Experts warn earths topsoil is almost gone

June 3, 2019 by  
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Nearly half of all the world’s top soil has disappeared over the last 150 years, despite its critical importance to our food supply. At least 95 percent of our global food supply relies on rich topsoil for production and the better the soil the more nutritious the food. Experts warn that without massive reformations to agriculture and city planning, we could run out of topsoil in the next 60 years. Intensive farming is the primary cause for the loss of topsoil. Soil that is exposed to elements like wind and rain is easily lost on farms that rely on chemical inputs to compensate for the lack of nutritious top soil. Other farming practices, like over-tilling, synthetic chemical use and lack of cover crops contributes to the degradation of soil as well. Related: Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns “We never want to see our soil unless we go looking for it,” says Keith Berns a farmer in Nebraska who advocates for the use of cover crops and no-till methods. Across the country, more and more farmers are switching to strategies that do not plow or till their land and are seeing more organic matter in their soil. Although not all farmers are sold on its benefits, the percentage of land using no-till methodology was up to 40 percent in 2017, a small but significant increase from just 32 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of land with cover crops saw an increase of 50 percent from five years prior, which totals about 15 million acres of cover crop. Soil advocates are hopeful that state legislation and programs will further incentivize farmers to practice more responsible farming that maintains and replenishes soil . In Maryland and Virginia, for example, government grants helped encourage farmers to switch to cover crop systems and the benefits to the soil have been considerable. Via The Guardian Image via daeron

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Experts warn earths topsoil is almost gone

The Basics of Recycling Scrap Metal for Money

May 15, 2019 by  
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Originally written by Virginia Buechel, of iScrap App. Most of … The post The Basics of Recycling Scrap Metal for Money appeared first on Earth911.com.

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This development offers sustainable, affordable housing and tiny homes in Colorado

May 13, 2019 by  
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The small resort-town of Telluride in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is known for its world-class skiing, remote location and, until now, lack of low-cost housing. When the tourist numbers begin to pile up during the busy season, those working in the hospitality industry at restaurants, shops and resorts are often forced to endure a long commute from the areas outside of town, where prices are cheaper. The expensive hotel rooms and vacation homes are a dream for visitors, but when it comes to lower- to middle-class workers, affordable accommodations are scarce. Architecture firm Charles Cunniffe Architects out of Aspen recently completed a low-cost option for housing just outside of central Telluride, with rents as low as $385 per person. Related: COBE unveils LEED Gold-seeking affordable housing units in Toronto The complex consists of a boarding house with room for 46 tenants, another building with 18 separate apartments and three tiny homes . You wouldn’t know by looking at it that Virginia Placer is considered low-cost housing. The architects blended the structures among the plentiful high-end resorts and expensive housing for which Telluride is known. The buildings are placed at the base of a tree-covered mountain, and the exterior is made of high-quality wooden panels and a variety of metals, including steel. The apartment building utilizes open-air stairs and wooden balconies, while the boarding house has a huge deck with mountain views and a canopy for protection from the elements. Inside the boarding house, communal lounges and two kitchens are available for tenants to use. With a focus on sustainability, the designers installed oversized windows into the apartments for passive solar and ventilation. The tiny homes across the street from the main two buildings share the same design of metal and cedar and total 290 square feet of living space per dwelling. Scoring a spot in the development is a literal win — potential tenants are chosen through a lottery. Apartments range from  $850 to $1430 a month, while a tiny home costs $700 monthly. The cheapest option for individuals is the communal boarding house for $385 per month per person. + Charles Cunniffe Architects Via Dezeen Photography by Dallas & Harris Photography via Charles Cunniffe Architects

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This development offers sustainable, affordable housing and tiny homes in Colorado

A pair of monochromatic cottages are tucked into the idyllic Canadian forestscape

