Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock

December 29, 2017 by  
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Winter is here, and it appears even marine creatures are feeling the impact. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy responded to calls of two thresher sharks stranded on Massachusetts beaches, and said the sharks likely succumbed to cold shock. The north half of the United States is battling bitter cold with a mass of Arctic air, according to The New York Times , with meteorologists saying single-digit temperatures could be here to stay for at least another week. And even sharks are battling the frigid weather . The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy shared on their social media they were called to two thresher shark strandings near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries . The conservancy said the sharks were both male, and probably stranded because of cold shock. Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries marine scientist Greg Skomal told The New York Times, “If you’ve got cold air, that’ll freeze their gills up very quickly. Those gill filaments are very sensitive and it wouldn’t take long for the shark to die.” Skomal said the thresher sharks may have been working their way south with the cooling of northerly waters, but could have gotten trapped by Cape Cod and stranded on the beach, where they may have died more rapidly because of the cold. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which promotes Atlantic white shark conservation through scientific research and education, gathered morphometric data and organ and tissue samples for analyzing once they thaw. They called on people to report anything strange they might see on Cape beaches, with a picture and location. If you’d like to help out the conservancy, they put together a shark stranding response kit wishlist on GOODdler; you can donate here . Via the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Facebook and The New York Times Images via the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Twitter

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Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock

Universal DNA vaccine could make yearly flu shot a thing of the past

December 29, 2017 by  
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There were 7,000 confirmed cases of the flu in the United States by the end of November – double the amount from the same time the prior year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Washington School of Medicine researchers are hoping to one day offer an alternative to the annual flu shot: a DNA vaccine . The vaccine could offer long-lasting protection from all flu virus strains – even as viruses genetically change. A DNA vaccine could instruct a person’s skin cells to generate antigens and induce antibodies and T cell responses to fight the flu, according to UW Medicine . A gene gun device could inject the vaccine right into skin cells. With the universal vaccine, people might not have to get a flu shot every year. Related: Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time The DNA vaccine is able to get around genetic changes in flu strains by “using genetic components of influenza virus – the conserved areas – which do not change,” according to UW Medicine. The DNA vaccine doesn’t just repel a virus but finds infected cells and kills them. The research team tested the vaccine on primates , and found T cell responses were so fast the primates just did not get sick. Department of Microbiology professor Deborah Fuller, in whose laboratory this research took place, said in a statement, “With the immunized groups, we found that using this conserved component of the virus gave them 100 percent protection against a previous circulating influenza virus that didn’t match the vaccine.” This universal vaccine could be ready for rapid deployment in case of a deadly pandemic flu strain, and has a production time of around three months as opposed to the nine months required for the United States-approved vaccine for flu season. The DNA-based approach could also offer a mechanism for vaccines for other viruses like Zika . The vaccine could still be five to 10 years away – UW Medicine said that’s about as long as it takes from promising laboratory results to commercial viability. The journal PLOS One published the research this month. 17 researchers from institutions around the United States contributed to the paper. Via University of Washington School of Medicine Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Universal DNA vaccine could make yearly flu shot a thing of the past

Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

December 1, 2017 by  
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The Trump Administration has signaled its intention to take a significantly tougher approach to trade with China, where most of the world’s solar panels are produced. This stance follows President Trump’s campaign promise to protect American jobs from being outsourced to another country. Due to increasing international competition in the solar industry, at least a dozen solar companies have closed factories in the United States . In response to Chinese domination of the global solar market, the United States had already raised tariffs on solar panels produced in China during the Obama Administration , prompting Chinese solar companies to relocate production to nearby Southeast Asian countries. Now, the Trump Administration may authorize tariffs on all solar panel imports into the United States, potentially raising costs to American consumers of solar power. China’s solar industry has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past decade. Though its contribution to the global solar industry was once relatively insignificant, China now produces more than two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. This economy of scale has enabled the global prices for solar panels to drop by ninety percent, positively contributing to the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The current conflict in which the Trump Administration seeks to escalate pits American consumers and solar installation companies, which have benefited from cheaper solar panels, and American solar panel producers, which seek to even the playing field with China’s solar industry. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 American manufacturers contend that Chinese solar panel production benefits unfairly from state subsidies and low-cost loans backed by government-run banks. These manufacturers “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of Phoenix-based First Solar, according to the New York Times . Interfering on behalf of American solar panel manufacturers is not without its risks. If the Trump Administration successfully implements a more expansive tariff system, which could happen as soon as January 2018, it raises the likelihood of retaliation from China and the potential for a broader trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Via the New York Times Images via The White House and Depositphotos

