Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

December 12, 2017 by  
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France’s president Emmanuel Macron had an answer to President Donald Trump’s decision to tug America out of the Paris Agreement : invite scientists to research climate change solutions in his country instead. The Make Our Planet Great Again initiative now has its first class: 18 scientists from around the world. They’ll move from institutions like Princeton University, Stanford University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work in France. Macron announced the 18 grants with French research minister Frédérique Vidal right before the One Planet Summit , a meeting convened by Macron, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work towards climate action . 12 of the 18 scientists were based at American research centers, laboratories, or universities. Others come from institutions in Canada, Spain, India, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy. Related: Macron and Schwarzenegger throw shade at Donald Trump in new climate video Thank you for your answer to this first call, your decision to move and come to Paris. Here you have a hub to do more. pic.twitter.com/TFoGRLG5J8 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 One of the scientists is University of Plymouth professor Camille Parmesan, who hails from Texas and was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for her work as a lead author. She said Make Our Planet Great Again is “absolutely fabulous, and a very appropriate response to Trump pulling out of the Paris accords.” Bravo à tous ceux qui ont répondu au projet #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain . Vous allez nourrir la vitalité dont nous avons besoin ! pic.twitter.com/X9t0sXdFd4 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 The French government is offering three to five year grants of up to 1.5 million Euros, or around $1.7 million, each, with a goal of attracting around 50 climate researchers. Over 1,800 scientists expressed interest. Of those, 450 were considered eligible and 255 turned in applications. 90 were invited to offer proposals, working with a French institution, and 57 proposals were turned in to the French National Research Agency. An international panel comprised of nine members reviewed the proposals. France will go through a second round of proposal evaluations next year, with Germany, which joined the project and committed 15 million Euros, or around $17.6 million. You can see the full list of the 18 winning scientists here . Via Science Magazine Images via Emmanuel Macron Facebook and Depositphotos

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Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

How scaly dinosaurs turned into feathery birds – new gene study offers clues

November 29, 2017 by  
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Dinosaurs no longer roam the planet – unless you count birds . Recent discoveries have revealed many dinosaurs once had feathers , and birds are actually dinosaurs that have evolved over time. But we don’t really know how feathers evolved. A recent study led by University of Southern California (USC) researchers involving alligator and chicken genes may offer new insight. Feathers and scales are comprised of keratin, and both are part of skin growth, so scientists have surmised they might have a shared evolutionary history. But the nature of that history is still a mystery. A dinosaur unearthed in 2014 in Siberia appeared to possess feather-like filaments, some growing out of scales – leading researchers to think feather-like structures might have evolved from modified scales. So the USC-led team took genes they think might be important in the development of feathers and had them expressed in chicken and alligator embryos while feathers and scales, respectively, developed. They also identified new genes that regulate the development genes and altered the amount of their activity, according to The Guardian . Related: New details of feathered dinosaur could elucidate the origins of flight The researchers produced new types of modified scales, revealing relatively simple changes to some genes can cause alligator early scale development to produce things like the ancestral feathers of non-avian dinosaurs. The Guardian said it’s not a large step from the feather-like structures to something similar to a true early feather. Add the idea that early proto-feathers that gave advantages to their owners would have developed more under natural selection , and it’s not a massive leap to suggest feathers could have formed rather easily. Modifying genes in chickens led to an array of feather forms, including ones seen in dinosaurs, narrowing the gap between feather and scale from a creature with feathers. We still have a long way to go in our understanding, but this recent work could offer some clues. More gene tweaks could potentially reveal the pathway from scale to feather. The journal Molecular Biology and Evolution published the research this month; scientists from institutions in Taiwan, China, and Louisiana contributed to the work. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and PublicDomainPictures.net

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Historic French building stuffed with plastic bags looks ready to explode