May 13, 2019 by  
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An idyllic forestscape setting that lies deep within the Canadian wilderness has inspired Montreal-based firm Appareil Architecture to build a vacation home in the form of two jet-black, pitched-roofed cabins. The Grand-Pic Chalet is actually made up of two monochromatic cottages separated by a connecting wooden deck, which allows the beautiful family home to sit in serene harmony with the surrounding nature. When the homeowners tasked the Canadian firm to create a cabin that would be a welcoming space to host family and friends, the design team was immediately inspired by the building site. Surrounded by soaring evergreen trees and a rolling landscape, the designers were drawn to create a welcoming but sophisticated space that enjoys a strong connection between the home and the forest . Related: The Little House clad in black cedar is nestled among Washington’s evergreens The house is a total of 1,464 square feet separated into two cabins. The main cottage contains the living room and open kitchen area, while the smaller cabin is used as a guest house. In contrast to the black exteriors, the interiors are clad in light Russian plywood panels. The open layout is perfect for socializing, either with a large party or small family gathering. A series of tall, slender windows let optimal natural light into the interior living spaces as well as provide stunning views of the forestscape. Taking inspiration from Nordic traditions, the minimalist interior design is comprised of a neutral color palette and sparse contemporary furnishings. A simple wood-burning chimney sits in the corner to keep the living space warm and cozy. Meanwhile, the core of the design is the open kitchen, which features a large island with bar stool seating — the perfect space for catching up with friends and family. + APPAREIL Architecture Via Archdaily Photography by Félix Michaud via APPAREIL Architecture

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A pair of monochromatic cottages are tucked into the idyllic Canadian forestscape

Andrew Wheeler confirmed as new EPA administrator

March 5, 2019 by  
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Andrew Wheeler is taking over the reigns as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ). Wheeler, who used to work as a lobbyist for the coal industry, became the 15th EPA administrator after a Senate vote confirmed his appointment. Shortly after the vote, Wheeler took to Twitter to post his thoughts on becoming the new EPA administrator. Wheeler thanked several politicians for helping him obtain the appointment and vowed to move forward with President Donald Trump’s agenda . “I am deeply honored, and I look forward to continuing the President’s agenda and the work of the Agency alongside all my EPA colleagues,” Wheeler shared. Related: EPA criminal enforcement crumbling under Trump The Senate approved Wheeler for the spot with a narrow vote of 52-47. According to Grist , several senators who had previously supported Wheeler voted against him, because they do not believe he is committed to improving the environment . This includes Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican who voted against the appointment. Collins later released a statement about how Wheeler is qualified for the post but is not the best option. Collins criticized Wheeler for supporting programs that do not benefit the environment, especially when it comes to climate change initiatives. Given Wheeler’s work history, Collins has reason to worry. Wheeler is now the fourth member of Trump’s cabinet who is regulating an industry in which he used to be employed. Two years ago, Trump appointed Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier this year, Patrick Shanahan of Boeing took the reigns as secretary of defense while David Bernhardt, an oil lobbyist, was nominated for the Department of Interior. With Wheeler’s appointment now confirmed, he is expected to roll back a few Obama-era laws that were put in place to help the environment. This includes the carbon-cutting Clean Power Plan and a reworking of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule, which improved water quality around the country. Wheeler was appointed as the new EPA administrator following the resignation of Scott Pruitt, who quit the post amid an ethics scandal last summer. Via Grist Image via U.S. Department of Agriculture ( 1 , 2 )

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Nine more states join seismic blasting lawsuit against the Trump administration

