DroneSeed makes reforestation easier after a large wildfire

October 18, 2021 by  
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According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 6,480,861 acres have burned across the United States this year alone as a result of 47,201 wildfires . In response, a Seattle-based company is tackling the issue of replanting and restoring forestry health in a rather science-fiction way.  DroneSeed has spent the past few years developing a drone system that specifically targets the most efficient way to replant forests following a burn. It began by evaluating the current method of reforestation , which requires nurseries to spend one to two years growing small trees that are then hauled to the forest and planted by hand. Workers can cover about two acres per day. DroneSeed said they aren’t looking to replace any of those workers. Instead, they want to supplement the process.  Related: BreezoMeter’s real-time data tracks air quality and wildfires At its roots, DroneSeed is a drone company . The very cool technology is not only fun to watch, but it performs the crucial task of dropping tree pods in a targeted way that emphasizes the best chance of growth success. Rather than simply dispersing seeds across the forest, which is imprecise and results in a high failure rate, the drones carry pods that are intentionally packed with everything the tree needs to grow including seeds, nutrients and natural pest deterrents. These seed vessels are placed using advanced laser mapping that identifies the healthiest soil areas to plant in.  Working in groups of five to six drones, controlled by four employees, they can plant an area covering 50 acres per day. While that barely makes a dent in the millions of acres burned each year, it does equal thousands of acres per year that would otherwise lay bare for a few years before replanting even begins. DroneSeed can start work as soon as 30 days after a fire. It is already replanting after summer burns in California and Oregon. In addition to speed and efficiency, the drones can complete the task while saving the landowner money . DroneSeed estimates a 30% to 50% savings in replanting expenses.  Although air seeding is not new and there are other drone companies capable of doing the work, DroneSeed is the only company approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to deploy a fleet of heavy-lift drones to reforest after wildfires. The company recently raised enough capital from investors to acquire Silvaseed , a long-standing forestry company that will enhance seedling production for DroneSeed. “Global reforestation is key to our fight against climate change ,” said Jay Zaveri, a partner at Social Capital. “We’ve supported DroneSeed from the very beginning given its promise to terraform our planet for good. Since then, DroneSeed has scaled its effort to reforest land, found a profitable model through carbon markets and transformed the experience of forest development for landowners.”  + DroneSeed  Images via DroneSeed ?

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Mini greenhouse grows endless possibilities

October 8, 2021 by  
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Have you ever wanted your own greenhouse ? Maybe you’ve thought about growing an exotic plant like a delicate bonsai or a breathtaking orchid. And maybe you’ve learned that having a greenhouse to grow exotic plants in is a lot of work. Until now. Meet the Plantee, a plug-and-play greenhouse that makes it easy for you to grow even the most exotic plants at home. Put it on a counter and start growing something inside your home. The gadget will control the light, watering, air temperature , airflow and soil moisture to keep your plant healthy and beautiful. It truly does all of the work. Meanwhile, you can check the display and the step-by-step growing guide to look at the real-time data monitoring to see how your plant is doing. Related: Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo puts on a pulsating light show when plants are touched The Plantee is designed with recyclable anodized aluminum and hardened PMMA glass. All materials used to make Plantee are non-toxic and recyclable. Packaging is also optimized to be small, but durable to create a small carbon footprint. It is made of all paper-based and covered in single-color water-soluble ink. Any type of soil , fertilizer and materials you want to use to grow your plants can be put in the Plantee. This mini greenhouse measures 50 by 45 by 60 centimeters (1’8″ x 1’6″ x 2′). Use it to grow anything you want. All you have to do is enter a new plant profile into the system and the greenhouse will help you grow it. The sensors will detect soil moisture and the internal water pump will water the plant as needed. Meanwhile, the smart intensity technology adjusts the lighting based on what the plant needs. Use the adjustable hose to put the water flow right where you want it. The internal water tank holds enough water to last for weeks. You’ll be notified when it needs a refill. Add an external water tank and your plant will have water for months. Even the temperature and airflow are regulated and monitored. The Plantee can create a tropical environment , if needed, so you can grow a huge variety of plants that were off-limits before. There’s an internal growing volume of 18 gallons, enough room for many types of plants. The plant isn’t trapped in there, either. The Plantee is built for easy access, all you have to do is lift the cover. You can grow: dwarf tomatoes, baby carrots, mini pumpkins , chili peppers, strawberries, herbs , succulents and hothouse flowers. When the greenhouse does all the work, it’s easy. Plantee launched on Kickstarter with a set funding goal, which exceeded within hours of its appearance on the funding website. Plantee’s development plans are going full speed ahead. Soon, this mini greenhouse will be ready to live in your house. + Plantee Innovations Photography by Charlie Jilek