November 15, 2017 by  
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A shockingly large number of plastic bags appeared to fill a historic stone building to near bursting in Bordeaux last month. The eye-catching installation is the most recent work of Luzinterruptus , a design collective famous for raising environmental awareness with plastic art installations. Created for the FAB Festival de Bourdeaux, the temporary artwork, titled The Plastic We Live With, turned into a light installation at night evocative of illuminated stained glass. Inspired by France’s ban of single-use plastic bags passed last year, The Plastic We Live With draws attention to the staggering amount of plastic waste in the world. “The idea was to graphically visualize, in a way that could be understood by all, the plastic excess that is around us, a recurrent subject in our work and in life, since practically everything we consume is either made with this material or it is wrapped in it or we are eating it in small particles in the meat and the fish we ingest,” Luzinterruptus wrote. Related: PlasticWaste Labyrinth is a stunning look inside our plastic waste problem The team, aided by 30 volunteers from the Asociacion Bénévoles en Action, collected thousands of plastic bags and recycled plastic for months from the city stores and warehouses. The bags were assembled in the openings of the building’s facade and lit from behind at night. The installation was on view for four days, after which the plastic was taken down and recycled with the building returned to its original condition. + Luzinterruptus Images via Lola Martínez

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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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How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

10 Trumpkins that are making Halloween great again

October 16, 2017 by  
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As Halloween draws near, it’s time once again to revisit our new favorite Halloween past time – Trumpkins. People all over the country are decorating their jack-o-lanterns to look like President Donald Trump , and it’s easy to understand why. On a superficial level, Trump’s orange-hued complexion makes him a perfect model for pumpkin-based creativity. On a deeper level, for those of us who care about the environment or basic human decency, the Trump presidency is a disaster. But there’s something to be said for facing your fears through artistic expression. With over 6,000 spooky photos on Instagram, it’s clear the “Trumpkin” has become a trend. Here are a few of the Inhabitat team’s favorites from around the web. The first Trumpkin on our list, and possibly the most terrifying entry, is painted on the face of the pumpkin rather than carved. A tuft of real hair finishes off the eerie image. It was posted on Instagram by user @ktmod with the tasteful caption, “Grab ’em by the pumpkin.” #Trumpkin lol 🎃🍁Happy Hump Day!!!🕸🍂🍁 A photo posted by lucymorey3 (@lucymorey3) on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:45am PDT This Trumpkin by @lucymorey3 really encapsulates The Donald’s natural speaking style: shouting hatefully.   Last night, there was a note attached that read "our president is a pumpkin #impeach #trumpkin" My neighbors know what's up ? A post shared by Ally Nickert (@ally.likes.cats) on Oct 15, 2017 at 12:58pm PDT This Trumpkin – also shouting – captures the Cheeto-in-Chief’s essence in all its orange glory. Family pumpkin carving night… Everyone agreed Chris's #trumpkin won the prize #orangecheeto #colorofhomedepot A post shared by Christina Cain (Nunes) (@cainname) on Oct 15, 2017 at 4:34pm PDT Instagrammer cainname’s  is a hopeful expression of the future: Is this a jack-o'-lantern of a 'human' equivalent of cargo pants that zip away into shorts, a sentient orange mop, a man-sized sebaceous cyst, a Neo-fascist real estate golem, a turd, or all of the above? Asking for a friend. #trumpkin A post shared by Amela (@msamelak) on Oct 15, 2017 at 8:13pm PDT We’ll just let msamelak’s Trumpkin speak for itself: “Is this a jack-o’-lantern of a ‘human’ equivalent of cargo pants that zip away into shorts, a sentient orange mop, a man-sized sebaceous cyst, a Neo-fascist real estate golem, a turd, or all of the above? Asking for a friend.” This next Trumpkin by Instagram user @petermartindk takes a more classic approach, transforming the presidential candidate into a glowing jack-o-lantern. We dig the minimalist approach here. Spotted this on the way home tonight #trumpkin A photo posted by @bubbeemonkey on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:29pm PDT Instagram user @bubeemonkey may not be responsible for carving this smug-looking Trumpkin, but we’d like to thank them for sharing it with the world. Reddit user Shazkitten decided to take a more photorealistic approach – a surprisingly detailed portrait, considering the medium. Good effort @sainsburys. 🎃😂 #Trumpkin #Hilary #PresidentialDebate #Halloween A photo posted by Divya 🌺🔮? (@divyadancer) on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:52am PDT These Sainsbury’s pumpkins have an almost sculptural quality — they’re definitely not your average pumpkin carving. They both look a bit too happy, though, given how the election last year went. This painted masterpiece is the work of John Kettman of LaSalle, Illinois. Kettman has been painting portraits on pumpkins for about 6 years, but this autumn he took a political turn with his gourd art. In addition to his Trumpkin, he’s also created Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders pumpkins. Happy National Pumpkin Day! #nationalpumpkinday #NYCpumpkin #nychalloween #trump #clinton #trumpkin #election2016 #election2016🇺🇸 A photo posted by PaulsdaBurgerJoint (@paulsdaburgerjoint) on Oct 26, 2016 at 8:05am PDT Another pair of matching Hillary and Donald pumpkins courtesy of @PaulsdaBurgerJoint . These two look like they just stepped onto the floor of the debates. Ohio pumpkin artist Jennette Paras chooses someone in the news as her source of inspiration in a personal tradition dating back 25 years. Last Halloween, she transformed a massive, 374-pound pumpkin into a likeness of Donald Trump – an effort that took six separate blond wigs attached to the gourd. Nearby, she’s placed a sign suggesting visitors “make pumpkins great again.” #trumpkin is done. My sissy is going to dab some yellowish…crap on its head to make the hair look like his head. #acrylicpainting #smashthetrumpkin #fuckofftrump #anyonebuttrump #artsy A photo posted by Cassie Tucker (@tangledinreverie) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:57pm PDT This Trumpkin by @tangledinreverie really captures Trump’s luxurious, windswept locks. David Jones’ Trumpkin takes a minimalist, pop-art approach that captures Trump perfectly. Unlike some of the others on this list, he’s avoided using a wig to depict Trump’s famous hair, instead repurposing the inside of the pumpkin to form some kind of squash toupee. #trump #pumpkin #fall #diy #justbecause #funny #hilarious #lol #Trumpkin #trumppumpkin #trending #potd #picoftheday #photoofday #halloween #October #autumn A photo posted by Tiffany Marz 🌟🎙🎬🕆? (@tiffany_marz) on Oct 25, 2016 at 3:03pm PDT This Trumpkin by @tiffany_marz takes an interesting new approach, with the outside of the pumpkin modified with what appears to be sculpted clay, rather than painted or carved. Imgur user Fizzgig posted a more somber approach with this contemplative Trumpkin created by their mother. Still dying from one of our winning pumpkins today! 😂😂😂😂 #haha #pumpkin #ThatHairTho #trumpkin #worklife A photo posted by Jacqui🔵YouTuber/Blogger (@jduran1313) on Oct 25, 2016 at 2:39pm PDT Another creative new approach to the art of pumpkin decorating by @jduran1313 — collaged instead of painted, this time. This superb Trumpkin is the work of master pumpkin carver Hugh McMahon . If you’d like to learn how to create your own pumpkin-based masterpiece, he walked HuffPost through his process in this fantastic tutorial . Hard days work at the lab #trumpkin #surgeonsmakegoodcarvers #drumpf thanks @twiskle for capturing the glory A photo posted by Erika WS (@erika_whartonshumthing) on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:42pm PDT This defensive Trumpkin by @erika_whartonshumthing looks like it’s had better days. If you’d like to revisit your favorite moments from last year’s debates, look no further than Valerie Miller’s Trumpkin. We can almost hear this pumpkin shouting “Wrong!” at approaching trick-or-treaters. Images via The Daily Beast (1, 2), Reddit (3), NBC News Chicago (4), NBC San Diego (5), Dangerous Minds (6), Yahoo! News (7,9), Huffington Post (8), and Instagram  (embedded)

