UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers

September 21, 2017 by  
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Companies often profit from environmental destruction , leaving taxpayers to pick up the cleanup bill. That shouldn’t be the case, according to Erik Solheim, executive director for the United Nations Environment Program . At a conference at Columbia University earlier this week, he said, “The profit of destroying nature or polluting the planet is nearly always privatized, while the costs of polluting the planet or the cost of destroying ecosystems is nearly always socialized. This cannot continue.” Solheim said we can turn around Earth’s environmental fortunes if businesses, citizens, and politicians work for a shared goal – with the biggest polluters paying for damage. He said, “Anyone who pollutes, anyone who destroys nature must pay for the cost of that destruction or that pollution.” Related: The oil industry knew about dangerous climate change in the 1960s Two scientists made a similar point in a recent opinion piece for The Guardian, saying big oil companies should pay for climate change . The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Science and Policy Peter Frumhoff and University of Oxford professor of geosystem science Myles Allen pointed to July lawsuits against ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron, saying they should pay for damages coastal communities face from rising sea levels . They, together with other researchers, published a peer-reviewed study quantifying sea level rise and rising temperatures coming from emissions from fossil fuel companies. Solheim also said businesses must play a role by creating new technologies to address needs. He pointed to China as an example, highlighting the work of bike-sharing firm Mobike, which boasts over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. Meanwhile, China is also working on transportation with a high-speed rail network and urban metro systems. He also pointed to India , where addressing environmental issues has been good for the country. Solar power has created jobs, simultaneous boosting the economy and helping the planet. Solheim said, “Change is happening. Economic-wise, we are on the right track, but we need to speed up because the challenge is so big.” Via Thomson Reuters Foundation and EcoWatch Images via Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon/Army National Guard and Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

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UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers

New Antarctic farm will grow produce despite temperatures of -100 degrees F

September 21, 2017 by  
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Imagine having to go months without an adequate supply of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables . Scientists based in Antarctica know this struggle, which is why engineers at the German Aerospace Center (GAC) are building a high-tech, 135-square-foot indoor farm that can grow an abundance of produce — even when temperatures are -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The only way to transport food to McMurdo, the US station where the majority of researchers stay, is by plane or ship. Most of the food that is received is dry or frozen . During the summer, the scientists may receive one shipment of fresh food once a week, according to Atlas Obscura . Fortunately, that is about to change. The Eden-ISS is already under construction and will grow food for all who are stationed at the Neumayer III polar station  on the Ekstrom Ice Shelf. The greenhouse will be in a climate-controlled shipping and produce will be grown utilizing vertical gardening technology. When the farm is complete, between 30 and 50 different species of plants — including leafy greens, peppers, radishes, strawberries, tomatoes and zesty herbs — will be grown on trays or hanging modules. Because of Antarctica’s climate, the plants are fed by LED lights rather than sunlight . This is actually a good thing, as the researchers have tuned the lights to red and blue wavelengths that are optimal for growing produce. Related: Scientists discover nearly 100 unknown volcanoes – in Antarctica Business Insider reports that the Eden-ISS will be completed in October. The infrastructure is ready to go; the engineers are just waiting for the shipment of supplies which will arrive next month. Reportedly, the GAC team grew its first cucumber (which measured 96 grams and was 14 centimeters long) inside Eden-ISS in July. In Bremen, Germany , GAC has already been testing growing produce in a climate-controlled environment. Next month,  GAC scientist Paul Zabel will move to Antarctica and grow produce under 42 LED lamps. Because sub-Arctic regions have experienced an agricultural boon partly due to climate change, the researchers are pumping in excess carbon dioxide to help the plants thrive. The temperature is always set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the GAC team succeeds at building a greenhouse that can grow crops even when it is -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, researchers will be able to use the same system to help astronauts grow food in space. Considering Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk — two of the most brilliant minds of our time — are intent on moving humans to the moon or Mars, this technology could come in handy. + DLR German Aerospace Center Via Business Insider Images via DLR German Aerospace Center

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New Antarctic farm will grow produce despite temperatures of -100 degrees F

