Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925

April 11, 2018 by  
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Oceanic heatwaves have increased by 54 percent since 1925, posing a major threat to aquatic ecosystems . In a study published in the journal Nature Communications , researchers outlined the cause and effects of underwater heatwaves and their future impact on the world’s oceans. According to researchers, “These trends can largely be explained by increases in mean ocean temperatures, suggesting that we can expect further increases in marine heatwave days under continued global warming.” As higher levels of greenhouse gases concentrate in the atmosphere, greater amounts of solar radiation are trapped on Earth — 95 percent of which is absorbed by the ocean . Much like the relationship between extreme weather and rising temperatures on land, as the mean average oceanic temperature rises, so too does the likelihood of extreme oceanic heating events. Because water is able to hold more heat than land, these extreme temperature events last longer than those caused by higher air temperatures. A recent example occurred in 2015, when ocean temperatures from Mexico to Alaska increased up to 10 degrees above average. Fifty documented whale deaths were recorded in this period, and many other marine animals suffered from the unusually hot water. Related: Researchers discover a completely new ocean zone swimming with new species To conduct the study, the research team gathered and analyzed data on sea surface temperatures from the past century, with recent decades producing the most accurate data. Given that the most useful data is from such a short time period, the team could not explicitly draw a causal link between anthropogenic climate change and oceanic heatwaves. They explained that the fluctuations may be due to natural temperature swings. Nonetheless, the researchers concluded that the notable increase in average oceanic temperature is absolutely affected by climate change . The scientists are most concerned that — in combination with other pressures such as acidification, overfishing , and pollution — fragile ecosystems could reach a tipping point by oceanic heatwaves and ultimately collapse. Via ZME Science Images via Depositphotos and Oliver et al.

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Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925

Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

April 4, 2018 by  
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Uravu , a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has created a device that can produce water from an unlikely source–the air itself. The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India . “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.” Uravu is named after a Malayalam word that sometimes refers to freshwater springs and can be translated as “source.” While the technology behind Uravu’s system is not new, it did have some problems. “You need high humidity and energy consumption (involved) is high,” said Shrivastav, referring to the outdated technology. “There are a lot of moving parts. What we wanted to do was have a simple modular device.” The company found inspiration in the fact that the atmosphere is constantly holding various amounts of moisture. “So that got us thinking why this resource isn’t being utilised,” said Shrivastav. “[Water vapor] also doesn’t limit itself to desalination which happens only in the coast. Or rainfall which doesn’t happen everywhere.” Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests To produce drinking water , users will have to supplement their device with an attachable mineral cartridge. The current prototype generates approximately 50 liters (13.20 gallons) daily, though the team hopes to someday develop a machine capable of producing 2,000 liters (528.34 gallons) per day. “Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity , such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.” + Uravu Via Quartz India Images via Depositphotos and Uravu

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

Water purification breakthrough can even clean water from the Dead Sea

April 3, 2018 by  
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Despite all our advances, access to clean water is still a major problem – not just for developing nations, but here in the US, where water shortages during natural disasters can cost lives. Scientists have created a cost-effective technology that addresses this problem using hydrogels. Using ambient solar energy, these gel-polymer hybrid materials can produce clean water from any source – including salt water from the Dead Sea. A team led by Guihua Yu at the University of Texas Austin created a hydrogel that is both hydrophilic and semiconducting. “We have essentially rewritten the entire approach to conventional solar water evaporation,” Yu said. The system works by creating water vapor under sunlight and then pumping the vapor into a condenser to deliver the freshwater. It also filters out contaminants that are harmful when consumed. Related: New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides The hydrogel -based solar vapor generator can desalinate water much more affordably than current options using much less power. “Water desalination through distillation is a common method for mass production of freshwater. However, current distillation technologies, such as multi-stage flash and multi-effect distillation, require significant infrastructures and are quite energy-intensive,” said Fei Zhao, a researcher involved in the project. Tests produced 25 liters of water per square meter – plenty for disaster-stricken areas or household use. Via Phys.org Images via UT at Austin

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Water purification breakthrough can even clean water from the Dead Sea