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Mini greenhouse grows endless possibilities

The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

August 23, 2021 by  
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Magic lies outside  is the theme of the annual International Garden Festival, which aims to “bring us hope, to exalt creativity and to add colour to this world that is struggling to overcome this global pandemic and to come out of several months of confinement.” Now in its 22nd year, the 2021 edition at Reford Gardens in Quebec , Canada features five new installations, submitted from Canada, the United States, France and Sweden. These additions extend the current gardens, creating an outdoor museum of art. Related: Casa CBC incorporates greenery at every level   Choose Your Own Adventure Balmori Associates from New York present this work, inspired by the effects of global warming . The fight against climate change, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, drove the team to rethink the human/nature connection.  This contemplation is represented in simple lines of  plants  crisscrossing with hard materials. The message simplifies our relationship with the soil, water, air, plants and animals. Choose Your Own Adventure sets out to encourage visitors to feel the hot ground underfoot, smell the moisture or dryness in the air and hear the crunch of gravel as they walk. Hässja Architect Emil Bäckström from Stockholm, Sweden presents Hässja, a traditional hay-drying technique that offers shelter and a connection to nature. Each of the three structures is made up of millions of pieces of straw, transforming a once-living grass into a cozy and protected space for contemplating the resurgent need to intermingle human needs with those of nature. A press release explains the installation by saying, “The covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. It has exposed a disconnection from nature, agriculture and the importance of biodiversity . All around the globe, a regained interest in traditional, sustainable ways of inhabiting the earth is emerging.” Miroirs Acoustiques Presented by landscape architects Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi from Montreal (Quebec) Canada , Miroirs Acoustiques gives visitors the chance to experience sound in a newly presented way. Inspired by sound mirrors used across the coast of Great Britain during WWI to detect approaching enemy aircraft, the installation allows sounds to bounce and focus, amplifying them via two parabolic reflectors ( recycled  aluminum antennas) planted in the ground. Open Space A team of architectural interns for Quebec, Canada (Gabriel Lemelin, Francis Gaignard, Sandrine Gaulin) delivers an open space in the outdoors . The premise is a completely unboxed house, loaded with endless possibilities. It not only provides an open space but a way for the mind to openly roam with new consideration for the doors, staircases, windows and walls around us every day. Porte-bonheur David Bonnard, DE-HMONP architect, Laura Giuliani, landscaper, and Amélie Viale, visual artist, represent Lyon, Villefranche-sur-Saône and Lissieu, France with Porte-bonheur, an installation about reopening the doors firmly shut during the pandemic lockdowns. “Porte Bonheur is a rite of passage between reality and potentiality. The installation invites visitors to dare to throw open the door, cross thresholds, go outside and explore their surroundings with all the wonder of a small child.” The Reford Gardens will be open daily from May 29 to October 3, 2021, in addition to being accessible to members in the low season. + Jardins de Métis Images via JC Lemay, Martin Bond, Nancy Guignard and Antoine Proulx

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Marjan van Aubel’s solar roof couples renewable energy with beauty

