Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

May 16, 2018 by  
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Van life can be a creative way to lessen one’s impact on the planet, but many van dwellers are still riding in gas-guzzling vehicles. Nico Nevolo, however, has broken away from that trend and become one of the pioneers of a new paradigm: EV van life. A former Tesla employee, Nevolo quit his job in March of this year to share his experiences living in his Tesla Model X under the name TeslaVanLife , and so far he says it’s been the best decision of his life. Inhabitat caught up with Nevolo to hear more about his journey and vision for TeslaVanLife. Nevolo worked at Tesla for just over three years, beginning in customer service and then moving to headquarters, where he worked as an analyst. He started living in his Model X last October, but the infamously expensive Bay Area rents were only one factor in his decision to live in his car. “It’s experiencing life in a different capacity, and a capacity at which I think is bringing me more happiness as I’ve grown older and seen how I want to live my own life,” Nevolo told Inhabitat. Related: Living out of a van has never looked this good He quit his job to take his Tesla love on the road. “I did love working behind a computer for Tesla, I really did love it, but there was something missing,” Nevolo said. “I hadn’t really seen anyone living in an electric vehicle , let alone a Tesla, and I recognized I had a very interesting experience…I’ve seen the electric vehicle industry grow before my eyes, so I wanted to tell that story.” In his Model X, he can store things in the front trunk and a rear compartment beneath his bed. He didn’t want the inside of his van home to look cluttered, so he doesn’t store anything on his bed. During the day, he folds up his bed and puts his seats up. Nevolo said people always expect him to say one of the hardest things about van life is bathing, but he’s found that facilities are readily available. What is tricky is food. He can keep food cold in an ice chest for around a week, but keeping it at a temperature where it won’t spoil is only possible for about two days. “Managing long term meals is definitely the most difficult thing I’ve encountered,” he said. “Something I’m really going to start experimenting with — and I used to do it even when I lived in an apartment — is buying food and cooking for a day or two. I would just buy enough food for a day or two, which unfortunately doesn’t save you the most money, but you’re getting fresh food.” Battery charging can be another consideration for EV van living, but Nevolo hasn’t found it to be too difficult in California , where he’s spent a large amount of his van life. Supercharging his Model X is free, and he said the Supercharger network is growing exponentially. Also, with the exception of some desolate areas, he found the network connected across the United States on a cross-country road trip to surprise his grandfather in New Jersey with a Tesla Model 3 . The flexibility of van living has opened up new possibilities for Nevolo. “The best thing is honestly being able to say yes to absolutely anything,” he said. “There is no one way of living.” Nevolo took his time taking the Model 3 to his grandfather and traveled around the country for about a month, so he could compare the experiences of living in a Model X versus a Model 3. “The technology in the Model 3: mindblowing,” he said. The Model 3 can charge more quickly because of advanced battery technology . But for long-term van life, the Model X seems to beat out the Model 3. “In the Model 3, you have to bend over like a normal car, it’s very low, and you’re like kinking your back,” Nevolo said. “With the X, I almost have a faux sense of being able to stand up in my home because the door opens up above my head and I actually have two inches of clearance when the door’s all the way up, and I’m six foot one. It feels like I’m in a bedroom.” You can stay tuned for his Tesla adventures by subscribing to TeslaVanLife . Nevolo said, “I want to shed light and entertainment and insight on a whole bunch of communities I’m very interested in, like van life, Tesla, or even music festival communities.” + TeslaVanLife YouTube + TeslaVanLife Patreon + TeslaVanLife Instagram Images courtesy of Nico Nevolo

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Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