69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

April 3, 2018 by  
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Have people changed their minds about global warming after President Donald Trump, infamous for his climate change denial, has spent a year in office? Gallup conducted their annual survey regarding the environment in early March, finding  that Americans’ thoughts on the topic “have increasingly become politically polarized” — and  Trump might have contributed to the divide. In 2017, 66 percent of Republicans thought “the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated.” In 2018, that number is now up to 69 percent. In contrast, four percent of Democrats think global warming is exaggerated, down from 10 percent last year. This is just one of Gallup’s findings — they said Americans’ concerns on the topic aren’t that different from last year, but some partisan views have shifted. They conducted telephone interviews between March 1 and 8 “with a random sample of 1,041 adults” residing in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states. Related: Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change Is Trump to blame for the divide? Gallup said he may have contributed “by reversing a number of government actions to address the issue.” The announcement to pull America out of the Paris Agreement is perhaps the most notorious example; others include “the removal of climate change from the list of top U.S. national security threats and the elimination of the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ from U.S. government websites and lexicons,” according to Gallup. 66 percent of Americans would “say most scientists believe global warming is occurring;” 64 percent say human activities caused the dilemma. These numbers fell a little from those in 2017; Gallup pinned that phenomenon on increased political polarization during the last year. Not all the numbers have dipped — 45 percent of Americans in 2018 “think global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime,” up from 42 percent in 2017. Gallup said the bottom line is that Americans’ higher level of concern over global warming, shown since 2016, remains largely intact. + Gallup News Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

Footprints from world’s largest dinosaur discovered in Scotland

April 3, 2018 by  
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Dozens of footprints from ancient sauropods , a kind of creature that scientists believe may have been the largest dinosaur ever, have been discovered in Scotland. These 170-million-year-old footprints are also the oldest ever discovered in Scotland. The sauropod footprints were located in a lagoon on the Isle of Skye, near a group of footprints from theropods, more ancient cousins of  Tyrannosaurus Rex.  “It shows both long-necked and meat-eaters were on the same site at the same time living together, side-by-side,” Dr. Steve Brusatte of Edinburgh University told the Telegraph . “It captures a moment in time 170 million years ago when they were just hanging out in a lagoon, living on the beach, back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance.” Scientists believe that the sauropods who left the footprints were least 49 feet long and weighed more than 10 tons. The theropods are thought to have stood at least six feet tall. In total, researchers documented approximately 50 footprints near Brothers’ Point on the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula. This wet and wild location made it difficult for scientists to study the footprints on-site, though  drones helped, particularly in creating a map of the dig site. Related: Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs Despite its challenging environment, Scotland ‘s Isle of Skye has proven to be a bountiful trove of dinosaur fossils. “This tracksite is the second discovery of sauropod footprints on Skye,” study lead author Paige dePolo told Science Daily . “It was found in rocks that were slightly older than those previously found at Duntulm on the island and demonstrates the presence of sauropods in this part of the world through a longer timescale than previously known. This site is a useful building block for us to continue fleshing out a picture of what dinosaurs were like on Skye in the Middle Jurassic.” Via The Telegraph and Science Daily Images via  Paige dePolo/University of Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh

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Footprints from world’s largest dinosaur discovered in Scotland

China’s new rain-making system could increase rainfall by billions of cubic feet

April 2, 2018 by  
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China needs water — and their answer to the issue is a massive weather modification system being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported the country is testing technology that could increase rainfall in the Tibetan Plateau by as much as 10 billion cubic meters, or around 353 billion cubic feet, every year. Will a huge rain-making system help China with water issues ? SCMP said they plan to build tens of thousands of chambers across the Tibetan mountains to generate rain over an area of around 620,000 square miles, or “three times the size of Spain.” The chambers will burn solid fuel to create silver iodide, which SCMP described as a “ cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice.” They said the chambers will be located on steep ridges facing the south Asia monsoon . Wind striking the mountain will produce an upward draft, carrying particles into clouds to bring about rain. Related: World’s largest fog harvester produces water from thin air in the Moroccan desert Real-time data from 30 weather satellites , each one watching monsoon weather above the Indian Ocean, will guide daily operation of the chambers. The ground-based network will also draw on cloud-seeding methods with drones , planes, and artillery to maximize the impact of the system, according to SCMP. A researcher on the project told SCMP, “[So far,] more than 500 burners have been deployed on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang, and other areas for experimental use. The data we have collected show very promising results.” The publication said although the idea isn’t a new one, China is the first country to try “such a large-scale application,” and  space scientists designed and built the chambers with “cutting edge military rocket engine technology.” Via South China Morning Post Images via Depositphotos and Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

