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The Glory of the Garden
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Nice Shades: BIQ Building is powered by algae

Nice Shades: BIQ Building is powered by algae | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Green eyeshades work the same way for buildings as they do for accountants, cutting down the solar gain and providing shade. These particular shades are not tinted green, but are filled with green slime, or algae, and water. ARUP, the global engineering firm, worked with Splitterwerk architects to create the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, a demonstration project for anInternational Building Exhibition in Hamburg. It's not your usual trade show model home.

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Protecting endangered species we don't know much about

Protecting endangered species we don't know much about | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) uses set criteria to define species extinction risk. At the pointy end of the wedge, species are classed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.

 

Overall, the IUCN system for defining species viability is considered robust. On a species-specific basis however, extinction risk may be underestimated.

 

Inappropriate classification is often due to a lack of ecological information. It may seem trivial, but this mis-classification could result in lack of action.

At the time of writing, Australia had 96 species within the “critically endangered category”. I am certain the list would be far longer if there was sufficient data upon a greater number of species.

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Brazil threatens $282m in fines for beef linked to Amazon deforestation

Brazil threatens $282m in fines for beef linked to Amazon deforestation | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Federal prosecutors in Brazil are threatening to fine 26 beef producers $282 million for buying cattle raised in illegally deforested areas and on Indian reservations, reports Reuters.

The fines are based on Brazilian laws that prohibit beef producers from buying cattle from ranches that rely on slave labor, recently deforested areas in the Amazon, and indigenous reservations. The fines are calculated using the number of animals allegedly raised in illegal conditions. According to prosecutors, the 26 companies bought 55,699 illicit cattle between in the first nine months of 2012.

The companies were targeted after they refused to sign an agreement binding them to respecting rules on cattle sourcing. Subsequent monitoring by the government found they were buying illegal cattle.

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And now to the weather: climate science on the front foot

And now to the weather: climate science on the front foot | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

he Climate Commission’s latest report, released recently, and some of the media that arose from it are excellent examples of science and journalists working together to talk about climate change and extreme weather. But examples like this are too rare: in Australia, we find that the mainstream news media is reluctant to mention climate change, talking about extreme weather events as freak accidents. And the situation isn’t helped by scientists who are reluctant to speak out on their research.

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Nestle Chairman says water isn't a human right.

Nestle Chairman says water isn't a human right. | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

In a candid interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water isn’t a human right. He attacks the idea that nature is good, and says it is a great achievement that humans are now able to resist nature’s dominance. He attacks organic agriculture and says genetic modification is better.

 

Nestle is the world’s biggest bottler of water. Brabeck claims – correctly – that water is the most important raw material in the world. However he then goes on to say that privatisation is the best way to ensure fair distribution.

 

He claims that the idea that water is a human right comes from “extremist” NGOs. Water is a foodstuff like any other, and should have a market value.

He believes that the ultimate social responsibility of any Chairman is to make as much profit as possible, so that people will have jobs.

 

And just to underline what a lovely man he is, he also thinks we should all be working longer and harder.

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World's Largest Paper Manufacturer Announces Collaboration with Longtime Foes

World's Largest Paper Manufacturer Announces Collaboration with Longtime Foes | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Dogwood Alliance, the campaign group dedicated to protecting forests in the Southern United States, has long been known for its strategic corporate campaigning—slamming corporations like KFC for using unsustainable paper in their packaging, but also being willing to praise corporate giants like McDonalds and Starbucks who adopt more sustainable policies.

 

The Dogwood Alliance's latest campaign victory is no exception—but this time they are not celebrating one restaurant chain, or one office supply store, switching to certified or recycled paper. They are celebrating a groundbreaking agreement with the world's biggest paper company, International Paper (IP)—a company who they have been criticizing and campaigning against for years. The agreement represents, campaigners say, a major commitment to science-based conservation and sustainable forestry.

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Climate models fail to ‘predict’ US droughts

Climate models fail to ‘predict’ US droughts | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

This would be a fine country if it only had water,” observes a settler looking at the barren west Texas plains. “So would Hell,” replies a despairing farmer.

