year. While delisting the animals, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the animals had “exceeded all conservation goals for recovery.” Despite admitting that wolves were nearly wiped out from the lower 48 states due to hunting, Bernhardt said that the wolves had reached numbers that could withstand hunting. Recent events demonstrate that these animals are still highly endangered and in need of protection. According to the study, about 695 to 751 wolves remain in the state, down from 1,034 last year. Researchers suspect that the rest of the wolf deaths are due to “cryptic poaching ,” a situation where poachers hide evidence of their killings. While the researchers say that wolf populations could recover, this would likely require putting a stop to hunting in future seasons. Via HuffPost Lead image © Hilary Cooley

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nat-2’s newest sneakers are made of recycled bubble wrap

July 8, 2021 by  
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From nat-2, a German footwear designer immersed in sustainable and eco-friendly design, we meet the vegan recycled bubble wrap sneakers. Yes, bubble wrap. The new vegan recycled bubble wrap sneakers were designed in collaboration with Israeli startup Remeant , and this is the first time the bubble wrap material has been used in shoes. The innovative material not only keeps bubble wrap out of the landfill, but it is 100% vegan and is available in a range of colors. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee The inclusion of recycled bubble wrap provides an interesting look and waterproof protection. The lining is made from a signature bioceramic yarn developed and made by nat-2. Real cork , taken from the outside of the tree without damaging it, makes up the insoles, and real rubber is used for the outsoles. Recycled PET is used to make the laces, and the heels consist of miniscule bits of glass. The vegan sneakers feature a low-profile design and are not gender-specific. They are meant to be durable and versatile for a long usable life, and perhaps could be the only pair of shoes you’ll need for days at the beach, at the office or just in the backyard. The company steps outside the lines with nearly every release. Examples in prior lines include shoes made with fungi, algae, coffee, corn, beans, flowers, cannabis, milk, moss, cast-off slaughterhouse blood and many more. Most of the sneakers are handmade and fairly produced via a small family manufacturer in Italy. The company also relies on low-impact packaging like shoeboxes and brochures made from recycled paper as well as wooden hang tags made out of wood from certified sustainable forests. nat-2 explained, “The reason for using many sustainable and eco-friendly materials and techniques is not only the ecological aspect but also a matter of what we consider as ‘good design’. By creating such innovative products and things, we also reach new aesthetics and haptics which have never [been] seen before in fashion , footwear and accessories.” + nat-2 Images via nat-2

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nat-2’s newest sneakers are made of recycled bubble wrap

Staten Island neighborhood returning to nature for superstorm buffer zone

October 27, 2017 by  
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The Staten Island neighborhood of Oakwood Beach was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy five years ago. Since then, 80 percent of Oakwood Beach residents have sold their homes to the state of New York , which hopes to turn the area into a buffer zone to guard against future superstorms . Many homes have since been torn down, and the area is slowly returning to nature. Superstorms could hit the New York City region more frequently in the future. A recent Rutgers University study found storms flooding the city with at least 7.4-foot surges – an event which occurred every 500 years before 1800 – will hit once every five years by 2030, reports Reuters . Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery executive director Lisa Bova-Hiatt told Reuters the state pursued the home buyout program in large part because they expected more superstorms. She said, “To say that extreme weather is not our new normal would just be incredibly short-sighted.” Related: How to Prepare Your Home and Family for a Hurricane or Superstorm Many Oakwood Beach locals have taken the state up on their buyout program. The state has spent $255 million with money from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase 654 properties, and most of those are in Staten Island. There are 83 more properties in the pipeline, according to the Office of Storm Recovery. Bova-Hiatt said the program is voluntary but “it would be fantastic to have the entire area as a buffer zone.” The state has torn down townhouses and bungalows, and planted grass on the sites of former homes. Out of 402 homes in Oakwood Beach eligible for the program, the state was unable to acquire 88. Reuters spoke with Gregory and Olga Epshteyn, locals who decided not to take the state up on their offer. Gregory said the city still provides services like street lights and trash pickup, and that the neighborhood is the best place to live in Staten Island. Olga told Reuters, “We love it here, but we miss our neighbors.” Via Reuters Images via Sunghwan Yoon on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Staten Island neighborhood returning to nature for superstorm buffer zone

Staten Island neighborhood returning to nature for superstorm buffer zone

October 27, 2017 by  
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The Staten Island neighborhood of Oakwood Beach was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy five years ago. Since then, 80 percent of Oakwood Beach residents have sold their homes to the state of New York , which hopes to turn the area into a buffer zone to guard against future superstorms . Many homes have since been torn down, and the area is slowly returning to nature. Superstorms could hit the New York City region more frequently in the future. A recent Rutgers University study found storms flooding the city with at least 7.4-foot surges – an event which occurred every 500 years before 1800 – will hit once every five years by 2030, reports Reuters . Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery executive director Lisa Bova-Hiatt told Reuters the state pursued the home buyout program in large part because they expected more superstorms. She said, “To say that extreme weather is not our new normal would just be incredibly short-sighted.” Related: How to Prepare Your Home and Family for a Hurricane or Superstorm Many Oakwood Beach locals have taken the state up on their buyout program. The state has spent $255 million with money from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase 654 properties, and most of those are in Staten Island. There are 83 more properties in the pipeline, according to the Office of Storm Recovery. Bova-Hiatt said the program is voluntary but “it would be fantastic to have the entire area as a buffer zone.” The state has torn down townhouses and bungalows, and planted grass on the sites of former homes. Out of 402 homes in Oakwood Beach eligible for the program, the state was unable to acquire 88. Reuters spoke with Gregory and Olga Epshteyn, locals who decided not to take the state up on their offer. Gregory said the city still provides services like street lights and trash pickup, and that the neighborhood is the best place to live in Staten Island. Olga told Reuters, “We love it here, but we miss our neighbors.” Via Reuters Images via Sunghwan Yoon on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Staten Island neighborhood returning to nature for superstorm buffer zone

The State of Recycling in India: Slow Improvements

October 4, 2017 by  
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In 2009, we wrote a series of articles called “Trash … The post The State of Recycling in India: Slow Improvements appeared first on Earth911.com.

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