The future of energy on islands

March 2, 2018 by  
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Islands are places of exceptional biodiversity and economic value, not to mention their great natural beauty. However, because of their isolation from the mainland, they are also difficult to power. This fact is particularly poignant as Puerto Rico , several months after Hurricane Maria, struggles to turn the lights back on. To prepare for a world in which climate change continues to energize super-storms and sea level rise, islands, on which 10 percent of the world’s population lives, must rethink their energy systems for future success. Read on for several solutions that will allow island communities to thrive in the 21st century. Islands currently receive most of their energy from fossil fuels , with some using imported oil, an expensive energy source, to power their electrical grid. With their costs dropping every year, solar and wind could provide cleaner, localized, cheaper energy. Since islands must contend with a limited amount of land, large-scale wind farms may be the preferred utility-scale option. However, neither option will be particularly effective without a battery storage system. To serve this need, Tesla is rolling out battery systems in Puerto Rico , Nantucket and other island communities in hopes that they may someday become ubiquitous. Related: The sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing For islands with the appropriate natural resources, such as Iceland , geothermal power is an attractive energy option. New drilling technologies, such as those developed by  GA Drilling  and  AltaRock Energy , could enable geothermal prospectors to dig deeper and ultimately provide greater energy output. While it has drawn criticism from some environmentalists in the past, nuclear power may also be an effective energy source for island communities. The incredible energy density of nuclear fuel translates into a much more effectively shipped power source than fossil fuels, while the newest Gen IV nuclear reactors are passively safe . Nuclear power plants could even be established on ships, similar to nuclear-powered ships and submarines in the United States Navy, allowing power generation to be moved where it is most needed. Via World Economic Forum Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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The future of energy on islands

Scientist warns Elon Musk’s Starman could be a bio-threat to Mars

March 2, 2018 by  
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Starman, the “driver” of Elon Musk ‘s Tesla Roadster as it cruises through the cosmos, may be carrying the largest collection of terrestrial bacteria ever sent into space. “Even if they radiated the outside, the engine would be dirty,” scientist Jay Melosh said in a  statement . “Cars aren’t assembled clean. And even then, there’s a big difference between clean and sterile.” SpaceX has not yet commented on whether Starman and Musk’s Roadster were sterilized before being sent into space. Starman is not scheduled to land on a planet nor are most bacteria species able to survive in the extreme conditions of space. Nonetheless, life will find a way and, if certain circumstances arise, Starman may be the potential vehicle for bacterial colonization of Mars. When scientists send objects into space, they adhere to the most strict precautions to ensure that no terrestrial organisms could potentially stowaway onto another planet. NASA operates an  Office of Planetary Protection for this very purpose. Scientists are particularly concerned that Earth life could establish a foothold in Mars, then either colonize the planet or be mistaken for Martian life by researchers. “Would Earth’s organisms be better adapted, take over Mars and contaminate it so we don’t know what indigenous Mars was like, or would they be not as well adapted as the Martian organisms?” Melosh said. “We don’t know.” Related: NASA just unveiled a tiny nuclear reactor for future Mars residents While most terrestrial life would perish in the harsh environment of space, species like the tardigrade, which can survive in space and go up to 30 years without food or water . There is a very small chance that Starman and his Roadster will ever arrive on the Martian surface. Therefore, Starman is less an invasive Trojan Horse, more a curator of an interstellar museum of terrestrial life. “The load of bacteria on the Tesla could be considered a biothreat—or a backup copy of life on Earth ,” astronautics scientist Alina Alexeenko said in a statement. If life on Earth ever becomes extinct, there is a chance that Starman, crash-landing back on his home planet, could get the party started again. Via Motherboard Images via SpaceX and NASA

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Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

