London scientists want to revive plants buried in ‘ghost ponds’

July 24, 2017 by  
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Life will find a way, even if that way is winding and submerged under layers of organic matter and water . According to a recent study by a scientific team at University College London , uncovering hidden habitats buried under so-called “ghost ponds,” ponds that have been filled in with soil and vegetation but not fully drained, could prove decisive in restoring ecosystems and may even hold the key to reviving extinct plant species. “We have shown that ghost ponds can be resurrected, and remarkably wetland plants lost for centuries can be brought back to life from preserved seeds,” declared lead researcher Emily Alderton. To the untrained eye, a potential treasure trove of ecological richness that is a ghost pond may go unnoticed. They manifest as damp areas of land, on which plants have difficulty growing and the soil may appear discolored in contrast to the ground around it. Ghost ponds are usually created by farmers who apply plants and soil to small ponds as they seek to create more arable land. “Small ponds were not drained, but were filled in while they were still wet. We think this is likely to have contributed to the survival of the seeds buried within the historic pond sediments,” said Alderton. Related: Scientists Bring Extinct Mouth-Brooding Frog Back to Life After 30 Years Researchers at UCL analyzed survey maps and historical records in order to track down nondescript ghost ponds of interest. “We also suspected that ghost was the right word as it hints at some form of life still hanging on and this is exactly what we have,” said Carl Sayer, study co-author and director of the UCL Pond Restoration Research Group. “The species that lived in the past pond are still alive, dormant and waiting!” From three sites in the UK, the team has so far recovered and revived eight different plant species. Researchers are now urging conservation groups and policymakers to place greater emphasis on ghost ponds and their role in ecological restoration. “For plants to grow back after being buried for over 150 years is remarkable,” said Christopher Hassall of the University of Leeds, who was not involved in the study. “Ponds are often neglected compared to lakes and rivers because of their small size, but they punch above their weight in terms of the number of species that they contain.” Via ScienceAlert Images via University College London/Carl Sayer and Felix Neumann

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London scientists want to revive plants buried in ‘ghost ponds’

Solar-powered prefab homes for struggling millennials can be set up in a day

July 19, 2017 by  
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An increasing number of people in the United Kingdom make too much money to qualify for social housing, but struggle to afford high rent prices. Prefabricated homes manufactured at the Legal & General Leeds factory could meet housing needs for that group, largely millennials, and the first houses from the factory recently popped up in the London area. Called LaunchPod , the 280-square-foot homes were ordered by housing association RHP , and designed by architecture firm Wimshurst Pelleriti . They’ll be available to rent for less than the average cost of a nearby one-bedroom apartment. Legal & General is an insurance company which is now churning homes out of a new factory – at a rate of 3,500 flats and houses a year. Their modular homes arrive at a location nearly finished and can be set up in one day. The homes are energy efficient, made out of cross laminated timber (CLT), and can be built to Passivhaus standards. A kitchen, curtains, fitted carpet, bathroom, and even furniture can be part of the home arriving on site. Legal & General says they can manufacture homes from detached houses to apartments 20 stories high. Related: Six factories will supply the UK with 25,000 prefab houses every year RHP nabbed the first houses out of the factory for a site in Richmond, a town southwest of London. A LaunchPod makes creative use of space to sneak in features that would more commonly be found in a larger flat, according to Wimshurst Pelleriti. But they said RHP didn’t want to resort to space-saving gimmicks like fold-down beds. Instead, features like raised mezzanine beds hide storage beneath, and the height of the homes, which are taller than normal, make them feel spacious. A LaunchPod is equipped with a luxury kitchen and lounge, bedroom, bathroom, and veranda. They have underfloor heating and are solar-powered , so residents will only pay around $13 a year in electricity. Neither Legal & General nor RHP would say how much the units cost, according to The Guardian. But RHP did say the price is around 15 percent less than the £2,600 to £3,000 per square meter cost common to conventional homes in the area, suggesting a LaunchPod could cost around £60,000 to £70,000, or around $78,155 to $91,182. But these particular modular homes will be rented, and as opposed to the typical rent of a one-bedroom flat in the area, which is a little over $1,300, the LaunchPods will be rented for between $782 and $912 a month. + Wimshurst Pelleriti + RHP + Legal & General Via The Guardian Images via Andrew Holt/Wimshurst Pelleriti

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Solar-powered prefab homes for struggling millennials can be set up in a day

G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US

May 29, 2017 by  
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The rest of the world is beginning to count the United States out of the climate change battle, if a recent statement after the 2017 Group of Seven (G7) summit is any indication. The G7 leaders met late last week in Taormina, Italy, and naturally climate change was on the agenda. But in a rather blunt statement, they said America “is not in a position to join the consensus” on the Paris Agreement and one of the biggest challenges humanity faces today. Leaders from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Japan, and the European Union met at the G7 summit to discuss what they described as their citizens’ greatest concerns, which ranged from trade to the global economy to gender equality to climate change. The statement released after the summit declared the leaders committed to strengthening energy security and harnessing economic opportunities stemming from clean energy . The leaders also reaffirmed their dedication to the Paris Agreement – that is, all did but President Donald Trump . Related: China, Canada, EU join forces on climate action – without Trump The statement reads, “The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics. Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.” There were mixed feelings over the results of the G7 summit. Trump called it an “tremendously productive meeting.” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said they were satisfied after the meeting but was open about disagreements with the United States: “We do not disguise this division. It emerged very clearly in our conversations.” Recently elected President of France Emmanuel Macron seemed optimistic, saying he was certain Trump would support the agreement after conversations at the summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t seem as hopeful. She told reporters, “The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying. There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.” Via Reuters Images via G7 Italy 2017 on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US

