Month: February 2016

Edible Agroforestry: Designing Your Own Food Forest | The Mind Unleashed

Backyard Abundance, an environmental education non-profit organization, has released an open-source document on how to create your own “food forest” through what…

Source: Edible Agroforestry: Designing Your Own Food Forest | The Mind Unleashed

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Meet the woman leading China’s new organic farming army – Al Jazeera English

Shi Yan’s approach to organic farming is helping to break the country’s “addiction to pesticides”.

Source: Meet the woman leading China’s new organic farming army – Al Jazeera English

Meet the woman leading China’s new organic farming army

Shi Yan’s approach to organic farming is helping to break the country’s “addiction to pesticides”.

Katrina Yu | 25 Nov 2015 13:15 GMT | Climate ChangeClimate SOSEnvironmentChinaAsiaListen to this page using ReadSpeaker

Thirty-three-year-old Yan is a trailblazer in Chinese agriculture and opened her farm, Shared Harvest, in 2012 [Katrina Yu/Al Jazeera]

Beijing, China – We’d been driving for an hour and a half since leaving central Beijing when the car suddenly slowed to a halt. “This isn’t exactly where the GPS told me to go, but I think it’s the place,” says the driver. 

I look out the window and see a simple wooden archway leading to a plain, one-storey building. The facade is bare except for some words painted in black capital letters. “Who is your farmer? Where does your food come from?” it reads.

“Yes,” I reply. “This is definitely the place.”

I’ve arrived at Shared Harvest, a 2.6-hectare farm in the countryside 70km north of the capital, to meet Shi Yan, its founder and chief executive. This is one of two Shared Harvest farms; the second is located in Tongzhou, half-an-hour away.

Yan greets me warmly, wearing a knitted green cardigan and long purple scarf. “Sorry I’m late. It’s busy now because of the conference,” she says.

Opened in 2012, Shared Harvest is not only a completely organic farm, it was also one of the first in China to follow the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, where consumers buy meat and vegetables directly from producers. “We painted the question on the building ourselves,” says Yan, “because in CSA, that is the core question.”

Can technology help us improve upon reality? – BBC News

Some observers are tipping 2016 as the year virtual reality tech takes off, but does augmented reality have more practical applications for business?

Source: Can technology help us improve upon reality? – BBC News

Imagine walking on Mars and being able to examine rock formations from all angles, or collaborating on the same 3D hologram design with someone thousands of miles away.

Or imagine being able to diagnose and treat the diseases of people half way around the world while you remain in your clinic, or walking around a gallery and having your own holographic guide pointing things out to you on your smart glasses.

These are just some of the exciting examples of what “augmented reality” (AR) technology is beginning to offer us.

Pakistan’s Parliament First in the World to Go 100% Solar

 

Source: Pakistan’s Parliament First in the World to Go 100% Solar

Pakistan’s parliament has become the first national assembly in the world to be powered entirely by solar energy. The legislative body, known as the Majlis-e-Shoora, is in the capital city of Islamabad.

Construction on the project began last year with funding provided by the Chinese government as “an act of friendship,” the Independent reported.

The plant, which cost $52 million to build, produces 80 megawatts of electricity, 62 of which will power the national assembly and 18 of which will feed into the national grid. According to PV Magazine, the parliament could save an estimated $1 million per year in energy bills with the new solar power plant.

Feb. 12 marked the first time members of parliament met while the lower house was being powered by solar. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to formally “switch on” the program later this month, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

“This is the first project of its kind [in a public building] in Pakistan, and later more public buildings will be converted to solar power to overcome the energy crisis,” Munawar Abbas Shah, special secretary at the national assembly, said previously. “The consumption of electricity in the parliament even jumps over 2 megawatts in summers when the house is in session.”

Solar-Powered Vacuum Could Suck Up 24,000 Tons of Ocean Plastic Every Year

The SeaVax is a solar- and wind-powered ship that can suck up plastic waste. The inventors at Bluebird Marine Systems LTD unveiled their proof of

Source: Solar-Powered Vacuum Could Suck Up 24,000 Tons of Ocean Plastic Every Year

With more plastic than fish expected in our oceans by 2050, cleaning up this mess seems like an impossible task. But a team of inventors from Sussex, England have developed a novel solution. The SeaVax is a solar- and wind-powered ship that can suck up plastic waste.

