How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

October 15, 2019 by  
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Packed with automotive and logistics giants, the living lab out of Seattle aspires to test solutions to “the transportation challenge of our time.”

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How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

October 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Packed with automotive and logistics giants, the living lab out of Seattle aspires to test solutions to “the transportation challenge of our time.”

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How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

The power of social enterprise: Can a forgotten nut boost Nigeria’s economy?

October 15, 2019 by  
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An innovative start-up is leveraging the original ingredient in Coca-Cola to kickstart sustainable development in the country.

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The power of social enterprise: Can a forgotten nut boost Nigeria’s economy?

The environmental cost of the pumpkin spice latte

September 13, 2019 by  
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With fall around the corner, the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) has already taken over Starbucks menus across the country, and it’s likely that the crisp mornings will send you straight for the drive-thru. But before you prove your loyalty to the iconic, autumnal beverage, consider the effects your morning brew might have on the environment and your health, from the ingredients to the drive-thru to the disposable cups. The ingredients can be bad for the Earth and our health The recipe varies from one place to another, but it’s worth asking the question, “What is in that pumpkin spice latte, anyway?” Most contain a combination of traditional fall spices, steamed milk, espresso, often sugar and sometimes some pumpkin puree, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice. While that might sound wholesome, researchers have found things like sulfites, potassium sorbate and annatto, which have been linked to breathing conditions, damage to genetic material and effects on blood pressure. Even when Starbucks announced its intention to switch to real pumpkin instead of a mixture of artificial flavors, other ingredients might also be problematic, such as commercially produced milk and non-organic pumpkin that contributes antibiotics, pesticides , insecticides and herbicides to our diets and ecosystems. Organic is a better option, and some groups have pressured Starbucks to make the change to no avail. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead You should also know the concoction is barely even coffee, with a very low amount of caffeine. While it’s difficult to know exactly what’s mixed into your cup, before you indulge, do your own research about what you’re ordering. Note that a 16-ounce cup, or “grande,” with 2 percent milk and whipped cream serves up 380 calories , 14 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbs and 50 grams of sugar. PSL impacts our planet in many ways Cultivating the ingredients for your cup of seasonal Joe is rough on the planet. Consider the impact to the Amazon alone, where 2.5 million acres have been cleared in favor of coffee plantations over the past few decades. Sure, your single PSL isn’t to blame, but the cultural and habitual elements of the daily coffee run are; not to mention the whipped cream topping and the ever-growing awareness of the effect cattle has on the planet. Animal agriculture is one of our planet’s largest contributors to air quality issues, making that frothy topping and milky foundation anything but a treat. Then, there is the fact that coffee is a water-intensive crop, with Mother Nature Network reporting that it takes about 37 gallons of water to grow and process the coffee beans to make one cup of coffee . Take into account the process of making a cup of PSL and washing dishes afterward, too. Humans are responsible for polluting our waterways , which comes as no surprise after many years of headlines regarding landfills, lawn fertilizer runoff and microbeads. What you might not realize is something as simple as a cup of PSL can result in water pollution. While it might not be as toxic as Roundup , a group called Sound Citizen has monitored the waterways around the Pacific Northwest for the past decade and reported finding higher amounts of cinnamon and pumpkin spice throughout the fall season. PSLs leave a trail of waste Following the damage that the ingredients of the PSL have on the planet is the waste left behind. To perform at the level we expect, manufacturers coat the disposable paper cups in plastic, for which the planet does not thank us. Even when the paper manages to break down naturally, the residual plastic is left to sit in the soil and eventually the waterways. Add to that the plastic lids and straws (unless of course, you have your own ), and you’ve contributed plentiful carbon emissions and landfill waste in a single sip. The larger point to this is that everything we produce and consume has an effect on the water and earth, from the pumpkin and coffee remnants tossed at the cafe to the garbage full of drippy, plastic-lined cups to the waste we release in our urine. How to enjoy an eco-friendly PSL You might not be able to pass up the PSL 100 percent of the time, and we’re not saying you should, but awareness is a huge part of the battle. There are several things you can do to lessen the burden on the planet. Firstly, bring your own refillable cup and skip the single-use option. At the very least, avoid the lid and straw. Secondly, skip the whipped cream and opt for soy or almond milk options. Finally, avoid idling in the drive-thru. Organize coffee stop carpools at the office, walk to your morning spot or at least turn off the engine while you wait. Related: The homesteader’s guide to a perfect pumpkin spice latte Another alternative option is to make your own PSL at home. Enjoy the warmth and endearing scent emanating from your mug with ingredients sourced locally. Plus, using your own recipe means you know what went into it, like organic milk and pumpkin. If you’re not sold on making your own concoction, seek out local coffee shops that offer organic and natural ingredients. Cheers! Via Care2 , Society 19 , Earth Day , Independent , Mother Nature Network and Atlas Obscura Images via Pexels , Mimzy , Robert Couse-Baker , Daniel Spils and Jill Wellington

