The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal

April 19, 2018 by  
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Coal fueled the world for more than 100 years, but now it’s being pushed out of the market. Recent evidence for that can be found in the United Kingdom , which just set a new record by going nearly 55 hours sans coal. The UKs energy sector went from 10:25 p.m. on Monday to 5:10 a.m. on Thursday without utilizing coal for power generation. Grid data put together by Bloomberg revealed the United Kingdom’s power plants didn’t use coal to help generate electricity for close to 55 hours — the longest stretch of time in recent history. The Independent said this is the first time the UK has been powered without coal for this length of time since the first public-use, coal-fired power plant in the world opened in 1882 in London. The UK set its previous record in October when the nation went without coal for 40 hours. Related: 104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy Wind turbines helped provide energy for the UK during this time; solar panels also helped meet demand. On Tuesday, the country obtained more than 60 percent of electricity from low- or zero-carbon sources: 33.7 percent from wind, 20.1 percent from nuclear , five percent from biomass , 3.3 percent from solar and 0.9 percent from hydro . The numbers were similar on Wednesday. Bloomberg said Britain has installed more offshore wind turbines than any other country, and they described the UK as an early adopter of renewable energy. Traditional power plants in the country are closing permanently, and the UK government aims to turn off all coal power plants by 2025. The UK set a new record of 54 hours and 50mins without #coal fired generation in the UK electricity mix this week https://t.co/knjFLPms2p Expect more records to be broken this summer as coal continues its rapid decline https://t.co/pQdDnipSJ0 pic.twitter.com/hgTP4eEJF5 — Carbon Tracker (@CarbonBubble) April 19, 2018 According to a March 2018 article from Carbon Brief, “Coal now accounts for only 5.3 percent of total primary energy consumed in the UK, down from 22 percent in 1995.” The country’s total carbon dioxide emissions are “as low as emissions were back in 1890.” Via Bloomberg , The Independent and Carbon Brief Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal

Study suggests the average person consumes 70,000 microplastic bits every year

April 10, 2018 by  
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“ Plastic: it’s what’s for dinner.” Plastics are polluting the world’s waterways – and they’re also found in abundance in the average person’s gut. Researchers in the United Kingdom have determined that the average British resident consumes, on average, 70,000 bits of microplastic every year. In a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution , scientists positioned sticky petri dishes next to dinner plates in several British homes. After only twenty minutes, an average of 14 microplastic bits gathered in each petri dish. The researchers then used this data to estimate that each dinner plate accumulates roughly 100 pieces of microplastic, originating from clothing, tires, carpets, and any number of plastic products encountered in daily life. The dinner plate study that produced these results was initially designed to test the level of plastic contamination in seafood. “These results may be surprising to some people who may expect the plastic fibers in seafood to be higher than those in household dust,” study author Ted Henry said in a statement . “We do not know where these fibers come from, but it is likely to be inside the home and the wider environment.” Free-floating plastic found in households also attracts other toxic pollutants. Meanwhile, global plastic production continues. Unless something is done, global plastic waste is expected to reach 12 billion metric tons by 2050. Related: First plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam Dinner plates are not the only medium through which microplastic bits enter the human body. The average glass of tap water in the United States contains 4.8 fibers of plastic, while the same amount of tap water in Europe contains 1.9 fibers on average. Bottled water actually fares worse in plastic content, with each bottle containing twice as many particles as the equivalent amount of tap water. Via Global Citizen Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Study suggests the average person consumes 70,000 microplastic bits every year

