99.9% of scientists agree climate crisis is caused by humans

October 20, 2021 by  
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99.9% of scientists globally agree that burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is the main cause of climate change. They also concur that climate change is caused by human actions, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The case for global action at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where world leaders will meet to discuss the climate crisis , is strengthened by the study. In 2013, a survey since 1991 culminated in the conclusion that 97% of scientists viewed that climate change was caused by human actions. The other three percent were of a contrary opinion. Related: United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition This study has been expanded by a recent  Cornell University  paper that shows a significant decline in dissenting voices. Over the years, evidence continues to mount, showing that global warming is being caused by burning fossil fuels. In the latest paper of peer review literature, several scientific studies were examined to determine those with contrary opinions. From 2012 to 2020, 3000 random sample studies were reviewed. Only four papers published in little-known journals turned out to be skeptical of the fact that climate change was being caused by humans. Furthermore, the researchers searched the full database of case studies within the highlighted periods for skeptical keywords such as “natural cycles” and “ cosmic rays ,” and only found 28 papers published in minor journals. These publications account for less than 1% of all the papers published. “It is really case closed. There is nobody of significance in the scientific community who doubts human-caused climate change,” said Mark Lynas, lead author and visiting fellow at Cornell University. Although the scientific community seems to be in agreement, the general public remains misled on issues of climate change. Big oil companies have been running advertisements that allude to a lack of consensus on the issues of climate change. In a similar manner, politicians have also managed to confuse the public about the matter. As reported by The Guardian, “only 27% of US adults believed that “almost all” scientists agreed the climate emergency was caused by human activity.” Additionally, most senior Republicans cast doubt on the link between human action and the climate crisis. 30 U.S. senators and 109 representatives still won’t acknowledge that human actions have caused climate change. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Researchers and Indigenous groups collaborate to save caribou

October 19, 2021 by  
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Scientists are working with Indigenous communities to change the fate of Arctic caribou herds threatened by climate change. Habitat loss has caused a 56% decline in North America’s wild caribou population over the past 20 years, a situation that scientists and Indigenous conservation groups are determined to change. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $718,000 to Logan Berner, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS), for a three-year study dubbed “Fate of the Caribou.” The study offers insights into how human actions and a changing environment affect the caribou. Related: Indigenous communities are crucial in protecting the Amazon According to Berner, the study will continue to collaborate with local Indigenous groups to determine the best ways to protect the vital animals . “Our interdisciplinary research team will collaborate with members of local Indigenous and rural communities to conduct large-scale ecological analyses across multiple caribou herds in North America using novel ecological modeling, decades of satellite observations, and extensive field data,” said Berner. Berner will also collaborate with other parties to carry out interdisciplinary research to find ways of advancing the protection of wild caribou. The team includes Regents’ professor Scott Goetz, Earth scientists , ecologists, remote sensing experts and more. According to the researchers, they will be working towards generating actionable results for the management of caribou herds. “Our research will help advance understanding and management of caribou as we partner with the Indigenous-led caribou and natural resource management boards that are central to Arctic governance. We will work with them to produce actionable science that can inform the policies and co-management of caribou herds stretching from Hudson’s Bay to western Alaska,” the team wrote in a research description. Wild caribou are an important land-based species in the Arctic for both humans and the ecosystem. Those who live in the region rely on these animals for food . These animals also help balance the ecosystem. However, for the past few years, the animals have faced threats causing their population to decline. In addition to researching ways to sustain caribou populations, the researchers will also train young scientists to continue with the conservation job. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

October 19, 2021 by  
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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child declined to rule on a complaint filed by youth activists from twelve countries. The young adults claimed that Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey have violated children’s rights by failing to control carbon emissions, despite knowing about the perils of climate change. The panel told the activists that they should have brought their cases to national courts. The self-dubbed “Children vs. the Climate Crisis” insist there’s not time for lengthy court cases; they need to take their case to the top. The youth come from twelve countries: Argentina , Brazil, France, Germany, India, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. Some countries, such as the Marshall Islands , are especially pressed for time — their chain of ancient submerged volcanoes may be under the rising seas by 2035. Related: “Climate shocks” threaten over half of Earth’s children “The truth is that I’m doing this because I feel like I haven’t been left a choice and this is the only way for me to not feel guilty,” said 18-year-old French climate activist Iris Duquesne as reported by EcoWatch. “The shame of having the possibility to do something and not doing it is too big. This is the main motivation for all youth climate activists, this and anger. Anger to feel left behind, not listened to and simply left alone.” The petition in question was filed in 2019 by 16 activists who ranged in age from eight to 17 at the time. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors 196 signatories of a 1989 convention declaring the civil, cultural, economic and political rights of children unassailable. Of these, 48 countries agreed to allow children to take action to fix violations. The five countries named in the petition are part of this subset. Environmental and human rights attorneys from Hausfeld and Earthjustice are representing the youth activists. The lawyers said in a statement that the committee’s decision, announced October 11, “delivered a rebuke to young people around the world who are demanding immediate action on the climate crisis. In dismissing the case, the Committee told children that climate change is a dire global emergency , but the UN’s doors are closed to them.” However, the kids had some wins. The committee acknowledged that states are legally responsible for emis s ions that cause harm beyond their borders, and that the youth are indeed victims of climate-related threats to their health, life and culture. These findings could significantly influence future litigation. Via Washington Post and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