August 9, 2021 by  
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Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to open in October 2021. This multi-national event will bring together ideas to improve societies and the environment . The Netherlands is participating with a pavilion that will display the ability to harvest water, energy and food through innovative technologies, including a cone-shaped vertical farm beneath colorful solar panels. Marjan van Aubel, a Dutch designer with several solar-based innovations under her belt, was selected to design the solar roof for the Netherlands Pavilion at the expo.  The designer’s work is more than simply piecing together solar panels . With artistic flair, the lightweight, organic transparent solar cells (OPV) are installed with the effect of skylights. A colorful pattern reflects throughout the space, which is intriguing for visitors while illuminating the natural features inside the pavilion. Related: Sunne passively and stylishly collects sunlight for use after dark “Beauty is powerful. For the World Expo 2020 I combine solar technology with aesthetics to realise the Netherlands pavilion’s solar roof,” van Aubel said. “The aim is to show new ways in which solar can be seamlessly integrated into a space.” Because there will be a vertical farm below, van Aubel designed the solar skylights to filter through the exact range of light for plant growth and optimal health. The panels will also power the needs of the pavilion.  “Not only does the solar roof power the Dutch biotope, it also filters Dubai’s sunlight to ensure the right spectrum of light enters the biotope for the plants to photosynthesise,” she explained. The pavilion is made from locally sourced materials, and van Aubel followed suit with organic , non-toxic options in her material selection for the solar panels. Additionally, the panels can be removed and reused at another site. She hopes the work not only represents the function of solar and the innovations within the field but presents the realization that function can exist hand-in-hand with art and beauty as represented with the Moiré effect in her chosen graphic design. + Marjan van Aubel Studio Images via Marjan van Aubel Studio

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Marjan van Aubel’s solar roof couples renewable energy with beauty

Famous Amsterdam canal gets a 3D-printed smart bridge

August 4, 2021 by  
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Amsterdam’s oldest neighborhood is getting a high-tech upgrade thanks to 3D-printing company MX3D and design firm Joris Laarman Lab. The team recently unveiled a stainless steel, 3D-printed smart bridge that will be placed over one of the city’s historic bridges in the Red Light District. The bridge will be equipped with digital technology to analyze crowd behavior. The stainless steel bridge has the capacity to hold a minimum of 19.5 tons, more than even what it was designed for. According to MX3D’s CEO, the success of the bridge project marks only the beginning for the company’s metal-printing technology.  Related: Award-winning redesign of the Brooklyn Bridge puts the focus on pedestrians “This robotic technology finally allows larger optimized designs to be 3D printed in metal,” said Gijs van der Velden, CEO and co-founder of MX3D. “This causes significant weight reduction and reduced impact for parts manufactured in the tooling, oil & gas and construction industries.” The project took four robots and over 6,000 kilograms of stainless steel to complete, but the most innovative aspect, arguably, comes in the form of the bridge’s smart sensors. Powered by structural measurements like strain, rotation, load, displacement and vibration, the bridge’s sensors collect data in real time. The accurate computer model helps engineers to not only keep tabs on the bridge’s overall health (for example, how it changes over its lifespan) but also better understand elements like overtourism , air quality and temperature. There’s an artificial intelligence component to it as well, because the sensor data can also be used to “teach” the bridge to essentially understand what is happening to it. The first step is to teach the bridge how to count how many people are crossing it and how quickly. “Evolution is a truly wonderful process that we try to harness in our work. Endlessly trying, refining, improving until slowly, something emerges that is so ingenious it looks like magic if you don’t know what went on before,” said Joris Laarman, owner of Joris Laarman Lab. “In our work, we try to capture some of that magic. Using emerging technology to develop objects and a visual language of the future that is informed by logic, we aim to make small leaps in that evolutionary process.” + Joris Laarman Lab + MX3D Via ArchDaily Photography by Thea van den Heuvel, Merlin Moritz, Jande G. Roen, Adriaan de Groot via MX3D

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Vegan, natural soaps include limited-edition art prints by female artists