Footprints from world’s largest dinosaur discovered in Scotland

April 3, 2018 by  
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Dozens of footprints from ancient sauropods , a kind of creature that scientists believe may have been the largest dinosaur ever, have been discovered in Scotland. These 170-million-year-old footprints are also the oldest ever discovered in Scotland. The sauropod footprints were located in a lagoon on the Isle of Skye, near a group of footprints from theropods, more ancient cousins of  Tyrannosaurus Rex.  “It shows both long-necked and meat-eaters were on the same site at the same time living together, side-by-side,” Dr. Steve Brusatte of Edinburgh University told the Telegraph . “It captures a moment in time 170 million years ago when they were just hanging out in a lagoon, living on the beach, back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance.” Scientists believe that the sauropods who left the footprints were least 49 feet long and weighed more than 10 tons. The theropods are thought to have stood at least six feet tall. In total, researchers documented approximately 50 footprints near Brothers’ Point on the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula. This wet and wild location made it difficult for scientists to study the footprints on-site, though  drones helped, particularly in creating a map of the dig site. Related: Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs Despite its challenging environment, Scotland ‘s Isle of Skye has proven to be a bountiful trove of dinosaur fossils. “This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye,” study lead author Paige dePolo told Science Daily . “It was found in rocks that were slightly older than those previously found at Duntulm on the island and demonstrates the presence of sauropods in this part of the world through a longer timescale than previously known. This site is a useful building block for us to continue fleshing out a picture of what dinosaurs were like on Skye in the Middle Jurassic.” Via The Telegraph and Science Daily Images via  Paige dePolo/University of Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh

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Footprints from world’s largest dinosaur discovered in Scotland

NASA has a plan to put robot bees on Mars

April 3, 2018 by  
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NASA has announced the funding of a new research effort that will explore the possibility of using robot bees to study the Martian surface. NASA has appropriately called the concept the Marsbee, and the team hopes to develop a model that is capable of navigating the thin atmosphere of Mars in swarms, gathering information with various sensors. “The objective of the proposed work is to increase the set of possible exploration and science missions on Mars by investigating the feasibility of flapping wing aerospace architectures in a Martian environment,” explains University of Alabama researcher Chang-kwon Kang in a statement . A research team at the University of Alabama will work in collaboration with an as-of-yet unannounced team in Japan to create what may be a more efficient means to explore Mars. While the Mars rover has proven to be a reliable exploration machine, it does suffer from slow speeds. A swarm of robotic bees would not have this problem as it scours the surface of the Red Planet. The body of the Marsbee would be similar to that of an actual bumblebee, while its larger wings will be about the size of a cicada. Researchers are currently exploring the most effective mode of flight, whether flapping through flapping, fixed-wing or rotor. The collaborating group of Japanese scientists has already created their own wing-flapping robot, the hummingbird micro-air vehicle (MAV). Related: Elon Musk says trips to Mars coming as soon as next year The Marsbees would be bound to a mobile “hive,” in the form of a traditional rover. The rover would serve as a home base at which the Marsbees would recharge and store data. The Marsbees would also be capable of sending information whilst in-flight through Wi-Fi technology. The Marsbee is still very early in development. NASA expects feasibility studies to last a decade before the project moves onto Phase II. The challenges that must be overcome before the Marsbee takes flight include designing a potentially autonomous navigation system, determining flight style, and inventing a means to keep dust out of the Marsbee. Via Phys.org Images via NASA

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The amount of plastic in the ocean could triple in 10 years

March 21, 2018 by  
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Plastic in the ocean could triple between 2015 and 2025, according to a new report for the United Kingdom government. The Foresight Future of the Sea report said the marine environment faces “unprecedented change as a result of direct human activity and climate change ,” and the authors are calling for further investigation. Professor Edward Hill of the UK National Oceanography Center told the BBC, “We really need a mission to planet ocean — it’s the last frontier.” Related: Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam” According to Hill, the ocean is “critical to our economic future. Nine billion people will be looking to the ocean for more food. Yet we know so little of what’s down there. We invest a lot of money and enthusiasm for missions to space — but there’s nothing living out there. The sea bed is teeming with life.” The report recommends reducing pollution by preventing plastic from entering the ocean, utilizing biodegradable plastic , or even creating public awareness campaigns for ocean protection. It also states that the ocean faces threats beyond simple plastic pollution. By 2100, the ocean could warm 1.2 to 3.2 degrees Celsius, depending on emissions — leading to coral bleaching and a slump for cold-water fish species. The report states that ocean warming “is likely to lead to new species in UK waters,” while marine biodiversity could take a hit from climate change and over-exploitation. However, the global ocean economy could double to $3 trillion by 2030, with opportunities like deep-sea mining and offshore renewable energy . The report’s authors recommend developing “accurate and useful valuations of the marine environment through the goods and services it provides (including food, capturing carbon , mitigating flooding , and supporting human health ) so that environmental externalities can be made clear and their value incorporated into decision making.” + Foresight Future of the Sea Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Ingrid Taylar on Flickr

