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Ten Fold Engineering thinks outside the box

Why move a lot of air when you can have a building unfold and grow into anything you want? […]

Witnesses Describe Manchester Attack

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS and REUTERS | May. 23, 2017 | 1:36Children, teenagers and adults tell of seeing bodies on the ground and of scrambling to escape the Manchester Arena when a bomb exploded after an Ariana Grande performance.Related: article: In Manchester, a Loud Bang, Silence, Then ‘Loads of Girls Screaming’ […]

Can Agroecology Bring Jobs To America’s Heartlands?

The introduction of the new book from Food First and Groundswell International “Fertile Ground: Scaling agroecology from the ground up” offers a bold statement, “There are about 2.5 billion people in the world, on 500 million farms, involved with smallholder family agriculture and food production. Their creative capacity to farm productively and sustainably with nature, instead of against it, is perhaps the most powerful force that can be unleashed to overcome the interlinking challenges of hunger, poverty, climate change, and environmental degradation. This is the essence of agroecology.” Agroecology—and agricultural development—are sometimes seen as a something to be offered underdeveloped countries having trouble feeding themselves. Or, like organic agriculture, agroecology is often viewed as a nice idea for “niche” farmers producing for high-end, specialty markets. But can agroecology also be part of a broad-based strategy for rural development, in the developing world and the United States […]

Seas May Be Rising, But So Are the People

We are building the movement to stop catastrophic climate change: the Keep It in the Ground movement. All over the country, people are rising up against Fossil Fuel Empires to protect our public areas and climate from a legacy of destruction and climate disruption. Together, we’re sending a message to President Obama that time is running short, but he can still define his climate legacy by stopping the sale of fossil fuels on public lands and waters and keeping them in the ground. Over the past week, thousands around the globe have stood against some of the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects as part of Break Free from Fossil Fuels 2016. Break Free from Fossil Fuels is a global wave of resistance to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and to accelerate the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. On May 15, in Washington, D.C., more than a thousand people will join this wave as they gather in front of the White House to demand an end to offshore drilling. Just two months after President Obama acknowledged the need to move away from the dirty fuels of the past, his administration announced a plan to open millions of new acres in the Arctic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration and development. The 2017-2022 offshore drilling plan is the wrong direction for the health and safety of our communities, wildlife, environment and climate. It undermines the president’s commitment to address global warming. The Arctic Ocean and the Gulf Coast are the literal front lines of fossil fuel destruction and climate disruption. The dirty legacies of Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska and Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico will continue for years. Along both coastlines, Indigenous communities are forced to permanently relocate as sea levels rise and the land erodes into the encroaching water. The time of treating our oceans and coastlines as zones to pillage, destroy and sacrifice is over. On May 15 in Washington, D.C., the people will call on President Obama to use his executive authority to permanently protect our oceans and end new oil and gas leasing. Such executive action would keep up to 62 billion tons of carbon emissions in the ground and make progress toward limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Given the dangers of oil spills and the urgent need to combat climate disruption, the federal government should have nothing to do with the dirty business of offshore drilling. Selling these waters that belong to the American people to private companies that only profit from environmental and climate destruction is unconscionable. The seas may be rising, but so are the people. In less than a year, hundreds of people surrounded the New Orleans Superdome against new leases, and for efforts to restore, heal and defend the Gulf Coast; kayaktivists helped to stop Shell’s drilling activities in the Arctic Ocean, and towns and businesses along the mid- and south-Atlantic coast united to keep the Atlantic Ocean out of the 2017-2022 offshore drilling plan. With every victory, we’re showing that people power trumps fossil power. That’s why the Break Free from Fossil Fuels week of action is so important for the Keep It in the Ground movement. On May 15, the people will demonstrate their power in front of the White House to make sure President Obama hears their message: Stop offshore drilling! No new leases! Keep fossil fuels in the ground! — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