August 2, 2021 by  
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Art Bar founder Jen Black has been a creative director and designer for international brands since 1996. Her idea for the Berlin-based company came to life in 2018, after she made the concrete decision to live and create in alignment with her values. The main mission of the Art Bar is to encourage self care and body positivity by providing organic soaps with natural ingredients, like plant-derived base oils, glycerin and essential oils. There are no chemicals, preservatives or toxins, and all soaps are vegan and cruelty-free. “Industrial, non-organic soaps are detergents that are made up of harsh substances and lathering agents,” according to the company. “Since organic soaps contain natural ingredients, they not only work to cleanse the skin, but also have healing properties that can greatly contribute to the treatment of eczema, acne and other conditions.” The organic, raw ingredients are in line with current trends in the soap market, and Europe is expected to be one of the fastest-growing regions for herbal, cruelty-free and chemical-free soap products to meet demand. Related: This long-standing natural soap company started by accident These vegan soaps are designed to eliminate the need for purchasing multiple beauty products, which can be a big contributor to waste when you add up all those plastic tubes and containers. Art Bar soaps are packed in recyclable or recycled materials to support the climate and replace plastic packaging. To pair with the soaps, Black is providing limited-edition art prints that comment on society and encourage customers to think critically. Many pieces examine topics like the female experience, relationships, dark humor and politics. Currently, the prints are created by Black herself, although there will soon be a collection from other female artists producing special editions as well. The idea is to build a community of support for budding female artists and spread their work. Each print is signed by hand, printed in small runs and numbered. New art comes out regularly, so customers can continue to collect different pieces. + Jen Black Images via Jen Black

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Greenland’s ice melt enough to cover Florida in water

August 2, 2021 by  
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Greenland’s vast ice sheets are melting away at an alarming rate, according to a recent report. As reported by the Danish government, the ice sheet lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on Tuesday alone. On Thursday, another 8.4 billion tons were lost thanks to high temperatures. The melting experienced on Tuesday released enough water to cover the entire state of Florida in two inches of water. This meltdown has caused concern, as continued large-scale melting of Greenland’s ice could lead to flooding in coastal cities worldwide. Related: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia While speaking to the Guardian, Marco Tedesco, a glacier expert at Columbia University, said that the current melting rate will likely accelerate future ice melting . “It’s a very high level of melting and it will probably change the face of Greenland, because it will be a very strong driver for an acceleration of future melting, and therefore sea-level rise.” Currently, Greenland is experiencing record temperatures, with a reading of 19.8 degrees Celcius (roughly 67 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded last Wednesday. Although it is normal for the region to experience warmer temperatures this time of year, this year’s temperatures have been a notch higher. The high temperatures led to the melting of seasonal ice, exposing darker core ice, which is also melting. “The snow is like a protective blanket so once that’s gone you get locked into faster and faster melting, so who knows what will happen with the melting now. It’s amazing to see how vulnerable these huge, giant areas of ice are. I’m astonished at how powerful the forces acting on them are,” Tedesco said. Tedesco adds that the current atmospheric events, while normal, are becoming longer and frequent. Greenland warms up when high pressure sucks warm air from further south and holds it over parts of the country. Usually, Greenland’s melting season starts in June and runs to August. According to recent data released by the Danish government, more than 100 billion tons of ice have been lost since June this year. While this year’s ice melt is less than that experienced in 2019, when 11 billion tons of ice were lost in a single day, the area affected is much bigger. The prolonged season is also a major concern. Via EcoWatch and The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Appalachian Beekeeping Collective boosts pollinators and supports beekeepers