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Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

Prefab tiny cabin perched on a granite rock to minimize environmental impact

October 4, 2017 by  
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This solitary cabin in Lincoln, New Hampshire, was built to fit the rock on which it sits, rather than the other way around. I-Kanda Architects designed the building as an angular timber structure precariously perched on a granite outcropping in the White Mountain. Using just nine foundation points and prefabricated framing, the architects specifically designed the 900-square-foot cabin to have a gentle environmental impact. Providing stunning views of the valley and several prominent peaks of the mountain range, the home was designed to minimize the amount of trees that needed to be cleared. Initially conceived as a weekend getaway for two people, the structure evolved to meet the spatial and functional demands of a family of four. Related: Dreamy cabin is a luxurious escape in the New Zealand bush The growing needs of the family combined with the site’s unique spatial restraints required the architects to maximize the footprint of the building without imposing on the landscape—and the result + I-Kanda Architects Via Architizer Photos by Matt Delphenich

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Prefab tiny cabin perched on a granite rock to minimize environmental impact

Shocking investigation reveals 70,000 dogs in Bali murdered and served to tourists every year

June 19, 2017 by  
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Each year 70,000 dogs are brutally killed in Bali , Indonesia, according to an investigation spearheaded by Animals Australia (AA). The animals are strangled, bludgeoned, or poisoned and then fed to tourists who think they’re eating chicken meat. AA estimates seven times more dogs are killed in Bali yearly than in the Yulin Dog-Eating Festival in China. Evidence obtained by ABC’s 7.30 program revealed a huge dog meat trade in Bali. An AA undercover investigator spent four months posing as a documentary maker to uncover details about the trade. Known simply as ‘Luke,’ the investigator said he started by getting to know key players in the unregulated industry, and “eventually, they invited me to join them as their gangs stole, hunted, poisoned, and killed dogs.” Related: Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US AA campaign director Lyn White said, “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realizing is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served. They’re just sitting down ordering satay have no idea that they’re eating dog.” And it’s not just street vendors selling the meat to tourists as chicken, but restaurants as well. The Bali Animal Welfare Association, an organization working to rescue the animals from dog traders, has discovered 70 restaurants serving dog meat. It’s not illegal to consume dog meat in Bali. But White said it is illegal to kill animals cruelly or to consume meat tainted with poison. Luke described aggressive methods and said although he’s trained himself to cope with cruelty, in one village where he saw dogs being caught, nothing had prepared him for the brutality. On one occasion he witnessed hunters catching dogs by laying out fish meat laced with cyanide. For the first time in his career, he switched off his camera as he watched a puppy die over agonizing minutes. He said, “I sat stroking him as he died and found myself apologizing for the cruelty of my fellow man.” According to ABC, while some local people think dog meat is healthy, the practice isn’t a long-held tradition. Hindu leader Gusti Ngurah Harta is among those working to end the trade – he said Bali Hindus consider dogs to be a holy animal and that it’s upsetting people are eating them. AA is willing to partner with the Bali government to end the trade and find a positive solution, which may include compensating those who make their living in the trade. You can sign their petition for the governor of Bali here . Via Animals Australia , ABC , and International Business Times Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Shocking investigation reveals 70,000 dogs in Bali murdered and served to tourists every year

