Mystery of banned CFCs resurgence may be solved

June 26, 2018 by  
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The world recently learned that chlorofluorocarbons ( CFCs ), an ozone-damaging industrial gas banned under the 1997 Montreal Protocol, have made an unexpected comeback, with significant emissions detected in the atmosphere. The source of these banned gases has remained unclear. Now, documents and research gathered by the New York Times and independent investigators suggest that the CFCs, specifically CFC-11, may be coming from factories in China that manufacture foam for buildings and appliances. “You had a choice: Choose the cheaper foam agent that’s not so good for the environment, or the expensive one that’s better for the environment,” factory owner Zhang Wenbo told the New York Times . “Of course, we chose the cheaper foam agent. That’s how we survived.” At the time of Zhang’s interview, local authorities were conducting inspections throughout town and citing those who violated regulations. When they arrived at his factory, they assessed that it was in violation of environmental codes and ordered it shut down. “They never told us until last year that it was damaging the atmosphere ,” Zhang said. “Nobody came to check what we were using, so we thought it was O.K.” Although some provinces in China have tightened enforcement of the CFC ban, the chemical still remains available online. “When nobody is watching, they can make some, or when they get an order — an underground order — they can also produce it,” local refrigeration expert Liu Le told the New York Times . “They produce for a while until they’re discovered, and then move on.” Related: Antarctic ozone layer shows “first fingerprints of healing” The U.S.-based Environmental Investigation Agency has determined that at least eight factories in four provinces are still using CFCs to create foam. “The scale of this environmental crime is devastating, with massive potential impact on the climate and the ozone layer,” executive director Alexander von Bismarck said. “We’re hoping for a strong response from a strong environmental agreement.” While the mystery is becoming more clear, there is much more that needs to be done to determine the full extent of the problem. Head of the United Nations Environment Program Erik Solheim said, “Based on the scale of detected emissions there is good reason to believe the problem extends beyond these uncovered cases.” Via New York Times Image via Depositphotos

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Mystery of banned CFCs resurgence may be solved

Shipping container village for startups pops up in Amsterdam

May 24, 2018 by  
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In a bid to create affordable office space in Amsterdam , Dutch architect Julius Taminiau has upcycled a series of shipping containers into Startup Village, a temporary cargotecture hub for fledgling companies. Located in Amsterdam Science Park, the container buildings are stacked and painted in a variety of colors to create a space that can adapt to different needs. In addition to offices, the Startup Village offers space for events and gatherings ranging from networking parties to outdoor cinema nights. Architect Julius Taminiau was inspired to experiment with cargotecture during his time at London-based Carl Turner Architects , where he worked on Pop Brixton, a project that transformed a derelict space into a shipping container community. After moving to the Netherlands and opening his own firm—Julius Taminiau Architects—Taminiau decided to create a low-cost office space for startups in Amsterdam Science Park. The architect arranged the upcycled containers around a large communal square conducive to events and designed the hallways and circulation to take place outside the containers in order to encourage interaction between different startups. Since the project is meant to be temporary, Startup Village was constructed with recyclable materials and an easily removable concrete tile foundation. The 155-square-foot containers are completely insulated, airtight, and heated with low-energy, infrared heating. Windows installed on both sides of each container can be opened for cross-ventilation. Taminiau collaborated with Green Art Solutions to install green roofs and other greenery on-site. Related: Repurposed shipping containers make a bold statement at the National Theater Company of Korea “The ‘low-cost’ ‘low-energy’ ‘circular’ upcycled shipping containers provide some sort of ‘free’ atmosphere where young startups feel soon at home and provide the means to develop, innovate, grow and professionalise,” explains Julius Taminiau Architects. “Should a startup need more space they can move within the Startup Village but also within the campus area of Science Park.” The Startup Village also plans to add larger containers in the future for scale-ups. + Julius Taminiau Architects Via Dezeen Images via Julius Taminiau Architects

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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption has destroyed 26 home and caused thousands to flee

May 7, 2018 by  
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The eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has destroyed around 26 homes and five structures. Since the eruption began, 10 fissures have emerged, and thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency administrator Talmadge Magno told CBS News yesterday, “There’s no sign of things slowing down.” Kilauea has spewed lava as high as 230 feet up into the air, according to Vox . Lava bursting from fissures has destroyed houses. According to a Sunday evening update from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory , in the Leilani Estates subdivision, in the volcano’s lower East Rift Zone, intermittent lava eruption was ongoing, and “new ground cracks in the vicinity of fissures eight and nine…were emitting thick steam and gases.” Related: Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate Sulfur dioxide emissions are also a concern — Vox cited the Civil Defense Agency as calling the gas “a threat to all who become exposed.” It’s often expelled in large amounts during a volcanic eruption . In a Sunday evening update , the Civil Defense Agency said Lanipuna Gardens residents would not able to access the area because of dangerous volcanic gases. Leilani Estates residents were “allowed to continue evacuation to check on their property” during certain hours, but only if conditions permitted, and the agency said lines of safety can change “because of unstable conditions that involve toxic gas, earthquakes , and lava activities.” “Please, the residents of Leilani need your help. This is not the time for sightseeing. You can help tremendously by staying out of the area,” the Civil Defense Agency said in the update. “The residents of Leilani Estates are going through a very difficult time. We ask for your understanding. We ask for your help.” Kilauea is among the most active volcanoes in the world, according to the United States Geological Survey , and “may even top the list.” + County of Hawaii Via Vox Images via U.S. Geological Survey