An increasingly intense allergy season is linked to climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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If you’ve found that you’re having a particularly tough time breathing through this spring’s allergy season, you’re not alone. This season has been especially difficult throughout North America due to intense pollen production, and recent research has found that the problem may be linked to climate change . “Some research has suggested that the warming trend that we have in our environment is causing the pollen seasons to start a little bit earlier, and extend a little bit longer,” Dr. Stanley Fineman, former president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told NBC News . “Consequently, patients are suffering because they’re exposed to pollen, for longer periods of time.” Winters that have been warmer and wetter than those in the past have combined with longer fall and spring seasons, contributing to an environment in which all manner of vegetation can produce greater amounts of pollen for longer periods of time. In  North America , oak, maple, and birch trees are currently producing plentiful amounts of pollen, as are poplar, alder and ash trees. Weeds and flowers, like dandelions, also contribute to the allergy season. Related: 5,000-year-old tree in Scotland is changing from male to female People are suffering from increased allergic symptoms because of the way we have dramatically altered the planet and our lifestyles. “Climate change, globalization, air pollution , and over-sanitization of the environment in the early years of life are just a few of the causes that, taken together, have introduced new allergens into our environment causing needless suffering,” medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York Dr. Clifford Bassett told NBC News . For those who are currently dealing with intense allergic symptoms or those who wish to avoid them, there are a few tips: use wraparound or large sunglasses to protect your eyes, wear a hat to prevent pollen from sticking to your hair, and choose your activities based on the weather report. Warm, dry, windy days typically have higher pollen counts than cloudy, wet days. Via NBC News Images via Depositphotos and   John Douglas/Flickr

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Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them

April 6, 2018 by  
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Iceland has become a popular tourist destination due in no small part to its breathtaking views and unique geological features, but it is also one of the worst examples of deforestation on the planet. When settlers first arrived in Iceland in the ninth century, up to 40 percent of the land area was covered with forests. The Vikings cleared these trees for fuel and to make space for grazing. Erosion from overgrazing and disruption from volcanic events left Iceland nearly without woods. Now, in collaboration with forest farmers and local forestry societies, the Icelandic Forest Service is working to regrow what was lost centuries ago and bring forests back in Iceland. Icelandic Forest Service director Þröstur Eysteinsson understands the true magnitude of what the organization he leads is trying to accomplish. “Iceland is certainly among the worst examples in the world of deforestation . It doesn’t take very many people or very many sheep to deforest a whole country over a thousand years,” said Þröstur . “To see the forest growing, to see that we’re actually doing some good is a very rewarding thing.” Þröstur is motivated by a driving desire to build ecological resilience . “My mission is to support growing more forests and better forests, to make land more productive and more able to tolerate the pressures that we put on it.” Related: Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first The only native forest-building tree, the downy birch, has struggled to establish itself in new forests. With assistance from the Euforgen program, the Iceland Forest Service is introducing locally-tailored, non-native tree species, most of which are from Alaska , into Iceland woodlands. These newly mixed forests are “growing better than anybody ever thought,” according to Þröstur. The ultimate goal is to improve Iceland’s forest cover from the current two percent to twelve percent by 2100, with help from carefully curated non-native trees . Via Treehugger Images via Deposit Photos and  Icelandic Forest Service

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Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them