COP21: Paris at a Crossroads of Hope and Fear

A man holds roses at Place de la Republique (Republic Square) in Paris on November 22, 2015 as he arrives to pay tribute to the victims of the November 13 terror attacks. (Photo by Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images) By Charles M. Sennott PARIS — In the Place de la Republique, a 19th-century bronze statue of Marianne, the personification of the French republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity, stands 75 feet high, calmly overlooking the square. At her feet is a makeshift shrine heaped with flowers, flickering candles, placards with defiant messages like “Même pas peur” (Not afraid) and photos of the mostly young people who died in the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13. Just up the road is the Bataclan concert hall and the cafes which were shot up are still cordoned off with police tape. And just around the corner are the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where Islamic militants attacked in January. To the north is the Stade de France, where suicide bombers struck as part of the coordinated attacks of that night. This is the geography of terror in Paris. But just past the Stade de France is Le Bourget, where more than 100 world leaders and thousands of activists and scientists are planning to gather on Nov. 30 for a global conference on climate change. Paris today is at the center of a global crossroads where two narratives converge. One is a narrative of violence and terror that seeks to divide the world and incite a global conflict. The other is a narrative of hope that seeks to bring the world together to confront a global security threat that military and government leaders say looms larger than terrorism: the impact of climate change. In an interview with GroundTruth on Monday, Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “Climate change absolutely represents a more sustained and more long-term threat to the planet than terrorism. There is significant data to back up that claim.” Indeed, a report commissioned by 20 countries revealed that climate change kills more people each year than terrorism, with some 400,000 killed by factors attributed to climate change. In 2013, a peak year for terrorist murders, there were 13,000 deaths attributed to terrorism. So a question looms over this 21st gathering of world leaders on climate change, known as the Conference of Parties, or COP21, which gets underway next Monday as world leaders take the podium. The question is: how will the terrorist attacks impact this historic opportunity for a global commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions? Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, told reporters last week that he believed a spirit of solidarity has emerged in the aftermath of the attacks, and that it could heighten cooperation among the 190 countries involved in establishing a convention known as the UN Framework of Climate Change (UNFCCC.) “There is a degree of, sort of, solidarity internationally over [the attacks] that is not exactly unprecedented, but since 9/11, we haven’t seen anything quite like that,” Steer said. “It is really quite astonishing. It is absolutely amazing — the desire to do something in common … If anything, it stiffens the spine in terms of determination to really” reach a long-term climate change deal. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN body supervising the COP21, expressed similar optimism in a tweet, insisting that the attacks made the conference more relevant than ever. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent public remarks and interviews on the Paris attacks seemed to express the same hope. After meeting with French President François Hollande in Paris just days after the attack, Kerry said COP21 “will be an important statement by the world that no one will interrupt the business of the global community – certainly not despicable, cowardly acts of terror.” Kerry is scheduled to return to Paris with President Barack Obama on Nov. 30 to attend COP21 which will continue until Dec. 11. Bert Wander, the campaign director of a huge rally that had been planned for Nov. 29 to send a message to the world leaders to take concrete actions to curb climate change, said the event was canceled by the French government due to security concerns. He said the organizers understood the reasoning for the cancelation, but stressed that the rallies are a global event with 150 countries taking part and big cities taking part including London, Berlin, Nairobi, São Paulo and others. GroundTruth met with Wander in Paris on Tuesday to talk about his organization, Avaaz, which means “voice” in several languages, and about the global movement they are behind to raise awareness on climate change. As he walked through La Republique surrounded by people gathered around the shrines and the ring of satellite TV trucks which idled as correspondents delivered live updates on the attacks, Wander said, “We have to change the narrative of what has happened. There’s that narrative of fear that drives people apart… And there is a narrative that is quite the opposite, to trust each other to act in hope and claim a new future that we want — and need — in which the world addresses the issue of climate change.” He added, “We live in a world that is global in its nature and the threats are global in their nature. And so the solutions are going to require global solutions. So this is a moment that is a microcosm of the world we live in. And very soon the world will be coming together here in Paris and in rallies in cities around the world to make it clear that we all want an agreement on climate change, and that climate change is the greatest threat of our time.” Charles M. Sennott is the founder and Executive Director of The GroundTruth Project, which is supporting six top, young journalists to cover COP21 and to launch a year-long reporting project on the impact of climate change around the world. Follow The GroundTruth Project on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GroundTruth — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

SunPump pumps new life into solar thermal heating

This new design might be the nail in the coffin of geothermal heat pump systems. […]

How Much Bacteria Is in Your Burger?