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UK smashes days-old record, goes without coal for 76 hours

April 26, 2018 by  
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Just over a week ago, the United Kingdom set a new record: almost 55 hours without using coal . It didn’t take them long to shatter that record. CleanTechnica reported the country just went 76 hours without the polluting fuel — “for the first time since the 1880s,” according to a National Grid Twitter account . For the first time since the 1880s the UK electricity network has clocked up over 72 hours without the need for coal generation. This new record comes days after the first ever 48 hour period of no coal on the network. — National Grid Media (@Grid_Media) April 24, 2018 The country started their coal-free streak on Saturday, April 21, and went into Tuesday, April 24, ultimately going for 76 hours and 10 minutes, according to the UK Coal Twitter account . This may not be the last record the United Kingdom sets this year; Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit analyst Jonathan Marshall told The Guardian , “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two.” The final length of this record #coal free run was 76 Hours 10 minutes. Coal units are now back generating. pic.twitter.com/OauJREXzxN — UK Coal (@UK_Coal) April 24, 2018 Related: The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal What did the UK run on in the absence of coal? The Guardian put out a graphic showing the electricity mix from April 21 at 10 AM to April 24 at 10 AM; during that time 30.3 percent of power came from gas , 24.9 percent from wind , 23.3 percent from nuclear , 15.3 percent from biomass or other sources, and 6.2 percent from solar . Electrical engineer Andrew Crossland, who operates MyGridGB , cautioned against replacing coal with gas, telling The Guardian, “Shifting to gas is likely to make our electricity market more volatile as our energy price becomes increasingly locked to international gas markets. That will only hurt consumers.” More coal stations are shuttering — two plant owners in the country have said they’ll close this year, according to The Guardian. What will happen to those brownfield sites? The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit explored that question in a recent blog post from Marshall, who said one old power station could be transformed into a cruise ship terminal, another into housing, and others as logistics centers. At the time of writing, the UK was on another streak and had already gone 39 continuous hours without coal — could another record be over the horizon? Via CleanTechnica and The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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New book reveals Cecil the lion suffered for at least 10 hours before dying

March 7, 2018 by  
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When Cecil the lion was killed by a game hunter in 2015 , people around the world were outraged. But despite the widespread attention to the situation, questions still lingered about what exactly took place. A new book on Cecil’s death finally gives us some answers, revealing that the lion likely suffered for 10 – 12 hours before being shot a second time, which ended his life. Cecil was shot with an arrow from a compound bow by dentist Walter J. Palmer from Minnesota. At the time, media outlets reported that the lion was in agony from a thoracic injury for 40 hours. While that seems to not be the case, the book says that “Cecil suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded and slowly dying.” The arrow wound missed vital organs and arteries, incapacitating the lion but not killing him. The lion was finally relieved of his torture when the hunters located him and shot him with a second arrow. Related: Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter Using data from the lion’s GPS collar and details from interviews with game staff, researchers and the local community, the book also confirms that the lion was lured out of the park in order to avoid regulations, a detail that has been disputed by the hunters. You can read all the details about Cecil’s tragic death in the book Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats , which will be released on April 10. Via CNN Images via Flickr , Simon & Schuster and Flickr

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New book reveals Cecil the lion suffered for at least 10 hours before dying

New technology could slow down biological time to save injured soldiers’ lives

March 5, 2018 by  
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Sometimes the difference between life and death is a matter of time. For injured soldiers in the field, the minutes that pass before a medic can treat them can make all the difference. That’s why DARPA is looking into ways to slow biological time in order to give medics an extra advantage in the battle to save lives. We can learn a lot from life around us. For instance, some organisms like tardigrades can essentially suspend animation when conditions are hostile to life. DARPA wants to tap into that ability to do something similar for soldiers. The trick is to figure out how to slow down every cellular process concurrently, and how to return everything back to normal without doing any damage. Related: US govt developing brain implants that give humans the ability to never forget According to DARPA, “When a Service member suffers a traumatic injury or acute infection, the time from event to first medical treatment is usually the single most significant factor in determining the outcome between saving a life or not.” To tackle that problem, DARPA just launched a 5-year Biostasis program that is developing biochemicals that can help slow down cellular activity so that medics can provide help before vital systems start shutting down. It’s still in the early stages, but if they can develop a viable technology, it could not only save soldiers’ lives, but it could have massive implications for medical science as a whole. “Nature is a source of inspiration,” program manager Dr. Tristan McClure-Begley said. “If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox.” Via Engadget Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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MIT’s thermal resonator generates power "out of what seems like nothing"

