On Harmony and Hope

February 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The universal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by all the world’s nations marked a huge global milestone, something that many thousands of people had been working to achieve, over many years. This momentous breakthrough sparked AtKisson President and CEO Alan AtKisson to pen a song and spark a global movement, imbuing music, dance and simple human happiness into sustainable development and create our best hope for a bright future.

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On Harmony and Hope

New map reveals the world’s most toxic countries

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Just about every country in the world grapples with pollution , no matter how rich or poor they are. But you may not be aware of just how toxic your locale is. The Eco Experts from the United Kingdom recently cross-referenced data to rank the countries of the world by toxicity on a new map , and some of the results may surprise you. To create their map, The Eco Experts scrutinized data for 135 countries on carbon emissions , air pollution levels, and energy consumption, along with how much the countries draw on renewable energy . They also considered how many people have died from poor air quality . Bringing together all the individual rankings, The Eco Experts determined which countries are most damaging the environment and risking public health . Related: New Google Timelapse shows how humans have destroyed Earth over 32 years They ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s most toxic country, with the highest recorded air pollution levels. Other oil-rich countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates topped the list as well. The United States ranked 66, doing better than countries like Canada, China, or Russia but worse than India and the United Kingdom. One surprise was that Nordic countries like Iceland and Norway guzzle more energy than others. Meanwhile, the top five least toxic countries are all located in Africa . The world’s least toxic country is Kenya , followed by Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Cameroon. In a press release, Jon Whiting of The Eco Experts said, “This research is a way of naming and shaming the worst offenders around the world. Their lack of action against emissions not only puts their populations at risk of deadly pollution-related diseases but also threatens the future of our planet. These threats are not distant concerns for future generations; their effects are being felt now and lives are already being lost. This research highlights the need for every country to act fast and put more investment into renewable energy alternatives.” + The Eco Experts Images courtesy of The Eco Experts

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New map reveals the world’s most toxic countries

California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Massachusetts recently introduced a bill to derive 100 percent of the state’s energy from renewables , and now California is following suit. A new bill introduced by state Senate leader Kevin de León would require the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Under de León’s bill, SB 584 , California would need to reach 50 percent renewable energy use by 2025, five years earlier than the state’s current target of 2030, and cease using fossil fuels completely by 2045. Related: Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill In 2016, the state obtained 27 percent of electricity via wind , solar, and other clean sources, and California’s deserts offer potential spaces for more renewable energy plants. The solar industry has created 100,000 jobs in California. Experts say the state could reach the 100 percent goal since costs for solar and wind power are falling – in many areas of the state solar is already the cheapest option, according to The Desert Sun. Some people wondered if de León’s bill as a reaction to Donald Trump’s energy policies. Large-scale Solar Association president Jim Woodruff, who worked with de León on the legislation, told The Desert Sun, “Whether it’s a direct response to what’s happening in Washington, I don’t know, but it’s certainly an indication that California will continue to lead in this area. It’s the sixth-largest economy in the world. I think by putting these goals out, it’s making a pretty powerful statement, not only in the U.S., but globally, that if we set out the goals and put the resources to it, those goals can be achieved.” The Desert Sun said it’s not yet clear if de León will move forward with the bill; as he filed it right before the state’s deadline to file bills on Friday, it could act as a placeholder until legislation more detailed can be written. Massachusetts recently introduced a similar bill , but it’s slightly more ambitious than California’s. Under the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act , Massachusetts would transition to obtaining all their electricity from renewable energy by 2035, and would grant sectors like heating and transportation a 2050 deadline. The California bill gives its state’s electricity sector an extra ten years to reach that 100 percent target. Via The Desert Sun Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