December 27, 2018 by  
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  Several conservation groups and South Carolina coastal communities sued the Trump Administration earlier this month for allowing companies to conduct seismic blasting surveys in the Atlantic Ocean as a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. And now, a coalition of nine states has joined the lawsuit and added their clout to the claim. Last week, a coalition of attorneys general from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit because the seismic surveys will expose marine life to repeated sound blasters louder than 160 decibels, and that could lead to dangerous consequences. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, the leader of the coalition, says that the Trump Administration continues to make the interests of the fossil fuel industry a top priority over our natural resources . Therefore, attorneys general along the Atlantic Coast will continue to fight the efforts of Atlantic shore drilling. Diane Hoskins, the campaign director for Oceana— one of the nine groups suing the Trump Administration— applauded the AG coalition for standing up for their states. “Putting our oceans, marine life and coastal economies at risk for dirty and dangerous offshore drilling is wrong, and we are not backing down. Seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic defies law, science and common sense. They acted unlawfully, and we’re going to stop it. Oceana is pleased so many states are joining this critical fight,” said Hoskins. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world This lawsuit comes less than a month after the National Marine Fisheries Service issued five Incidental Harassment Authorizations that permit companies to use airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. During the seismic blasting process, ships fire blasts of air to the bottom of the ocean every ten seconds for weeks or months at a time. They do this to map the contours of the ocean floor with the goal of finding oil and gas deposits. However, the loud, continuous noise can damage the hearing of marine life, or possibly disorient and kill the animals . It can also negatively impact commercial and recreational fishing by decreasing catch rates. And, because burning fossil fuels is causing rapid climate change, these conservation groups, along with these nine states, are trying to stop the federal government’s “flat-out wrong” decision to allow offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast. Via EcoWatch Images via wener22brigitte

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Pipeline leaks 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into Indiana river

September 10, 2018 by  
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An oil company based out of Texas has confessed to a faulty pipeline leaking 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into an Indiana river. Buckeye Pipe Line, based out of Houston, admitted that it detected a pressure loss in its fuel line last week. A break in the line poured thousands of gallons of fuel into a river near Decatur, Indiana, a town with slightly less than 10,000 people. Buckeye Pipe Line closed its line as soon as it detected the leak. Unfortunately, the leak still dumped thousands of gallons of jet fuel into St. Marys River, which runs about 100 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Officials in Decatur installed booms in the river to help stop the spread of the fuel while workers skimmed it from the surface of the water with vacuums. Related: TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia The mayor of Decatur, Kenneth L. Meyer, believes removing the fuel will take weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) is monitoring the situation and checking fuel levels in businesses and homes close to the spill site. The EPA is also checking the quality of water at different spots further downstream to determine how far the spill has traveled. Residents of Decatur first learned about the spill late Friday night after the local police issued a warning. The Decatur Police Department told citizens to stay away from the river until the cleanup was over. Buckeye Pipe Line is not planning on re-opening the line until the pressure issue is dealt with and everything is safe to run. Although 8,000 gallons of jet fuel ended up in the river, the EPA does not believe the town’s water supply will be affected by the spill. Residents might, however, notice a change in air quality . Meanwhile, this spill offers environmentalists further evidence of the dangers of new oil and gas pipelines. Via Associated Press and EcoWatch Image via  Ray Bodden

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Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

June 15, 2018 by  
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In the wake of the Flint crisis, Michigan is adopting new lead water rules — the strictest in the U.S., according to Reuters . Lead service lines will have to be replaced, and the lead concentrations allowed in drinking water will be lower than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standard. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Michigan Senior Policy Advocate Cyndi Roper said in a statement , “There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, so despite some troubling loopholes, these rules set an example other states and the Environmental Protection Agency could follow to address an issue plaguing water systems across the country.” More than 18 million Americans received water through systems with lead violations in 2015, the NRDC said . Lead contamination of drinking water still troubles people across the U.S., and Michigan is taking some action. Their new Lead and Copper Rule, as laid out in a statement from Governor Rick Snyder, lowers the level of allowable lead to 12 parts per billion (ppb) in 2025. The EPA’s Lead Action Level is 15 ppb . Related: Flint activist and stay-at-home mom wins the Goldman Environmental Prize All public water systems will be required to replace lead service lines at a rate averaging 5 percent a year starting in 2021 during a 20-year period. The rules also require a second sample collection at locations that obtain water from lead service lines and the creation of a statewide water system advisory council. All public water systems will have to conduct asset inventory under the new rules as well. “The new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is the most stringent in the world when applied to cities with lead pipes, yet it strikes a reasonable balance between cost and benefit,” Virginia Tech University engineering professor Marc Edwards said in the governor’s statement. “It provides the EPA  with a good exemplar to follow, if they ever begin to wage their long-promised war on lead in water.” + Office of Governor Rick Snyder + Natural Resources Defense Council (1 , 2) Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