Casa Pjaro de Plata offers stunning views of the Costa Rican jungle

May 29, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous house nestled amidst the Costa Rican jungle offers panoramic views of its lush natural surroundings. Architect John Osborne of OS Arquitectura designed Casa Pájaro de Plata (which translates to ‘Silver Bird House’) to resemble a bird in flight. The house has a simple shape and it sits on a promontory surrounded by a lush jungle. The architects combined natural stone with white marble and wood to create a variety of warm spaces that allow the owners to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. These beautiful photos by Fernando Alda capture serenity of the location and the house. Related: Tropical solar-powered home boasts spectacular views of the ocean and jungle The white marble terrace features an infinity pool that seems to flow into the surrounding tree tops. Open-plan spaces dominate the interior, with wooden elements appearing throughout the house – including in the bathrooms and a pathway that leads through the woods to a viewing platform . + OS Arquitectura Photos by Fernando Alda

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Casa Pjaro de Plata offers stunning views of the Costa Rican jungle

Code red aviation alert after Bogoslaf volcano erupts in Alaska

May 29, 2017 by  
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The highest aviation alert was issued on Saturday after a volcano on Alaska’s Bogoslof Island erupted. As a result of the code “red” alert, pilots were instructed to fly at least 35,000 ft., and possibly as high as 45,000 ft, above the volcano to prevent its fiery ash from melting parts of the plane . According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), the volcano that erupted is part of the Aleutian Island chain. Not long after a code “red” was issued, it was downgraded to a code “orange.” “We actually went to color code red this afternoon because of numerous lightning detections and increased seismic signals,” said Jeffrey Freymueller of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska. Flights transiting from Asia to North America were most affected. Freymueller added that lightning in the Aleutians is often caused by volcanic plumes. “The combination of lightning and seismic data allowed us to go to red within about half an hour of the start of the eruption,” he said. In total, the eruption lasted for approximately 50 minutes. Related: Iceland’s “Thor” volcano power plant can generate 10X more energy than oil or gas wells Because the eruption is very recent, “Bogoslof volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition,” says a report issued by the Observatory. It went on to say that “additional explosions producing high-altitude volcanic clouds could occur at any time.” This is the eighth documented eruption at Bogoslof , which reportedly began its sequence in December, 2016. The last occurred in 1992. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Mapbox Screenshot

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Code red aviation alert after Bogoslaf volcano erupts in Alaska

Portable SolSource Sport solar stove heats up 5X faster than a charcoal grill

May 29, 2017 by  
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Imagine visiting your favorite local park with a portable stove that’s 100 percent powered by the sun and heats up five times faster than a charcoal grill. Meet the SolSource Sport. One Earth Designs is crowdfunding their latest compact solar cooker just in time for summer . The SolSource Sport focuses light onto cookware to get food sizzling and ready to eat super quickly. It can be used in places like national parks or apartment rooftops that don’t allow fires, because this solar cooker doesn’t need a flame to operate. With the versatile stove, you can grill, pan fry, boil, stir fry, or reheat meals. And you can use most of the cookware you already own instead of buying new pots or pans. The solar cooker gets up to grilling temperatures in a snappy five minutes, and reaches searing temperatures in 10 minutes. Related: SolSource Air: One Earth Designs Taps Google Glass Creator to Launch Portable, Affordable Solar Stove The SolSource Sport works in a variety of sun conditions – from one hour after sunrise to one hour before sunset, and in air temperatures between 30 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can even cook in the snow as long as the sun is shining. And since sunlight is the only fuel necessary, the SolSource Sport doesn’t produce any carbon emissions . The surface of the solar cooker stays cool to the touch, making it safe to use. The stove pops up and breaks down in around five minutes, and it can be stored inside a two-foot-long carrying bag. One Earth Designs has already raised nearly $75,000 out of an original goal of $20,000 on Kickstarter . You can snag one of these affordable little cookers for under $200 if you’re fast (retail price is $249). + One Earth Designs Images via One Earth Designs

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Portable SolSource Sport solar stove heats up 5X faster than a charcoal grill

