Global warming could push air conditioning demand up 59%

August 21, 2020 by  
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An analysis done by Climate Central shows that demand for air conditioning in the U.S. will increase by 59% by the year 2050. According to the study, there has been a continued rise in demand for air conditioners in the U.S. and other parts of the world because of global warming. The study shows that continued greenhouse gas emissions are leading to unpredictable weather patterns in most regions. Regions that were traditionally colder are warming up, and those that are warm are getting hotter. These changes are forcing more people to use air conditioners to regulate home temperatures. The study was based on data collected from 242 U.S. cities. The data tracks down air conditioning usage via a measure known as cooling-degree days (CDD). Cooling-degree days simply refers to the difference between the accepted temperature for human comfort and the daily average temperature. The human body is expected to feel comfortable at 65°F. Any temperature below or above 65°F can lead to discomfort, hence the demand for air conditioning. If a region experiences a daily average temperature of 80°F, the CDD for that location would be 15. Related: Global warming expected to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius Analysts behind the study have revealed that 96% of the cities in the U.S. have experienced an increase in CDD between 1970 and 2019. Some of the states that have been widely affected by high CDD include Texas, Nevada and Arizona. Higher temperatures are pushing more people to purchase air conditioners. Today, many people use some form of air conditioning to control the temperatures in their homes and offices. Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at Climate Central, said that the average person uses air conditioning to deal with higher temperatures without thinking about climate change , which is only made worse by increased reliance on air conditioners. “When our air conditioning is powered by electricity generated through fossil fuels, heat-trapping CO2 is released,” Climate Central explained. “Air conditioners emit heat back outside and can add to the heat island effect in urban areas. And if old air conditioners are not disposed of properly, they can leak chemicals that are themselves harmful heat-trapping gases.” + Climate Central Via Yale Environment 360 Image via TrioSolution1

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Global warming could push air conditioning demand up 59%

Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed

August 10, 2020 by  
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The Milne Ice Shelf, the largest remaining intact ice shelf in Canada, has collapsed. According to researchers studying the Milne Ice Shelf, the ice shelf collapsed in just two days at the end of July and lost about 40% of its area. This ice shelf sits at the fringe of Ellesmere Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. For the past 30 years, the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the global rate. The Arctic’s warming reached new levels this year, causing polar ice to hit its lowest levels in 40 years. Though ice caps melting in the heat has become more frequent, this year’s record temperatures caused unprecedented melting and disintegration of bigger ice shelves. Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature “Above normal air temperatures , offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” The Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter. The area affected by the ice shelf breaking is significantly large. According to researchers, the shelf area shrank by 80 square kilometers — an area roughly 20 square kilometers larger than New York’s Manhattan Island. “This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa and Milne Ice Shelf researcher. The research team lost a campsite and several instruments when the ice shelf collapsed. According to one of the researchers, Derek Mueller of Carleton University in Ottawa , the team has noticed signs of collapse while working on the ice shelf. Mueller says the team was lucky to not be on the ice shelf when it collapsed. Given that the collapse swept away an entire campsite, the team would have faced a similar fate. Researchers now warn that the Arctic can expect more ice melting if global temperatures continue to increase. This year, the Arctic experienced temperatures rising 5 degrees Celcius above the 30-year average. If global warming continues, Arctic ice could melt entirely into the sea over time. Via Huffpost Images via Pixabay

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Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed

This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

August 10, 2020 by  
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Eco-friendly company The Tiny Housing Co. has added The Natura tiny home to its portfolio of unique designs. The tiny house is powered by 1000W solar panels and built out of natural materials such as cork and wood, making it sustainable from the inside out. Starting at just over $65,000, the design of The Natura is aimed at being as sustainable as possible. The company already includes solar paneling with all of its homes, but it also offers an additional “eco” package with 2000W solar panels and a wood-burning stove. The improved panels mean that occupants can generate enough power to run appliances solely from solar, and the wood-burning stove is connected to underfloor heating to reduce heating costs when coupled with the already-installed efficient insulation. Related: Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living Wood paneling makes up the exterior, while the facade features a thick corkboard layer to create a breathable, fire-retardant area near the loft-style, king-sized bedroom. The organic aesthetic of the exterior is complemented by the inside, which is complete with luxurious modern fixtures, soft tones and natural light. Clean water is filtered from an under-sink system, and energy-efficient appliances help keep utility costs down. As is essential in a minimalist home, there are plenty of space-saving features as well, such as hidden storage under the stairs, between the walls and under the bed. Tight insulation is achieved in the walls, floor and roof using rockwool, lightweight XPS boards and cork. Rockwool is a rock-based mineral fiber usually composed of volcanic basalt rock and recycled steel or copper byproduct, and XPS boards (or polystyrene) does not result in harmful waste with its manufacture. According to the company, these materials can also help reduce harmful VOCs and other chemicals that can come with more common home insulation. + The Tiny Housing Co. Images via The Tiny Housing Co.

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This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon

March 5, 2020 by  
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Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, tropical rainforests could become a source of carbon in the atmosphere as soon as the next decade. Long appreciated as “carbon sinks,” those days will soon be over, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. “We’ve found that one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun,” Simon Lewis, study author and plant ecologist at University of Leeds, told The Guardian . “This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models.” Researchers spent 30 years tracking 300,000 trees in African and Amazonian rainforests. Their work took them to remote sites, and even required a week in a dugout canoe traveling deep into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team tagged individual trees with aluminum nails, charting their height and diameter every few years and calculating the carbon stored in both the surviving trees and those that died. The Amazonian forests — which face higher temperatures and worse droughts — were weakening first, but the African forests weren’t far behind. The researchers based their projections that the forests will soon turn into carbon sources on a statistical model, their own observations and trends in emissions, rainfall and temperatures to predict how forests will store carbon in the near future. Carbon uptake by tropical forests peaked in the 1990s. Back then, the forests absorbed about 17% of the carbon dioxide humans generated. But droughts, deforestation and high temperatures have adversely effected these carbon sinks. By last decade, forests could only take about 6% of global emissions off our hands. “Humans have been lucky so far, as tropical forests are mopping up lots of our pollution , but they can’t keep doing that indefinitely,” Lewis said. “We need to curb fossil fuel emissions before the global carbon cycle starts working against us. The time for action is now.” + Nature Via The Guardian and Phys.org Image via Etienne Delorieux

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Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon

