Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions

May 8, 2018 by  
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Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new biologically inspired membrane that can capture carbon dioxide from power plant smoke. Sandia fellow and University of New Mexico regents’ professor Jeff Brinker said, “Our inexpensive method follows nature’s lead in our use of a water-based membrane only 18 nanometers thick that incorporates natural enzymes to capture 90 percent of carbon dioxide released. This is almost 70 percent better than current commercial methods, and it’s done at a fraction of the cost.” Brinker said that, in the past, it has been prohibitively expensive to remove CO2 from coal smoke with available polymer membranes. However, his team’s membrane boasts a “relatively low cost of $40 per ton.” The researchers call the membrane a ‘memzyme’ because it operates like a filter but is near-saturated with carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme “developed by living cells over millions of years to help rid themselves of carbon dioxide efficiently and rapidly.” University of New Mexico professor Ying-Bing Jiang came up with the concept of employing watery membranes, inspired by processes in the human body that separate out CO2. Brinker said the arrangement of the membrane inside the flue of a generating station would be similar to a catalytic converter in a car. Related: 18-year-old invents cheaper CO2 capture tech to fight climate change The work is patented and energy companies have shown interest. In addition, the membranes have worked efficiently for months in laboratory settings. Nature Communications published the work online earlier this month; researchers from other institutions in the United States contributed. + Sandia National Laboratories + Nature Communications Images via Randy Montoya and courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

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Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions

Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

May 8, 2018 by  
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Kids could be especially vulnerable to climate change -related health risks, and a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) article once again sounds the alarm. The authors say climate change “threatens to reverse the gains in global child health and the reductions in global child mortality made over the past 25 years.” While the impacts of climate change could be felt by all humans, the authors say they’ll be disproportionally felt by poor people and children . 88 percent of diseases attributable to climate change appear in kids under five, according to the World Health Organization. The new paper delves into studies about how climate change could impact children’s health and calls for better preparation. CNN cited paper co-author and Memorial University pediatrics chairman Kevin Chan as saying weather events tied to climate change that have impacted kids’ health include Hurricanes Harvey or Irma . Pathogens like the Zika virus or extreme heat could also put children’s health at risk. Related: AAP warns of the impact of global warming on children’s health Chan told CNN he, along with the paper’s other author Rebecca Pass Philipsborn of the Emory University School of Medicine , aimed to reveal “there’s very little research and evidence around children. A lot of the research is very, very broad and tends to look more at adult populations. I don’t think they factor in the specific impacts on children themselves, and I think more research is needed in that arena.” Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health executive director Mona Sarfaty, who wasn’t involved in this new AAP article, told CNN, “The danger to children is real and is already witnessed by physicians in the US…They are more vulnerable to the heat-related increases in air pollution that come from fossil fuel exhaust, because their lungs are still developing. Outdoor play also makes them more prey to insect vectors carrying dangerous infections.” Chan told CNN, “We really need more efforts into addressing climate change to protect our children.” + American Academy of Pediatrics Via CNN Images via Pixabay and Eoghan Rice/Trócaire via Trocaire on Flickr

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Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

11-year-old discovers rare 475-million-year-old fossil in Tennessee

May 8, 2018 by  
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While enjoying an evening walk at Douglas Lake in East Tennessee , 11-year-old Ryleigh Taylor stumbled upon a magnificent discovery: the 475-million-year-old fossilized remains of an ancient sea creature called a trilobite. Taylor brought her find to the University of Tennessee , where it was examined by paleobiology professor Colin Sumrall. “Typically when we look at fossils of trilobites, they molt when they grow,” Sumrall told WATE.com . “So what happens is, when the trilobite skeleton just crumbles into hundreds of little pieces. To find one where all the pieces are intact, it’s actually a pretty lucky find.” Related to modern crustaceans, spiders and insects , most closely to horseshoe crabs, trilobites were a widespread arthropod group during the Cambrian period, reaching 60 different species at its peak. The group began to shrink during the Devonian period, then eventually went extinct in the wake of the Permian extinction. Named trilobite for its “three-lobes” body structure, the group is thought to be one of the first organisms to experience vision. While some trilobites could not have been seen without a microscope, others, such as isotelus rex , could grow to be several feet in length. Related: Treasure trove of Triassic fossils found at Bears Ears Taylor was thrilled with her discovery. “To find something like that, it’s really really cool,” Taylor told WATE . “I looked down while I was walking and I found it, I just saw it.” Taylor hopes that her unexpected fossil find will inspire other young people to get outside and explore. “I can show kids that are my age that they don’t have to sit inside and play games . They can actually go outside and find different things,” said Taylor. “To find something like that, it could spark this youngster into a whole career,” explained Sumrall. “Maybe she’ll become a great paleontologist one day.” For now, Ryleigh Taylor is simply content to continue exploring. Via The TeCake Images via  Depositphotos (2)