Research shows the UK tosses out 1.4 million edible bananas – a day

May 17, 2017 by  
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Grocery stores to food banks to big corporations like Walmart and Hasbro have all taken measures to combat food waste . But there’s still a long way to go in the fight: new research from United Kingdom (UK) supermarket chain Sainsbury’s reveals daily Britons still throw away 1.4 million bananas that could have been consumed. The study found one third of the nation’s inhabitants would throw out a banana even if it just had a minor bruise. UK charity organization WRAP assembled the Sainsbury’s study, and the results weren’t good. One in 10 Brits would discard a piece of the fruit solely for having a bit of green on the skin. Millions of bananas are thrown away every day, even though they could still have been eaten. 61 percent of Britons don’t use discarded bananas in baking , according to Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe, and the grocery store is hoping to do something about that. Related: Stop throwing away banana peels – eat them instead Crewe said they’re creating an in-store area aimed at inspiring Brits to bake with bananas. They’ll launch these new pop-up banana rescue stations in over 500 stores across the nation. At the rescue station people can grab a Sainsbury’s recipe for banana bread, and find the tools they need to bake their own loaf like mixing bowls, baking tins, and blenders. Crewe said, “While we’re pleased with the success of the in-store trial, we’re determined to help shoppers reduce the number of bananas going to waste at home too.” In November the store announced a one million pound, or around $1.29 million, fund for the second phase of their Waste Less, Save More project. The first phase saw a pilot program in the town of Swadlincote, testing waste-saving ideas and technology the company said could save families around 350 pounds, or $452, on food bills each year and could slash the town’s waste by 50 percent. They’ve also taken actions like getting rid of multi-buy promotions in favor of a lower price structure. Via edie.net Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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Research shows the UK tosses out 1.4 million edible bananas – a day

Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

April 26, 2017 by  
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We’ve all experienced the nuisance of a dying phone when there’s no outlet in sight, but that moment could become a relic of the past thanks to new technology being developed by an international team of 19 scientists. The group, led by the Institute de Recherche d-Hydro-Québec and McGill University in Canada , want their battery to harvest and store light energy all on its own – without the help of solar panels . Lithium-ion batteries can only hold so much power, and must be recharged often. So researchers are developing a device that can harvest energy from light and store it. They just published a study showing a lithium-ion battery cathode can be sensitized to light by combining lithium-ion materials with dye molecules including solar cell technology. Here’s how study lead author Andrea Paolella of Hydro-Québec puts it: “In other words, our research team was able to simulate a charging process using light as a source of energy.” Related: 94-year-old inventor of lithium-ion cells develops new battery that can store 3 times more energy The cathode is only half of the process. The researchers must develop an anode that can store the light energy. If they can accomplish that feat, they will have created the first 100 percent self-charging lithium-ion battery in the world. And they’re already at work on phase two. “I’m an optimist and I think we can get a fully working device. Theoretically speaking, our goal is to develop a new hybrid solar-battery system, but depending on the power it can generate when we miniaturize it, we can imagine applications for portable devices such as phones,” said Paolella. Phase two could still take years, but co-author George Demopoulos, a professor at McGill University, thinks this passive form of charging could be significant for devices of the future. Nature Communications published the study online earlier this month. Scientists from institutions in Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were also part of the research. Via McGill University Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

Prince Charles is waging war on Britain’s grey squirrels – with Nutella

February 28, 2017 by  
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Prince Charles reportedly backs a plan to sterilize Britain’s grey-squirrel population, and it involves Nutella . The monarch-in-waiting is said to have met with members of the U.K. Squirrel Accord , a coalition he helped establish three years ago, to discuss ways to reduce the animal’s numbers without culling. Originally from North America, the Eastern grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis , has been the bane of the region’s native red squirrels since the late 19th century, when the Victorians first imported the animals to add color to their estates. There was one problem, however. Not only do grey squirrels compete for the same resources, but they also carry a pox virus that is harmless to them but fatal to their ruddier rivals. According to a recent census , the number of red squirrels have plummeted from roughly 3.5 million in the 1950s to about 130,000 today. Meanwhile, grey squirrels, which have gone on to thrive, are some 2.5 million strong. So where does the hazelnut spread come in? Per members of the Accord, which include the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Scottish and Welsh governments, oral contraceptives slipped into bait could dramatically yet humanely reduce the number of grey squirrels by up to 90 percent. And like we humans, squirrels have a weakness for Nutella. Related: Squirrels were introduced to U.S. Parks to “maintain people’s health and sanity” Field testing by the Animal and Plant Health Agency has led its scientists to devise the perfect trap, one that allows grey squirrels to squeeze through but leaves red squirrels, mice, and other smaller mammals out in the cold. No risk of accidental dosing here. “It is the most exciting prospect I have seen for controlling greys,” Charles Kinnoull, chairman of the U.K. Squirrel Accord, told the Times . “I don’t harbor a great extermination instinct but I am interested in protecting our broadleaf trees and there being red squirrels around for my children to see.” The Prince of Wales himself roots for the red squirrel, even at one point suggesting installing the critter as a national mascot. “I put nuts in the lobby and leave the door open and the red squirrels come up the steps into the house,” he told the Telegraph in 2011. “Very often you get four or five running around inside the house, chasing each other to get at the nuts. My great ambition is to have one in the house, I hate to tell you. Sitting on the breakfast table and on my shoulder!” Via the Guardian Photos by likeaduck and Brian Cantoni

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Prince Charles is waging war on Britain’s grey squirrels – with Nutella

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