After three months, Kilauea eruptions might be over

August 8, 2018 by  
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After more than three months of continuous eruption, Mount Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island has finally stopped emitting lava. At the base of Kilauea, fissure 8 has been the longest lasting and most destructive of the two dozen fissures that formed throughout the eruption, and its lava flow is now coming to a halt. United States Geological Survey (USGS)  announced Monday, “This morning’s overflight crew saw a weak to moderately active bubbling lava lake within the fissure 8 cone, a weak gas plume and a completely crusted lava channel.” The Halema’uma’u crater deflations have also slowed down, and the Pu’u ‘O’o vent has reduced its sulfur dioxide emissions, revealing magma within the crater to be at very low levels. But it is still unknown whether activity from Kilauea has subsided completely. “In 1955, there was an eruption that went on for 88 days, and it did include two shutdowns of five and 16 days, so that’s a model for what might be happening,” said Tina Neal, chief scientist at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory . “It could be weeks or months before we feel comfortable calling the eruption and the summit collapse over.” Related: Mount Kilauea transforms Hawaii’s coastline with the birth of a new island The fissure has been responsible for spurts of deadly magma of over 200 feet and rare volcanic tornadoes of lava , fire, smoke and ash suspended in the air. All in all, the destruction has claimed more than 700 homes. Impending Hurricane Hector is expected to hit the Big Island next, where heavy rainfall could create a “white out” zone as the rain hits the molten lava and creates plumes of steam and sulfur dioxide. + USGS Via Reuters , New York Times and Maui Now Images via U.S. Geological Survey

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After three months, Kilauea eruptions might be over

Escape to the Redwoods in this recently renovated Sea Ranch timber cabin

August 8, 2018 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in The Sea Ranch community, here’s your chance to spend the night in one of the original mid-century cabins recently restored by Oakland-based design practice Framestudio . Originally designed by San Francisco Bay area architect Joseph Esherick in 1968, the Timber Ridge Sea Ranch Cabin was created as part of Demonstration Homes, a project led by developer Oceanic to show how the local design guidelines could produce a beautiful and low-cost getaway. Renovated last year, the 684-square-foot timber cabin is available for short-term rentals on Esherick MiniMod . Set amidst a forest of towering redwood trees in the historic south end of The Sea Ranch, the compact timber cabin — dubbed the Esherick MiniMod — is a peaceful getaway. Framestudio sensitively modernized the three-level cabin while preserving its historic elements; the structure is one of the few remaining Demonstration Homes that’s still close to its original state. Priorities included an updated galley kitchen, increased capacity to sleep a total of six and secure storage areas. “Framestudio developed a scheme which restored many of the original details, hallmarks of Esherick’s design, using wood which had been reclaimed from alterations not original to the design,” the project statement reads. “New interventions were conceived to contrast in color from the historic framework of the home, but constructed from materials suitable for the age of the home.” Related: Wooden Sea Ranch Cabin is nestled in a Californian redwood forest The home’s open-plan nature was preserved, but the layout of the two adjoining bedrooms can be manipulated with a new full-height partition that divides the sleeping area into two separate sections and slides away when not in use. For extra storage, the bedroom alcoves were updated with blue laminate cupboards. Framestudio also added a built-in sofa that includes extra storage and a pullout queen-sized bed. Rates at the Esherick MiniMod begin at $120 per night . + Framestudio + Esherick MiniMod Images by Drew Kelly

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Escape to the Redwoods in this recently renovated Sea Ranch timber cabin

Recycling Mystery: Clothing

August 8, 2018 by  
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We have a clothing problem in the United States and … The post Recycling Mystery: Clothing appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Mystery: Clothing