 

That old Texas joke probably originated in the 1950s, when the state was baked by its most relentless drought in recorded history. Last year, rain kept clear of the region again, and scientists predict that the entire North American southwest will become increasingly drought-prone as climate change proceeds.

 

Reliable forecasts of future ‘megadroughts’ would be a boon to farmers and water managers. But results presented last week at the annual assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna suggest that such forecasts are still beyond the reach of current climate models.

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The Hidden Costs Of Environmentally-Damaging Businesses

The Hidden Costs Of Environmentally-Damaging Businesses | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

OSLO, April 15 (Reuters) - Coal-fired power generation in Asia and cattle ranching in South America are the most damaging businesses for nature with hidden costs that exceed the value of their production, a U.N.-backed report said on Monday.

Global output of basic goods from cement to wheat caused damage totalling $7.3 trillion a year if pollution, water, greenhouse gases and waste were priced to reflect long-term impacts, it said in a guide for businesses and investors.

The study, by a business coalition for The Economics of Ecosystems and Bodiversity (TEEB), said there were wide uncertainties in the prices. The coalition's backers include the United Nations, World Bank, businesses and conservation groups.

"The numbers in this report underline the urgency but also the opportunities for all economies in transitioning to a green economy," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said in a statement.

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Biofuels are 'irrational strategy'

Biofuels are 'irrational strategy' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The UK's "irrational" use of biofuels will cost motorists around £460 million over the next 12 months, a think tank says.

 

A report by Chatham House says the growing reliance on sustainable liquid fuels will also increase food prices.

 

The author says that biodiesel made from vegetable oil was worse for the climate than fossil fuels.

 

Under EU law, biofuels are set to make up 5% of the UK's transport fuel from today.

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Chinese boat crashes in protected coral reef... with thousands of illegally killed pangolins on board

Chinese boat crashes in protected coral reef... with thousands of illegally killed pangolins on board | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

It was already bad enough that a Chinese boat crashed into the Tubbataha reef, a protected coral reef off the coast of the Philippines, but what the coast guard found inside increased massively the size of the environmental disaster: 400 boxes containing around 10,000 kg of frozen Pangolin meat, an endangered scaly anteater.


Pangolins are already extinct in China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, because many people there consider its meat a delicacy and think its scales have beneficial properties. Poachers are now threatening it pretty much everywhere it still can be found... Too bad we can't seem to catch them unless they're so incompetent that they crash their ships.

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Climate change brings stormier weather to the US

Climate change brings stormier weather to the US | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Homeowners in the United States ought to hail-proof their roofs and transatlantic air travellers brace for more turbulence, according to two assessments of climate change impacts unveiled this week at the annual assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna.

 

Climate change can be detected in the retreat of glaciers and sea ice. It increases heat and air pollution, raising the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, particularly among elderly people. But changes in the atmosphere may also have other adverse affects for humans. For one thing, they seem to have markedly increased the risk of severe thunderstorms over parts of the United States.

 

At the EGU meeting, Eberhard Faust, head of climate risk and natural hazards research at the reinsurance company Munich Re in Germany, presented a study showing in the US, the annual economic losses from sizable thunderstorms — those that cause more than $250 million in damages — have doubled since 1970.

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Climate change: how a warming world is a threat to our food supplies

Climate change: how a warming world is a threat to our food supplies | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Global warming is exacerbating political instability as tensions brought on by food insecurity rise. With research suggesting the issue can only get worse we examine the risks around the world. ...

 

Drought, rocketing bread prices, food and water shortages have all blighted parts of the Middle East. Analysts at the Centre for American Progress in Washington say a combination of food shortages and other environmental factors exacerbated the already tense politics of the region. As the Observer reports today, an as-yet unpublished US government study indicates that the world needs to prepare for much more of the same, as food prices spiral and longstanding agricultural practices are disrupted by climate change.

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Earth Matters: Compostable Diapers: Organic Gardening

Earth Matters: Compostable Diapers: Organic Gardening | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

... Failing to find a satisfactory alternative, Siminoff joined forces with Stephen Wahl, a design-savvy dad also looking for suitable diapering methods. Together they formed Earth Baby Compostable Diaper Service, a San Francisco Bay–based business that collects the used diapers of nearly 1,250 families. Parents pay $30 a month plus the cost of the diapers, which are made of wood pulp (a paper-manufacturing by-product that has been certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council) and non-genetically-modified corn.