‘Eighth natural wonder of the world’ may have been rediscovered after 131 years

June 14, 2017 by  
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131 years ago, the eighth natural wonder of the world was thought to be lost in a volcanic eruption . The exact fate of the Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana in New Zealand was unknown, but now two researchers think the terraces may actually have survived, and could even be excavated to dazzle the world once again. During the mid-1800’s, visitors from around the planet came to view the Pink and White Terraces, pools cascading down into Lake Rotomahana. But in 1886, nearby Mount Tarawera erupted, releasing around as much energy as the biggest nuclear weapon ever detonated. Research hinted the terraces were either destroyed or pushed down into the depths of the lake. But independent researchers Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden of the Alexander Turnbull Library think otherwise; according to them, the terraces may be preserved just 32 to 49 feet under the surface beneath mud and ash. Related: Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius Bunn told The Guardian the government of the 1800’s never surveyed the area, so we don’t know the exact longitude and latitude of the terraces. But the two researchers drew on unpublished 1859 survey data from 19th century geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter to determine the German-Austrian’s location as he made his field notes to determine where the famed terraces might be today. They think the Pink and White Terraces may be in reasonable condition, able to be restored. Now they hope to begin exploring the site, if they can clinch funding. Bunn told The Guardian, “We want to undertake this work in the public interest. And I have been closely liaising with the ancestral owners of the land, the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, and they are supportive and delighted with the work.” Nolden and Bunn aren’t the first researchers to think they’ve rediscovered the terraces. GNS Science New Zealand said in 2016 following five years of research, an international team came to the conclusion much of the terraces had been destroyed. But Bunn said he’s talked with GNS and that their conclusions may have rested on 130 years of incorrect cartographical information. Bunn and Nolden’s research was published online this month by the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand . Via The Guardian and IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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‘Eighth natural wonder of the world’ may have been rediscovered after 131 years

BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 1, 2017 by  
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During a highly anticipated speech at the Rose Garden, climate denier President Donald Trump announced that the United States of America will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement secured under Barack Obama’s leadership. President Trump stated that the accord was “bad” and poorly negotiated by the Obama administration, and that he “is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first.” Part of Trump’s speech read, ”The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama administration and signed out of desperation. It frontloads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy.” Before the announcement was officially made, Donald Trump was cited by The Daily Best telling congressional staffers on a conference call that he is withdrawing from the Paris accord. Energy policy adviser for the White House, Michael Catanzaro, confirmed that “the United States is getting out of the Paris agreement.” Catanzaro added that Trump “will be open to and will immediately be looking for a better deal.” Reportedly, the Trump administration will follow steps for withdrawal laid out in the agreement. In total, says Catanzaro, removing the U.S. from the deal will take four years. “But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to,” he said. Despite the fact that countries such as Costa Rica run on 100% renewable energy and Denmark once generated 400% of the power it needs from wind turbines , the Trump administration remains resistant to transitioning the U.S. to run on renewable energy resources. This is because President Trump, a businessman, believes that energy sourced from fossil fuels is the solution to making America great again – and he thinks climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese . Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump At the time of its signing, 195 countries, including the United States, pledged to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change in order to prevent global catastrophes which may result from rising temperatures. President Barack Obama committed America to a goal of lowering emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The broad aim was to increase these cuts over time. With the United States exiting the Paris Agreement, carbon emissions are likely to increase, potentially propelling global disasters resulting from rising sea levels , severe weather conditions, and increased temperatures. On a positive note, China and the European Union are prepared to publicly recommit to the agreement with or without the United States. Also, Trump cannot technically withdraw from the agreement until November of 2019. Finally, many U.S.-based companies, including Apple , have ambitious goals to run on 100% clean energy in the near future. With support from educated consumers, the U.S. may reach its previously contracted emissions goal with or without the President’s support. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Creative Commons

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BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