Egypt set to open its first solar farm – and it’s the largest in the world

August 2, 2018 by  
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Egypt has long relied on environmentally taxing fossil fuels. Over 90% of electricity is generated from oil and natural gas, and the country subsidizes fossil fuels , making them a cheap option for its 96 million citizens. However, Egypt’s government plans to change courses and put itself on the clean energy map with the inauguration of the world’s largest solar park. Dubbed the  Benban complex , it is under construction in Egypt’s Western Desert and set to open next year. Located 400 miles south of Cairo, the $2.8-billion project will single-handedly revolutionize energy supply for the nation, and none too soon. The World Health Organization recently named Cairo the second most polluted large city on the planet. The Egyptian government, in response, aims to nearly halve its natural gas consumption and provide at least 42% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by the year 2025. Investment in Egypt’s  clean energy  market has increased by 500% since the announcement. Related: The largest solar farm apiary in the US opens this week The country’s prospects look good, says Benjamin Attia, solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie , an energy research and consultancy firm based in the United States. “I can’t think of another example where so many big players have come together to fill the gap,” he stated, referring to the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in supporting the Benban complex. The IMF has backed a reform program that aims to rescue the country’s economy, and scaling back fossil fuels is one part of it. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has unequivocally encouraged the country’s environmental push, inaugurating other big electricity projects, including the creation of wind power farms in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez. Several nations have aided with the initiative, including the United States, which is helping to train hundreds of employees in wind and solar energy at local technical schools in Egypt. The Benban complex’s 30 solar plants will be operated by 4,000 workers and generate as much as 1.8 gigawatts of electricity, which will in turn provide energy to hundreds of thousands of residences and business operations. + Benban Complex + WHO Via The LA Times

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Egypt set to open its first solar farm – and it’s the largest in the world

Old Victorian home in Brooklyn gets incredible Passive House retrofit

August 1, 2018 by  
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Retrofitting an old house into a Passive House is a challenging feat to say the least, but when done right, it can be amazing. When Bo and Itzy decided to turn their old Victorian home in Brooklyn into a passive home, they took on the ambitious project with help from NYC-based firm  ZH Architects . The result is  powerhouse of energy-efficiency, redesigned and revamped for healthy living. Although the number of new passive home projects continues to grow, retrofitting old structures to fit Passive House requirements is still a massive undertaking rife with complications. In an interview with the architects, Bo explained that one of the biggest hurdles of their home renovation was making the space airtight. Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs “Most passive houses have been either newly built or brownstone/townhouse conversions,” Bo said. “It’s a lot easier to get this right when dealing with a rectangular box or only two exposed walls with a flat roof. With an old Victorian home like ours, there are nooks and crannies everywhere. The hardest part is really getting the house airtight, so you need to work both from the inside and the out taking great care that you don’t have any air infiltration or gaps. We used an Intello vapor barrier on the inside of the attic and a Zip System on the exterior.” The home currently has an air tightness of about 0.29 ACH (air changes per hour) which, according to the architects, is a world record for a retro-fit building. Insulation was a big factor in creating an energy-efficient living space. The architects wrapped the home in extra layers of thick, eco-friendly insulation and installed high-performance windows to create a sealed envelope. Despite New York’s bitterly cold winters and severe summer heat, the interior will sustain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. To complement this level of comfort, the interior design is light and airy, with white walls and hardwood flooring to create an inviting space. For Bo and Itzy, having a passive home was not only about monetary and energy savings , but also to focus on creating a healthy living atmosphere. Along with the home’s many efficient features, the renovation avoided all VOC paints and harmful chemicals. Instead of using polyurethane for the flooring, they went with a natural Scandinavian lye treatment which includes using a natural mixture of oil and soap. The home was also installed with Energy Star-rated appliances, solar roof tiles  and LED lighting . Of course, the process did mean making quite a few tough decisions about the home’s original features. For Itzy, the idea of getting rid of the large chimney was daunting, but by doing so, they were able to create an extra room in the attic. As another perk, they were able to install a wine cellar in the basement that uses an innovative concept for cooling. The heat pump water heater in the basement, which draws in warm air and blows out cool air, was redesigned to blow that cooler air into the wine cellar to keep the bottles cool. With this Passive House project complete, the residents and the architects hope to inspire others to take the time to retrofit old buildings for energy efficiency. + ZH Architects Images via ZH Architects

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Old Victorian home in Brooklyn gets incredible Passive House retrofit

Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

July 23, 2018 by  
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Bad news for national park lovers: a new study published in Science Advances  has found that many national parks have levels of of air pollution on par with major US cities. In parks such as Sequoia, Acadia, and Joshua tree, toxic ozone levels breaching the safe limit set by the EPA rivaled those found in cities such as New York and Los Angeles, which has the worst air quality rating of cities in the United States. While the number of dangerous pollution days has fallen for both cities and parks since the 1990 enactment of the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule of 1999, experts are pressing for more regulation after this week’s findings. National parks see an 8% decline in visitor numbers, on average, in months recording two to three days of bad air quality. The statistics suggest that many of the parks’ guests choose to come not only for the sights, but for their health as well. And, while some have criticized Regional Haze Rule regulations, study co-author Ivan Rudik disagrees. An assistant professor at Cornell University, Rudik stated that “some of the arguments that people are making against the Regional Haze Rule are that the benefits are basically zero, that these visibility rules don’t matter much or maybe the health improvements are overstated. But if you look at what people actually do, they clearly do care.” Related: UN creates a new global climate change coalition Recent years have seen record-breaking numbers of visitors to national parks, yet another reason to reevaluate government standards when it comes to air pollution. Speaking to The Associated Press, Rudik remarked that “even though the national parks are supposed to be icons of a pristine landscape, quite a lot of people are being exposed to ozone levels that could be detrimental to their health.” + Science Advances Via Ecowatch Images via Shutterstock

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Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

How Upcycled Materials Are Saving Lives

June 25, 2018 by  
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Most people in the United States take shoes for granted — … The post How Upcycled Materials Are Saving Lives appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The US just experienced its hottest May on record

June 11, 2018 by  
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It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today . The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl. While climate change contributed to the record warmth, two significant tropical storms brought heat and precipitation north from the Gulf of Mexico. While more than a quarter of the contiguous U.S. remains in drought, some states, including Maryland and Florida , experienced their wettest month of May on record. As a result of heavy winter snow melting rapidly in a warm spring, locations in Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming have experienced significant flooding. Related: Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades Beyond the average monthly temperature, more than 8,590 daily warm temperature station records were either broken or tied throughout May. “This was 18 times more than the approximately 460 daily cold temperature station records during the month,” NOAA wrote. “Several of the daily records were noteworthy, including 100°F on May 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota  — the earliest such occurrence on record.” + NOAA Via Ecowatch and  USA Today Images via NOAA

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The US just experienced its hottest May on record

Reinventing the US Power Grid

June 11, 2018 by  
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We have an energy challenge in the United States — … The post Reinventing the US Power Grid appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

June 1, 2018 by  
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Following Congress’s move to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production, a long-sought goal of the Republican Party, fossil fuel companies are moving forward with their plans to develop the wilderness and hope to survey the region by winter. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, two Alaska Native companies, as well as one oil company have applied for a permit to begin seismic surveying on the refuge’s coastal plain. However, despite promises that the process would be as environmentally sensitive as possible, documents obtained by the Washington Post indicate that the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the initial plan as “not adequate,” noting its “lack of applicable details for proper agency review.” The area the companies hope to explore for oil is also the location of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, from which the local Gwich’in First Nation community finds food and cultural significance. In fact, the prospective area where two teams of 150 people are proposed to survey isn’t even visited by the Gwich’in people out of respect for its importance. The speed with which the companies have pushed to begin oil drilling has concerned the locals. “Why can’t they just wait to have more information?” Gwich’in Steering Committee executive director Bernadette Dementieff told Earther . “The oil isn’t going anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. It makes no sense to rush.” Perhaps the oil companies are concerned that the U.S. may, under a different Congress, return to its long-held status quo of banning oil drilling in the refuge. Related: Spending bill would open the world’s largest intact temperate forest to logging Although the nearby Native town of Kaktovik supported oil and gas drilling in 2005, more recently, the mayor sent a letter to Congress to oppose opening the land to industry. The process has moved forward so quickly since the bill opening the refuge to oil drilling was signed into law that Dementieff was not even aware of the drilling application until she was contacted by Earther. “That is completely insane and disrespectful,” she said. Dementieff believes that Native communities in Alaska will rally together to stop the drilling from ever occurring. “We’ll go to every courtroom. We’ll go to every community meeting. We’re not giving up. We’re not going to allow them to destroy the calving grounds.” Via Earther Images via  Depositphotos and Bob Clarke

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