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UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers

September 21, 2017 by  
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Companies often profit from environmental destruction , leaving taxpayers to pick up the cleanup bill. That shouldn’t be the case, according to Erik Solheim, executive director for the United Nations Environment Program . At a conference at Columbia University earlier this week, he said, “The profit of destroying nature or polluting the planet is nearly always privatized, while the costs of polluting the planet or the cost of destroying ecosystems is nearly always socialized. This cannot continue.” Solheim said we can turn around Earth’s environmental fortunes if businesses, citizens, and politicians work for a shared goal – with the biggest polluters paying for damage. He said, “Anyone who pollutes, anyone who destroys nature must pay for the cost of that destruction or that pollution.” Related: The oil industry knew about dangerous climate change in the 1960s Two scientists made a similar point in a recent opinion piece for The Guardian, saying big oil companies should pay for climate change . The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Science and Policy Peter Frumhoff and University of Oxford professor of geosystem science Myles Allen pointed to July lawsuits against ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron, saying they should pay for damages coastal communities face from rising sea levels . They, together with other researchers, published a peer-reviewed study quantifying sea level rise and rising temperatures coming from emissions from fossil fuel companies. Solheim also said businesses must play a role by creating new technologies to address needs. He pointed to China as an example, highlighting the work of bike-sharing firm Mobike, which boasts over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. Meanwhile, China is also working on transportation with a high-speed rail network and urban metro systems. He also pointed to India , where addressing environmental issues has been good for the country. Solar power has created jobs, simultaneous boosting the economy and helping the planet. Solheim said, “Change is happening. Economic-wise, we are on the right track, but we need to speed up because the challenge is so big.” Via Thomson Reuters Foundation and EcoWatch Images via Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon/Army National Guard and Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