This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding

April 6, 2018 by  
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Almost 15 years since the sustainable community of Serenbe built its first home, the modern-day green utopia is still thriving. Located just southwest of Atlanta,  Serenbe is an experimental green community designed by architect Dr. Phill Tabb, who lives on site in a net-zero home . The progressive neighborhood, hidden amid 1,000 acres of natural forest landscape, was created with four main pillars in mind: arts, agriculture, health, and education. In 2001, architect Dr. Phill Tabb designed the masterplan for Serenbe Community – a sustainable neighborhood set in a natural landscape, but with connections to the typical urban amenities. One of the core pillars of the community’s plan was land preservation. Accordingly, the homes were built into strategic locations throughout the hilly landscape that would minimize the impact on the surrounding environment and give residents easy access to nature. Related: EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living Nearly all of the homes at Serenbe abut a natural area, and manicured lawns are not allowed. All landscaping is natural and edible. The homes themselves are heated and cooled with ground-sourced heat pumps. Most use grey water systems , and a community-based vegetated wetland treats all the wastewater. The neighborhood is an active, vibrant area, arranged according to what Tabb calls the “hamlet constellation theory.” Tabb explained, “I love the hamlet constellation theory, which is something that I developed with the creation of Serenbe…. I found that we could proliferate [sustainable designs] into a constellation. Serenbe is a constellation of individual hamlets that come together to form the larger concept of Serenbe. It is a way of reaching out. Now my pilgrimage has led me to suggesting that constellations like Serenbe be married to the emergence of new high tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, etc.” Today, over 600 residents live in the hamlets, which are connected to the surrounding restaurants and shopping areas via walking trails. Each hamlet reflects a different pillar of the community. For example, Selborne Hamlet is geared towards the visual, performing and culinary arts. Grange Hamlet sits adjacent to Serenbe Farms, a 15-acre organic farm . The third neighborhood, Mado Hamlet, integrates health and wellness functions with community, including a destination spa, recuperative hotel, fitness center and additional centers. The hamlets were developed one at a time, each one more sustainable than the last. The Grange Hamlet saw the construction of the community’s first off-grid homes , which have become more and more prevalent as the development continues to grow. Residents of Serenbe enjoy a wide range of amenities, including restaurants, retail shops, and co-working spaces, all of which work around the community’s eco-friendly core values. In fact, the development is home to  the Blue Eyed Daisy , the country’s smallest Silver LEED-certified building. For the past year, Dr. Tabb has lived within the community he designed. His net-zero Watercolor Cottage, built in accordance with EarthCraft building standards, is surrounded by a wooded lot on three sides. A large glazed wall opens up to an outdoor fruit and vegetable garden integrated into the home’s layout. The two-story structure has a passive solar heating system, as well as geothermal heating and cooling systems. A rooftop PV solar array provides the home’s electricity needs, and works in conjunction with a Tesla Powerwall system. + Serenbe Community Images via Dr. Phill Tabb and Serenbe

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This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding

Paris hopes to create forest 5 times bigger than NYC’s Central Park

February 28, 2018 by  
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Paris has been forging a reputation recently for battling urban air pollution , and now they’re considering a 1,350-hectare suburban forest . The Syndicat Mixte d’Aménagement de la Plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt (SMAPP) project could create a forest five times the size of Central Park in New York City, around 18 miles northwest of the city center. Business Insider said the location is currently a wasteland, serving as an unofficial landfill, but the SMAPP plan would transform the area into a lush space with almost one million trees, hiking trails, and conservation areas. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Paris is planning a huge forest five times larger than Central Park If you needed another reason to visit Paris. Read more: http://wef.ch/2Fxxujz Posted by World Economic Forum on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 Paris sprayed sewage residue on the fields of Pierrelaye-Bessancourt from 1896 to the 1990’s, according to Business Insider, in an effort to fertilize them, but research in the 1990’s revealed the technique polluted the soil. Trash now litters the site — CityLab said abandoned sofas and cars are scattered in some areas. Related: Paris allows anyone to plan an urban garden The plan to turn this wasteland into a forest isn’t a new one — it’s actually been around for 15 years, but has been mired in debates about the best use of the space. Now, according to City Lab, politicians from the area are throwing their weight behind the project. It could take 30 to 50 years for trees to reach maturity, according to Business Insider, but as they do the unofficial dump could experience renewal. SMAPP could create an equestrian center, observation decks, walking paths, and habitats for wildlife. The SMAPP website says the 1,350 hectares could be comprised of 600 hectares of new forest, 370 hectares of restored forest (with invasive species thinned out), and 250 hectares of open spaces for the public or ecological reserves. CityLab pointed out the project still faces obstacles; there are around 1,500 squatter trailers in the area, as well as 4,000 parcels of privately owned land (exactly who owns them is unclear.) The SMAPP website lists two workshops in March that people can attend, and said consultation on the project will run until early April of this year. You can learn more about the project in this document from SMAPP or on their website . + SMAPP Via Business Insider and CityLab Images via Willian West on Unsplash and SMAPP