Upcoming vegan festivals around the US in 2020

March 5, 2020 by  
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As plant-based eating has crept into the mainstream in recent years, vegan festivals have proliferated. In addition to the long-established fests, like those in Boston and Portland , Oregon, vegan fests have sprung up in surprising places, from West Virginia to Houston. This is by no means an exhaustive list of vegan events but a sampling of some of the top 2020 U.S. vegan festivals, large and small. Vegan Street Fair Los Angeles, March 21-22 The Vegan Street Fair in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles takes over a boulevard and fills it with vegan food and product vendors. Sample everything from plant-based “mozzarella” sticks, burgers, fried “chicken”, macaroni and “cheese” bites and more. The event is free, and you can purchase small samples or full meals from vendors. If you live in the area, the street fair is a larger extension of the weekly Vegan Exchange event in the same neighborhood. Related: Best US cities for vegans and vegetarians Savannah Veg Fest, Sunday, March 22 Savannah is simultaneously historic and progressive, with lots of good vegan food . On March 22, locals will celebrate all things vegan in beautiful Forsyth Park at the Savannah Veg Fest . Organizers are asking folks to RSVP for an accurate head count, as they’re aiming for a zero-waste event. Whole food advocate Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, is the keynote speaker. Inland Empire Vegan Festival, March 28 The Inland Empire is a vast swath of southern California between Los Angeles and Nevada. While California is known as a land full of vegans, the Inland Empire is less so. Edward Yniguez and Kawani Brown, in partnership with their nonprofit Plant Based For All, are behind several popular vegan events in southern California, including the annual Long Beach Vegan Fest. Last year, they put on the first Inland Empire Vegan Festival . “We didn’t know what to expect,” Yniguez told Inhabitat. “It was just a huge response. That’s why we’re doing it again.” Expect dynamic live performances from musicians like Mia Sera and Rebecca Jane, and a music fest-feel that might make you want to stay all day. Yniguez recommended the perfectly spiced vegan carne asada from Cena Vegan, which will be at the fest. “The seasoning, how they do it, that’s the killer right there.” VIP tickets get you early access to the event, a swag bag and a shady, seated area by the stage. Puerto Rico Vegan Fest, March 29 Started in 2016, the largest vegan festival in Puerto Rico features 25 food kiosks from around the island, cooking demos, an art exhibition, vendors selling cruelty-free crafts and special activities for kids. An exercise pavilion features talks about vegan athletes, a boot camp class with Malcolm Cuadra and Cris “Chally” Maldonado and the Booty Vegan Workout led by trainer and herbal nutritionist Pearl Alessandra. Santa Cruz VegFest, April 11 Santa Cruz, California always makes the lists of top vegan cities. So you can expect it to throw an especially good vegan festival. More than 5,000 people attended in 2019. This year, more than 100 exhibitors will be showing off cruelty-free beauty products, educating people on animal-related nonprofits and offering samples of vegan foods at the Santa Cruz VegFest . Experts will lecture on plant-based kids, food justice and vegan nutrition. Internet sensation Brian Manowitz, better known as the Vegan Black Metal Chef, is sure to draw legions of fans. Alabama Vegan Fest in Birmingham, April 26 Desare Flournoy, owner of Elegance on any Budget, founded this festival last year and was thrilled to have more than 2,000 people attend. Flournoy told Inhabitat that this year’s fest will include several local bands, spoken word performers and belly dancers. She’s also introducing a series of speakers, with topics like managing fibromyalgia naturally and understanding veganism. The Alabama Vegan Fest aims to welcome omnivores and the vegan-curious, not just die-hard vegans. Orcas Veg Fest, May 16 If you find yourself in Washington State’s San Juan Islands in mid-May, support the fledgling Orcas Veg Fest , debuting in 2020. In addition to the food samples and educational booths, the Orcas Winery will facilitate a special wine and beer garden. Plant-Based World Conference & Expo 2020, New York, June 5-6 This one is for the pros. Now in its second year, the Plant-Based World Conference & Expo bills itself as “The only professional 100% plant-based focused event for food service, retail, and healthcare professionals, distributors, investors, manufacturers, and the savvy consumer community.” Want to find out what’s next in revolutionary plant-based products? Looking to invest in the next big vegan thing? Looking for new suppliers for your wellness business? Network on the exhibition floor and attend sessions like “Data-Driven Plant-Based Merchandising: How to Turn Retail Insights Into Results” and “Why Big Food is Betting Big on Plants.” Vegan SoulFest in Baltimore, Aug 22 Baltimore’s seventh annual Vegan SoulFest invites the local community to bring their lawn chairs and spend a summer day in Clifton Park soaking up soul and hip-hop music, watching cooking demos, trying yoga or a workout with Khnum “Stic” Ibomu (now a wellness trainer) of the legendary rap group Dead Prez and, of course, eating lots of good vegan food. Co-founders Naijha Wright and Brenda Sanders are deeply involved in the local vegan scene. Wright co-owns vegan soul food restaurant Land of Kush , and Sanders heads a public health organization and co-directs an animal advocacy group. Portland VegFest, October 24-25 Now in its 16th year, Portland hosts one of the country’s biggest vegan festivals. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, but expect tons of food samples and a full day of lectures and cooking demos from this two-day fest. If you’re especially interested in health, a plant-based nutrition conference takes place on the Friday before Portland VegFest . Boston Veg Food Fest, October 24-25 Another biggie, the two-day Boston Veg Food Fest is turning 25 this year! There will be plenty of exhibits and speakers, not yet announced, not to mention an abundance of vegan foods to try. Expect to be greeted by a huge inflatable cow. The event, parking and food samples are all free. Seed Food and Wine Miami, November 5-8 For a more upscale veg experience, Seed bills itself as, “the premiere plant based food and wine festival in the country.” Activities span a week and include celebrity chef dinners, yoga, spirit tastings and endless vegan food and wine samples from more than 150 restaurants and brands. Via Veg Events Images via Inhabitat, Inland Empire Vegan Festival, Santa Cruz VegFest, Mary Margaret Smith Photography / Alabama Vegan Fest, Orcas Veg Fest, Plant-Based World Conference & Expo, Vegan SoulFest, Boston Veg Food Fest and Shutterstock