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The environmental cost of the pumpkin spice latte

American trophy hunter may get permit to bring slain rhino home

September 10, 2019 by  
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An American trophy hunter donates $400,000 to an anti-poaching organization in Namibia in exchange for the privilege of killing an endangered rhinoceros. President Trump may issue the permit for Chris Peyerk to bring his kill home with him, despite the Endangered Species Act specifying that it’s illegal to import endangered animals — whole or in part — unless it will enhance the species’ survival. Peyerk, owner of the Michigan business Dan’s Excavating, Inc., shot one of the last 5,500 rhinos in the world last May. The trophy hunter now plans to import the 29 year-old rhino’s skin, skull and horns as mementos. Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado If approved, this would be the sixth such permit the US Fish and Wildlife has allowed since 2013, and Trump’s third. Fish and Wildlife also issued three under former President Barack Obama ’s final term. “Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” said a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, according to the Huffington Post. But major conservation groups don’t think that killing animals to save them makes much sense. “We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation,” Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States , said in a statement. “With fewer than 2,000 black rhinos left in Namibia — and with rhino poaching on the rise — now is the time to ensure that every living black rhino remains safe in the wild. … Black rhinos must be off limits to trophy hunters.” Nearly half of the world’s surviving black rhinos live in Namibia and are listed as critically endangered. Peyerk noted in his permit application that he had killed a member of the southwestern black rhinoceros subspecies, which is listed as “vulnerable” rather than endangered. International law allows Namibia to issue five permits annually for trophy hunters to kill a male rhinoceros. Via Huffington Post Image via Yathin S Krishnappa

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American trophy hunter may get permit to bring slain rhino home

‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

September 9, 2019 by  
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Rising ocean temperatures are rising in the northeast Pacific, similar to conditions presented in 2015. It is safe to say the marine heatwave known as the “Blob” has returned. This time the Blob’s 2019 return is the second largest to occur in the Pacific in at least 40 years. It encompasses 4 million square miles from Alaska to Canada and as far away as Hawaii, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that we’ve seen.” Related: Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century The Blob got its ominous name from Washington state climatologist and University of Washington scientist Nick Bond when the 2015 heatwave happened. The more recent Blob popped up in an area of high pressure stationed over the region. Such an incident forces warm surface waters to swirl around allowing cool, wholesome water from below to rise and takeover. “We learned with ‘the Blob’ and similar events worldwide that what used to be unexpected is becoming more common,” said Cisco Werner, NOAA fisheries director of Scientific Programs and chief science advisor. Without this churning process, surface heat can build up and if there are no nutrients from the cooler water below, the heatwave agitates the food chain. Overall, this creates less food for marine life and compels animals to go beyond their immediate home in search of food or simply die off. Underwater creatures aren’t the only things to suffer as humans who bank on the ocean’s physical condition are also affected. For instance, commercial fishing businesses in some places have shut down like Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, which has limited fishing rights for First Nations. Scientists also report should the Blob stick around it could be a bigger threat than it was in 2015. “There are definitely concerning implications for the ecosystem ,” added Bond. “It’s all a matter of how long it lasts and how deep it goes.” Via Gizmodo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Image via NOAA

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‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