The inventors at Bluebird Marine Systems LTD unveiled their proof of concept at the government-funded Innovate UK show in London in November. The inventors are entering prototype phase, the Express reported.

The ship purportedly works by funneling plastic waste as it moves forward. According to this mockup posted to the Innovate UK website, once built, the vessel will be around 144 feet long and fully autonomous. Deck-mounted solar panels and two wind turbines will feed power to electric pumps and filters that can suck up plastic solids and micro plastics. An onboard shredder rips and breaks up larger pieces of debris.

The builders calculated on their website that the finished robovac will be able to generate enough energy to treat an average of 89.9 million liters of seawater in a year, translating to 22,400,000 kilograms of plastic from a body of water that has high concentrations of surface solid plastic, such as river estuaries.

“Working in a fleet, these autonomous robotic boats could keep plastic buildup contained and significantly reduce the existing ocean gyres in around 5-10 years, cost effectively,” the inventors said.

The captured plastic is temporarily stored in a cargo hold that can carry around 150 tons of weight until it can be off-loaded or recycled, the inventors said.

“With our system all sizes of rubbish, from huge fishing nets to deadly micro particles, can be swept or sucked up, ground down and stored in SeaVax’s tanks,” project director Chris Close explained to the Express.

Labour Party considering universal basic income policy, shadow chancellor John McDonnell says | Business News | News | The Independent

The UK Labour Party is considering universal basic income as part of its new economic policy. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the Labour Party would not rule out unconditional pay for all members of society during a talk at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night. “It’s an idea we want to look at. Child benefit was a form of basic income so it’s not something that I would rule out,” he said.

Source: Labour Party considering universal basic income policy, shadow chancellor John McDonnell says | Business News | News | The Independent

Alternative Fuel: Scientists Turn Algae Into Usable Fuel In Less Than An Hour

Source: http://www.naturalsociety.com | Original Post Date: May 29, 2014 – Algae has already been touted as a natural healing wonder. Not only does have its high chlorophyll content and special plant compounds been shown to defeat cancer and heart disease, it also shows promise as a replacement for bu

Source: Alternative Fuel: Scientists Turn Algae Into Usable Fuel In Less Than An Hour

Alternative Fuel: Scientists Turn Algae Into Usable Fuel In Less Than An Hour

Source: www.naturalsociety.com | Original Post Date: May 29, 2014 –

alternative-fuel-scientists-turn-algae-into-usable-fuel-in-less-than-an-hour

Algae has already been touted as a natural healing wonder. Not only does have its high chlorophyll content and special plant compounds been shown to defeat cancer and heart disease, it also shows promise as a replacement for butter and eggs in gluten free and vegan baked goods. Even giants like Unilever, which make unhealthy household items, have looked to algae as a replacement for palm oil in many of its products since palm oil production is destroying our bio-diverse rain forests. But perhaps the latest and most promising news about algae, though, is that it could replace petroleum fuels.

Aside from polluting the planet, petroleum-based products, used in cosmetics and a thousand other products including bicycle tires, fertilizer, paint, shag rugs, and ever shoes, are very detrimental. Cancer-causing chemicals like 4-dioxane and other poisonous compounds (up to 10,500 of them) are in everything from soap to bubble bath and toothpaste.

If your lips are chapped and you’ve used petroleum jelly, you’ve also exposed your body to carcinogenic compounds that may temporarily relieve your cracked lips, but can cause breast cancer, lymphoma, Parkinson’s, and a multitude of other diseases.

Alternatively, algae shows promise as a replacement for both petroleum and palm oil as a fuel source. Within algae lay dormant, vast stores of biofuel – estimates compare algae to oil and find that algae can produce from seven to 31 times the fuel than the next best crop that has been planted to power the planet – palm oil. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy pledged to invest up to $24 million in three research groups looking at ways to commercialize algae-based biofuels, and $16.5 million have already been invested in programs in Hawaii, New Mexico, and California.

The Smithsonian recently reported that scientists turned algae into usable fuel (crude oil) in less than an hour. Scaling up the use of algae would take land about the size of the state of Maryland. Conversely, palm oil is eating up our rainforests globally at a rate of at least 10 times as fast, eating up usable land.

“. . .palm oil is expected to be the world’s most produced and internationally traded edible oil. . .”

While deforestation is happening due to a number of causes, including commercial agriculture, subsistence farming, palm-oil plantations, and clear-cutting for paper and furniture, reducing the land we use for fuel would save our rainforests and also produce a healthy by-product which even oxygenates the air.

