Evidence Suggests World’s Largest Solar Farm Burns Birds That Fly over It

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Environmentalists might swear by solar energy, but it turns out that the alternative source has its pitfalls too. Ivanpah, a giant solar farm in California’s Mohave Desert, is actually producing such high levels of heat that birds flying over it are burning to death.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System that opened last Thursday is a joint effort by NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy. It can produce electricity that is sufficient to power 140,000 homes. The project is supposed to be the beginning for the United States’ emerging solar industry. It uses a technology that is different and more expensive to build than a similar-sized conventional solar power plant.

The Ivanpah site is located 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas, with virtually unbroken sunshine for most part of the year. It is also close to transmission lines that carry power to consumers. The project makes use of technology called solar-thermal – more than 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors (each roughly the size of a garage door) reflect sunlight to boilers on top of 450-foot towers. The sun’s power heats the water in the boilers’ tubes and the steam drives turbines to create electricity.

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Ski Resort Has Been Using Contaminated Sewage Water to Make Artificial Snow

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Arizona Snowbowl, a resort in Flagstaff, Arizona, has resorted to the worst kind of commercialism seen in modern times. Since 2002, they’ve been using the city’s treated sewage effluent to make fake snow. Environmental groups, concerned citizens and the indigenous people of the region have been opposing this for years.

For the Hopi Tribe, the San Francisco Peaks, where the resort is located, are a spiritual and holy land. The tribe has been trying to get the city to stop selling its waste water to the resort for almost a decade. They recently got permission to file a lawsuit against Arizona Snowbowl in November 2012, due to the threats posed by the reclaimed water to an endangered plant found only on the Peaks. But it appears that the resort has turned a deaf ear to all protests.

According to a news report on Elite Daily, “Skiing is big business in Flagstaff. Resorts bring in about $35 million to the local economy during snow season. But since the climate has been changing, there isn’t enough snow.”

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Meet Yacouba Sawadogo – The Man Who Stopped the Desert

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Yacouba Sawadogo is an exceptional man – he single-handedly managed to solve a crisis that even scientists and development organizations could not. The simple old farmer’s re-forestation and soil conservation techniques are so effective they’ve helped turn the tide in the fight against the desertification of the harsh lands in northern Burkina Faso.

Over-farming, over-grazing and over population have, over the years, resulted in heavy soil erosion and drying in this landlocked West African nation. Although national and international researchers tried to fix the grave situation, it really didn’t really make much of a difference. Until Yacouba decided to take matters into his own hands in 1980.

Yacouba’s methods were so odd that his fellow farmers ridiculed him. But when his techniques successfully regenerated the forest, they were forced to sit up and take notice. Yacouba revived an ancient African farming practice called ‘zai’, which led to forest growth and increased soil quality.

Yacouba-Sawadogo

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Julia Hill, the Remarkable Woman Who Saved a Tree by Living in It for Two Years

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In the face of greedy men with chainsaws in their hands, not even the enduring giant Redwoods stand a chance. But Julia Hill, a young American environmentalist showed the entire world the battle for the preservation of Mother Nature’s wonders is not yet lost, after she spent an astounding 738 days high up in a 60 meter Redwood she named Luna, in a desperate attempt to save the ancient tree and the forest around it.

When she was 22, Julia Hill was involved in a freak car accident which left her with a fractured skull and unable to speak for a year. Once a career and money driven woman, she rethought her entire life and set out to explore the world. In 1997, one year after her accident, she finally found what she was looking for – a group of activists protesting against the destruction of a redwood forest in Northern California, which stretched for hundreds of kilometers. She was enchanted by the ancient trees and decided to join their cause. Courageous and determined, Julia volunteered to climb one of the tallest trees in the forest – a 1,500 year old redwood, hoping to stop the Maxxam Corporation, the operator of Pacific Lumber, from chopping it down. Inexperienced, she managed to stay in the tree only for a few days at a time, which didn’t really impress the loggers or the media. Julia wanted to draw the atention of international media to the horrible deforestation that was taking place – a process called “clearcutting” which implied cutting trees of all ages and sizes and then burning the entire area in preparation for replanting new ones. She knew the only way to get people’s attention was to break the record for tree sitting which was 42 days. And that’s exactly what she did – after 100 days, Julia was all over the news giving interviews and educating people on the importance of saving these trees that have been here long before us.

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Swedes Create Machine That Turns Sweat into Drinking Water

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To highlight the seriousness of potable water shortage in some parts of Africa and Asia a group of tech-savvy Swedes have created a machine that turns perspiration into drinking water. Aptly named the “Sweat Machine” was inspired by technology used by NASA to recycle everything from human sweat to urine.