July 30, 2021 by  
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Oh, honey. This ultra-sweet concoction is nature’s candy, a product of hardworking bees. It can be controversial among plant-based eaters, but the reality is we can enjoy this natural sweetener if we learn to live in harmony with the bees. Unfortunately, bees are in trouble. Bee hives have decreased about 60% since the 1940s, and these important pollinators are only facing more crises as the planet heats up. Organizations like Appalachian Beekeeping Collective are here to help. Appalachian Beekeeping Collective (ABC) is a nonprofit organization that helps sustainably support partner beekeepers in lower-income communities. ABC provides beekeepers with training and equipment plus mentors to help them along the way. The organization then extracts, packages, markets, and sells honey on behalf of the beekeepers to help them earn income without diverting their focus from sustainably caring for the bees. The final product is far superior to any honey you’d find at the grocery store, too. The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective honey is sweet and floral and pairs well with just about any dish you could think of. ABC’s program is solar-powered , and the organization’s facility generates 66,667 kWh of electricity yearly. Related: New global bee map gives scientists a conservation baseline Although the human workers at ABC are busy bees this time of year, they took a moment to provide an inside look at how the organization works. We spoke with Kevin Johnson, mentor and educator, as well as Raine Nimmer and Colleen Fitts, partner beekeepers, about their efforts at ABC. Inhabitat: What is your role with the collective? Johnson: I am a beekeeper mentor and educator. As an educator, I help teach beekeeping classes to the general public over the winter (virtual this year) and assist with field workshops and continuing ed opportunities at other times. As a beekeeper mentor, I help beekeepers in our program develop the skills to be successful, independent beekeepers. Our partner beekeepers are from a wide variety of backgrounds, range in age from 12 to over 80, and keep their bees in diverse surroundings. All share a love of and fascination with bees. Partners have taken our Beekeeping 101 series and have agreed to follow ABC’s natural beekeeping best practices. Nimmer and Fitts: We are called “partners” in the ABC program. After taking a five week introductory beekeeping course, we (Colleen and Raine) were given four hives each when we were first accepted into the program in 2019. We manage and maintain our ABC hives and work at keeping the colonies happy and healthy. Inhabitat: What does a typical day look like for you? Johnson: A typical day is long! If the weather is warm and dry enough, we will be working in bee yards from sunrise to sunset. Bees don’t follow human schedules, and so at certain times of year (spring buildup, swarm season, nectar flows) we have to assist as many partners as we can in the window that weather provides. After dark, we often are answering calls and texts, getting our movements coordinated, and getting loaded and ready for the next day. Part of mentoring new beekeepers is taking the extra time to coach them through the manipulations and observations necessary to be a responsive, skilled, confident beekeeper. Nimmer and Fitts: A typical day of a hive inspection begins with a warm sunny day and little chance of rain. We gather hive boxes, frames and other equipment to bring out to the hives. We prepare our smoker with fuel. Once at our apiary , we both choose a hive and our inspections begin. Depending on the time of year, we are interested in certain things during an inspection, such as assessing the health of the bees, looking for any signs of disease or pests, confirming that there is a laying queen present, looking for signs of impending swarm behavior, and determining if the hive has enough space to grow. We generally only harvest honey once per year and try to be sure that we leave the bees with enough of their own honey to thrive through the winter. Inhabitat: What do you enjoy most about this work? Johnson: I enjoy the moments where beekeepers realize they’ve been taught something by their own bees. Like “Wow! They are collecting a different color pollen now” or “They are raising a new queen!” I also enjoy the process of the beekeepers honing their detective skills — noticing evidence of pests and diseases, or of changes in the brood cycle — and then looking more closely for clues to how to support their bees. There is never a lack of new things to learn from or respond to. I also enjoy the connection with people around bees because it naturally pulls in their hopes and dreams. Some want to see their gardens grow better, others want to build a hive products business, others still want to teach their children and grandchildren about the connectedness of the environment through their beekeeping. It all comes from a love of place. Nimmer and Fitts: Inspecting hives is our favorite part of our role. It seems that every time we go in we experience something that amazes us. It is a calming and grounding experience that reminds us of our place in creation. Seeing something especially magical is also fun, such as the first time we heard a queen “piping”, the time we caught a queen bee as she was “birthed” from her cell or tasting royal jelly for the first time.  