 

EarthBaby delivers the diapers and wipes, and then picks up the soiled diapers once a week and transfers them to a professional biosolid composting facility. There, bacteria break down the diapers and baby waste into compost. Pathogens are wiped out as the temperature of the compost pile rises and remains hot for several days. After about 16 weeks, the finished compost is ready to be used as fertilizer on golf courses or sod farms. It is not used to grow food, Siminoff says. ...

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What kills more people than AIDS and malaria combined? Air pollution

What kills more people than AIDS and malaria combined? Air pollution | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

A recent study by the World Health Organization provides a good dose of "good news, bad news". Compared to 20 years ago, there are fewer deaths from infectious diseases, maternal and child illness, and malnutrition. But they also found that air pollution is a huge killer, probably bigger than we suspected. Yet it isn't really a media-friendly cause célèbre...

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Madagascar swamped by locust invasion

Madagascar swamped by locust invasion | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

More than 60 percent of Madagascar is suffering from a massive locust infestation that is threatening crops and livestock, potentially increasing risks to native wildlife and forests from hungry farmers, warns the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to a report issued Monday, the locust plague is especially severe in the central and southern regions of the island nation. The crisis has worsened already difficult conditions created by cyclone “Haruna” which hit Madagascar in February 2013.

"A locust plague is threatening the livelihoods of 13 million people in Madagascar, nine million of whom earn a living from agriculture," said the FAO onits web site. "Locust infestations, if untreated, could wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands – and with it a family’s ability to provide for itself."

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Up for grabs: how foreign investments are redistributing land and water across the globe

Up for grabs: how foreign investments are redistributing land and water across the globe | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

In 2007, the increased human population, increased prices in fuel and transportation costs, and an increased demand for a diversity of food products prompted a Global Food Crisis. Agricultural producers and government leaders world-wide struggled to procure stable food sources for their countries. But the crisis had impacts beyond 2007: it was also the impetus for what we now know as the global land-grabbing phenomenon.

"Land grabbing" involves capital-rich countries investing in land and subsequent agricultural operations in foreign countries. These countries tend to be developing nations, mostly in Africa and Asia, which are rich in natural resources, but poor in capital and eager for opportunities to generate economic stimulation.

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Conservation group to get 50% of energy from renewables

Conservation group to get 50% of energy from renewables | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The National Trust has revealed a plan to generate half of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

 

The trust already has 150 individual renewables schemes, but the new document projects how fossil fuel will be reduced across its properties.

 

It aspires to set an example to others by integrating renewable energy into sensitive landscapes.

 

The organisation has been criticised for its chairman's vociferous campaign against wind power.

 

This is considered as the renewable source with most potential in the UK.

Under its new plan, the trust's main renewables by 2020 will be hydro (27%) and biomass (21%); augmented by heat pumps (1%) and solar (0.5%).

 

Grid electricity will supply 26% of its power, gas 15% and LPG 6%. Oil - currently a major cost and carbon source for the trust's rural properties - will be reduced to just 3%.

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Science moves step closer to developing hydrogen as cheap and clean energy form

Science moves step closer to developing hydrogen as cheap and clean energy form | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Scientists have harnessed the principles of photosynthesis to develop a new way of producing hydrogen – in a breakthrough that offers a possible solution to global energy problems.

 

The researchers claim the development could help unlock the potential of hydrogen as a clean, cheap and reliable power source.

 

Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen can be burned to produce energy without producing emissions. It is also the most abundant element on the planet.

Hydrogen gas is produced by splitting water into its constituent elements – hydrogen and oxygen. But scientists have been struggling for decades to find a way of extracting these elements at different times, which would make the process more energy-efficient and reduce the risk of dangerous explosions.

 

In a paper published today in the journal Nature Chemistry, scientists at the University of Glasgow outline how they have managed to replicate the way plants use the sun’s energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen at separate times and at separate physical locations.