New waterproof solar cell generates power even after it gets soaked

September 21, 2017 by  
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A new solar cell could go through the laundry and emerge still working. The photovoltaic cell, developed by Japanese research institution RIKEN and the University of Tokyo , is ultra thin and coated on both sides with waterproof film. The solar cell can be stretched or compressed or washed and continue to function. Researchers in Japan have created a waterproof solar cell able to withstand a wash and keep on generating power. They developed flexible, super thin, organic photovoltaic cells based on PNTz4T, a material they developed in the past. Both sides of the cell were covered with an acrylic-based elastomer that allowed light to reach the cells, but prevented air and water from leaking on to them. Related: This carbon nanotube yarn generates power when pulled The researchers then tested the waterproof solar cells to see if they’d retain efficiency. The initial device had an efficiency of 7.9 percent – per square centimeter it generated a current of 7.86 milliwatts. They soaked the cells in water for two hours and then found the efficiency had decreased by 5.4 percent. They also compressed the device by almost half for 20 cycles, while subjecting it to water, and found it had 80 percent of the initial efficiency. Photovoltaics integrated in textiles in the past have suffered from a lack of energy efficiency , or they weren’t robust and didn’t resist being deformed well, or they weren’t stable over the long-term in water or air – or some combination of those three. This new waterproof cell, that’s able to be compressed, could open up more options for wearables with solar cells. The photovoltaic cells could power sensors that record body temperature and heartbeats or provide early warnings of health issues, according to research group leader Takao Someya. The journal Nature Energy published the research online earlier this week. Via RIKEN Images via RIKEN

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New waterproof solar cell generates power even after it gets soaked

Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

September 21, 2017 by  
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Ever wanted to grow your own lamp? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant collaboration between eco-designer Danielle Trofe and Ecovative . Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kit lets you grow a beautiful lampshade by combining a mushroom substrate with a small amount of water and flour. The Grow-It-Yourself lamp kit includes one bag of mushroom mycelium substrate, a lampshade mold, a UL-certified pendant lamp set, and growing instructions. Using Ecovative’s patented Mushroom Material technology, the  mushroom mycelium – the root of the mushroom – is guaranteed to grow, making this a perfect project for those without any green thumb whatsoever. Related: Danielle Trofe’s Brilliant Mush-Lume Lamp is Grown From Fungi! Once the substrate is placed in the mold, you’ll just have to add tap water and a bit of flour. After a few more simple steps, including baking it in the oven for a bit, your new eco-positive lampshade is ready to go. The kit comes with basic hanging pendant set, but can be updated to include a table lamp stand made from sustainable wood . + Grow Kickstarter + Ecovative Design + Danielle Trofe Images via Kickstarter

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Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

Let’s not greenwash the SDGs

September 13, 2017 by  
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The United Nations’ Global Goals are about more than buzzwords.

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Let’s not greenwash the SDGs

BSR at 25: What businesses need to succeed

September 13, 2017 by  
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Three lessons on collaboration, communication and resilience, based on a quarter century of fostering corporate leadership.

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BSR at 25: What businesses need to succeed

Why trickle-down sustainability doesn’t work

September 13, 2017 by  
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No one likes being told what to do, but individuals and organizations are more likely to help when they share common values.

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Why trickle-down sustainability doesn’t work

C40 mayors stand unified in fighting climate change

September 6, 2017 by  
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The U.N. network’s executive director, Mark Watts, advocates new effort to engage American cities as U.S. turns back on Paris Agreement.

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C40 mayors stand unified in fighting climate change

Recycling is changing: What business needs to know

September 6, 2017 by  
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Understanding demographic shifts is just one way to ensure a successful recycling program.

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Recycling is changing: What business needs to know

Elon Musk urges UN to ban artificially intelligent killer robots

August 21, 2017 by  
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The same man who brought you PayPal , Tesla and SpaceX is now urging the UN to ban the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in weaponry. Elon Musk believes that artificially intelligent “killer robots” are “morally wrong” and a potential threat to humanity – and he’s petitioning the UN along with 115 other experts in robotics to prevent “a third revolution in warfare.” In a letter to the United Nations, the experts ask for killer robot technology to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. ”Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter says. “These can be weapons of terror , weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.” The urgent tone of the letter cannot be missed. The leaders warn, “we do not have long to act” and add, “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.” The BBC reports that a killer robot is a fully autonomous weapon capable of selecting and engaging targets without human intervention. Developed for the purpose of war, the technology could be a potential threat to humanity. For this reason, the experts in robotics are requesting autonomous “kill functions” be banned. The UN group focusing on autonomous weaponry was scheduled to reconvene this Monday. However, the meeting has now been postponed to November. Related: Elon Musk has a simple plan to power the US entirely on renewable energy This isn’t the first time the faction of the UN has considered a ban on killer robot technology. In 2015, more than 1,000 tech experts, researchers, and scientists wrote a letter warning about the dangers of autonomous weaponry. Stephen Hawking, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Musk were among the signatories. Via BBC Images via Depositphotos , Pixabay , OnInnovation

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