Inhabitat: How did you get into the beekeeping business? Nimmer and Fitts: I (Colleen) have long found the concept of beekeeping very appealing, especially knowing that my dad had kept bees in his younger years. Around 2005, I took a day-long workshop on beekeeping and was hooked. After I moved to Bethlehem Farm, I learned that neighbors down the road were beekeepers and were willing to help teach the craft. These neighbors, Anne and Mark, came over and helped me and former caretaker Brian work the hives and learn to care for bees. Ten years later, we had a tough winter and lost all our hives. It was at that point that we started looking around for locally raised bee hives to start over, and we found ABC. The mentorship and resources available through being an ABC partner are an amazing opportunity to learn, to expand our skills and to improve our stewardship of creation. Inhabitat: What projects/tasks that you’ve been involved in for this role have made you the most proud or excited? Johnson: Making splits with a beekeeper for the first time is exciting, after bringing that hive successfully through the winter. Also, harvesting honey with a beekeeper for the first time. Catching swarms is always exciting, and a different skill. Inhabitat: Can you speak to the sustainability of the program? Nimmer and Fitts: Like many other crafts, there are innumerable methods and philosophies of beekeeping. When we joined ABC, we were happy to agree to work within their system, which includes refraining from using certain chemicals and harsh antibiotics in the hives. ABC tries to teach a system of beekeeping that considers the way bees operate in their natural environment and considers the long-term health of honeybees in general, rather than settling for short-term gains. ABC experts are working to breed queens that are well-suited to West Virginia’s climate so that the bees in Appalachia can be stronger and more resilient. We know that without pollinators like honeybees, we will have no fruits or vegetables to nourish us. And we know that without healthy employment for West Virginians, we will not have healthy families. ABC is working to strengthen the ecosystem with honeybees and the West Virginia economy with creative employment options as a beekeeper. We are happy to be a part of it. Inhabitat: Have you seen growing interest in those wanting to join the collective over the course of the pandemic? Johnson: We saw a tremendous increase in participation in our Beekeeping 101 classes (over typical in-person classes) when we moved them online this winter, many from beyond our region. Even if some of those participants decide not to keep bees this year, they may in the future, and what they do certainly impacts bees — from how they manage their land to how they get around to what they eat. Pesticide use and climate change are tremendous challenges for honeybees, along with all other pollinators. One of the things I always say in class is that everyone is a beekeeper, because every one of us has an impact on our bees. Inhabitat: How does the collective inspire local community members to get involved? Johnson: I believe we inspire local community members by engaging them in their home communities in a person-to-person, regionally relevant way, that speaks to their goals and love of place. Folks want to support efforts like ours even if they wouldn’t ever imagine getting near a bee hive. Inhabitat: How has this organization made an impact on both the environment and the people in the community? Johnson: I believe we have developed a broader awareness of how we are connected to our environment through our beekeeping program. Our partners commit to following our natural beekeeping protocol (no synthetic chemicals in the hive, no pesticides ); unprompted by us, I know partners have talked to their neighbors and friends about changing their behaviors to benefit the bees, from mowing less to planting wildflowers to not spraying. It’s not hard to come across news about environmental problems these days. I believe bees are a way of centering those problems right where we live, and right where our hearts are (in our bees, and in our mountains, that is). Nimmer and Fitts: Honeybees are pollinators so they may be pollinating our neighbors’ gardens and flowers. Honeybees also need people to advocate for them. Conversations about bees with our community members will hopefully spread more awareness of the challenges bees face and spread interest and excitement in either beekeeping themselves or, at the very least, lead a life that doesn’t harm bees. Our household doesn’t mind eating the honey, either! Inhabitat: Any last thoughts? Nimmer and Fitts: We feel that keeping bees is an honor and a powerful experience of connection with creation. We encourage anyone interested to find a beekeeper and learn as much as you can! We have a lot to learn from bees and their system of working together harmoniously with a sweet result. + Appalachian Beekeeping Collective Images via Appalachian Beekeeping Collective and Paige Bennett