Though a Mercedes-Benz bio-diesel E320 was premiered a while back that might conceivably run on algae fuel, most cars haven’t been tested for emissions or gas-mileage. Also, algae has to be grown under very specific conditions, with controlled temperature, relatively high up-front capital expense, and the requirement of phosphorous to grow the plant – which is quickly becoming scarce. Oh, and of course genetic engineers looking at utilizing GMO algae that could through the planet into yet another ‘un’ natural catastrophe (not).

Still, weighing the pros and cons of algae-based bio-fuels, they look quite promising.

Written by  of www.naturalsociety.com

Beaufort Court

Source: Beaufort Court

POWER FOR GOOD

Renewable Energy Sources

Beaufort Court has been designed so that nearly all the energy required should be provided by renewable sources located on the site. These include: a wind turbine generating electricity, a solar panel array providing both electricity and hot water for heating, an underground borehole providing cooling during the summer, and a biomass crop which will be burned in a biomass boiler to provide heat. A large underground seasonal heat store allows heat generated from the PVT and solar thermal panels in the summer to be used later during cold weather.

Wind Energy

The 225 kW Vestas wind turbine, which is clearly visible from the nearby M25 motorway, is 36m high with a rotor diameter of 29m. The electricity it generates is used to provide power to the buildings at Beaufort Court, with any excess being sold to the Herts-based electricity supplier, Green Energy UK.

Renewable Energy Systems HQ Setting the Standard for Sustainability

An example of a groundbreaking refurbishment of a disused poultry farm into a state-of-the-art eco-friendly head office for Renewable Energy Systems just outside the M25.

bc_banner
The site has a range of renewable energy technologies in action;

Crop Store – Purpose built structure, bales of miscanthus are dried naturally after harvesting, ready for use in the biomass boiler.

Solar Power – Large array of solar panels provide both heat and electricity for the office buildings. The sun heats the water in the solar panels which is then used to heat the building. The innovative PVT panels convert daylight to electricity as well.

Wind Power – Each year, the wind turbine will generate more than twice the amount of electricity the buildings need, so they sell the surplus to the local grid.

Underground Heat Store – When it is warm, the heat generated by the solar panels is not needed. It is instead stored in a huge underground heat store comprising of 1400m2 of water with a floating insulated lid. In the colder months, this warm water is used to pre-heat the air that is circulated around the office building.

Energy from Crops – They have planted 5 hectares of an energy crop called miscanthus, or ‘Elephant Grass’. This is burnt in an environmentally-friendly biomass boiler to provide most of the heat they need in their buildings during the winter. Generating energy from crops is good for the environment because the greenhouse gases that are emitted during combustion are re-absorbed as the crop is growing, so no polluting gases are added to the atmosphere.

Solar Architecture – The original ‘horseshoe’ shape of the main building was designed to create light, airy and hygienic conditions for the chickens reared on the egg farm. Today, this has been enhanced through clever design to make maximum use of the sunlight and natural ventilation. Techniques include large windows, rooflights and vents, an open balcony design between the ground and first floor and deciduous tree planting for natural shading.

Biomass Boiler – The Elephant Grass is harvested in late winter, then dried and stored as bales in the crop store until needed. The bales are shredded before being fed into a 100kW boiler which generates heat for the offices.

Natural Cooling From the Ground – Beaufort Court is cooled naturally by cool water extracted from the local underground aquifer via a 75m deep borehole. It is pumped from the ground at 12C and is used to cool the air coming into the building. It is then circulated at 15C  around the offices in the chilled beams before being pumped out to irrigate the energy crop.

Source: Beaufort Court

Going green: how universities are tackling sustainability | UWE | Student | The Independent

Whipping a campus into sustainable shape involves anything from a new build to careful maintenance of existing buildings. For example, UWE Bristol’s approach encompasses upgrading lighting systems and installing charging points for electric cars, as well as a newly developed facility for the Faculty of Environment and Technology.

Source: Going green: how universities are tackling sustainability | UWE | Student | The Independent

Whipping a campus into sustainable shape involves anything from a new build to careful maintenance of existing buildings. For example, UWE Bristol’s approach encompasses upgrading lighting systems and installing charging points for electric cars, as well as a newly developed facility for the Faculty of Environment and Technology.

