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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
Curated by PIRatE Lab
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Solar-Powered Plug Transforms Windows Into Outlets

Solar-Powered Plug Transforms Windows Into Outlets | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A pair of designers have developed a new portable outlet that absorbs solar energy and converts it to electricity for everyday use. This nifty device can be attached to a window or wall that gets a lot of sunlight and, after eight hours of charging, holds up to 10 hours of electricity. This can then be used to charge your phone or any number of electricity-hungry gadgets.
It is even possible to leave the solar plug on the wall and use it as an outlet to keep your laptop or anything else.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Cool!  I had something like this about 20 years ago, but it was much less sophisticated...and I can't remember the name of the thing.

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20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know

20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

We live in an era of accelerating change, when scientific and technological advancements are arriving rapidly. As a result, we are developing a new language to describe our civilization as it evolves. Here are 20 terms and concepts that you'll need to navigate our future.


Via Szabolcs Kósa
PIRatE Lab's insight:

An interesting compilation of terms.  Perhaps most interesting to me is the utter "out of touch" aspect of some of these terms.  Most of very human/wealthy human-centric and are likely to be niche terms at best.  Only the "anthropocene" and "mule" really seem to stretch beyond our wealthy, western lifestyles.  Nevertheless a good read to stimulate your thinking about what the future may bring.

 

Thanks to Szabolcs for posting! 

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Pushpendra Mishra's curator insight, March 24, 7:12 AM

Aamod at Bhimtal is a magnificent hill resort surrounded by untouched Oak and Pine forests on one side and a small lake on the other with lush green aamod.in

Pablo Munévar's curator insight, March 28, 9:46 AM

Estamos en una época de aceleración y vale la pena repensar estas nuevas formas de comprender estos términos

Broadband Chandigarh's curator insight, April 16, 1:07 AM

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The U.S. ranks 13 out of 16 countries in energy efficiency, Germany is #1

The U.S. ranks 13 out of 16 countries in energy efficiency, Germany is #1 | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Waste is ugly. Doing more with less is beautiful. Many of us try to live by these sayings in our personal lives, but at the country level, too few nations really give their best effort.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Phew!  We (barely) beat Russia!  Oh wait, I mean we are at the (almost) bottom of the list.

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Improvised devices help water drought-stricken L.A. trees

Improvised devices help water drought-stricken L.A. trees | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Los Angeles officials and environmentalists have begun deploying emergency low-tech watering devices to try to save trees in desperate need of water during the drought .
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Inspiration for low cost slow-release watering devices from our friends down under.

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Fracking's Unlikely Opponents: German Breweries

Fracking's Unlikely Opponents: German Breweries | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Brewers say that contaminated groundwater would ruin a centuries-old tradition and industry.

"When the Bavarian Purity Law was first declared in 1487, not a single European had stepped on the land above the Marcellus Shale in the Eastern United States. The First Nations of Canada weren’t fighting natural gas pipelines, because as far as natural resources go, the Alberta tar sands were centuries away from being in the picture—as was the internal combustion engine.

"Yet the law, the Reinheitsgebot, which strictly dictates the ingredients that can be used in making beer, is giving the powerful German brewing industry historic ammunition against the creeping potential for new natural gas exploration.

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Garry Rogers's curator insight, August 7, 11:53 AM

In the United States, people have begun recycling their urine.  How can the beer makers complain about using filthy water; the issue has been discussed ever since indoor toilets were invented.

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10 companies making waves in water innovation

10 companies making waves in water innovation | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
From industry giants thinking beyond freshwater to startups tackling the wastewater, here are the names to watch.

Via Acquisti & Sostenibilità not-for-profit
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A Honeycomb Hotel Made for Music Festivals

A Honeycomb Hotel Made for Music Festivals | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Say you’re going to a music festival and plan to spend the night. You have a few options. You could rig up a roomy tent, but then you'll have to protect your palace from drunken Phish fans. You could sleep on Mother Earth’s very own sleeping bag, though that’s never quite as comfortable as it sounds. You even could shell out for an overpriced hotel room somewhere off site, but that sort of misses the whole point, doesn't it? There is another emerging option: Booking a pod in one of these funky honeycomb hotels.
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Organic foods are more nutritious, according to review of 343 studies

Organic foods are more nutritious, according to review of 343 studies | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Most everyone who has ever selected their fruits and vegetables from the "organic" section while grocery shopping probably thought they were doing something good for their bodies and the environment.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Hmmm...this is sure to get the Prius-driving crowd all in a tither. 

