How termites draw on solar power for climate control

September 22, 2017 by  
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Termite mounds could hold clues to passive climate control , according to new research. Seven scientists scrutinized African termite mounds to see how they keep their homes cool in the sun while maintaining a uniform concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers have looked at south Asian termite mounds in the past, but those are often more shaded; they say uncovering the secrets of African termite mounds could lead to energy-efficient building ideas. Termite mounds are impressive not only because the creatures that construct them are so small, but because they naturally maintain a comfortable temperature – no air conditioner necessary. Researchers led by Samuel Ocko, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student, dug further into climate control in termite mounds, specifically those of the Macrotermes michaelseni termite in Namibia . Their mounds can be around 10 feet high, with millions of workers residing inside. Related: BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE: Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds Ocko and his team measured air velocities and temperatures in the mound over 35 days in Namibia’s autumn and found even though temperatures outside the mound changed by 27 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperatures only varied by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The termites drew on the sun more than wind to achieve climate control. According to IFLScience, convection from the temperature gradient between outside the mounds and their centers drove smooth airflow. During 24 hours, CO2 levels stayed around five percent. The mounds have holes that can be up to 0.2 inches in diameter, which IFLScience said creates an array of tunnels and allows for gas exchange. They said the mounds also lean towards the equator. CO2 levels vary more in Indian mounds during the day, while temperatures remain even. African mounds have large thermal gradients between the center and the sun-facing side. The researchers said in their paper abstract that even though African and Indian mounds differ, they can harness periodic solar heating for ventilation ; they said the system functions like as an external lung. The Journal of Experimental Biology published the research this year. Ocko was joined by scientists at institutions in the United States, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Via IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter

July 20, 2017 by  
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In 2015, Cecil the lion was reportedly lured out of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to be slaughtered by American dentist Walter Palmer. But lion hunting in the area hasn’t stopped. A group that calls themselves Lions of Hwange National Park recently said Cecil’s son, Xanda, was shot on a trophy hunt . Xanda was just over six years old and was the father of multiple cubs. Lions of Hwange National Park said Xanda was shot a few days ago. Professional hunter Richard Cooke of RC Safaris was part of the shoot, and Lions of Hwange National Park said Cooke killed Xanda’s brother around two years ago, when the brother around four years old. Related: U.S. dentist will not be prosecuted in Zimbabwe for killing Cecil the lion Cooke’s hunt was legal, according to researcher Andrew Loveridge of Oxford University , who is part of a team that monitored the national park’s lions with electronic collars. Cooke apparently returned the collar, cluing researchers in to Xanda’s demise. Loveridge told The Telegraph, “I fitted it last October. It was monitored almost daily and we were aware that Xanda and his pride was spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that. Richard Cooke is one of the ‘good’ guys. He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over six years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations.” He said he hopes for a five kilometer, or 3.1 mile, exclusion zone around the park so collared lions that wander out won’t be shot by hunters anymore. The Telegraph reported Cooke did not answer his phones the day they published their article. It’s unclear who his client was, although the publication said most lion shooters hail from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, or Germany. The client could have forked over around £40,000, or close to $52,000 for the hunt and the lion’s head for mounting where they live. Via Lions of Hwange National Park and The Telegraph Images via Bert Duplessis/Lions of Hwange National Park on Facebook

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Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter

Air Shepherd drones hunt poachers using cyanide to poison Zimbabwe wildlife

October 27, 2016 by  
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An elephant is slaughtered every 14 minutes in Africa , according to a group called Air Shepherd that is utilizing drones to fight this horrifying trend. Their drones can obtain information at night when it’s hard for rangers to work, and monitor large swaths of land to search for animal poachers poisoning watering holes with cyanide. Not content to rest on their laurels, however, Air Shepherd is currently raising funds through their Indiegogo campaign to boost the volume of their drone flights. Air Shepherd, which is sponsored by the Lindbergh Foundation , harnesses technology to protect elephants and rhinos that are being poached with unprecedented regularity. Collaborating with the World Wildlife Fund , Air Shepherd flies drones in Zimbabwe ‘s Hwange National Park, covering more ground than rangers can on foot. If they see suspicious activities, they report it to rangers who can then go in on the ground and stop would-be poachers. The drones can fly at night, when poachers sneak in to poison watering holes, but when it’s difficult for rangers to operate effectively. Related: Could printing synthetic GMO rhino horns help save real rhinos from extinction? Air Shepherd’s head of drone operations Otto Werdmuller Von Elgg said in a statement, “Historically, there has been little ability for anti-poaching operations to work at night. You can’t see tracks, it’s difficult to see people, and it’s dangerous because the anti-poaching teams can walk onto elephants, rhinos, or buffaloes. Our night-time operations change the game in favor of the elephants and in the case of Zimbabwe we are in a unique position to help monitor the park during the day to spot poachers who are using cyanide.” Death by cyanide is agonizing for elephants, and often poachers come in to hack off their tusks before they are dead. But it’s easy for poachers to obtain cyanide, which enables them to kill a large quantity of animals in silence. Air Shepherd’s drones work to end the slaughter, and they’re hoping to send out even more teams to accelerate their work. Through money raised in the Indiegogo campaign, Air Shepherd hopes to outfit two new drone teams. Their initial goal was to raise $50,000, and they’ve already raised over $60,000. Their new goal is $200,000; you can back the campaign here . + Air Shepherd + Lindbergh Foundation Images via Air Shepherd Facebook

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Air Shepherd drones hunt poachers using cyanide to poison Zimbabwe wildlife

WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

October 27, 2016 by  
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Two-thirds of wild animals around the world could be gone in less than five years , according to a new report compiled by researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London. The latest edition of Living Planet Index (LPI), released this week, warns that loss of habitat due to environmental destruction, global warming, hunting, and pollution will result in a sixth mass extinction. Using 1970 animal population data as a baseline, scientists have measured the state of biological diversity and now warn that the world will have lost 67 percent of its animals by 2020 if major conservation efforts are not implemented immediately. The LPI report measures the condition of the world’s biodiversity by evaluating population trends of animals that live on both land and in the sea. The new report recognizes that dangers to animals worldwide are not new. In fact, researchers point to a 58-percent overall drop in global populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2012. That translates to an approximate 2-percent loss of species each year. Environmental destruction has continued, both directly at the hands of humans in the form of hunting and deforestation, as well as secondary effects such as rising global temperatures, making the threat even more severe. Related: Vanishing land snail signals the 6th mass extinction is well underway The LPI warns that we are approaching a crucial threshold and, without major conservation efforts, the worldwide decline in animal populations will reach 67 percent by 2020. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report. Of all animals on earth, those dwelling in rivers and lakes have been impacted most severely by human activity. Animal populations in freshwater wetlands are down by 81 percent from 1970 figures, which the LPI report says is attributed to excessive water extraction, pollution, and dams. Global warming, which forces animals to adjust their habits, lifestyles, and even territories, amplifies the negative effects of human action and accelerates the loss of life. Via The Guardian Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