Gorgeous year-round bath house in Sweden soaks up the winter sun

May 19, 2017 by  
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This minimalist bath house allows inhabitants of Karlshamn, Sweden, to enjoying the sea all year round. White Arkitekter designed the timber-clad building to age naturally for low-maintenance facilities that straddle both the water and the land. The town’s first bath house was carefully situated to soak up as much sunlight as possible all winter long, while protecting visitors from the chilly winter winds. Local organization Kallbadhusets Vänner (Friends of the Bath House) worked with local sponsors and the municipality to realize a project which would allow people to enjoy the sea all year round. Kallbadhus is located along a beach promenade, close to the public swimming hall . Sitting at a height of three meters above sea level, the sharply angled timber-clad volume straddles solid land and water while offering views of the sea. Related: Tiny Norwegian Prefab Bathhouse is Clad in Sustainable Kebony Wood Two glulam beams provide structural support for a small bridge that links the building to the beach. A common room with an adjoining terrace is flanked on one side by the women’s sauna and the by the men’s sauna on the other. The architects designed the saunas to receive optimal amount of sunlight while simultaneously offering protection from the wind. The exterior cladding is treated with a grey-pigmented oil which allows the wood to age naturally. + White Arkitekter Via World Architecture News

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Gorgeous year-round bath house in Sweden soaks up the winter sun

Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

May 2, 2017 by  
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Are humans an endangered species ? Some scientists think so. Author Phil Torres wrote a piece for Salon detailing evidence from various sources – from climate change data to a recent article by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – showing the possibility of an apocalypse that could occur in some of our lifetimes. Torres said, “We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster.” Climate change isn’t the only issue humanity must contend with today. Overpopulation , ocean acidification, antibiotic resistance , and the potential of a global pandemic threaten us. In a December 2016 article for The Guardian , Hawking said, “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” And all of this while an anti-intellectual president sits in the White House. Related: Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth Donald Trump’s election prompted The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight – the closest it’s been since 1953. In a New York Times article , scientists Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote their organization made the move because Trump had pledged to impede progress on climate change action and nuclear proliferation. They aren’t the only scientists predicting disaster. Microbiologist Frank Fenner, whose work helped defeat smallpox, said in 2010 “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction , and climate change.” Biologist Neil Dawe said it wouldn’t surprise him if the generation following him saw the end of humanity. Ecologist Guy McPherson went so far as to say humanity could be extinct by 2026 . But we don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. Hawking said humanity must break down barriers inside and outside nations, and help equip people for a changing economy with training and financial support. He said he is an optimist for our species, but elites must learn lessons from 2016 – and “above all a measure of humility.” Via Salon Images via David Blackwell. on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

Light-filled Compass House prioritizes low maintenance and energy savings

March 23, 2017 by  
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Toronto-based superkül architects designed a vacation home for a family of six transitioning back to Canada after living abroad. Set on the grassy plains of Mulmur, Ontario, the 4,300-square-foot dwelling is a striking all-white building that prioritizes low maintenance, natural light, and energy savings. The energy-efficient home was built in two phases, the first of which was certified LEED Gold . Created as a spacious weekend home, the Compass House comprises two volumes arranged in an L-shaped plan with multiple bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room at the heart. The dwelling was constructed with locally sourced fieldstone and other low-maintenance materials such as the white cement-board siding, aluminum windows, and steel roof. In contrast to the hardy, weatherproof exterior, the interior emanates warmth with white oak and knotty white cedar floors and walls. Related: Superkül Designs Canada’s First Active House Skylights and large windows fill the home with natural light and ventilation. The ample glazing also frames views of the varied landscape, from the forests to the west to the 100 acres of fields in the north and east. An outdoor courtyard extends the indoor spaces out. “Through its siting, tectonics and materiality, it balances intimacy and expansiveness, light and dark, land and sky — orienting and heightening one’s experience of the surrounding environment,” wrote the architects. Use of geothermal -powered heating and cooling, natural daylighting, passive ventilation, and high insulation values help keep energy demands low despite the building’s large size. Construction waste was also kept to a minimum. + Superkül Images by Ben Rahn / A-Frame Studio

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Light-filled Compass House prioritizes low maintenance and energy savings

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