 

One of the chief arguments offered by proponents of organic foods (aka it is healthier for you) seems to have some validity.  And this a meta analysis no less.

 

But...and this is a BIG BUT, I still say the main reason one should consider opting for a more organic diet is the well supported fact that organic food generally has a lighter impact on the planet.  I know all the arguments that we "cannot meet our existing nutritional demands if we were to somehow instantly go 100% organic," etc., etc.  But the reduced impact from organic is usually (except for bananas) a kinder thing for Mama Earth.

 

Crunch away you granola heads!

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Bamboo could help developing cities urbanize

Bamboo could help developing cities urbanize | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

What if there were a local, renewable material that could be used instead of steel in reinforced-concrete buildings? And what if that substitute could be manufactured easily? These questions have motivated Dirk Hebel, an assistant professor of architecture and construction at the Future Cities Laboratory, in Singapore, to investigate a bamboo fiber composite as a possible substitute for steel reinforcement in concrete. The Future Cities Laboratory is a research arm of ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) Zürich, in Switzerland, and is the first program under the newly formed Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability, which conducts multidisciplinary research to foster urbanization that conforms to the principles of sustainable development.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

There are many "ifs" here, but this is an intriguing approach that may avoid the pitfalls of previous attempts at using bamboo for such a strengthening role in buildings.  I suspect that this won't work, and am always worried when press releases go out before a project has even preliminary results, but I very much like the innovative and new idea-type approach these folks are taking here.

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Wyke Farms to recover 95% of wastewater with £1.3m investment

Wyke Farms to recover 95% of wastewater with £1.3m investment | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

The UK’s largest independent cheese-maker has officially opened a £1m water treatment plant that will recover up to 95% of its factory waste water.


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"Save The Whales"... their poop holds the key (maybe)!

"Save The Whales"... their poop holds the key (maybe)! | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change. 


Via Marian Locksley, PIRatE Lab
PIRatE Lab's insight:

So whales can be seen as an ecosystem service.  In this case, a force to sequester carbon.  By saving whales from extinction we (in effect) saved this important function which "rockets" carbon from surface waters (such as krill or other plankton) into deeper waters as speed many orders of magnitude greater than the normal settling rate of typical marine snow.

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PIRatE Lab's curator insight, July 8, 8:13 PM

Its all about trying to transport carbon from the surface down to the sediments down deep in the benthos...although "reversing" climate change is a bit overly optimistic.

Marian Locksley's curator insight, July 9, 8:32 AM

3.7.14 ~ Rebounding whale populations are good for ocean ecosystems:  http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/07/rebounding-whale-populations-are-good-ocean-ecosystems

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Does Your State Have the Most—or the Fewest—LEED-Certified Homes?

Does Your State Have the Most—or the Fewest—LEED-Certified Homes? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
There are 150,000 LEED-certified housing units across the world, according to a new report. Is your state in the top 10 or the bottom 10 for the U.S.?

There are now more than 150,000 LEED-certified housing units worldwide, according to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED in Motion: Residential report. Where does your home state stack up? Visit the link for the top 10 and bottom 10 states per certified units.


Via Lauren Moss
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Another example of the growing coastal-inland divergence in almost all aspects of our society.

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Arsenic poisoning in rural China - in pictures

Arsenic poisoning in rural China - in pictures | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Mines and chemical plants mushroomed in the
realgar-rich area around Heshan from the 1950s. Shut down in 2011 due to the pollution they caused, dust and run-off plagues the village to this day

Via pdeppisch
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Food Industry Playing Catch Up on Sustainability

Food Industry Playing Catch Up on Sustainability | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Food and beverage companies are beginning to realize the importance of sustainability, with a growing number working to advance product improvements. But the sector as a whole is lagging behind other industries in taking sustainability action and generating the associated business benefits. What steps can these companies take to join the leaders?

Via Acquisti & Sostenibilità not-for-profit
PIRatE Lab's insight:

We can sometimes get locked into our worldview/expectations.  It is important to periodically look around outside our regular haunts or industries to see what others are doing.  In this case, efforts to institutionalize sustainability within the food sector could well benefit from more management exchange with other non-food businesses.

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California lawmakers considering historic shift in groundwater policy

California lawmakers considering historic shift in groundwater policy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
As California continues to endure a calamitous lack of water from the sky, the state could, for the first time, start to regulate water drawn from the ground.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

It is absolutely crazy that we don't regulate groundwater in this state...and that we can't even get the estimates of wells in the state to less than +/- a million bores.