February 9, 2018 by  
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The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has long been considered at great risk to sinking beneath the rising sea levels of climate change. However, scientists at the University of Auckland have learned that it is actually increasing in size, with the island’s total land area having grown 2.9 percent between 1971 and 2014. “We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise , but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” study co-author Paul Kench told Phys.org . “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.” Researchers used aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the geographical changes on Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands. They found that eight atolls and nearly three-fourths of the reef islands grew during the period studied, all while sea level at Tuvalu rose twice as quickly as the global average. Wave patterns and sediment deposits brought by storm activity seemed to have counteracted any “sinking” effects due to sea level rise. Related: 14 Pacific island nations considering world’s first ban on fossil fuels While climate change remains an existential threat to island nations like Tuvalu, this study could prompt a rethinking of how sea level rise will actually manifest in light of compounding factors that resulted in Tuvalu’s growth. “On the basis of this research we project a markedly different trajectory for Tuvalu’s islands over the next century than is commonly envisaged,” said Kench . “While we recognize that habitability rests on a number of factors, loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.” The study authors recognize the need to make drastic changes while acknowledging that there is still time to adapt. “Embracing such new adaptation pathways will present considerable national scale challenges to planning, development goals and land tenure systems,” the authors said . “However, as the data on island change shows there is time (decades) to confront these challenges.” Via Phys.org Images via  Tomoaki INABA/Flickr (1)

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Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site

February 9, 2018 by  
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Ho Khue Architects has created a beautiful office space in Da Nang infused with lush native greenery . The Vietnam-based firm constructed the Modern Village Office on an old lot that was covered in native plants. Inspired by the plants’ resilience, the architects transplanted the greenery inside the building to create a soothing office that evokes the spirit of a family village. The architects built the concrete office space on an urban lot that contained some old structures, white pampas grass, and native plants like bamboo shrubs. The architects took the natural state of the lot into consideration and decided to infuse the existing vegetation into the office’s design. The banana trees, yellow bushes and native plants were carefully transplanted on the first floor, where they help create a soothing and welcoming entryway. Some of the plants were also harvested to be used in the ground floor’s water feature. Related: Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution More native plants were transplanted on the building’s rooftop, creating a beautiful garden for employees to enjoy. The dense grass and other plants that cover the roof help cool the interior floors underneath. The greenery continues throughout the interior spaces, with long hanging vines and plants in virtually every corner. The 350-square-meter space is bright and airy thanks to the white brick walls and minimal furnishings found inside. The interior is naturally lit by an abundance of windows, and open terraces provide quiet areas for meetings or lounging. Decorative slats on the southwest facade block out the heat and provide natural ventilation. According to the architects, the green office building was designed to give modern workers a healthy environment that provides a relaxing atmosphere: “Working in this modern office evokes feelings reminiscent of childhood and a time when life was simpler. The air flow is fresh from the sea leading to comfortable temperature without being cold. Today’s younger generation may have had little or no time in the countryside. This office has brought the spirit and the heart of the rural areas to the workplace.” + Ho Khue Architects Via Archdaily Photography via Hiroyuki Oki

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This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site

New Zealand considering special visas for climate refugees

October 31, 2017 by  
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Impacts of climate change , like rising sea levels , will likely soon force people to abandon their land . Now the new government of New Zealand is considering action. They’re thinking about creating an experimental visa category for people prompted to leave their homes because of climate change. People living on some Pacific islands could be displaced because of sea level rise, and New Zealand might help out. Climate change minister James Shaw recently told Radio New Zealand there could be an “experimental humanitarian visa category” for people from the Pacific, saying, “It is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands.” Related: Five Pacific Ocean islands have already disappeared because of climate change Some people have already applied to be refugees in New Zealand because of climate change – and have been turned away. Radio New Zealand reported , just days before Shaw’s announcement, the cases of two families from the island nation of Tuvalu who had applied to be New Zealand’s first climate refugees , only to be rejected. The tribunal said they didn’t risk persecution due to race, nationality, religion, or membership in a religious or political group under the 1951 refugee convention, according to The Guardian . Alberto Costi, international environmental law expert at Victoria University of Wellington , told The Guardian, “The conditions are pretty strict and really apply to persecution. These people who arrive here hoping to seek asylum on environmental grounds are bound to be sent back to their home countries.” And the Tuvalu families aren’t the only people who have been turned away. Ioane Teitiota of Kiribati applied to be the world’s first climate change refugee in 2014. New Zealand’s supreme court dismissed Teitiota’s case, and he was deported. Costi expressed interest in Shaw’s idea but told The Guardian there would need to be clear guidelines – one issue would be how to legally determine whether or not a climate change refugee was able to still reside in their home country. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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World’s First Climate Change Refugees Arrive in New Zealand