Developed by a team of engineers led by Andreas Hammar, the Sweat Machine works by extracting the perspiration, which is 99% water, out of people’s clothes. Sweaty garments are tossed into a dryer, where they are spun and squeezed for every last drop of liquid. The gathered sweat then gets heated, exposed to ultra-violet light and passed through a series of high-tech filters to remove the salt and bacteria. During the final stage of the purification process, the sweat goes through a coffee filter that retains any textile fibers left over from the clothes. The result is perfectly drinkable distilled water. Although the exact capacity of the dryer is yet unknown, the inventors say it takes a full load of sweaty shirts and shorts to produce a pint of potable water. Drinking your own and other people’s sweat sounds disgusting, but according to one brave sommelier, it actually has nice sweet taste.

Sweat-Machine

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Austria’s Green Heroes: Family Lives a Life without Plastic

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Can you imagine your life without plastic? That means no computer, no mobile phone. no car and a whole lot of other stuff we’ve come to consider basic necessities. It sounds a nearly impossible task, in this day and age, but a family in Austria has proven it can be done. Sandra Krautwaschl, from a village near Graz, Austria, has recently written a book called “Plastickfrei Zone” (Plastic-Free Zone) in which she tells the story of how she and her family started living a life without plastic.

It all began in the summer of 2009, when during a vacation in Croatia, Sandra was surprised how often her three children asked where all of the trash on the beach came from. This made her think harder about how plastic really affects our world. Although recycling works very well in Austria, it’s not as effective in other parts of the world, so the petroleum-made material ends up clogging up landfills and polluting the environment. The 40-year-old physical therapist realized that as long as we keep buying products made of or wrapped in plastic, we’re just contributing to the problem. Then, shortly after she returned from Croatia, Sandra saw the documentary “Plastic Planet”, and learned how toxic plastic is for our planet.

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Florentine Artist Fights Pollution by Painting with Smog

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If you’re ever in Florence, Italy, and see a grown man on a ladder wiping the dust off statues and building, don’t worry, it’s just Alessandro Ricci gathering material for his famous smog paintings.

40-year-old Ricci is not your average artist, and I don’t say that just because he used smog as the main medium of his artworks. Unlike other painters seeking fast recognition of their talent, he doesn’t really care about “being this big artist”. Instead he is more concerned about bringing attention to how much smog there really is in his home town and how it’s destroying both its monuments and people. Although he did take a couple of art classes a few years back, he is mainly self-taught, doesn’t work in a studio, donates most of his work, and refuses to play by the rules of the Florentine Art Gallery, which he considers corrupt. Alessandro Ricci believes selling his smog paintings  would not only compromise his principles, but also contradict the very thing he’s trying to do – raise awareness about smog pollution in this great Italian city.

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Raincatch – A Raincoat That Turns Rain into Drinkable Water

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Raincatch is a water purification raincoat that turns collected rain water into drinkable water the wearer can enjoy on the go.

Let’s just put it this way, wearing Raincatch in a rainy city like London means you’ll probably never be thirsty again. Sure, in some regions of the world rain water is still clean enough to be drunk as it falls from the sky, but in today’s polluted climate drinking it without purifying it first poses a real risk. But thanks to the invention of two CIID students, Hyeona Yang and Joshua Noble, you’ll be able to enjoy refreshing rain water on the go, without a care in the world.

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Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Cypresses Recreated with 8,000 Living Plants

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General Electric has teamed up with London’s National Gallery to create a living version Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield with Cypresses from 8,000 plants. The famous painting, originally created in 1889, was chose for its strong colors that could be effectively reproduced with living plants. 26 different varieties were used for this amazing eco-installation and the result is simply mind-blowing.

The living painting is currently displayed on the side of the National Gallery, in Trafalgar Square, where it will grow throughout Summer and Fall, until October 2011. If you’re in London this Summer, this is one sight you don’t want to miss.

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Genghis Khan Named Greenest Invader in History

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Let’s hear it for Genghis Khan everyone, his bloody conquests just earned him the title of greenest invader in the history of man.

‘It’s a common misconception that the human impact on climate began with the large-scale burning of coal and oil in the industrial era. Actually, humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth’s landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture.” said Julia Pongratz, who headed Carnegie Institution’s study that measured carbon impact of a number of historical events that involved a large number of deaths.