 

Utterly insane.

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Heat Mapping the World's Hottest Temperatures

Heat Mapping the World's Hottest Temperatures | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Andrew Sykes Group, a large air conditioning firm based in the UK, has developed this interactive displaying record highs, and current temperatures from select cities across the globe. 

While Climate Central's interactive tool (displaying the average temperature cities across the U.S. are expected to reach by 2100) did little to make those of us suffering a sweltering summer feel optimistic about the future, the interactive graphic at the link provides some perspective that current temperatures could be worse.

The Andrew Sykes Group has developed this interactive displaying record highs, and current temperatures from select cities across the globe. Smaller nodes represent cities, while larger nodes stand for the hottest temperatures ever seen on each continent.


Via Lauren Moss
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Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, August 9, 8:08 PM

The Andrew Sykes Group has developed this interactive displaying record highs, and current temperatures from select cities across the globe. Smaller nodes represent cities, while larger nodes stand for the hottest temperatures ever seen on each continent.

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Green Technology Building Code Changes Approved For San Diego County

Green Technology Building Code Changes Approved For San Diego County | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of all but one of the staff's recommendations.
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Why Wave Power Has Lagged Far Behind as Energy Source

Why Wave Power Has Lagged Far Behind as Energy Source | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Researchers have long contended that power from ocean waves could make a major contribution as a renewable energy source. But a host of challenges, including the difficulty of designing a device to capture the energy of waves, have stymied efforts to generate electricity from the sea.
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Denmark's cage-free zoo will put humans in captivity

Denmark's cage-free zoo will put humans in captivity | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Bjarke Ingels’s ‘zootopia’ reverses the role of captor and captive to let animals roam free, while humans are hidden from view. But will it become a feral version of the Hunger Games?
PIRatE Lab's insight:

An interesting reversal, but I don't think we will learn much by seeing a captive rhino from a mirror-bubble.

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California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year

California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
State lawmakers approved the delay in late June, and at the same time tightened up the environmental review process for fracking permits.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Our new regulations/enhanced review of fracking wells in California are being delayed slightly to make the process more unified and cohesive.

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Dumped WWII Chemical Munitions Still Affecting Fish

EUROPE - Thousands of tonnes of chemical warfare agents were dumped into the Baltic Sea after the Second World War. A recent study has shown that fish caught near the dumping grounds show high levels of genetic and cell damage, revealing the long legacy of these toxic substances.
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PIRatE Lab's curator insight, July 12, 8:13 PM

This is particularly interesting and an increasing venue for exploring ecotoxicity.  Our historic approach of looking for PAHs or some other substance has often missed the big story that persistent compounds can have effects upon populations and ecosystems long after the compound itself my have decayed or broken down to sub-detection levels.  Population and genetic structure is the natural place to look for this.  But even so, being able to detect impacts from seven decades ago is impressive.

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▶ LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome. - YouTube

http://www.legoblockshell.org/?ytv1 We love LEGO. You love LEGO. Everyone loves LEGO. But when LEGO's halo effect is being used to sell propaganda to childre...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

LEGO has been on a roll lately, partly thanks to a popular film that helped bring the 75-year old Danish company back to the forefront of popular culture. But Greenpeace thinks something is rotten in the state of Denmark! They've made this video to try to pressure LEGO into dropping its partnership with oil company Shell.

 

LEGO has responded to the Greenpeace video, basically saying "Hey, don't involve us in your dispute with Shell", to which Greenpeace countered with an open letter explaining why LEGO can't have its cake and eat it too when it comes to who they implicitly promote and support (they sell a lego set that is a Shell gas station) with their toys that are used by millions of children.

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10 ways to improve your recycling

10 ways to improve your recycling | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Here are some tips for taking your recycling to the next level.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Much of this is old hat or obvious, but there are some pearls in here in the specific suggestions at the bottom of the article.

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Inside Monsanto, America's Third-Most-Hated Company

Inside Monsanto, America's Third-Most-Hated Company | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
What's the genetically modified seed factory up to? Making high-tech plans to feed a growing world
PIRatE Lab's insight:

An interesting, well reported article about our massive agri/food science megacorporation.  Check out the interesting radio discussion prompted by the article:

 

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/07/08/gmo-labeling-vermont-oregon-monsanto

 

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Transit Oriented Development is the key to better cities

Transit Oriented Development is the key to better cities | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A new standard sets out the guiding principles for shifting away from the car and toward a walkable, cyclable city.

Via Anita Woodruff
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