June 8, 2018 by  
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An explosion rocked a TransCanada pipeline in Moundsville, West Virginia and the surrounding community yesterday. Locals said it felt like a tornado and sounded like a freight train, and they could see flames from around 20 miles away, EcoWatch reported. TransCanada said in a statement they do not yet know the cause of the explosion. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Early alarm this morningOn trebble run on fish creek Posted by Ruby Mason on Thursday, June 7, 2018 A natural gas pipeline exploded in West Virginia’s Marshall County, located right in the midst of the huge Utica and Marcellus shale formations, Reuters said . No employees were at the site when the pipeline ruptured around 4:15 a.m. EST, and the fire was at least a mile away from the closest home, Marshall County director of emergency management Tom Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . BREAKING: More pictures from a viewer of the explosion. Viewers are calling in and telling us it felt like a tornado hit their house when this happened @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/akYwSgED7j — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought The pipeline, called Leach XPress, was placed into service at the start of this year . At that time, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling referred to it as “truly a best-in-class pipeline” and said the company looked forward “to many years to safe, reliable and efficient operation on behalf of our customers.” @MarshallCoWVOEM sent me this picture. This is the site of the pipeline rupture as it was burning off @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/VINnMiq44G — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 TransCanada said after the event, which they referred to as the Nixon Ridge Pipeline Incident, “emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. There were no injuries involved with this incident.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said officials from the U.S. Forestry Service and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection were on the site. This picture sent to me from a viewer in Short Creek, WV. Perspective: this is 20 MILES or more away, over a half hour drive! @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/yAmFJUnKmO — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette other companies were on the scene too — some operate pipelines just a few hundred feet away from the ruptured pipeline. He said some of those companies turned off the flow in their own pipelines, and that natural gas well operators shut down wells close by. This is drone footage from @MarshallCoWVOEM Director Tom Hart says this is at the end of Nixon Ridge near Fish Creek. The explosion left a crater. The DEP estimates 10 acres are affected @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/QXTOsWBvNg — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 The event could impact around 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas service — Reuters reported that one billion cubic feet of gas could power around five million American homes. Via EcoWatch , the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  and Reuters Image via Depositphotos

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

Video: NASA tests its supersonic parachute for the first time

November 20, 2017 by  
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NASA has performed the first test of its supersonic parachute as part of its Mars 2020 mission. This essential component will allow the Mars-bound spacecraft to slow down as its enters the planet’s atmosphere whilst traveling at speeds of over 12,000 MPH. “It is quite a ride,” said Ian Clark, the test’s technical lead from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The imagery of our first parachute inflation is almost as breathtaking to behold as it is scientifically significant. For the first time, we get to see what it would look like to be in a spacecraft hurtling towards the Red Planet , unfurling its parachute.” Take a look at the video after the jump. The first test of this parachute was conducted with the Black Brant IX sounding rocket, which launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on October 4, 2017. After the rocket reached 26 miles in altitude and a speed 1.8 times that of sound, its parachute was deployed successfully. The rocket landed off the coast of Virginia shortly after. “Everything went according to plan or better than planned,” said Clark. “We not only proved that we could get our payload to the correct altitude and velocity conditions to best mimic a parachute deployment in the Martian atmosphere, but as an added bonus, we got to see our parachute in action as well.” Related: The world’s first space nation is now officially in orbit The Mars 2020 mission aims to search for signs of life on Mars by investigating evidence on location through the use of a remote rover and by gathering drilled rock samples to be studied upon their return to Earth. As indicated by its name, the mission aims to launch in 2020 and will require new technology , such as the supersonic parachute, to complete the ambitious undertaking. Although this marked the first parachute test for the Mars 2020 mission, the parachute itself has been used before for Mars exploration. In 2012, a parachute with the same design was used to land NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory on the planet itself. Future tests will incorporate a strengthened parachute, which may be used in the Mars 2020 mission. Via NASA / NBC News Images via NASA

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