Household pets responsible for up to 30% of US meat environmental impact

August 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Just last week a report found that American citizens’ insatiable appetite for meat is resulting in the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico . Now we’ve learned that furry family members are just as guilty when it comes to environmental degradation. This is because American cats and dogs rank 5th in global meat consumption, according to a new study. In his research, UCLA professor Gregory Okin was interested to learn what effect household pets have on the environment. “I was thinking about how cool it is that chickens are vegetarian and make protein for us to eat, whereas many other pets eat a lot of protein from meat,” he said. “And that got me thinking – how much meat do our pets eat?” Okin found that the meat consumption by pet dogs and cats creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of CO2 annually. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same climate impact as a year’s worth of driving 13.6 million cars. Okin confesses he has nothing against household pets, but their contribution to climate change cannot be overlooked. “I like dogs and cats, and I’m definitely not recommending that people get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy,” said the UCLA professor. “But I do think we should consider all the impacts that pets have so we can have an honest conversation about them. Pets have many benefits, but also a huge environmental impact.” Related: Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs According to the study published in the journal PLOS , if cats and dogs ruled their own country, they would be responsible for an astounding 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S. In fact, household pets’ meat consumption fall behind only Russia, Brazil, the United States and China. As a result of, they produce 5.1 million tons of feces each year — as much as 90 million Americans, writes Alison Hewitt of UCLA. In the study, Okin cited previous research that found the American diet “produces the equivalent of 260 million tons of carbon dioxide from livestock production.” He then calculated how much meat 163 million cats and dogs consume compared to 321 million Americans. This data helped him establish how many tons of greenhouse gases are tied to pet food. It turns out cats and dogs in the U.S. consume 19 percent as many calories as American people do — that’s the same amount as the entire population of France! Additionally, about 25 percent of cats’ and dogs’ diets are meat-based. Okin concluded the best thing humans can do to benefit the environment is to compromise the quality of meat they serve their furry family members. “A dog doesn’t need to eat steak,” Okin said. “A dog can eat things a human sincerely can’t. So what if we could turn some of that pet food into people chow?” “I’m not a vegetarian , but eating meat does come at a cost,” he added. “Those of us in favor of eating or serving meat need to be able to have an informed conversation about our choices, and that includes the choices we make for our pets.” + PLOS Via TreeHugger Images via Pixabay

More:
Household pets responsible for up to 30% of US meat environmental impact

India to ban driverless cars to protect citizens jobs

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on India to ban driverless cars to protect citizens jobs

By the year 2030, 25 percent of American citizens will transit via self-driving vehicles – but the situation will be very different in India. This is because India’s transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced today that self-driving cars will not be allowed in the country. He told reporters, “We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this.” As Engadget reports, the statement does not reflect safety concerns. Rather, Gadkari rejects self-driving vehicles because they could potentially take jobs away from drivers in the country. “We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment , you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs,” said Gadkari. India’s transport and highways minister added that the government is working on opening several training facilities across the country in an effort to ensure 5,000 more professional drivers take to the roads over the next few years. He rejects the notion of self-driving vehicles, even while admitting that India is presently short about 22,000 commercial drivers. Though the decision may seem like a negative development, India wasn’t on track to receive self-driving technology anytime soon. According to statements made by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, this is because the country’s haphazard roads and congested traffic present great barriers to the implementation of driverless cars. Related: Half of the World’s Consumers Trust Autonomous Cars, According to a New Study India-based Tata Elxsi is ambitious to introduce autonomous vehicles to the country, however. In recent months, the company has been testing self-driving vehicles on a track designed to resemble the country’s roads. Engineers have even gone as far as to install pedestrians, livestock, unsigned merge lanes and limited signage on the track to give the driverless cars as “real of an experience as possible.” With this new declaration by Gadkari, however, it is unknown what action the company will take. Via Engadget Images via Pixabay

See the rest here:
India to ban driverless cars to protect citizens jobs

We’ve made enough plastic trash to bury Manhattan under 2-miles of the stuff

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on We’ve made enough plastic trash to bury Manhattan under 2-miles of the stuff