Multifunctional award-winning site built on underused land

October 19, 2021 by  
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Les Ateliers Cabot is the winning project for C40 Reinventing Montreal 2021, which is part of the Reinventing Cities project. It is a call for designers and architects to come up with project ideas that will create carbon-neutral urban areas in underused sites into great new developments. These projects are meant to inspire the rest of the world and Les Ateliers Cabot is a truly inspiring project. Several different firms came together to create this project. Sid Lee Architecture, Ateliers Creatifs Montreal, the Centre for Sustainable Development and Collectif Recolte all worked together to create the design. This is a multifunctional site, including an artist studios, office space, business space and facilities for food production . Related: Eco-friendly housing redefines Tanzanian urban architecture The project uses low-carbon solutions that can be produced on a city-wide scale. The new buildings will mostly be made of wood, including beams, columns and floors. The goal is to achieve zero-organic waste in three years. It’s a mix of new and restored buildings that includes the old sawmill — which will be part of the new public square. The site includes an interior courtyard, an event space and a pedestrian entrance and a public square. Existing industrial buildings will be reused, with the new buildings incorporated into the new design. The buildings will have sloping roofs part of rainwater collection systems. There’s also an urban forest nearby, which the southwest entrance offers a beautiful view of. The site is located between two large canals and surrounded by nature , like many other sites that aren’t being used out in the world. But, hopefully, projects like this will help change all of that. Through socio-financing, the project will be open to as many people as possible, allowing for contributions at all levels. This will truly make the project community-created . Les Ateliers Cabot is one example of how an underused site can become an amazing new urban development. + Sid Lee Architecture Images via Sid Lee Architecture

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Multifunctional award-winning site built on underused land

Hermit crab study shows microplastic’s affect on marine life

October 15, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Royal Society Open Science  has found that microplastics affect the behavior of hermit crabs, a key part of the ocean ecosystem. The study, conducted by Queen’s University, highlights how microplastics impact hermit crabs’ growth and reproduction. In a press release, researchers explained the study’s methodology, saying, “The research involved keeping hermit crabs in two tanks: one which contained polyethylene spheres (a common microplastic pollutant ) and one without plastic (control) for five days. The team simulated the environment to encourage a hermit crab contest through placing pairs of hermit crabs in an arena, giving the larger crab a shell that was too small and the smaller crab a shell that was too big.” Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life Shell fights are crucial to the survival of hermit crabs. During shell fights, the crabs have to fight each other in contests over larger shells to occupy as their home. During their growth, crabs move from smaller shells and find new homes by fighting each other. According to the latest study, hermit crabs exposed to microplastics had impaired attacking and defending behavior. As a result, the researchers say that the crabs’ ability to grow and survive is weakened. Hermit crabs are vital to the entire ocean ecosystem. As scavengers, these tiny animals help recycle energy back into the ecosystem. They feed on decomposed sea life and bacteria , helping rebalance the ecosystem.  One of the lead researchers on the paper, Manus Cunningham from Queen’s University, said, “These findings are hugely significant as they illustrate how both the information-gathering and shell evaluations were impaired when exposed to microplastics.” According to Cunningham, there is not a significant amount of information available on how microplastics impact sea life . This is one of the first studies to show the exact threats microplastics pose for specific species. “Although 10% of global plastic production ends up in the ocean, there is very limited research on how this can disrupt animal behaviour and cognition. This study shows how the microplastic pollution crisis is threatening biodiversity more than is currently recognised,” said Cunningham. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Hermit crab study shows microplastic’s affect on marine life