Scientists say Great Barrier Reef coral death has reached devastating heights

October 27, 2016 by  
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Data from a period of widespread coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is trickling in and it does not look good. Researchers are finding that the formerly pristine northern section of the reef has been hit especially hard , with up to 80 percent of corals killed as a result of warming waters or subsequent predators and disease. A recent report from researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook Universit y in Queensland shows the most up to date state of the damage. Scientists have taken several surveys since March, when the area was inundated with unseasonably warm waters – each painting a bleaker picture than the last. Estimates in May suggested at least 50 percent of the northern reef had died, a statistic that was bumped up to 80 percent with these recent findings. “The mortality is devastating really,” senior research fellow Andrew Hoey told The Washington Post . “It’s a lot higher than we had hoped.” Related: No, the Great Barrier Reef isn’t dead – but it is damaged If there is any silver lining to this report, it is that the central and southern areas of the reef were not hit as badly as the north. To put things into perspective, a total 22 percent of corals have died cross the entire reef, according to the The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority . Where the damage is most severe, researchers note the influx of climate change-induced warm waters resulted in the first wave of coral die-off. Invasion of predatory snails and disease have since swept in to kill much of the surviving corals. This particular bleaching event is said to be even worse than those of 1998 and 2002 – though more data needs to be gathered. Hoey says it could take one or two decades for the reef to recover from such devastation, assuming another mass bleaching event does not strike again in that time. With climate change doing anything but slowing down, those chances might be slim. Via  The Washington Post Images via  Wikimedia , Pixabay

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11 Zimbabwe elephants found dead from cyanide poisoning in Cecil’s park

October 9, 2015 by  
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Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe has been the scene of another unnecessary killing, as park officials have confirmed they found 11 elephants poisoned to death with cyanide. Just months after Cecil the Lion was killed by American dentist Dr. Walter James Palmer in the same park, park rangers found the deceased elephants next to a cyanide-laced salt lick, several with their tusks removed. Authorities have also said three additional elephants were found dead in Matusadona Park, also from cyanide poisoning. Read the rest of 11 Zimbabwe elephants found dead from cyanide poisoning in Cecil’s park

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Zimbabwe charges game park owner for illegal hunt of Cecil the lion

August 19, 2015 by  
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In the wake of the illegal killing of Cecil —a 13-year-old black-maned lion and popular tourist attraction—in Zimbabwe, authorities have charged a nearby game park owner in association with the lion’s death. Honest Ndlovu, whose property sits adjacent to the Hwange National Park, has been charged by prosecutors for permitting “a person who is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe to hunt the said animal which was not on the hunting quota.” Read the rest of Zimbabwe charges game park owner for illegal hunt of Cecil the lion

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American public calls for extradition of lion poacher Walter Palmer

July 30, 2015 by  
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The American dentist who allegedly paid $55,000 to kill a beloved lion  in Zimbabwe has come under fire since his identity was disclosed to the public this week. Stories about Cecil the lion and the hunter who killed him, Walter Palmer of Minnesota, have soared to the top of trending lists on Facebook and Twitter, and numerous angry bloggers, editorialists, and TV hosts have attacked the dentist for his actions. Zimbabwe conservationists say Cecil was lured out of the Hwange National Park and slain on land that was not zoned for hunting lions. Local hunter Theo Bronkhorst was charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt in court yesterday, according to NY Daily News , and now members of the American public are calling for Palmer’s extradition to Zimbabwe so he too can atone for his actions. Read the rest of American public calls for extradition of lion poacher Walter Palmer

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Cecil the lion’s killer identified as American dentist Walter Palmer

July 28, 2015 by  
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Turn Clicks into Bricks: Help Build Sustainable Classrooms for a Zimbabwe Primary School

January 6, 2015 by  
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Studio Mada  is a team comprised of young Norwegian Architects working with a Zimbabwe School that’s currently lacking the resources to provide safe buildings to teach in. They came up with the idea to crowdfund a brick press , which would enable the school to make their own high-quality mud bricks  so they can build urgently needed teaching space, one brick at a time. There’s less than a day left to turn your clicks into bricks for the school, so please CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT THE PROJECT ON INDIEGOGO > Read the rest of Turn Clicks into Bricks: Help Build Sustainable Classrooms for a Zimbabwe Primary School Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , Africa green building , africa sustainable architecture , Crowdfunding , eco design , Green Building , green education , IndieGoGo , kindergarten , mud brick construction , mud bricks , Studio Mada , Zimbabwe , Zimbabwe kindergarten , Zimbabwe School

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