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New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

February 5, 2019 by  
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Climate change may be linked to heart defects in newborns. The Journal of the American Heart Association just released new research that shows how higher temperatures are related to congenital heart issues in babies born in warmer months. With climate change worsening, mothers in the U.S. are exposed to more heat than ever before. Scientists have previously shown that women who are exposed to heat during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a baby born with a congenital heart defect. Every year in the U.S., around 40,000 newborns have heart issues at birth. Related: Follow this diet for both personal and planetary health According to CNN , the number of babies born with heart defects is expected to rise between 2025 and 2035 as temperatures continue to heat up across the U.S. The study predicted that around 7,000 additional cases of heart defects will occur during the 10-year stretch, with the Midwest region seeing the biggest rise. “Our results highlight the dramatic ways in which climate change can affect human health and suggest that pediatric heart disease stemming from structural heart malformations may become an important consequence of rising temperatures,” Dr. Wangjian Zhang explained. Heart problems are among the most common issues doctors see in newborns. Babies who are born with heart defects have poor overall health and can experience issues in early development as well. It is unclear why excess heat contributes to heart problems in newborns. Previous studies conducted on animals have shown that heat is detrimental to fetal cells and can disrupt proteins that are important in development. This could be what is going on in human pregnancies, though more research is needed to confirm. With heat being linked to heart problems, doctors are now warning women to avoid excess heat exposure while pregnant. This is similar to what doctors have been telling people with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease for years. Unfortunately, climate change will continue to drive temperatures up all across the U.S. Locations that will be directly impacted include the Midwest, the South and southeastern states, like North Carolina and Georgia. In addition to heart issues, women exposed to heat are also at a greater risk of giving birth early. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns

The warmest ocean temperature in a century was just recorded in California

August 7, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have recorded the warmest sea surface temperature in more than a hundred years near a pier in San Diego. The Institute, affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, has been collecting data on sea surface temperatures at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier since 1916. The 2018 level surpassed an unusual 1931 record by 0.2 degrees, coming in at a whopping 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925 According to a press release from Scripps , “the ocean region off Southern California has been experiencing anomalously warm temperatures for the past week, and other observational networks farther off the coast have reported record or near-record temperatures as well.” The continuous rise in temperature will have serious implications for sea life and marine ecosystems. For example, it could help create a toxic algae bloom, such as the one that spread along the north Pacific coast in 2014, altering the biodiversity of the area indefinitely. This bloom had a devastating impact on sea lions and other marine mammal groups, closed fisheries, and pushed species of jellyfish and stingrays further inward to shore, causing a perilous domino effect of altered food chains. In 2015, El Niño significantly altered water temperature levels off the coast of California . However, after such environmental phenomena, seawater temperatures are supposed to return to historical averages. This time, it never happened. “It really is weird,” explained Scripps research scientist Clarissa Anderson in an interview with NPR. “We have different records going back decades and while [our ocean water] temperature is tightly connected with the equator, we’re now seeing [temperatures] stabilize at the equator while temperatures in southern California keep going up.” According to researchers, the record temperature is yet another sign of the mounting effects of climate change . + Scripps Institute Via NPR

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The warmest ocean temperature in a century was just recorded in California