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The amount of plastic in the ocean could triple in 10 years

Deep freeze in the UK causes massive die-off of sea creatures

March 6, 2018 by  
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Scientists and conservationists in the United Kingdom have observed a mass die-off of invertebrate sea creatures as a result of recent frigid weather . “There was a 3C drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels,” Bex Lynam of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said in a statement . “This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in.” Tens of thousands of mostly dead animals covered the beaches of the Holderness coast in Yorkshire, as well as locations in Kent and Norfolk. The bizarre, tragic phenomenon is all the more unsettling in context; while Europe froze, the Arctic thawed in the dead of polar winter . Although most creatures washed ashore were dead, some lobsters survived the frost . Those lucky few are being gathered up and cared for before they will be releasing back into the wild. “This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fishermen to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks,” said Lynam. “It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.” While some fish did perish, most of the dead were invertebrate species. “Larger animals such as dolphins are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens,” explained Lynam. Related: World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated While a specific deep freeze cannot be blamed on climate change , climate scientists predict that these extreme weather events will become more frequent as the change accelerates. Beyond confronting climate change, there are steps that humans can take to protect marine life. “We can’t prevent natural disasters like this,” Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s senior living seas officer Dr. Lisa Bassey said in a statement . “But we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause by creating enough protected areas at sea and by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish , crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this.” Via The Guardian Images via Bex Lynham/Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

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Redesigned Flow Hive 2 snags whopping $13.6 million on Indiegogo

March 6, 2018 by  
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Record-smashing crowdfunding project Flow Hive offered honey on tap: a beehive that makes it easier for beekeepers to harvest honey. Over 50,000 Flow Hives have gone out to 130 countries around the world, and now the Australian father-son team behind the design are back. The pair redesigned their groundbreaking hive, drawing on customer feedback and adding brand new features, and took to Indiegogo again with the Flow Hive 2 for a campaign that was just 18,983 percent funded. Flow Hive 2’s design is simple: inside a body comprised of laser-cut sustainable Western red cedar rest Flow Frames, which Stuart Anderson and Cedar Anderson, father and son, describe as “the most revolutionary beekeeping invention since the Langstroth hive was designed in 1852.” The frames are partially built honeycomb: add bees to do their thing — covering the honeycomb in wax, completing the cells, filling them with honey, and capping with wax — and then, when it’s time to harvest the honey, beekeepers insert and turn a handle to allow channels to form inside. The honey flows down into a waiting jar with minimal disturbance to the bees, who “are left to be, still standing on their wax capping.” A few hours later the bees realize the honeycomb is empty and they get right back to work, busy as bees. Related: How a simple honey harvester demonstrates the sweet success of viral crowdfunding campaign The Flow Hive 2 features an adjustable hive stand making it easier to set up on uneven ground. A multi-functional tray helps beekeepers trap pests. Deeper handles, a ventilation control system, a harvesting shelf, and observation windows on both sides are among the other upgrades to the hive. Beekeepers can obtain around five-and-a-half to six-and-a-half-pounds of honey per frame. The Flow Hive 2 costs $932; earlybird backers snagged it for $699. The Indiegogo campaign is over, raising an incredible $13,662,173. But it seems Flow Hive’s journey is really just beginning. You can find out more on the campaign page or their website . + Flow Hive + Flow Hive 2 Indiegogo Image via Flow Hive

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Redesigned Flow Hive 2 snags whopping $13.6 million on Indiegogo

