India’s Lake of Toxic Foam Is So Polluted It Sometimes Catches Fire

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Despite its tropical climate, parts of Bangalore city in southern India have been experiencing what looks like snow. Except, it’s not actually snow, but a toxic foam from a severely polluted lake!

The 9,000-acre Bellandur lake is the largest one in the city, and also the most polluted. Decades’ worth of untreated chemical waste and sewage in the lake get churned into a white froth that’s as thick as shaving foam, every time it rains. This froth contains effluents like grease, oil, and detergents that sometimes catch fire, leading to one of the rarest sights in the world – a flaming lake.  

Many local residents are unnerved by the unnatural phenomenon. “Every time it rains and the water flows, the froth raises and navigating this stretch becomes risky,” said Visruth, who lives 30 meters away from the lake. “Due to the froth, visibility is reduced and the area also smells bad. Cars and bikes that pass this area get covered with froth.”

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Landscaping Company Carves Live Trees into Beautiful Artworks, Sparks Controversy

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A landscaping company in China recently angered nature lovers by carving dragons and other art forms on live camphor trees. Workers apparently cut off all the branches and stripped the top layer of bark before carving intricate figures into the soft wood underneath. The sculptures were then painted in gold.

About a dozen such trees are currently located on a roadside plot of land in Xiangshan county, in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. The owner of the company, who prefered to remain anonymous, said it took 100 days to carve each tree. He also admitted that most of the trees couldn’t withstand the carving process and died soon after. As pretty as the carvings are, not many people are impressed with the cruelty involved.

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Dutch Students Turn Wasted Rotting Fruit into “Fruit Leather” Accessories

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A team of six undergrads in the Netherlands have come up with a brilliant use for wasted fruit – they’re converting it into leather!

The eco-friendly project – titled ‘Fruitleather Rotterdam’ involves transforming rotten fruit into a durable, malleable, leather-like material. It started off as a school assignment at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, in which design students were supposed to set up a flash retail event. After brainstorming, this particular team decided to tackle the problem of food wastage as well.

“The academy gives us a perfect view over Binnenrotte Square in Rotterdam, where they have a market each Tuesday and Saturday,” said Hugo de Boon, one of the students involved. “We saw how the square would be completely littered with food waste (at the end of the day), so we realised this was a problem we would want to solve from a designer’s point of view.”

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The Pages of This “Drinkable Book” Make Contaminated Water Drinkable

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‘The Drinkable Book’ is a new invention that could potentially save millions of lives around the world. Its pages are made of treated paper that can purify water when passed through, killing over 99% of bacteria.

The book is the result of postdoctoral researcher Theresa Dankovich’s hard work. For several years, she developed and tested the technology, working at McGill University in Canada and at the University of Virginia. The pages of the book contain nanoparticles of silver or copper, which are responsible for killing bacteria. The microscopic organisms absorb the silver or copper ions as they percolate through the page.

“Ions come off the surface of the nanoparticles, and those are absorbed by the microbes,” Dr. Dankovich said. “All you need to do is tear out a paper, put it in a simple filter holder and pour water into it from rivers, streams, wells, etc. and out comes clean water – and dead bacteria as well,” she explained.

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Dutch Eco-Hero Proves That One Man CAN Make a Difference

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Tired of witnessing copious amounts of trash strewn across the banks of River Schie in Rotterdam, Dutch artist Tommy Kleyn decided to step up and do something about it. He singlehandedly organised a cleanup of the entire bank, leaving absolutely no trace of trash whatsoever, proving that anyone can indeed made a difference if they want to.

Kleyn, 37, became aware of the issue during his morning commute to work – he would bike past a section of the Rotterdam riverway and see piles of trash along the bank. The situation troubled him, so he decided to spend 30 minutes every day cleaning the place up, filling one garbage bag a time. And when he posted photographs of his work on Facebook, a few of his friends decided to pitch in as well. In five weeks, they had a 100-meter stretch sparkling clean and completely trash-free.