There’s an environmental impetus, naturally, but also a social one, says Fabia Jeddere-Fisher, an Energy Engineer at the university. “We feel that it’s our responsibility that students leave us as informed and responsible citizens.”

Students can see the university’s sustainable practices in action: the new facility has exposed areas showcasing its straw bale cladding panels, while its tiles are made up of 93% recycled content. “The architecture fits with our wider ethos of embedding sustainability into the content of all courses, to raise awareness of sustainability in the next generation,” says Carl Lapworth, UWE’s Masterplan director.

At the other end of the country, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) uses smart ‘dynamic demand’ technology in its Saltire Centre. The system automatically regulates energy use by the building’s air handling systems, technology which the university suggests will help nudge us towards a carbon-free future. “It enables us to play an active role in decarbonising the UK’s energy system by providing the flexibility in demand which is essential to support greater use of renewables,” says Kenny Allen, GCU’s Estates Manager.

About us – Solar United Natives

About us

Source: About us – Solar United Natives

A ‘New Consciousness’ community

We are citizens of Earth, children of the Sun. We are one family.

Solar United Natives is a virtual community on one hand, with members all around the world, and a small but growing community in a green valley of northern Hungary (land of previous S.U.N. Festivals) and in the surrounding villages. The idea grew out of the Hungarian Goa scene, but it aims to do more then merely presenting a big festival every year – the profit from the events goes back to developing a sustainable community.

By becoming a member you are entitled to visit the Summer Gathering and other events for free, and you support the initiative with your membership fee at the same time. You can even influence the organisation’s work, vote on artists, projects and so, or, if you are more serious, join us in the work on the land!

The U.S. Navy Just Announced The End Of Big Oil And No One Noticed

Source: http://www.proudtobeafilthyliberalscum.com | Original Post Date: April 12, 2014 – Surf’s up! The Navy appears to have achieved the Holy Grail of energy independence – turning seawater into fuel: After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world

Source: The U.S. Navy Just Announced The End Of Big Oil And No One Noticed

Source: www.proudtobeafilthyliberalscum.com | Original Post Date: April 12, 2014 –

the-u-s-navy-just-announced-the-end-of-big-oil-and-no-one-noticed

Surf’s up! The Navy appears to have achieved the Holy Grail of energy independence – turning seawater into fuel:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

Nigerians Are Building Fireproof, Bulletproof, and Eco-Friendly Homes With Plastic Bottles and Mud

Source: Nigerians Are Building Fireproof, Bulletproof, and Eco-Friendly Homes With Plastic Bottles and Mud

These colorful homes are bulletproof, fireproof, and can withstand earthquakes. They also maintain a comfortable temperature, produce zero carbon emissions, and are powered by solar and methane gas from recycled waste.

By Amanda Froelich / trueactivist.com

Plastic is everywhere. In fact, the environment is so riddled with it, researchers predict that 99% of all birds on this planet will have plastic in their gut by the year 2050.

It is not enough to persuade people to use less, plastic needs to be repurposed and reused to be kept out of landfills. Despite informative infographicsemotional statistics, and recycling programs, many nations – especially the United States – continue to toss plastics into landfills without much care.

This unfortunate reality has spurred many to get creative with the discarded byproducts of society. Some have used plastic waste to construct marvelous sculptures and raise awareness about the issue, while others are repurposing it entirely to construct eco-friendly homes.

As phys.org reports, the housing crisis has become so bad in Nigeria, nearly 16 million units are required to address the shortage. Because crafting traditional homes would be far too expensive for most, locals adopted the idea put forth by two NGOs and are now building plastic bottle homes.

Credit: Andreas Froese/ECOTECCredit: Andreas Froese/ECOTEC

The solution not only cuts costs for building a house, it is beneficial for the environment.

Fairphone 2: world’s first modular phone goes on sale – BBC News

A phone designed to be easy to repair or upgrade is set to go on sale.

Source: Fairphone 2: world’s first modular phone goes on sale – BBC News

Fairphone 2: world’s first modular phone goes on sale

16 December 2015 Last updated at 01:23 GMT

A smartphone designed to be easy to repair and upgrade goes on sale this week.

The internal components of the Fairphone 2 are split into modules which can be replaced with minimal tools or expertise.

The company behind the phone hopes this will encourage owners to keep their phones for longer, rather than regularly changing to new devices.

Fairphone say they aim to create a more ethical device with an emphasis on reparability and sourcing key minerals used in the phone’s construction from conflict-free areas.