IKEA renewable electricity plan could save customers 300 per year

February 23, 2018 by  
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IKEA has set a goal of running on 100 percent renewable energy by 2020 — and they want their customers to live more sustainably too. That’s why they’ve partnered with Big Clean Switch to help people transition to clean power. Using a collective switch model, they’ve secured “an exclusive tariff on 100 percent renewable electricity” — which could save households more than £300 each year . IKEA aims to help people make the change to a renewable electricity provider. According to Big Clean Switch , renewable electricity tariffs work like this: “When you’re on a renewable electricity tariff, your supplier promises to match the amount of electricity you take out of the National Grid by ensuring the same amount of renewable electricity is put in. The more this happens, the greener the Grid should get.” Related: IKEA plans to cut food waste in half by 2020 — here’s how The deal is just for the United Kingdom — but if you live there, you could save hundreds of pounds on your electricity bill each year. Big Clean Switch said making the change is easy; they estimate it will take under five minutes, with no engineer visits necessary, and supply won’t be disrupted. IKEA UK sustainability manager Hege Sæbjørnsen said in a statement, “At IKEA, our commitment to sustainability goes beyond minimizing the impact of our own operations to having a positive impact on the world around us. We want to provide our customers with innovative solutions that will help them live a more sustainable life at home and save money in the short and long term.” IKEA UK started offering solar panels and battery storage for homes last year — we’d love to see the products in the United States! If you live in the UK and want to sign up for the IKEA renewable electricity offer, you can express your interest here . Suppliers will compete to offer their best value tariff, and when the campaign goes live on March 6, IKEA and Big Clean Switch will get in touch with people who expressed interest to let them know the cost. The tariff will only be available from March 6 through March 26. + IKEA + Big Clean Switch Images via Depositphotos and Karsten Würth on Unsplash

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World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

February 21, 2018 by  
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The 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland floating wind farm started operating last fall , and Statoil recently said the farm, a world first, “performed better than expected in its first three full months in production.” The floating farm, a Statoil and Masdar project, has already survived a winter storm, a hurricane , and wave heights of around 27 feet to power around 20,000 households in the United Kingdom . 45 to 60 percent is the “the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm” during the winter, according to Statoil. But Hywind Scotland beat that figure with an average of around 65 percent in November, December, and January, the Norwegian power company said. This means the floating wind farm “was producing 65 percent of max theoretical capacity.” Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online That’s a win for the floating power plant , which has already encountered brutal winter weather. Hurricane Ophelia in October saw wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Storm Caroline in December saw gusts of 100 miles per hour and waves of around 27 feet. The wind turbines were switched off for safety during the worst winds, Statoil said, but automatically started operating quickly after. According to the company, “A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure.” Statoil senior vice president of offshore wind operations Beate Myking said in the statement, “We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works. But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected.” Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said they are seeking new opportunities for the technology, and see potential in Europe, Asia, and North America’s west coast. Statoil and Masdar aim to cut the costs of energy from Hywind Scotland down to 40 to 60 Euros per megawatt-hour by 2030 to make it “cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.” + Statoil Images via Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam/Statoil ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

February 21, 2018 by  
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Led by a desire to reduce landscape impact, Melbourne-based Studio Edwards turned to cargotecture for a sustainably minded getaway on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia. Raised atop stilts on a steep slope, House 28 was fashioned from a trio of 20-foot shipping containers sourced from nearby Port Melbourne. In addition to minimized site disturbance, the green-roofed holiday home uses a rainwater catchment and filtration system to gather water and features double-glazed windows and doors to increase energy efficiency. Set overlooking the Wye River and Australia’s Otway Coast, House 28 is securely anchored to the hillside by steel stilts and deep concrete pile foundations. The architects joined two of the containers to form one long module housing the entrance, a spacious living area, and open kitchen with dining, while the other container comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom. The containers were angled towards one another and connected with a blackbutt timber deck. Related: Shipping container delivers heightened drama to a modern island home For a rugged finish, the containers were externally insulated and clad with galvanized steel sheeting. In contrast, the minimalist interiors are lined with marine-grade plywood for a warm feel. Full-height doubled-glazed windows and doors overlook the ocean to the south and keep the narrow buildings from feeling constrained. A garden of native dichondra covers the roof providing extra thermal insulation and rainwater filtration. + Studio Edwards Via Dezeen Images by Tony Gorsevski

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Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

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