Florida scientists are using a radar prototype in the Everglades

October 15, 2021 by  
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Florida scientists are working on a new way to identify greenhouse gas-emitting hot spots in the Everglades. The U.S. Department of Energy has just funded scientists from Florida Atlantic University. They are developing a new prototype of ground-penetrating radar that they’ll mount on an unoccupied aircraft. “Peat soils are large natural producers of biogenic greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide that accumulate in the soil matrix to subsequently be released into the atmosphere,” said principal investigator Dr. Xavier Comas. “Although there have been remarkable advances made in predicting these carbon fluxes at a variety of spatial and temporal scales in peat soils in the last few decades, there are still many uncertainties about the spatial distribution of hot spots for biogenic gas accumulation and hot moments for the rapid release of biogenic gases, which this drone-GPR prototype may help us identify more efficiently.” Related: Drones are the new cost-effective way to monitor the environment Florida Atlantic University and the U.S. Geological Survey will team up on the two-year project. The Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, an investigator from the University of Exeter and a facility at Pacific Northwest Laboratory, will round out the multidisciplinary team. Despite this massive collection of brainpower, the project only published a budget of $111,655. Because it’s hard to get clear images in Florida’s humid, swampy subtropical wetlands, scientists know little about atmospheric exchange of greenhouse gases in this environment. Their working theory is that collecting airborne data sets will yield more comprehensive data (and be less invasive) than tramping into the forested wetlands to take ground-based measurements. “We anticipate that an airborne GPR system could be used successfully to identify contrasts in relative dielectric permittivity associated with variable biogenic gas content within the soil,” Dr. Comas said. “As such, we think that the physical structure of the organic soil primarily dictates the distribution of hot spots and enables prediction of hot moments for gas release triggered by changes in certain environmental factors such as atmospheric pressure or water table elevation.”  If you followed all that, you might want to hurry up and apply to Florida Atlantic University. One lucky graduate and one undergraduate student will be trained in the project. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Florida scientists are using a radar prototype in the Everglades

Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

October 15, 2021 by  
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, although most people would agree there is beauty in nature. Artist and textile designer Yi Hsuan Sung has taken that common view of natural beauty and used it to create a varied line of products for the home. In addition to reflecting nature in her designs, her mission is to honor it through the use of sustainable and natural materials . Sung believes that the desire to bring elements of nature inside the home often comes with a host of unwanted and unnecessary petrochemicals.  Related: Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art To create a cleaner home environment, she began experimenting with agar, which is an extract from red algae. She then combined it with glycerin and water to make a material for 3D printing that is natural, biodegradable and renewable. Once she was able to solidify the process, she began, and continues, experimenting with different products made from the same medium. Her wall art and faux flowers have a variety of finishes, including shimmery, metallic and foamy. The bioplastic also takes a variety of shapes, from wavy to curvy, and can be formed into sheets, filaments or cast units.  In the example of her floral pendant lamps made with agar, she makes the shade base by knitting agar yarn and decorating them with agar flowers cast from 3D-printed molds she designed. Her Agar Garden designs are an artistic endeavor into working with bio materials, while developing useful and pleasing interior design products. She’s also developed lamps and other products from silk and wool fabric samples, sequin scraps and lurex selvage yarns and mats made from a combination of agar, onion skins, spoiled milk and recycled saris. With an emphasis on protecting the environment in her material choices, Sung pays special attention to coloring through the use of fiber waste (wool), food waste and mica powder.  “As a textile maker who consciously integrates science and technology into art and design and a material creative who dedicates to healthy and sustainable solutions, I earnestly explore the relationship between digital, bio and recycling fabrication,” Sung said. “Through my work, I want to transform textile making into a system that is harm-free, slow and mindful.” + Yi Hsuan Sung   Images via Yi Hsuan Sung 

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Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

Ridepanda streamlines the hunt for the right e-ride

October 8, 2021 by  
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With a widespread discussion about reducing  pollution  from vehicle emissions, a company called Ridepanda has biked into the conversation with the first online e-dealership, which peddles e-mobility options.  The goal is not only to provide a central location for e-bike, e-scooter, and e-moped shopping, but to pivot the way people are thinking about transportation options. Ridepanda’s mission is to help transform personal transportation in a way that encourages better health for the rider as well as the citizens who benefit from cleaner air. Compared to renting e-rides regularly or investing in a car, the cost of purchasing e-transport is a budget-friendly option too. Related: This university student built her own wooden e-bike, Electraply Conscientious consumers around the planet are driving demand for electric vehicles, and not just cars. The other e-options also contribute to a healthier  environment , improved air quality, reduced carbon emissions and minimized noise pollution.  The company reports, “Ridepanda offers a handpicked selection of e-bikes , e-mopeds and e-scooters, along with essential add-ons including financing, maintenance, warranties and personalized customer services.” The goal is to make it easier to convert the daily commute towards electric modes of transportation. It’s a need that was already there, according to co-founders Chinmay Malaviya and Charlie Depman, who both previously worked at companies like Lime, Bird and Scoot. “The support from investors will be used to make technological improvements to our platform to streamline the process of discovering, purchasing, owning, and maintaining light electric vehicles . This includes building tailored experiences for specific demographics, strengthening our vetting system, improving our ridefinder recommendation engine, and helping governments utilize e-bike rebates and subsidies,” Depman said. The company is currently watching the recently introduced E-BIKE Act, which would offer substantial e-bike rebates. Ridepanda is also working with San Mateo County and its utility provider Peninsula Clean Energy to streamline the introduction of local e-bike rebate programs. + Ridepanda  Images via Ridepanda