Apparently, the armies of Genghis Khan killed so many people that huge cultivated areas  were once again covered with thick forests that absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to historical data, during the rule of this famous leader, the Mongol Empire was responsible for the deaths of over 40 million people, which in turn helped remove around 700 million tons of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Greenpeace Turns Chopsticks Back into Trees

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Can you bring dead wood back to life? No, but you can turn them into trees again! This was the slogan that fueled Greenpeace and Ogvily’s campaign to help people realize the dangers of cutting down millions of trees to create disposable chopsticks.

Two hundred volunteers from various Beijing universities answered Greenpeace’s call and set out to gather 80,000 used wooden chopsticks, from restaurants around the Chinese capital. They cleaned them all up and then assisted artist Xu Yinhai in assembling them into four life-like trees. It was no easy task, but Green peace hopes this effort will inspire Chinese people to be more conscientious about their use of resources.

According to statistics from China’s Forest Ministry, the country produces 57 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks, which require over 1.18 million square meters of forests. Since China’s wood resources are very limited (ranking 139th in the world) its people have to ask themselves if it’s worth sacrificing 3.8 million trees a year, for something they just throw away after a meal.

The chopstick trees were planted on December 20, 2010, in one of the most popular malls in Beijing, The Place, in the Chaoyang district, and are planned to be displayed at universities and art venues around the city.

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Christmas Tree Lights Powered by a Bunch of Electric Eels

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People are definitely becoming more and more concerned about the environment, also more inventive. Looking for ways to save up energy, the staff of the Helsinki Sea Life Center aquarium in Finland, discovered they had a  totally free energy source living right in their fish tanks – electric eels.

“Our electrician built a device that uses four plastic-encased steel probes to capture the eel’s electrical discharge and feed it to the lights. At feeding time though, it really powers up. You can hear the voltage increasing and the lights shine bright and steady.” explains Markus Dernjatin – from the Helsinki Sea Life Center in Finland.

These deadly deep sea creatures can produce an amount of electrical energy sufficient to light up more than one Christmas tree – around 650 volts. At the same time, the high voltage is enough to kill a grown man…

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“Read Between The Signs” – Unique Recycled Road Signs Mural

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Situated along side Route 322, near Meadville, PA, this project was thought off by artist Amara Geffen and Arts & Design Initiative Director, in 2002 and has been an ongoing work ever since. It is realized through the collaboration between he Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Allegheny College’s Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED).

This is a form of community based art project, an original way of celebrating Earth Day. 1200ft long by 9ft tall, this fence is supported by an already existing chain fence around PennDOT’s storage lot and it is entirely made out of recycled road signs, combined as to depict places and people – for example the French Creek watershed, Allegheny Mountains, forests, roads or even PennDOT workers – but also features solar and wind powered kinetic components, thus paying a tribute to the environment.

It’s not only beautiful and original, but it has also managed to bring together the people of the community, having become the pride and symbol of Meadville.

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Waste Monster Is Made of Thousands of Plastic Bags

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A group of Slovenian environmentalists have created a scary waste monster, made of tens of thousands of plastic bags, to raise awareness to the world’s ever growing consumerism and waste problems.

To create their unique Plastic Bag Monster, the group of enthusiasts roamed throgh the streets of Ljubljana, collecting used plastic bags and plastic cups. In the end, they managed to come up with 40,000 plastic bags and 7,500 cups, collected from 12 kindergardens, 21 primary schools, 4 high schools, 3 colleges and 500 passers-by, from around Slovenia’s capital city.

As the waste monster keeps spreading its tentacles across Ljubljana, the message it sends becomes clearer – consumerism has gotten way out of control and that’s what spawned this abomination that has managed to adapt to our environment and is about to replace us at the top of the food chain. It is capable of reproducing at unimaginable speeds and feeds on people’s sloth and irresponsibility towards the environment. It knows no mercy, and unless we find it in ourselves to change, it will destroy us all…

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SHOCKING! Second Chernobyl Uncovered in the Ukraine

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Ukrainian newspaper Segodnya revealed that a group of independent environmentalists have discovered a zone where radiation level is higher than that of Chernobyl.

The specified area is located in Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region, around an abandoned uranium mine. According to Oleksiy Vedmidsky, a local ecologist, the mine is a huge danger to the people in the region and he has some pretty interesting data to back up his claims. He and his team have recently measured the radiation level around the uranium mine, and the results were nothing less than shocking – “My particle detector measured 2611 micro Roentgen per hour there. Even in the Chernobyl zone near the reactor the exposure is 500-600 micro Roentgen per hour,” Vedmidsky said, pointing out that normal reading is under 30 micro Roentgen per hour.

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