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Magical artworks place lamps, books, and chairs in the middle of nature

September 11, 2017 by  
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Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen uses everyday objects to create extraordinary art installations in remote and rural locations. The artist’s magical works illuminate old books, chairs, and lampshades in settings ranging from lush green forests to barren frozen lakes. Guneriussen has spent years creating extraordinary scenes out of ordinary objects – and he continues to find beautiful backdrops for his work. For his most recent work, the artist has precariously placed objects on frozen lakes and icy mounds. Related: Rune Guneriussen Creates Magical New Artworks by Placing Everyday Objects in Natural Landscapes Guneriussen is the only first-hand witness to his artworks – after each installation, he takes photos of his work , which he then turns into collections of photographs. “It is not as much photography as it is about sculpture and installation,” explains Guneriussen, “This process involves the object, story, space and most important the time it is made within. It is an approach to the balance between nature and human culture, and all the sublevels of our own existence.” Guneriussen publishes images of his work on his website and Facebook page. + Rune Guneriussen Via This is Colossal Images via Rune Guneriussen

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Magical artworks place lamps, books, and chairs in the middle of nature

Artist embroiders incredibly lifelike insects using boldly colored thread

August 14, 2017 by  
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Artist Yumi Okita creates amazingly intricate insect sculptures out of colorful, bold textiles. The Raleigh-based artist makes the hand-sized moths, butterflies, and even cicadas by painstakingly embroidering simple thread into life-like sculptures and adding various realistic touches such as fake fur, wire, and feathers. Okita uses various embroidery techniques to create incredible versions of Oleander Hawk moths or the regal Peacock Butterfly. Although the work is quite delicate, the art sculptures are fairly larger than they appear, fitting into the palm of a hand. Related: Raku Inoue crafts delicate insect sculptures from colorful flowers Using an array of bold textiles to create the figures, Okita then adds a few realistic touches to the bodies. Most of the more intricate markings are painted on by hand, but she also uses feathers, wires, and even artificial fur to give the pieces their life-like appearance. + Yumi Okita Via This is Colossal

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Artist embroiders incredibly lifelike insects using boldly colored thread

Artist carves an intricate forest into an old delivery van

August 3, 2017 by  
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Artist Dan Rawling s likes to give old metal scraps a new lease on life by carving them into forest-themed art works. His most recent work, Nature Delivers, is a massive forest landscape carved into the entire body of an old delivery truck. Rawlings uses an arsenal of tools to create his detailed pieces such as a hand held plasma torch, files, grinders, scalpels, welders, etching chemicals, etc. The results are intricate, hand-crafted scenes that are spectacular on their own, however, the works take on a life of their own when illuminated, where viewers can really appreciate the amazing details of the metal sculptures . Related: Artist transforms scrap metal into incredible lifelike sculptures The artist works on everything from old signs, rusty tools, and even empty water tanks . In 2014, the artist carved an 18-foot-high grain silo into a beautiful illuminated piece that was on display in London’s Battersea Park. His most recent work, Nature Delivers, saw the artist painstakingly cut an entire forest backdrop into of the body of an old delivery van. The work was commissioned for the Lost Eden festival, but unfortunately, was set on fire earlier this year. According to the artist, his work is meant to take people back to a simpler time in life, “I try to create images that remind people of the moments when everything seems possible and free,” says Rawlings, “times when climbing a tree, or sitting admiring the way its branches twist and curl means nothing, but means everything.” + Dan Rawlings Via This is Colossal Images via Dan Rawlings Facebook

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Artist carves an intricate forest into an old delivery van

‘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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