August 11, 2014 by  
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The once abstract of climate refugees fleeing from a weather-ravaged corner of the world in search of safety has now become cold, hard reality . According to Grist , New Zealand officials recently accepted a refugee application by a family from Tuvalu, where climate change is causing their Pacific island home to sink . New Zealand has rejected similar refugee claims in the past, but UPI reports that this recently accepted application may have far-reaching legal implications for other cases. Read the rest of World’s First Climate Change Refugees Arrive in New Zealand Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: change , climate , Environment , global , new , refugee , sinking , tuvalu , warming , weather , zealand

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Indulge Your Inner Ewok with a Hanging Treehouse Sphere

August 11, 2014 by  
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How delighted would you be if we told you that you could own your very own hanging treehouse ? Inspired by the natural world around him, Canada-based Tom Chudleigh creates gorgeous wooden  Free Spirit Eco Spheres , which can either sit on the ground or be suspended high in the trees by means of suspension lines and webbing. Available for purchase or for rent at Tom’s eco-retreat in the Pacific Northwest , they offer a whimsical new way to experience the outdoors. Whether your heart lies in Endor or Lothlorien, these hanging treehouses are sure to rejuvenate the wild-loving spirit within. Read the rest of Indulge Your Inner Ewok with a Hanging Treehouse Sphere Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: BC treehouse , British Columbia Treehouse , Bubble Treehouse , canada , Eco Spheres , eco treehouse , ecosphere , Ewok Ecosphere , Ewok meets Aarnio , Free Spirit , Free spirit eco sphere , hanging ball treehouse , Pacific Northwest , round tree house , round treehouse , sphere , sphere tree house , sphere treehouse , Tom Chudleigh , tree house , treehouse

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Vo Trong Nghia Breaks Ground on Checkerboard Building With Tree-Filled Balconies in Vietnam

August 11, 2014 by  
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Vietnamese design firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects started construction on FPT University’s administrative building, a seven-story prefab structure with a dramatic green and white checkerboard facade. Located in Thach That just outside Hanoi, the building’s lush facade was designed to bring the experience of a park setting indoors. In addition to tree-filled balconies, the staggered building is topped by a series of green roofs that insulate the building and help reduce energy use. Read the rest of Vo Trong Nghia Breaks Ground on Checkerboard Building With Tree-Filled Balconies in Vietnam Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: administrative building of FPT university , alternatives to air conditioning , checkerboard facade , FPT university building , green facade , green roofs , modular architecture , modular concrete blocks , Prefab , prefab architecture , Sustainable Building , tree-filled balconies , Vietnam , Vietnamese architecture , Vo Trong Nghia Architects

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Tuvalu Calls Out US in Emotional Plea

December 13, 2009 by  
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photo: Static Photography via flickr Tuvalu is turning into the little island nation that could just be the game changer in these talks. After a couple of days spent digging in their heels on the legal form of a potential deal, and then making headlines again yesterday with the release of the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) draft text, Tuvalu open this morning’s plenary meeting of the resumed COP …

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Designer Limelight: Rachel Cassar

December 13, 2009 by  
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Rachael Cassar shows at the London College of Fashion. Rachael Cassar Flipping through the 100% recycled paper pages of Aussie eco fashion mag Peppermint –thanks to Editor Kelley Sheenan for sending it over seas–we happened upon the delicious designs of Rachel Cassar .

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Designer Limelight: Rachel Cassar

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