Hood River retreat boasts minimal environmental impact

August 7, 2018 by  
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Lovers of the Columbia River Gorge will swoon over this beautiful vacation retreat perched right on Neal Creek, just an hour outside Portland, Oregon. Designed by Portland -based practice Paul McKean Architecture to embrace the outdoors, this two-bedroom weekend getaway was crafted to maximize valley and water views while minimizing impact on the natural environment. The owners—both outdoor enthusiasts—sought an environmentally friendly home that they now serves as a vacation rental available for all to rent . To minimize site impact, Paul McKean Architecture raised the habitable part of the home to one full floor above grade, creating a top-heavy form with elevated views of the creek and treetop canopy. Set atop a concrete plinth, the second level is clad in horizontal planks of timber. “Their wooded two-acre parcel of land presented many unique challenges including wetlands, creek protection setbacks, and floodplain restrictions,” explains the architecture in a project statement. “Lifting the main space protects the house from potential flooding and brush fire damage while making way for a covered outdoor patio and much needed gear storage below. At the uppermost level, a future planted roof will replace the landscape lost to the building footprint and reduces heat gain to the interior spaces.” Related: Spend the night in this magical Hobbit House tucked into the Washington shire Completed in 2008 for a project budget of $185,000, the weekend retreat spans 960 square feet. However, full-height glazing and white walls give the home a more spacious feel than its size lets on. The two bedrooms include two queen beds, while two twin beds can be added to the hallway; the retreat can sleep a total of six people. The year-round nightly rate at the Neal Creek Retreat starts at $230. + Paul McKean Architecture Images by Stephen Tamiesie

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Hood River retreat boasts minimal environmental impact

Japan considers adopting daylight savings time for 2020 Summer Olympics

August 7, 2018 by  
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This summer’s deadly heatwaves in Japan  have caused government and Olympic officials to consider the benefits of adopting daylight savings time for the  2020 Summer Olympics to ensure athlete safety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his ruling party to consider what impacts a two hour shift forward would have on the country after backlash on social media followed the announcement. Adopting daylight savings time would allow events such as the marathon to be scheduled in the cooler morning hours. Masa Takaya, spokesperson for the 2020 games, urged the time push, saying it would also “help protect the environment and realize a low-carbon society in Japan,” alongside other efforts to add more plant life and heat-inhibiting pavements in the city. Although the time shift would provide both energy-saving and safety measures in the face of climate change , many citizens are protesting that the change would result in longer working hours for them. This is not a light claim made by the Japanese labor force, as a 2017 report by BBC News revealed that most individuals in the nation clock in more than 80 hours of overtime each month. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Japan has not used the daylight savings system since the U.S. Occupation following World War II from 1948 until 1952. The event, a sour subject for many Japanese, also impeded initiatives during the 1970s and early 2000s to return to the system in the hopes of conserving energy in the country. The 2020 Summer Olympics are set to be held in Tokyo from July 24 until August 9, 2020, followed by the Paralympics from August 25 until September 6. As these are typically the hottest months of the year and likely to become hotter with global warming , the decision to enforce daylights savings time in Japan weighs very precariously in the balance for now. + 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Via Reuters and  The Japan Times Image via T-Mizo

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Japan considers adopting daylight savings time for 2020 Summer Olympics

Low-cost solar absorber could supercharge solar power plants

April 6, 2017 by  
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One of the major challenges in developing solar panels has been creating photovoltaic cells which can absorb as much solar energy as possible – without overheating to the point that they begin to simply radiate energy back into the atmosphere. In the past, this has meant that commercially available solar cells only manage to convert about 30 percent of sunlight they absorb into energy. Researchers from Purdue University may have found a way to overcome this issue by modifying regular silicon wafers to more efficiently absorb the energy at higher temperatures than ever before. The new study, published in the journal Applied Physics Letters , outlines how silicon wafers can be coated with thin films of tantalum and silicon nitride to enhance their ability to absorb sunlight. The modified surface is then able to selectively absorb photons within a certain range on the light spectrum, while reflecting those that cannot be used. Related: Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels The resulting solar cells can withstand temperatures up to 535 degrees Celsius without any performance or stability issues, converting a staggering 50 percent of sunlight into useable energy. This research has some interesting applications – for instance, the same film could be painted on the surface of mirrored parabolic troughs used in concentrated solar plants in order to make them even more efficient. While the film isn’t yet ready for any kind of commercial application, the authors of the study hope it will inspire others to try a similar experimental approach to enhancing solar absorption. Via Phsy.org Images via Purdue University and Shutterstock

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