February 27, 2018 by  
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A brand new power-generating system from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers creates energy “out of what seems like nothing,” according to chemical engineering professor Michael Strano in a statement . Their system, which they’re calling a thermal resonator, harnesses daily swings in ambient temperature , potentially enabling remote sensing systems to operate for years — no batteries or other power sources required. Nine MIT scientists from the chemical engineering department envisioned a new way to transform temperature changes into electric power. Their system doesn’t need two different temperature inputs simultaneously; it simply draws on fluctuations in the temperature of the air. Strano said, “We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. We’ve built the first thermal resonator. It’s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT said the power levels the thermal resonator can generate are modest at this point, but the system’s advantage is that it isn’t affected at all by short-term changes in environmental conditions, and doesn’t require direct sunlight. It could generate energy in oft-unused spaces like underneath solar panels . The researchers say their thermal resonator could even help solar panels be more efficient as it could draw away waste heat . The thermal resonator was tested in ambient air, but MIT said if the researchers tuned the properties of the material used, the system could harvest other temperature cycles, such as those of machinery in industrial facilities or even the on and off cycling of refrigerator motors. The scientists created what MIT described as a “carefully tailored combination of materials” for their work, including metal foam, graphene , and the phase-change material octadecane. MIT said, “A sample of the material made to test the concept showed that, simply in response to a 10-degree-Celsius temperature difference between night and day, the tiny sample of material produced 350 millivolts of potential and 1.2 milliwatts of power — enough to power simple, small environmental sensors or communications systems.” The journal Nature Communications published the work online in February. + MIT News + Nature Communications Images via Melanie Gonick and Justin Raymond

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Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

February 22, 2018 by  
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According to the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean is riddled with places where mortals can access the underworld. These “gates to hell” (or Plutoniums) are marked by stone structures, and some of them, like a cave in Hierapolis (now modern-day Turkey ) seem to have supernatural powers. Ancient Romans would bring animals into the mysterious haze inside the cave, where they would swiftly die. Now, scientists have answered the mystery of what is killing these animals and how humans could escape seemingly unscathed. According to the ancient Romans, humans would enter the grotto as part of a ritualistic sacrifice and leave unharmed, while animals would quickly die. The Greek geographer Strabo once said, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” Some believed that the vapor was the breath of the hellhound Kerberos. Legend also has it that even birds flying by would drop out of the air. Related: Egyptians discover three sunken ships full of 2,000-year-old treasure Scientists have found that the cause of this deadly mist is actually carbon dioxide from a volcanic fissure in the earth underneath the cave. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are stronger towards the ground, which helps explain why animals were impacted more than humans. The time of day also impacts its concentration, with wind and sunlight dispersing the vapor. That means that nighttime, and particularly right before dawn, are the deadliest times to enter the cave. At dawn, concentrations are strong enough to kill a human within a minute. Researchers believe that priests participating in the rituals understood that the higher you were from the ground, the longer you could stand in the cave, making them to appear to have supernatural powers. They may have also adjusted the time that they entered the cave to coincide with lower concentrations. The cave was actually forgotten until just seven years ago, but the mystery around it has remained. Brave researchers, led by Hardy Pfanz at the University of Duisburg-Essen , wanted to understand the enigma, so they examined the grotto in detail. Pfanz’s method could be used to help solve the mysteries of other Plutoniums as well. Via IFL Science Images via Chris Parfitt and Carole Raddato

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The majority of the National Park Service board just resigned

January 17, 2018 by  
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The majority of the 12-person National Park System Advisory Board (NPSAB) resigned this week because President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was unwilling to meet with them, according to NPR . Democrat Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska, said in a resignation letter “…from all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside.” The National Park Service (NPS) advisory board was first authorized in 1935, and today more than three-quarters of its members have left their seats. In the January 15 letter Knowles said that he will remain dedicated to the success of America’s national parks, but “For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI [Department of the Interior] as prescribed by law. We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda.” Related: Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments Nine board members signed that letter, and all of their terms were set to expire in May. Today a tenth member – whose term doesn’t expire until 2021 – resigned as well. Project Concern International CEO Carolyn Hessler Radelet submitted a similar letter to Zinke. According to The Washington Post , this move means the federal government lacks a functioning body to “designate national historic or natural landmarks.” The publication said it also shows how federal advisory bodies have been marginalized in Trump’s administration . Zinke suspended outside committees back in May of last year for his staff to review their work. Interior spokesperson Heather Swift said boards restarted in an email to The Washington Post earlier this month, but didn’t provide other details. The two people remaining on the board at this time are University of Maryland professor Rita Colwell and Harvard University professor Linda Blimes, who told The Washington Post she didn’t resign as she’s currently conducting research funded by the National Park Foundation and wants to finish. Their terms are up in May. Via NPR and The Washington Post (1 , 2 , 3) Images by Casey Horner on Unsplash , Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NPS

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The majority of the National Park Service board just resigned

3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

January 5, 2018 by  
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The start of a new year is traditionally the time … The post 3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018 appeared first on Earth911.com.

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