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11-year-old discovers rare 475-million-year-old fossil in Tennessee

Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

April 26, 2018 by  
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While it seemed like French President Macron was cozying up to President Trump in Washington DC as the special guest of honor for the first State Dinner of the Trump Administration , the two leaders are an ocean apart on the issue of climate change. “Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the challenge of global change.” Macron said in a speech to the US Congress. “In the long run, we will have to face the same realities. We’re just citizens of the same planet.” In his speech to Congress, Macron acknowledged the economic concerns regarding the initial cost of abandoning fossil fuels. “I hear [those worries]. . . but we must find a transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Macron. “What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, while sacrificing the future of our children?” Macron urged the United States to understand that there is “no Planet B,” that the world must work together to solve the problem or all will suffer. Despite the current atmosphere in Washington, Macron remained optimistic that the disagreements between France and the United States, historic allies, would someday be resolved. ““I am sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” said Macron. Related: Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to “Make Our Planet Great Again” While Democrats heartily applauded Macron’s positions on climate change, the Republican side of the aisle was predictably less than enthusiastic. President Trump has notably called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, withdrawn the United States from the Paris agreement, and increased tariffs on Chinese solar panels, therefore increasing the cost of solar power in the United States . Trump also picked Scott Pruitt, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and a climate-change skeptic, as head Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency , an executive appointment that was approved 52-46 by the United States Senate. Via Washington Post Images via C-SPAN

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Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

April 24, 2018 by  
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Maryland just became the second state in America to ban pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Animal rights advocates say the move will help cut demand for animals from puppy mills . The bill, HB 1662 , also encourages pet stores to work with rescue groups and animal shelters to promote the adoption of homeless animals, according to The Humane Society . Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law with bipartisan support. The state already has regulations in place requiring stores to reveal breeder information, and stores cannot use breeders that the United States Department of Agriculture has cited in the last two years. But delegate Benjamin Kramer, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Washington Post the regulations aren’t enough to protect animals. Related: California bans puppy mills and requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals Pet store owners fought against the law, hoping Hogan would veto it. Just Puppies co-owner Jeanea Thomson said her store doesn’t want animals from puppy mills, and that she and her husband visit their breeders, most in Iowa and Missouri, to vouch for conditions. But Kramer said the farms that store owners describe are abominations, telling The Washington Post, “There is not a single one that is this righteous, beautiful, loving, caring facility where there is room for puppies to roam and for breeding dogs to play.” Humane Society Maryland state director Emily Hovermale described the ban as a lifesaving measure that would close the state’s pet store market to puppy mills. She said, “Maryland has set an important precedent with this rejection of animal abuse that other states will surely follow.” Emily McCobb, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said a ban could result in a dog shortage, and people might not be sure where to go to get a pet. “There’s a lot of messaging around ‘adopt, don’t shop,’” she said. “But we haven’t done a good job of messaging about how to find responsible breeders.” The law will fully go into effect in 2020. It follows a bill passed in California last year that requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals. + The Humane Society Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

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Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels

April 24, 2018 by  
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Embracing an on-the-road lifestyle and downsizing your belongings doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing style. Kate Oliver and Ellen Prasse renovated an old Airstream into a chic and sophisticated living space. The ambitious couple, who run renovation company Modern Caravan , had their work cut out for them from the beginning. The camper needed a massive structural renovation including waterproofing, restoring windows, and creating an entirely new interior. Once the stage was set, the couple got to work on a gorgeous interior design for the 200-square-foot home . The couple started the Airstream renovation by gutting the interior and reinforcing the camper’s overall structure. They fixed and waterproofed the rotted windows and gaps to properly insulate the home, and they installed new axles and a solar-powered electrical system on the caravan. Related: 7 retro-chic Airstream renovations From there, Kate and Ellen began to design custom furniture to make the interior space as efficient as possible. Every piece of furniture has its place, resulting in a clutter-free living area. A beautiful rose-colored sofa with hidden storage compartments is at the heart of the living room, which is well-lit by natural light . Although it is fairly compact, the kitchen rivals that of any contemporary home. To make the most out of the space, Ellen cut and fitted the cabinets herself . Nine feet of counter space, a deep sink and plenty of storage make the area extremely functional. After their first Airstream renovation , the couple realized that they had a special talent for designing custom spaces in caravans, and have since turned that design savvy into a business. “We were completely self-taught, and we realized through the process of building that first Airstream that when we work together, we create something exceptional,” Kate said. “Now, four years later, we live in our renovated Airstream that serves as our mobile home and office, and renovate Airstreams on a client-by-client basis all across the country.” + The Modern Caravan Via Dwell Photography by Kate Oliver

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Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels

173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

April 13, 2018 by  
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Shipping was the sole industry excluded from the 2015 Paris Agreement , even though the sector’s annual carbon emissions are higher than those of Germany  — and countries now plan to address that. 173 nations just agreed to a historic, mandatory deal to slash shipping industry emissions . Related: World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway One week of negotiations at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in London yielded this landmark deal. Envoys of 173 countries agreed to reduce emissions at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States objected. Shipping vessels tend to burn fuel oil, which is cheap but also one of the dirtiest fossil fuels . According to Bloomberg , the industry didn’t factor into the Paris agreement because each participating country presented its own plans to curb emissions, excluding the seas. University College London Energy Institute reader Tristan Smith told Bloomberg, “It is likely this target will tighten further, but even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes.” BREAKING: Commitment to decarbonise shipping is welcome – governments can no longer shirk decisions on how to cut ship GHG emissions https://t.co/7Bh4pWIO04 pic.twitter.com/mEp3t36zSM — Transport & Environment (@transenv) April 13, 2018 “Making new ships emit less CO2 is the most obvious way to decarbonize the sector because ships have long lifetimes, usually around 25 to 30 years,” shipping officer Faig Abbasov of European NGO Transport & Environment told Bloomberg. “If you don’t build ships more efficiently, those ships will still be sailing around in the middle of the century.” As with the Paris Agreement , some people are saying this new deal doesn’t go far enough. A statement from the Clean Shipping Coalition (of which Transport & Environment is a member) said the target set “falls short of the 70 to 100 percent cut by 2050 that is needed to align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.” Transport & Environment shipping director Bill Hemmings said, “The IMO should and could have gone a lot further but for the dogmatic opposition of some countries led by Brazil, Panama, Saudi Arabia. Scant attention was paid to US opposition.” + Clean Shipping Coalition Statement Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

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

Stricter climate regulations could save 150 million lives worldwide

March 21, 2018 by  
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Researchers have calculated that stronger climate regulations across the globe could help prevent up to 150 million premature deaths. Much of the public health benefits of strictly regulating greenhouse gases would be concentrated in South Asia, with nearly 13 million lives spared in large Indian cities alone if air pollution is curtailed. Cairo, Egypt and Lagos, Nigeria would also experience more than 2 million fewer deaths under strong international greenhouse gas regulation. While the Clean Air Act has improved public health outcomes in the United States, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved in the cities of Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta , Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Washington if stricter greenhouse gas regulations were implemented. “Americans don’t really grasp how pollution impacts their lives,” study lead author Drew Shindell told the Washington Post . “You say, ‘My uncle went to the hospital and died of a heart attack.’ You don’t say the heart attack was caused by air pollution, so we don’t know. It’s still a big killer here. It’s much bigger than from people who die from plane crashes or war or terrorism, but we don’t see the link so clearly.” Related: Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change To determine the public health benefits of stricter greenhouse gas regulations, the research team created computer simulations of future emissions and pollutants. According to a statement , they then “calculated the human health impacts of pollution exposure under each scenario all over the world — but focusing on results in major cities — using well-established epidemiological models based on decades of public health data on air-pollution related deaths.” However promising the benefits of strong climate change regulations may be, time is running out, says Shindell. “There’s got to be a significant amount of progress within the 2020s or it’s too late.” Via the Washington Post Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Stricter climate regulations could save 150 million lives worldwide

Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming

March 15, 2018 by  
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Wind turbines kill up to 750,000 birds every year, according to Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. There’s one problem with that figure: it’s grossly overstated. Zinke also condemned wind power for its carbon footprint — which he said is significant. Zinke said he is “pro- energy across the board” at the CERAWeek energy industry event recently — but slammed wind power, according to EcoWatch . He said production and transportation of turbines contributes to global warming , but TIME said he overstated the case — especially when compared against other energy sources. They said scientists estimate that during the life cycle of a wind turbine, the typical plant produces “between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that’s less than three percent of the emissions from coal -generated electricity and less than seven percent of the emissions from natural gas -generated electricity.” Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears And it is true that wind turbines kill birds, but not as many as Zinke claimed. Take it from the National Audubon Society : director of renewable energy Garry George said wind turbines kill between 140,000 to 328,000 birds per year. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service , which is part of Zinke’s department, has a chart on “Top Common Human-caused Threats to Birds” in the United States with the median/average estimated figure for collisions with wind turbines at 328,000. Meanwhile, cats kill an estimated 1.85 billion birds, building glass 676.5 million birds, and oil pits 750,000 birds. (Those are the median/average estimated figures; see the minimum to maximum ranges on the chart here .) Zinke told his audience of people from oil-producing countries and energy companies, “Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner.” Vox sees it differently. In their view, Trump’s interior secretary spent his first year in the position selling off the rights to America’s public lands . Via TIME and EcoWatch Images via American Public Power Association on Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming

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