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture Just in time to put a damper on your Labor Day barbecue, the latest edition of Consumer Reports Magazine hit newsstands yesterday with the cover story, “How Safe is Your Ground Beef?” Our two-word summary: Not very. In fact, the recent Consumer Reports study profiled in the article revealed that every sample of ground beef collected by researchers from supermarkets around the country contained enterococcus and/or nontoxin-producing E. coli, which indicate fecal contamination. In other words, all the beef had poop on it. Pretty gross. And pretty dangerous – since feces can contain a host of harmful bacteria that can sicken (or kill) humans, this degree of contamination presents a serious food safety risk. In fact, according to a report by the FDA and CDC, 46 percent of E. coli O157 illnesses and nine percent of foodborne Salmonella illnesses could be attributed to beef. Between 2003 and 2012, outbreaks of E. coli O157 related to beef (mostly ground beef) sickened 1,144 people, causing 316 hospitalizations and five deaths. Why so Contaminated? As with many problems related to livestock production, it all goes back to manure. When beef cattle are slaughtered and processed, fecal matter from their hides and intestines can end up in contact with the cuts of meat and fat trimmings. The problem is exacerbated by the high speeds at which cattle are processed in industrial facilities (some slaughter as many as 400 cattle per hour), which creates more room for human error, increasing the likelihood of feces ending up on meat. Industrial production practices also contribute to the problem; cattle raised “conventionally” spend the end of their lives being fattened within confined feedlots without vegetation, where they often stand in mud and their own manure. On average, these factory farms hold 4,300 beef cattle, but many are much larger; feedlots confining 32,000 or more cattle represent 40 percent of the market. Put that many animals in giant bath of mud and manure, and you end up with some pretty filthy cattle being sent to the slaughterhouse. Factory farmed cattle are also fattened on an unnatural diet of grain, which increases the level of acidity in their digestive tracts, and which scientists believe may cause greater shedding of E. coli from the cattle. Ground beef is particularly susceptible to contamination since the grinding process exposes more surface area to bacteria. Furthermore, huge industrial processing facilities typically create an end product composed of meat and fat from many different cows, increasing the risk that tainted meat from one cow ends up contaminating meat from many others. From a food safety perspective, ground meat is also problematic since, unless it’s cooked thoroughly all the way through, harmful bacteria can persist after the food is served. (Conversely, with whole cuts of beef, bacteria are more likely to be present on the outside of the meat, and therefore killed during cooking.) Putting Ground Beef to the Test In order to determine exactly how contaminated our ground beef really is, Consumer Reports (CR) undertook an ambitious study, testing 300 packages of ground beef (a total of 458 pounds) from 103 stores in 26 U.S. cities. CR also chose to investigate whether the rates of bacterial contamination differ between beef from cattle raised “conventionally” (i.e., from cattle fattened on grain in feedlots and typically given antibiotics and/or growth-promoting drugs), and beef from cattle raised more sustainably (in this category, CR included beef that had one or more of the following characteristics: no antibiotics, organic and grass-fed). CR scientists analyzed 181 “conventional” and 119 “more sustainable” beef samples to identify five common types of bacteria: Clostridium perfringens, E. coli (including O157 and six other toxin-producing strains), enterococcus, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Scientists also tested all bacteria that were discovered to determine if they were resistant to antibiotics in the same classes used to treat humans. Complete results of the study are available in CR’s full report, but a few key findings are worth noting: Overall, ground beef from cattle raised conventionally was more likely to be contaminated with bacteria. The differences in rates of contamination were particularly notable for S. aureus and E. coli (contamination rates for conventional beef were 55 percent and 59 percent, respectively, compared to 27 percent and 39 percent for more sustainable beef). 82 percent of the conventional samples were found to have at least two types of bacteria. Conventional beef samples were more than twice as likely to be contaminated with superbugs (bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics) than samples in the more sustainable category, and more than three times as likely to be contaminated than samples of beef labeled grass-fed. As Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Food Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports said of the study, “[w]e know that sustainable methods are better for the environment and more humane to animals. But our tests also show that these methods can produce ground beef that poses fewer public health risks.” What to Do about Tainted Beef? Based on their findings, Consumer Reports made several recommendations to the FDA and USDA, calling on the agencies to prohibit the use of antibiotics in healthy animals, reduce consumer confusion by banning meaningless labels like “natural,” expand the animal welfare standards for organic beef, improve food safety inspection at slaughter and processing facilities, ban the sale of beef containing antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, and (our personal favorite), to prohibit the inclusion of chicken waste in cattle feed (because yes, factory farm operators actually engage in this practice). Consumer Reports advises consumers to keep raw meat from touching other foods, to cook ground beef to at least 160o F and to reheat leftovers containing ground beef to at least 165o F. They also recommend choosing sustainable beef whenever possible, looking for meaningful labels like “grass-fed,” “organic,” “no antibiotics,” and third-party verified labels like Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed, American Grassfed Association, and Food Alliance Grassfed. You can find many of the restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets and other businesses that offer sustainably produced beef using GRACE’s Eat Well Guide. But if you end up at an end-of-summer barbecue with conventional beef burgers, you might want to grill yours to the hockey puck state. This post was originally published on Ecocentric. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]