Hurricane Dorian causes onshore oil spill in Bahamas

September 6, 2019 by  
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Besides demolishing homes, uprooting wildlife and ravaging forests, Hurricane Dorian has also caused an onshore oil spill in the Bahamas. Norwegian energy company Equinor reported it discovered an oil spill at its storage and transshipment terminal. “Our initial aerial assessment of the South Riding Point facility has found that the terminal has sustained damage, and oil has been observed on the ground outside of the onshore tanks,” Equinor said. Related: Hurricane Dorian threatens endangered bird species Before Hurricane Dorian hit, Equinor said it closed all its operations at the South Riding Point terminal on Aug. 31, and no staff was on the premises. “It is too early to indicate any volumes,” the company said. “At this point there are no observations of any oil spill at sea.” Equinor’s terminal contains 6.75 million barrels of crude and condensate storage and provides heavy crude oil blending services. “While weather conditions on the island have improved, road conditions and flooding continue to impact our ability to assess the situation and the scope of damages to the terminal and its surroundings,” the company added. Weather forecasters reported Hurricane Dorian made landfall early Friday morning at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and is now a Category 1 hurricane. Hurricane warnings have been issued for Canada as the hurricane continues moving northeast, and the threat of storm surges in North Carolina and Virginia remains. At the time of writing, at least 30 people have been killed in the Bahamas , the health minister said. More deaths are expected to be announced. Via Reuters , NBC News and The Weather Channel Image via NOAA

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Hurricane Dorian causes onshore oil spill in Bahamas

G7 summit: Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet

August 26, 2019 by  
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Known as The Fashion Pact, a group of 32 major luxury brands, labels and companies, such as Adidas, Burberry, Kering, Hermes, Nike, Prada and Puma, shared its ideas to improve sustainability in the fashion industry at the G7 summit from August 24 to 26. While addressing French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, some of the pact’s members said they would focus on using other options in their work in order to protect forests and minimize plastic usage. Related: Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025 At the summit, Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said, “We know that one company cannot solve the environmental challenges facing our planet alone, and we believe in the power of collaboration to drive real change.” Some of the pact’s ideas include pledging to 100 percent renewable energy for operations by 2030; removing microfiber pollution; boosting biodiversity and creating eco-friendly agricultural, mining and forestry processes; and cutting back on single-use plastics in packaging by 2030. The fashion industry initiative came to fruition in early 2019, when Macron asked François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering Group, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, to form a coalition that discusses how the industry’s current practices impact the environment . Pinault talked about his ideas for the coalition at the Copenhagen fashion summit in May, according to The Guardian . “This has nothing to do with competition,” he told delegates at the time. “It’s a matter of leadership. Alone it is useless, you have to work with your peers. We might not succeed, but we will achieve more than not doing anything.” Several key fashion companies have been criticized for not addressing recent wildfires in the Amazon rainforest , despite donating millions of euros toward the restoration of the Notre Dame. Macron described the situation in the Amazon as an international crisis on Friday and said he wanted it to be addressed as a key issue at the 45th G7 summit. Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Tokatlian

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G7 summit: Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet

Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

August 13, 2019 by  
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The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend , the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.  Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.  To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs . Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.  Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands “Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog , water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.” + Tremend

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Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

As ocean temperatures rise, so does mercury exposure in seafood

August 12, 2019 by  
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In case there weren’t already enough reasons to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new study released in Nature reveals that even a 1 degree increase in ocean temperatures leads to a significant increase in mercury exposure among fish — and the people that consume them. The joint study was published by Harvard’s School of Public Health and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and used a variety of simulation models to examine and predict how environmental factors affect the levels of mercury in cod and dogfish. Their models use historical data, as far back as 1970, when cod had approximately 6 to 20 percent less mercury in their diets. Yet researchers also found that dogfish had 33 to 61 percent higher mercury in their diets in 1970, because overfishing at the time led them to eat squid that are high in mercury. Related: These fish and meat options are the most environmentally costly In the last four decades, policies that regulate and limit mercury emissions have made a dent in mercury exposure, but the researchers concluded that rising ocean temperatures are reversing this progress. “This research is a major advance in understanding how and why ocean predators, such as tuna and swordfish, are accumulating mercury,” said Elsie Sunderland, senior author and a Harvard professor in environmental chemistry. According to the researchers, unusually warmer water makes it harder for fish to breathe and swim; therefore, it forces fish to consume more energy . The more they eat, the higher their levels of mercury exposure are. Warmer temperatures might also alter the availability of their preferred diet, forcing fish like the dogfish to eat high-mercury options such as squid. For every 1 degree the ocean warms, dogfish are exposed to 70 percent more mercury . Cod, which also live in the researchers’ study area off the coast of Maine, are exposed to approximately 32 percent more mercury for every single degree the ocean warms. “Climate change is going to exacerbate human exposure to methylmercury through seafood,” Sunderland said. “So to protect ecosystems and human health , we need to regulate both mercury emissions and greenhouse gases.” + Nature Via Harvard Gazette Image via Pixabay

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As ocean temperatures rise, so does mercury exposure in seafood

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