Whether you get an iced latte to-go in the morning, your restaurant leftovers in a plastic takeaway container, or forget to take a reusable bags to the store, there are numerous ways  disposable plastic  adds up –   and that is a huge problem. According to the first global analysis of the production of plastics, humans now produce more plastic than anything else and, as a result, have created 8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff since the 1950s. If the trend continues, humans will eventually bury the planet in plastics, which require hundreds — if not thousands — of years to decompose. The study was published in Science Advances and unearthed some dizzying facts. For instance, around 79 percent of the plastic produced ends up in landfills, where it is simply buried and forgotten. Additionally, a large percentage of this waste goes into the oceans where it contaminates the environment , often times poisons or chokes wildlife, and breaks down into tiny pieces, which later collect in giant convergences such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The study also found that only 9 percent of all plastics are recycled, and a further 12 percent are incinerated. “The only way to permanently eliminate plastic waste” is to burn or melt it down, the authors wrote . “Thus, near-permanent contamination of the natural environment with plastic waste is a growing concern.” For the study, the researchers looked at various kinds of plastics, from resin to fibers. They deduced that production has increased from around 2 million tonnes (2.2 m tons) a year in 1950 to an astonishing 400 million tonnes (440 m tons) in 2015. Plastic is now the most produced man-made material, with the exception of items such as steel and cement. However, unlike those two industrial materials which are put to use for decades, plastic is single-use, therefore, is most often discarded right away. The researchers make it clear that while it is not plausible to completely eliminate plastic from the modern world, production and use needs to decrease dramatically to benefit the ecosystem as a whole. “Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years,” said Jenna Jambeck, who co-authored the study. “Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices.” The advice is spot-on, considering a recent paper found the micro plastics were present in every marine animal which was sampled in Australia — even those thought to be inaccessible. Related: Scotland bans plastic bags, spares landfill 650 million bags in just one year To reduce your dependence on plastic, you can buy whole, unprocessed foods and biodegradable soaps in bulk and keep them in mason jars at home, remember to take your reusable bags to the grocery store and farmer’s market and take advantage of thrift store offerings (or similar apps which connect you with second-hand goods) to reduce waste and needless packaging. Making this effort will help reduce the amount of plastic in the environment and, as a result, ensure a habitable environment exists for future generations. + Science Advances Via LA Times Images via Depositphotos and   Pixabay

See the rest here: 
We’ve made enough plastic trash to bury Manhattan under 2-miles of the stuff

The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal

For years, scientists have warned that Earth is entering it sixth mass extinction — an era in which three-quarters of all species die off within only a few centuries. However terrifying this notion may be, nothing compares to a recent finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which paints a full picture of “biological annihilation.” According to the study, which was conducted by Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, hundreds of species are disappearing at a faster-than-expected rate. And, believe it or not, even humans are at-risk. The researchers wrote that numerous species around the world are experiencing an “extremely high degree of population decay.” Findings from the study support this. For instance, nearly one-third of the 27,600 land-based mammals, bird, amphibian and reptile species are shrinking in terms of territorial range and their numbers. After looking at a well-documented group of 177 mammal species, the researchers also determined that all had their territories reduced by at least 30 percent between the years of 1900 and 2015. Furthermore, more than 40 percent of the species lost at least 80 percent of their geographic range during this time. As a result of these findings, the study authors wrote that “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe” than previously believed. Additionally, the major event is “ongoing.” Scientists have already established that 50 percent of the Earth’s wildlife has been wiped out in the last 40 years alone, but no one really comprehended the extent to which the numbers have declined. According to Anthony Barnosky, executive director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University, this is because conservationists and researchers are “not constantly counting numbers of individuals.” He added, “it doesn’t take complicated math to figure out that, if we keep cutting by half every 40 years, pretty soon there’s going to be nothing left.” Related: Vanishing land snails signal the 6th mass extinction is happening now Perhaps the most terrifying discovery is that species are going extinct at roughly 100 times the rate which could be considered normal. In fact, within twenty years, the African elephant may go extinct. Barn swallows, giraffes , rhinos, pangolins, and jaguars, as well, may only be preserved in zoos if their populations continue to decline. With 37 percent of the Earth’s land surface now farmland or pasture (according to the World Bank), and humans utilizing polluting resources at a faster rate than they can be replenished, the whole world is in jeopardy unless sustainable initiatives are introduced and implemented. Fortunately, there’s still time, according to Ceballos. He wrote, “The good news is, we still have time. These results show it is time to act. The window of opportunity is small, but we can still do something to save species and populations.” + PNAS Via CNN Images via Pixabay

View original here:
The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal

Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases

We know from our early science classes that water exists as a solid, liquid, and gas. But an international team of 19 scientists say that’s not the case. They discovered that liquid water actually has two phases – low and high density – and can fluctuate between them. While providing new information, the research reminds us how much we still don’t know about a substance that covers over 70 percent of the planet. There’s still a lot we don’t have a clue about when it comes to water. The substance has around 70 properties as a liquid that are utterly unique from other liquids, according to the team led by physicists at Stockholm University in Sweden, who used X-ray imaging to scrutinize water molecules in new detail to discover water fluctuates between high density and low density liquid forms. Related: Scientists figured out how to make water freeze at boiling temperatures Physicist Lars G. M. Pettersson said in a statement, “In a nutshell: water is not a complicated liquid, but two simple liquids with a complicated relationship.” He said their research supports the idea of water at room temperature being unable to decide which form it should be in, so it changes between the two distinct phases. The two phases differ in their density and structure. There have been hints of water’s second liquid phase in the past. In 2016 Oxford University researchers found liquid water could switch states between 104 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with each state exhibiting different properties. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published the research online this week. Scientists at institutions in the United States, Germany, and Austria were also part of the study. Their findings are intriguing but for now, there’s still a lot about water that remains a mystery. Nature consultant editor Philip Ball once said in an article, “No one really understands water.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Mattias Karlén and Mark Doda on Unsplash