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Coca-Cola, Nestle seek to privatize world’s second largest aquifer

February 28, 2018 by  
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Coca-Cola and Nestle are pushing to take ownership of the Guarani Aquifer in Brazil. Named for the indigenous Guarani people, the world’s second largest aquifer beneath parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina may soon fall under private corporate control. According to  Correio do Brasil , private meetings between the multinational corporations and representatives of Brazil’s government have occurred to start the formal process of privatization, which could guarantee their control of the aquifer for over 100 years. Activists and community groups are concerned that privatization could result in lack of accountability and profit-driven decision-making that could jeopardize the long-term health of the aquifer and those who depend on it. Corporate lobbyists for Coca-Cola and Nestle have been hard at work in Brazil since at least 2016. These companies, along with AB Inbev, Dow, and PepsiCo, belong to the  2030 Water Resources Group  (2030WRG), an organization that describes itself as “a unique public-private-civil society collaboration.” However, water rights groups have identified the group as acting to insert corporate control into what has historically been a public service across the globe. Related: 73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever The corporate drive for private water rights comes as the nation endures political tension. The early talks regarding privatization of the Guarani Aquifer began prior to the impeachment of elected left-wing President Dilma Rousoff, who was removed from office in 2016. Since Michael Temer assumed power, his administration has rolled back many of the progressive policies put in place by Rousoff’s Workers Party. “The new Brazil that is back in business…is a more prosperous, a more open country,” said Temer at Davos, “a country with more opportunities for investment, more opportunities for trade and business .” Via Correio do Brasil, Franklin Frederick/Brasil de Fato and  Mint Press News Images via Romerito Pontes/Flickr and  manufaturadeideias/Flickr

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Coca-Cola, Nestle seek to privatize world’s second largest aquifer

Nature-based preschool trend flourishes across the United States

February 14, 2018 by  
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Over 250 nature -based preschools have popped up across the United States, according to a recent survey cited by Public Radio International (PRI) – and that’s two-thirds more than in 2017. The schools , which offer lots of outdoor play , have been trendy in Europe for a long time, but the idea is picking up speed across the Atlantic. Advocate Richard Louv told PRI, “There is a new body of evidence out there that really shows a connection, at least, between spending more time in nature and being healthier, happier, and maybe even smarter.” Nature-based preschools give kids the chance to spend a large portion of their day outside. PRI said studies show children who learn outside experience better academic results, like higher standardized test scores. Living on Earth (PRI’s environmental news publication) visited Chesterbrook School of Natural Learning in New Hampshire to get a view of a nature-based preschool up close. Eight acres of fields and forest comprise Chesterbrook School, which has around 36 students in three classes. The kids get to spend time in nature every day, whether it’s snowing, raining, or sunny. There is an indoor classroom for some activities like letter flash cards, but many group times and play times are spent outside. Related: 9 forest kindergartens around the world where the sky’s the limit in teachings among the trees Louv says it’s important to build that connection between children and nature while they’re young. He’s concerned climate change and its impacts will prompt children to see nature as threatening. He told PRI, “It’s very hard to protect something if you don’t learn to love it. It’s impossible to learn to love it if you’ve never experienced it.” If a nature-based preschool isn’t an option for your family, Louv said there’s still plenty parents can do to help foster a child’s love of the outdoors, like reading books outside or going for a belly hike , moving around in the grass to get up close with all that lives there. Via Public Radio International and Living on Earth Images via Seattle Parks on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops

February 12, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous wooden home in Texas captures the experience of living high up in the treetops. Designed by Wernerfield , the PH2 Treebox is raised several meters off the ground, and its living quarters are sheltered by the surrounding forest. Wernerfield was commissioned to design an addition to an existing split-level house on a wooded property in Dallas. The team responded with a design that takes its cues from the form of the main house. Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air “The existing home’s split-level plan provides an elevated deck at the rear that is wrapped by the forest,” said the architects. “This sensation of being elevated and floating in the forest was carried forward as the central design concept throughout the project.” Related: Aging Portuguese granary transformed into a serene sanctuary in the trees The architects set the home on 12-foot-high metal columns, creating space for a sheltered parking area below. A metal staircase leads up to the dwelling area. The home’s exterior is clad in charred wood , which is both discrete and durable. The interior comprises a guest quarters and an office space (separated by a breezeway), and it has a minimalist, warm material palette that accentuates the connection to the forest. + Wernerfield Via Dezeen Photos by Robert Yu

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The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops

Praying mantises wearing tiny glasses help researchers discover new type of 3D vision

February 12, 2018 by  
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This praying mantis isn’t just wearing minuscule 3D glasses for the cute factor, but to help scientists learn more about 3D vision. A Newcastle University team discovered a novel form of 3D vision, or stereo vision, in the insects – and compared human and insect stereo vision for the very first time. Their findings could have implications for visual processing in robots . Humans aren’t the only creatures with stereo vision, which “helps us work out the distances to the things we see,” according to the university . Cats, horses, monkeys, toads, and owls have it too – but the only insect we know about with 3D vision is the praying mantis. Six Newcastle University researchers obtained new insight into their robust stereo vision with the help of small 3D glasses temporarily attached to the insects with beeswax. Related: Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds The researchers designed an insect 3D cinema, showing a praying mantis a film of prey. The insects would actually try to catch the prey because the illusion was so convincing. And the scientists were able to take their work to the next level, showing the mantises “complex dot-patterns used to investigate human 3D vision” so they could compare our 3D vision with an insect’s for the first time. According to the university, humans see 3D in still images by matching details of the image each eye sees. “But mantises only attack moving prey so their 3D doesn’t need to work in still images. The team found mantises don’t bother about the details of the picture but just look for places where the picture is changing…Even if the scientists made the two eyes’ images completely different, mantises can still match up the places where things are changing. They did so even when humans couldn’t.” The journal Current Biology published their work online last week . Lead author Vivek Nityananda, a behavioral ecologist, described the praying mantis’ stereo vision as “a completely new form of 3D vision.” Future robots could benefit from these findings: instead of 3D vision based on complex human stereo vision, researchers might be able to take some tips from praying mantis stereo vision, which team member Ghaith Tarawneh said probably doesn’t require a lot of computer processing since insect brains are so small. + Newcastle University + Current Biology Images via Newcastle University, UK/Phys.org

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Praying mantises wearing tiny glasses help researchers discover new type of 3D vision

Historic White House tree to be chopped down

December 27, 2017 by  
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The Jackson Magnolia that has adorned the White House South Lawn since the 1800s is coming down. Brought by President Andrew Jackson from Tennessee, and said to be planted in memory of his wife Rachel who died not too long after his 1828 election, the tree is slated for removal later this week. According to CNN , First Lady Melania Trump made the call as the tree is reportedly too decayed to stay in place. The Jackson Magnolia is the oldest on White House grounds, reported CNN. There have been many efforts to preserve it over the years, such as a cabling system. United States National Arboretum specialists came in at the request of the White House to assess the tree, and CNN obtained documents that said, “The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support. Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.” Related: Washington DC’s national monuments are getting slimed White House officials fear the tree could fall when President Donald Trump’s helicopter takes off nearby. The First Lady’s director of communications Stephanie Grisham told CNN, “After reviewing the reports, [Mrs. Trump] trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts,” adding the First Lady asked that wood from the Jackson Magnolia be preserved. CNN reported offshoots of the tree have grown to around eight to 10 feet tall at an undisclosed location nearby, and there are plans for a new Jackson Magnolia to be planted in place of the old. Via CNN Images via U.S. Pacific Command and achuertas on Flickr

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Historic White House tree to be chopped down

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