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China’s new rain-making system could increase rainfall by billions of cubic feet

The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

March 22, 2018 by  
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More than six months since  Hurricane Harvey decimated much of Central America and the American Gulf Coast, the public still doesn’t have the answers it needs regarding the full public health impact of the powerful storm. This is of particular concern for Texas, in which the nation’s most substantial energy corridor is based. 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of oil, gas and chemical pipelines are located in the impact area of Hurricane Harvey. And investigations by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle have found that the toxic impact of the storm is far worse than authorities reported. The investigators documented more than 100 specific instances of toxic chemical release into the water, the air, or land as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater flooded out of one chemical plant outside of Houston alone, mixing with storm water and surging across the sprawling urban environment. Hazardous chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other carcinogens were released into the flood waters during the storm. In the case of two major contamination events, officials publicized the potential toxic impact as less extensive than it actually was. Related: Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey While Texas regulators claim to have investigated at least 89 instances, they have not said whether they will take any enforcement action. Alarmingly, state and federal regulators only tested water and soil for contaminants in areas near Superfund toxic waste sites, ignoring the potential runoff of toxic chemicals during the unprecedented flooding of Houston and surrounding areas. During and after the storm, authorities only notified the public of dangers posed by two events: the explosions and burning at the Arkema chemical plant and an uncapped Superfund site by the San Jacinto River. “The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey,” Harris County supervising attorney Rock Owens told the Associated Press, “but the individual companies of course know.” Via NBC San Diego Images via Texas National Guard and  Depositphotos

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The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

This idyllic 15-acre farmhouse is the worlds second Living Building residence

February 21, 2018 by  
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A picturesque 15-acre farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan was just officially crowned the world’s second “Living Building” residence by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The owners of Burh Becc at Beacon Springs , Tom and Marti Burbeck, spent five years working with a team of 20 designers, engineers, architects and sustainability experts to transform their 2,200 square foot home into an icon of truly sustainable living that gives more than it takes. The beautiful farmhouse, whose design was inspired by traditional Tuscan farmhouses, has a large living space of 2,200 square feet. Additionally, the property has a 2,400 square foot barn and workshop. The farmland had been previously depleted due to years of commodity farming. Following the Living Building criteria, the land was carefully revamped with permaculture farming methods using an integrated system of agriculture, horticulture and ecology, creating a system that will be regenerative for centuries to come. The Burbeck’s not only use these farming methods to grow their own food, but they also provide healthy food for the local community – and for those with limited access to fresh produce. Related: 9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects To create a net-zero energy design , the home is equipped with clean energy generation through a 16.9-kilowatt solar array, which provides electricity to the home and back into the grid. Additionally, a passive solar system works with a very tight thermal envelope and a tall cooling tower to minimize heating and cooling needs. A closed-loop geothermal system provides radiant floor heating during the cold Michigan winters. For water conservation, the home uses a rainwater and snow harvesting system to be water net-positive . A rainwater collection system reroutes to supply 7,500 gallons of in-ground cisterns, used for non-potable water. An on-site well provides potable water at the moment to comply with local building codes, but the home is installed with a future-ready potable rainwater filtration system. After more than three and a half years designing the reformation, 18 months in construction and a year of performance auditing, Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm was awarded the Living Building Challenge certification in December 2017. Additionally, the home has been awarded a Platinum LEED Certification. When the Burbecks were asked why they took on such an ambitious project, they explained that it just made sense to their lifestyle. According to Marti Burbeck, “As we looked at the criteria for LBC certification we thought, why not go for it. If our goals include helping to change peoples’ relationship with the environment and to change building philosophies, we should start with our own project, and then become advocates.” Now that they’ve achieved their dream of converting Burh Becc into an icon of sustainability, they’re on their way to becoming advocates. The couple plan to host educational workshops and house tours to educate the community, the building industry, government officials, and anyone who will listen about the benefits of truly sustainable living. + Burh Becc at Beacon Springs + Architectural Resource Via CSR Wire Images via Burh Becc at Beacon Springs

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