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Climate change: how a warming world is a threat to our food supplies

Climate change: how a warming world is a threat to our food supplies | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Global warming is exacerbating political instability as tensions brought on by food insecurity rise. With research suggesting the issue can only get worse we examine the risks around the world

 

When the Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, it was in protest at heavy-handed treatment and harassment in the province where he lived. But a host of new studiessuggest that a major factor in the subsequent uprisings, which became known as the Arab spring, was food insecurity.

 

Drought, rocketing bread prices, food and water shortages have all blighted parts of the Middle East. Analysts at the Centre for American Progress in Washington say a combination of food shortages and other environmental factors exacerbated the already tense politics of the region. As the Observer reports today, an as-yet unpublished US government study indicates that the world needs to prepare for much more of the same, as food prices spiral and longstanding agricultural practices are disrupted by climate change.

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Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown

Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

OSLO, April 16 (Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.

 

Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years.

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Battling climate-change: How snakes and ladders could save the planet

Battling climate-change: How snakes and ladders could save the planet | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Snakes and ladders, bingo and top trumps might be old-fashioned games most associated with childhoods past, but if climate-change experts are to be believed, they could just help us to save the planet.

 

Paula Owen is on a one-woman mission to discover if a bit of fun and competition can convince people to lead more environmentally friendly lives. Firefighters, city workers, museum-goers, teachers, schoolchildren and university students will test out her eco-inspired games over the next year as she tries to show that learning about sustainability does not have to be dull.

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12 most amazing time-lapse videos of stars, landscapes, and urban scenes

12 most amazing time-lapse videos of stars, landscapes, and urban scenes | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Time-lapse photography has become much more popular in recent years. With improved technology for high quality exposures, improved gear for smooth panning and other tricks of the trade, time-lapse has become an incredible art form. Many photographers focus on landscapes while other turn their eye to urban scenes. No matter the subject, time-lapse has the potential for truly jaw-dropping videos. 

Click through these slides and enjoy the videos featured on each slide. They will completely make your day, maybe even your whole week. For some of them, they might even make your whole year!

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Organic pollutants poison the roof of the world

Organic pollutants poison the roof of the world | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Toxic chemicals are accumulating in the ecosystems of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau, researchers warn in the the first comprehensive study to assess levels of certain organic pollutants in that part of the world.

 

“The rigour and quality of the work are impressive,” says Surendra Singh, an ecologist at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun. “It’s the first study to quantify the accumulation of [persistent organic pollutants] in ecosystems in the region.”

 

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are carbon-based compounds that are resistant to break-down. Some originate from the burning of fuel or the processing of electronic waste, and others are widely used as pesticides or herbicides or in the manufacture of solvents, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Some POPs, such as the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and the herbicide Agent Orange, can cause diseases such as cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive dysfunction and birth defects.

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Extracting valuable resources from waste to make new bioplastics

Extracting valuable resources from waste to make new bioplastics | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The products derived from the fermentation of syngas (synthesis gas) generated from urban, agricultural and water-treatment waste will be used to develop cost-effective and commercial new biopolymers. 

'Two major advantages of the SYNPOL project are that the waste streams used for syngas production are not competing with those of the food value-chain, as is the case for biodiesel production; and that our final product, the bioplastic produced by bacteria, will be 100 per cent biodegradable', explains Dr Oliver Drzyzga, project manager from the Biological Research Centre in Madrid (CIB), part of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

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Drying Clothes on the Clothesline : Organic Gardening

Drying Clothes on the Clothesline : Organic Gardening | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Line drying is back! True, electric clothes dryers aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. But, as you may find simply by strolling around your neighborhood on the next sunny Saturday, it seems like more people than ever are returning to the tried-and-true combination of sun, wind, and clothesline to dry their clothing and linens.


Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the trend was becoming popular among celebrities, even as some ordinary folks had to battle with local home owner associations that banned the practice as “unattractive.” Hanging your laundry out to dry instead of firing up your dryer reduces your electric or gas bill, lowers carbon emissions, helps your clothing and linens last longer by eliminating some wear and tear on the fabric (saving you more money), is a great excuse to get outside, and gives your fabrics that natural, fresh outdoor smell (no need to use chemical fragrances that claim to mimic it). Even if you don’t hang every wash load, each time you do, you save yourself money and help protect the environment.

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