Secluded Thai home converted into a luxury lodge with an elephant lookout

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Tucked into the green hills of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Hill Lodge was originally built as a private home for a nature-loving family. But the new owners wanted something new, so they commissioned Bangkok-based SOOK Architects to convert the wooden bungalows into a guest lodge. The team completed the luxury renovation using locally-sourced materials and craftsmanship, ensuring ample opportunities to spot the local wildlife. The complex, comprised of three bungalows and a hut, was originally designed for family use, but due to its popularity among visitors, the family decided to revamp the complex into a resort. The project began with a reorganization of the layout, converting the main timber hut into a restaurant, lobby, and office space. The remaining buildings have been designated as four bungalow suites, a large three-bedroom bungalow, and 2-3 houses for employees and their families. All of the guests have access to a cantilevered elephant lookout. Related: Take refuge in this off-grid bungalow tucked into the lush Mexican forest Although most of the complex was completely updated, the architects stayed true to the traditional Siamese vernacular architecture found in the original design. The redesign also focused on creating a strategic layout in order to provide views from almost every angle, all while respecting the site’s existing natural landscape. During the construction process, the architects worked with local carpenters to complete the renovation, which, due to the sloping topography, was quite complicated. The materials had to be shaped just precisely to enable easy and quick transportation through the dense forest. To facilitate transportation, steel was chosen to frame the buildings. This also enabled the architects to create the extended timber-clad volumes and cantilevered forms. On the interior, all of the bungalows have wooden walls, flooring, and roof shingles, all made by local craftsman. + SOOK Architects Via Platforma Arquitecture Photographs via Spaceshift Studio

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Secluded Thai home converted into a luxury lodge with an elephant lookout

Groundbreaking technology affordably captures CO2 from fossil fuel plants

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

What if fossil fuels could be burned without pouring emissions into the air? Many people consider that idea to be wishful thinking, but chemical engineer Rodney Allam doesn’t. He’s been working on carbon capture technology on and off since the 1970’s, and with the help of venture capital incubator 8 Rivers , recently put the finishing touches on the Allam Cycle , an electric-generation system that captures all the carbon dioxide (CO2) made from burning fossil fuels. Allam investigated bolt-on methods during his decades of searching for a way to capture CO2 from fossil fuel plants, but found those methods too expensive. He aimed to make carbon capture affordable, but gave up in the 1990’s. Then 8 Rivers came along in 2009 with a plan to make use of Recovery Act money from the federal government. When Allam returned to the issue, he was at last able to develop the Allam Cycle. Related: Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder The Allam Cycle doesn’t utilize steam to create electricity . Instead, CO2 under pressure and in a supercritical state spins the turbines powering the generators. Combustion adds CO2 to keep the process going, and any excess is sent into a pipeline. NetPower , 8 Rivers’ portfolio company constructing the first Allam Cycle plant, describes the technology as truly clean, saying plants that utilize the Allam Cycle are able to “inherently eliminate all air emissions.” That means no particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxides, or sulfur oxides either. Plus, Allam’s technology can generate electricity at the same six cents per kilowatt-hour as other gas-fired turbines. NetPower is working with Exelon and Toshiba on the first plant. According to Forbes, such a full-size plant costs around $300 million to construct and can generate 300 megawatts yearly. Once the plant is built, it will take a few months before NetPower can show the cycle is stable. Allam told Forbes they might know for sure in a year. The first plant will run on natural gas ; 8 Rivers says on their website they are also developing a coal -based system. Via Forbes Images via Wikimedia Commons and eutrophication&hypoxia on Flickr

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Groundbreaking technology affordably captures CO2 from fossil fuel plants

5 Myths About Ecotourism Debunked

February 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco

As editor of Eco Companion, I spend my days writing about wonderful eco-lodges, tours and conservation projects from all over the world. And in my time, I’ve come across plenty of misconceptions about my subject of choice: ecotourism. So I’m here…

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5 Myths About Ecotourism Debunked

Bill Nye is back with new (real) science show

February 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientist and television personality Bill Nye the Science Guy is returning to television with a new show, Bill Nye Saves the World . With bombastic claims about alternative facts and fake news threatening to distract us from issues that matter, Nye plans to inject a little reality into the mix with his new series. According to Netflix , where the show will air on April 21, the program will refute “antiscientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders, or titans of industry.” Nye , known for his Emmy-winning children’s program Bill Nye the Science Guy , will target a different audience through his Netflix series. Bill Nye Saves the World will feature a talk show format with what Nye referred to as essentially a monologue, guests, expert panels, and comedy pieces. He’ll approach topics as diverse as climate change , sex, and technology from a point of view that is both entertaining and scientific. Related: Bill Nye the Science Guy backs revolutionary solar company https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-_HKOcYBK8 Some of Nye’s topics, specifically climate change, could be considered political, especially under a president who’s tweeted his denial of global warming . But The New York Times notes the program isn’t a reaction to the November election, as filming finished in October. And according to Nye it wasn’t the climate science community but people in fossil fuel industries that politicized the issue. He pointed out no one has to watch his show, but he does hope it will influence some people. Nye told The New York Times, “You have to be optimistic. You’re not going to solve global problems or address global issues without being optimistic. If you don’t think you can do anything about it, you won’t.” The show will feature 13 30-minute long episodes, released all at the same time. Although Nye doesn’t yet know if the new show will be renewed for a second season, he plans to continue injecting science and critical thinking into political dialogue. Via The New York Times Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and screenshot