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Ridepanda streamlines the hunt for the right e-ride

Top 20 greenest schools in America 2021

October 5, 2021 by  
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Sierra Club is America’s largest grassroots environmental organization with a membership around 3.5 million. It’s mission is to encourage people to enjoy the many benefits of the outdoors, while lobbying for wildlife protection, clean energy, health and safety and environmental preservation. Spotlighting on these issues, the Sierra Club ranked the green aspects of 328 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. The results of the 15th annual “Coolest Schools” evaluation were recently released by “Sierra,” the organization’s national magazine.  Related: New LEED-targeted student housing supports net-zero goals The rankings are based on a criteria that reflects a commitment to eco-friendly actions and messaging in the curriculum. Each school in the top 20 has taken actions toward addressing climate change through architectural material selection, campus planning initiatives, operational standards and energy efficiency .  The researchers also looked at the courses offered through each institution and placed a value on environmentally-focused curricula, including environmental activism, renewable energy, waste management and protection of nature. The number one spot went to Arizona State University , which has placed in the top five for the past several years. “Sustainability at ASU is an enterprise-wide effort,” said Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “It’s not just recycling and energy conservation. It’s integrating sustainability in everything we do: academic offerings, the research we conduct, the way we operate campus, student experiences, investments we make with our endowment and even the food we serve.” The campus honors this commitment with 37 percent of all food and drink offerings being plant-based (some sourced from the on-campus educational garden). It also developed a protective habitat for burrowing owls and planted a forest to provide education about how trees capture carbon. Nearly 95 percent of the academic departments offer coursework on the topic of sustainability.  With similar initiatives, campuses across California reflected the environmental protection ideology prevalent throughout the state. Campuses in Irvine, Berkeley, Merced, Santa Barbara and Davis all made the short list. Also representing the west coast is Seattle University, placing 14th.   Schools in the eastern portion of the United States also represented well, placing in nine of the top 20 spots across campuses in New York , Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine and District of Columbia. Rounding out the top 20 from the center-left of the country is number 10: Colorado State University.  Canada showed a shared passion for environmental protections and the responsibility to educate students about eco-issues with Thompson Rivers. In British Columbia, it took the number three spot. Université de Sherbrooke (#11) and Université Laval (#13), both in Quebec, also made the list. Katie O’Reilly, Sierra’s lifestyle and adventure editor summarizes how the landscape of conscientious environmentalism has expanded in recent decades. “In the past 15 years, Cool Schools has evolved dramatically—we used to hear about light-green initiatives like double-sided printing and Earth Day parties,” she said. “Today, schools have dedicated sustainability professionals who innovate pathways toward audacious zero-carbon and zero-waste and circular goals. This year, I was particularly impressed by how campus sustainability offices used pandemic downtime to examine what it means to ‘come back’ and how sustainability and equity could be further integrated into every aspect of campus life and operations. They exhibited a real ‘let no crisis go to waste’ ethos.” Sierra’s top 20 green schools of 2021 are: Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona)  University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California)  Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, British Columbia) Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, New York) University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California) University of California, Merced (Merced, California)  University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut) University of New Hampshire (Durham, New Hampshire) Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado) Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Québec) Colby College (Waterville, Maine) Université Laval (Québec City, Québec) Seattle University (Seattle, Washington)  Chatham University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, California)  Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts) American University (Washington, District of Columbia) University of California, Davis (Davis, California)  The Sierra Club recognizes it’s nothing new for youth to be passionate about the environment and sees the opportunity to support efforts to take action. Coupled with the support of college and university campuses, students have the opportunity to initiate lasting change. In addition to offering educational resources to students on topics related to the environment, these green schools set an example through campus policies aimed at green construction, recycling efforts, water savings, passive design elements and the use of solar power.  “Youth and students have always been at the forefront of movements for change, from the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s to the youth-led climate strikes of today,” said Eddie Junsay, Youth Leadership Director of the Sierra Club. “School campuses play an important role providing the environment for students to collectively develop their political analysis and learn how to advocate for the world they want to see. This issue is a chance for schools to heed the calls of their students, to be leaders for climate and social justice.” The full ranking of 328 colleges and universities is online . Via Sierra Club Images via Sierra Club

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Top 20 greenest schools in America 2021

Harvard’s decision to ditch fossil fuel investments reflects changing realities

October 4, 2021 by  
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Students had demanded for years that the university divest from fossil fuels. What happens next?

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Harvard’s decision to ditch fossil fuel investments reflects changing realities

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