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California couple fined $18,000 for destroying Joshua trees

July 6, 2021 by  
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A California-based couple, Jeffrey Walter and Jonetta Nordberg-Walter, face a fine of $18,000 after uprooting 36 Joshua trees to build a new house. The couple was fined after an anonymous neighbor sent a tip to the California Fish and Wildlife Department. The neighbor is said to have witnessed the trees being bulldozed and buried during the construction of the new home. According to California Fish and Wildlife Department officials, the neighbor had warned the Morongo Basin couple about the consequences of bulldozing the trees , but the couple ignored the warning. Joshua trees are protected in California, and anyone found cutting them is likely to be sued.  Related: California votes to protect Joshua trees Nathaniel Arnold, deputy chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement division, said that protecting the endangered Joshua trees depends on locals who are passionate about the species. “Most California citizens who reside in Joshua Tree habitat revere these iconic desert species, more so now than ever because of its degraded population status,” Arnold said. Arnold commended the work done by the resident who out the tip about the destruction of Joshua trees . He says that such a move could serve as a deterrent to those who wish to destroy the trees. “We’re pleased to see the citizen tip led to a successful disposition and we hope it serves as a deterrent to others who may think it is acceptable to unlawfully remove Joshua trees to make way for development,” Arnold added. California wildlife officials are now considering having Joshua trees protected under the Endangered Species Act. Global warming has made it almost impossible for Joshua trees to thrive. In 2020, California’s Dome wildfire consumed over 43,000 acres of Joshua tree woodland . Based on the  National Park Service  data, this single event led to the destruction of about 1.3 million Joshua trees. There are also many documented incidences where fires or individuals have led to the destruction of Joshua trees. In 2019, Joshua Tree National Park was closed temporarily following increased instances of Joshua tree destruction. Following the latest ruling, Walter and Nordberg-Walter were required by the court to each pay $9,000 for the destroyed trees. However, they can earn credit toward the fine if they volunteer at Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert Land Trust. Via Washington Post Images via San Bernardino County District Attorney

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California couple fined $18,000 for destroying Joshua trees

How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

October 24, 2017 by  
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Volcano eruptions could have helped precipitate unrest in ancient Egypt , according to a new study. An international team of researchers led by Joseph Manning of Yale University discovered volcanic eruptions in northern latitudes can impact the flow of the Nile River . Ancient peoples depended on Nile River flooding to irrigate crops, and if that flood didn’t happen, there could have been political or economic consequences. The researchers connected historical analysis with paleoclimatology – what Yale described as reconstruction of global climates in the past – to make the startling find. Volcanoes in Russia, Greenland, Iceland, or Alaska could have disrupted the daily lives of people in ancient Egypt. While volcanic eruptions weren’t the sole cause of unrest, the researchers think they did play a role. In years with volcanic eruptions, the Nile didn’t flood as much, which Manning said led to social stress. He told The Washington Post, “It’s a bizarre concept that Alaskan volcanoes were screwing up the Nile, but in fact that’s what happened.” Related: The world’s mightiest river is dying Manning and colleagues took an interdisciplinary approach, scrutinizing ancient papyri and inscriptions for descriptions of Nile flooding, and combining that historical information with climate modeling of big 20th century volcanic eruptions and yearly Nile summer flood height measurements between 622 and 1902. Manning told The Washington Post, “It’s an indirect response, but because of atmospheric circulation and energy budgets, we find that large volcanic eruptions cause droughts .” He described the Nile and Egypt as sensitive instruments for climate change , and said the research was important in today’s debate on climate change. The study offers new insight into how climatic shocks impacted societies in history. Manning said in a statement, “There hasn’t been a large eruption affecting the global climate system since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991…Sooner or later we will experience a large volcanic eruption, and perhaps a cluster of them, that will act to exacerbate drought in sensitive parts of the world.” The journal Nature Communications published the study online this month. Five other researchers, from institutions in Ireland, California, and Switzerland, contributed to the work. Via Yale University and The Washington Post Images via Michael Gwyther-Jones on Flickr and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr

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