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Bill Nye is back with new (real) science show

7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

February 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Want to make rent and utility bills a thing of the past? We’ve rounded up seven off-grid homes that could be the answer to making your dreams a reality. Stylish and self-sufficient, these eco-friendly dwellings promise freedom from the grid. Many are even set atop wheels to let you move with your home to almost anywhere you desire. Keep reading to see seven charming homes that offer homeowners the chance to live off the grid and rent-free. WOHNWAGON Powered by solar energy and made from recycled materials, the WOHNWAGON is a beautiful mobile and modern home with a housing footprint so small it fits within the size of a standard parking lot. This larch-clad caravan was designed for homeowners who wish to travel the world and enjoy comfortable off-grid living thanks to energy-efficient features including a green roof , triple-glazed windows, graywater recycling, solar panels, highly efficient insulation and more. Developed for mass production, the WOHNWAGON starts at 40,000 Euros and can be individually customized. EcoCapsule For those who want a little off-grid place of their own with more of a futuristic edge, look no farther than the EcoCapsule . Now available for pre-orders, the tiny egg-shaped home that went viral in 2015 has been displayed around the world wowing visitors with its ability to produce all of its energy onsite with rooftop solar panels and a low-noise wind turbine that feed into a 10kWh battery. Developed by Nice Architects , the mobile home can be moved or dropped in place with a crane or helicopter, giving owners the freedom to live almost anywhere they please. POD-Idladla South Africa-based architect Clara da Cruz Almeida collaborated with local design firm Dokter+Misses to create POD-Idladla , an adorable flat-pack home with off-grid capabilities. Targeted at young adults, the tiny solar-powered was conceived as a customizable eco-friendly home at an affordable price. The modular design can also be expanded upon with additional pods to make multi-unit configurations that house up to 12 people. Moon Dragon If homes inspired by fantasy and fairytale are more your style, you’ll love Moon Dragon. Tiny house builder Abel Zimmerman Zyl of Zyl Vardos designed and built this tiny timber off-grid home that looks like it’d be right at home in Middle-Earth. Outfitted with a solar kit for off-grid living, the beautifully detailed mobile home boasts masterful craftsmanship as well as impressive an impressive suite of features, from a five-burner Range cooker with two ovens to a loft bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed. KODA Lovers of travel and modern, minimalist house designs will feel right at home in KODA, a tiny prefabricated home created by Estonian design collective Kodasema . Designed with off-grid capabilities, KODA can be assembled on a variety of surfaces without the need for foundations or disassembled and prepped for relocation in as little as four hours. Fronted with large quadruple-glazed windows, the light-filled modular house can also be expanded with multiple units. Ark Shelter Designed as an escape from city life, the Ark Shelter was created to reconnect people with nature. The self-sufficient modular cabin is prefabricated from durable timber and placed on site atop raised, mobile foundations. Wind turbines, solar power, and rainwater collection allow the home to go off-grid . Walden Studio home Dutch design agency Walden Studio teamed up with carpenter Dimka Wentzel to design a tiny home that’s big on luxury and freedom. Equipped with all the systems needed for off-grid living, the contemporary mobile home is filled with natural light and natural materials like the cork floors and birch plywood paneling. The 17-square-meter home also contains plenty of multifunctional furniture to maximize its small footprint.

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7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

Mike Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities: It’s a new era in climate action

February 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

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As cities around the world go from climate planning to climate action, the Rockefeller Foundation offshoot is gearing up for the long haul — with or without Trump.

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Mike Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities: It’s a new era in climate action

Pros and Cons: Do RFID Chips Belong in Recycling Bins?

February 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

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Recycling: eco-friendly, responsible and … computerized? The recycling industry is getting an electronic boost in cities across the world via radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking chips. The chips allow authorities to keep tabs on bins and…

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Pros and Cons: Do RFID Chips Belong in Recycling Bins?

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