China’s Eco-Heroes: Blind Man and Friend with No Arms Plant 10,000 Trees in 10 Years

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Jia Haixa and Jia Wenqi are the most unlikely pair of environmentalists we’ve ever come across. The former is blind, while the latter is a double-amputee. Yet, they’ve managed to use their symbiotic relationship to plant over 10,000 trees in the past decade.

Haixa and Wenqi began their beautiful partnership when they were unable to get jobs due to their impairments. They have now become each other’s eyes and hands, and taken on the task of transforming a three-hectare stretch of riverbank in Yeli village, in north China’s Hebei Province.

“I am his hands,” said Haixia. “He is my eyes. We are good partners.” The 53-year-old was born with congenital cataracts that blinded his left eye. Then, in 2000, he lost sight in his right eye as well after a work-related accident. Wenqi, on the other hand, lost both arms in an accident when he was only three years old.



This Woman Has Produced Only a Jar-Full of Trash in the Last Two Years

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Lauren Singer is a sustainability-conscious entrepreneur who has produced almost no waste in the past two years, proving that a trash-free lifestyle is indeed possible.

Lauren majored in environmental science at NYU, and it was during her student years that she began working towards a ‘Zero Waste’ goal. Today, the New Yorker does several things on a daily basis to reduce waste, including making her own toothpaste, deodorant and laundry detergent. She also founded her own eco-friendly company, ‘The Simply Co’, through which she plans to sell her homemade products.

Lauren regularly writes about her experiences of a Zero Waste life on her blog ‘Trash is for Tossers’. “There were two moments that brought me to a trash-free, waste-free lifestyle,” she revealed. “The first was my senior year of college when my professor Jeffrey Hollender emphasized the importance of living of living your values, and made me think about my own personal environmental impact.”



Meet Professor Dumpster, the American College Professor Who Lives in a Dumpster

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Dr. Jeff Wilson, a professor of environmental science at a university in Austin, Texas, is living in a 33-square-foot dumpster for a year. He kickstarted the unique project in February, and his efforts have earned him the nickname ‘Professor Dumpster’ among his students. Harvard-educated Wilson says that his goal is to show people that it is possible to have a pretty good life even in austere conditions.

The dark green dumpster is currently parked behind the women’s residence halls in a corner of Huston-Tillotson University’s campus. Wilson describes it as ‘the most thoughtfully designed, tiniest home ever constructed’. Before he moved in, Wilson’s students cleaned and fixed the dumpster for him, making sure that it wasn’t smelly or unfit for living. And to make the dwelling as energy efficient as possible, they plan to set up solar panels and an energy producing toilet.

Having previously lived in a sprawling 2,500 square foot house, Wilson started downsizing his life after going through a divorce. He moved into a 500 square foot apartment, and sold all his spare clothes and furniture for $1 per item. He soon realized how little he needed to survive, and dumpster-living sounded like a great idea.



Man Plans to Live Alone on an Iceberg until It Melts

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In a bid to get people to take climate change more seriously, Italian adventurer Alex Bellini is going to live on an iceberg until it melts. He plans to take on the challenge in the spring of 2015, on an iceberg in Greenland. He expects that he’ll have to live there alone for at least eight to twelve months.

Alex, who is now based in the UK, plans to live inside a survival capsule while on the iceberg. “Survival capsules are sort of floating Kevlar saucers, four meters in diameter, which are used as lifeboats on oil platforms,” he explained. “I will live in the capsule on the iceberg until it melts – which generally happens within eight months – or up to a maximum of one year.”

“Then, I’ll go adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, inside my capsule again, until I wash ashore.” He plans to carry 300 kilos of dehydrated food and electronic equipment along with him. Although he is yet to pick the perfect iceberg to live on, he said it would most probably be broad and flat, about 60 by 20 meters.