Read more here: 
Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases

Washington’s new Tukwila Library is topped with a carbon-negative green roof

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Washington’s new Tukwila Library is topped with a carbon-negative green roof

Architecture firm Perkins+Will recently announced the completion of King County’s Tukwila Library – a 10,000-square-foot building inspired by the city’s diverse community where over 80 different languages are spoken. The new library showcases a variety of sustainable design strategies – including a green roof with a negative-carbon footprint. The building, built for the King County Library System, is located 20 minutes south of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. A community-focused ‘mosaic space’ at the library’s center serves as a space for events, performances, contemplation, learning and reading. “In designing the new library , we were inspired by the city of Tukwila’s rich cultural diversity, and set out to create a welcoming space that both services and celebrates it,” said Ryan Bussard, design principal with Perkins+Will. Related: What Does the Interior of the World’s Largest and Most Expensive Family Home Look Like? The building’s facade features charcoal terra cotta, zinc cladding, aluminum sunshades and red- and purple-toned glass finishes, while large windows provide plenty of natural light for the interior spaces. Related: Perkins+Will’s LEED Platinum CTRB Sports a Prismatic Curtain Wall that Refracts Natural Light in Florida One of the building’s most exciting features is its roof, which is made of carbon-negative cross-laminated timber. This wood sequesters the same amount of carbon emitted by 91 cars in one year. Some of the roof is covered in a layer of heat- and drought-tolerant native plants that help regulate indoor temperatures while cutting stormwater runoff by more than 60 percent. + Perkins+Will

Originally posted here:
Washington’s new Tukwila Library is topped with a carbon-negative green roof

Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

When humans abuse the environment and dump nitrate-and phosphorous-heavy pollutants into rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, oxygen-deprived “dead zones” form. This is exactly what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and is leading to the formation of the world’s largest algae bloom on record. Roughly the size of Connecticut, the substantial “dead zone” should be a wake-up call for consumers to change their habits — hopefully before it is too late. Algae blooms , such as the one disrupting the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico , upset the balance of the food chains in the region. With too many algae in the same area, an abnormal amount dies then sink to the seafloor, where the bacteria that break them down use substantial amounts of oxygen. This results in a huge drawdown of oceanic oxygen and ultimately results in a mass die-off of larger marine life. The occurrence is known as “hypoxia,” and it’s the reason the Gulf of Mexico is in the state it is. According to new research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico is becoming progressively worse. In fact, it is now roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. Based on the agrochemical and wastewater runoff expected in the coming months, NOAA now predicts the dead zone will expand to encompass an area the size of New Jersey. To clarify, that is a 47 percent increase in just one year — and that’s a conservative estimate. Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change According to The Washington Post , other researchers in Louisiana predict that the dead zone will actually increase to the size of Hawaii. If that happens, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will become the largest ever recorded. As IFLScience reports, these are only predictions at this present time. However, there is cause for concern, as scientists who set off on patrol boats to measure the size of the dead zone have been scarily accurate with their estimates. Whether the numbers are perfectly accurate or not, the persistent issue of pollution cannot be ignored. If humans fail to remedy their habits, continuing to live with little regard for the environment, environmental phenomenon worse than the present algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico will result. Via IFLScience Images via SEOS Project , Wikimedia

Continued here:
Gulf of Mexicos dead zone in 2017 could be the largest on record

Scientists discover plants have ‘brains’ that decide when to sprout

June 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Scientists discover plants have ‘brains’ that decide when to sprout