The Polluting ‘Rolling Coal’ Trucks Purposefully Created to Anger Environmentalists

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A group of ‘manly men’ from small-town America are performing outrageous acts to display their contempt for environmentalists. The rednecks, as they don’t seem to mind addressing themselves, blatantly refuse to accept that climate change and global warming are real. So they’re jacking up their diesel trucks to intentionally emit huge clouds of toxic smoke into the air.

Dubbed ‘Rolling Coal’, the polluting trend involves the reconfiguration of vehicles to produce higher amounts of diesel exhaust. These modified trucks force extra fuel into the engine and feature smoke stacks through which they release giant dark clouds of black smoke. Their goal is to spread the polluting fumes into the air, or at other cars, and they don’t seem to mind spending thousands of dollars to do it.

While these modifications aren’t exactly new, the trend appears to have gained more momentum in recent years. These truck enthusiasts have taken to the internet to openly express their dislike of hybrid vehicles and other environmental causes. A whole new subculture now exists online; they’re getting together by the thousands on social networking websites, sharing photos and videos of their latest exploits.



Guy Travels 3,000 Kilometers Eating Only from Dumpsters to Protest Against Food Waste

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Baptiste Dubanchet, from the city of Tours, in central France, is protesting against the wastage of food by only eating the stuff that people throw away. 25-year-old Baptiste is an environmentalist with a master’s degree in sustainable development. He is currently cycling 3,000 miles from Paris to Warsaw, and, throughout the arduous journey, he’s only consuming food from dumpsters, discarded by supermarkets, restaurants and bakeries.

The idea for the project came to Baptiste when he visited Colombia, South East Asia, and Tahiti; the extreme poverty in these regions had a huge impact on him. “I was rich in poor countries, I was sad these people were so poor,” he said. “These people have no choice, they did not choose to be poor, so I decided to do something to show how much good food we waste.” Incidentally, his mission coincides with the European Year against Food Waste, led by The European Parliament.

As a part of the challenge that began on April 15, Baptiste cycles at least 60 kilometers a day, passing through various cities and towns in Europe. So far, he has made stops in Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Germany. In Germany alone, he has been to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Berlin, and Cologne. He estimates that he should reach his final destination, Warsaw, in about two weeks time.



French Students Invent Car That Runs for 2,000 Miles on a Single Liter of Fuel

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The Microjoule is an extremely fuel efficient car that can travel over 2,000 miles on just a single liter of fuel. That sounds ridiculously unbelievable, but it’s true. The carbon fiber vehicle is built to accommodate just one person at a time, lying down, which is a weird way to travel, but who cares, when it covers a 200-mile journey for just 20 cents?

The Microjoule is the brainchild of a group of French students at the La Joliverie College in Nantes, western France. They built the superlight vehicle (35 kg) as a part of the 2003 Shell European Eco-Marathon Contest to find the world’s most fuel efficient vehicle. Needless to say, they won, beating 200 other teams competing in the event.

The judges at the contest tested the car on a track in Rotterdam, the Netherlands – they calculated that the car could do 2,072 miles (that’s 3,300 kilometers) per liter of fuel or 9,400 miles per gallon. Which means that driving the Microjoule once around the world would only cost about $26.



Chinese City Tries to Create Artificial Lake Ends Up with Sahara-Like Desert Instead

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Zhengzhou, the capital city of north-central China’s Henan Province, is currently a sandy mess. Officials wanting to create an artificial lake on the outskirts of the city have botched things up so bad that it’s turned into a sprawling desert instead. The sand is everywhere – about 10 meters high and covering an area as large as four football fields. Naturally, Zhengzhou’s residents aren’t pleased.

The idea was nice to begin with – the officials planned to make a beautiful lake on the outskirts of the city by tapping a natural water source called Dragon Lake and removing hundreds of thousands of tons of sand around it. Unfortunately, nature did not play along with the plan. The underground water source dried up and all the dug-up sand began to spread. It has now resulted in a large wasteland of parched earth in the area.



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.



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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