Researchers are quickly learning that plants are far more complex than once thought. Not only has it been determined that plants are capable of sensing and preparing for drought conditions, a team from the University of Birmingham recently learned that a cluster of cells in seeds act like a brain that decide when they should germinate. As a result of this finding, crop yields may be improved. The study, published in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) , explains that the researchers worked with a species called thale cress to determine whether or not plants have human-like “brains.” After locating the group of cells in the seed that are responsible for controlling decision-making processes, they discovered something interesting. Reportedly, the group of cells is made up of two competing types: one promotes germination and the other promotes dormancy. The scientists describe the relationship as a “tug of war” match, as hormones are swapped back and forth in a process that’s very similar to mechanisms in the human brain when someone decides whether or not to move. The team says the separate competing cells are key to the decision-making process in both humans and plants . The mechanism serves an important purpose in vegetation, because germinating too early may result in death due to frost. Alternatively, germinating too late will result in growing complications due to the wrong climate conditions. Said George Bassel, lead author of the study, “Our work reveals a crucial separation between the components within a plant decision-making center. In the human brain , this separation is thought to introduce a time delay, smoothing out noisy signals from the environment and increasing the accuracy with which we make decisions. The separation of these parts in the seed ‘brain’ also appears to be central to how it functions.” Related: Seed-Planting Tumbleweed Robot Draws From Nature to Fight Desertification After creating a mathematical model of how the separate cells work to control how sensitive the plant is to its environment , the researchers concluded that the more variation there is in environmental conditions, the more seeds will sprout. This sounds counter-intuitive, but the results were confirmed when the team tested it in a laboratory. “Our work has important implications for understanding how crops and weeds grow,” said Bassel. “There is now potential to apply this knowledge to commercial plants in order to enhance and synchronize germination, increasing crop yields and decreasing herbicide use.” + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Via New Atlas Images via Pixabay

See the original post:
Scientists discover plants have ‘brains’ that decide when to sprout

This twisting wooden skyscraper is inspired by the shape of Baobab trees

June 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on This twisting wooden skyscraper is inspired by the shape of Baobab trees

Cameroonian architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates just plans for a stunning wooden skyscraper inspired by Africa’s iconic Baobab trees. The Native Skyscraper is a twisting tower built with natural and locally-sourced materials that shows how biomimicry can make the future of urban design more sustainable. According to the architects, the tower design is a smart building concept for the future; a solution for cities looking to address massive urban growth while simultaneously trying to reduce their ecological footprints. The green building materials and sustainable features would make the tower design a “marketable, serviceable, economical sustainable, environmental, ecological and social” option for the urban designs of tomorrow. Related: Anders Berensson unveils wooden Trätoppen skyscraper with a numerical facade Plans for the Native Skyscraper show a soaring tower that twists as it rises. Columns of greenery are infused throughout the wood and glass exterior. The design team chose wood as the primary building material not only for its green properties , but also for the ability to connect the tower to its surroundings, “Wood is the fingerprint of Mother Nature in our buildings, this fingerprint connects us to nature in our artificial environment. There are no two identical pieces of wood in this Earth and it is wonderful.” The interior of the tower is also heavily influenced by nature. The wooden beams and columns will be left exposed, providing a treehouse-like appearance for the common areas. An abundance of greenery, including a series of living green walls will also fuse the man-made tower with its natural surroundings as well as create a pleasant microclimate throughout the interior. + Hermann Kamte & Associates

Read the original:
This twisting wooden skyscraper is inspired by the shape of Baobab trees

Hundreds of massive seafloor craters are leaking methane

June 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Hundreds of massive seafloor craters are leaking methane

12,000 years ago the Barents Sea was covered with ice . Warming caused ice sheets to recede and a lot of methane was released, leading to blowouts that left the Arctic Sea floor scarred with hundreds of craters . Researchers in Norway recently found these craters, which offer a warning for the future of our world wracked by climate change – and are still leaking methane. The newly-found seafloor craters date all the way back to the end of our planet’s last Ice Age , when they were caused by explosive blowouts. Many of the Arctic Sea floor craters are huge, measuring around 0.6 miles wide. And many are not inactive, but continue to seep methane. Related: 7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding The ice on the Barents Sea for a time kept methane from hydrocarbon reservoirs from escaping. According to Gizmodo, the methane was stored as a hydrate in sediment, which led to pressurized conditions. Study lead author Karin Marie Andreassen of the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate, and Environment (CAGE) explained it this way: “As the ice sheet rapidly retreated, the hydrates concentrated in mounds, and eventually started to melt, expand, and cause over-pressure. The principle is the same as in a pressure cooker: if you do not control the release of the pressure, it will continue to build up until there is a disaster in your kitchen. These mounds were over-pressured for thousands of years, and then the lid came off.” Her team found more than 100 craters between 980 and 3,280 feet wide, and hundreds more smaller craters under 980 feet wide. The also found 600 methane flares, where the gas is spewing out near the craters. Methane concerns scientists because it is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in our atmosphere. And similar geological processes as the ones that led to these Arctic Sea floor craters are still in motion around the world, so scientists think climate change could lead to more methane explosions. The journal Science published the research online this week. 10 CAGE scientists collaborated on the study with two researchers from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate . Via Gizmodo Images via Andreia Plaza Faverola/CAGE and K. Andreassen/CAGE

Go here to see the original:
Hundreds of massive seafloor craters are leaking methane

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 763 access attempts in the last 7 days.