Satellites are mapping out every tree on earth using artificial intelligence

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Scientists have mapped 1.8 billion individual tree canopies across millions of kilometres of the Sahel and Sahara regions of West Africa. It is the first time ever that trees have been mapped in detail over such a large area.

So how was it possible? Researchers analysed a huge database of satellite images using artificial intelligence. They employed neural networks which are able to recognise objects, like trees, based on their shapes and colours.

To train it, the AI system was shown satellite images where trees had been manually traced. This involved lead author Martin Brandt going through the arduous process of identifying and labelling nearly 90,000 trees himself, beforehand.

From these images, the computer learnt what a tree looked like and could pick out individual canopies from the thousands of images in the database. Brandt says it would have taken millions of people years to identify the trees without the AI system.

In a review of the research, commissioned by Nature, scientists at New Mexico State University wrote that “it will soon be possible, with certain limitations, to map the location and size of every tree worldwide”

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These modular clamping tree tents were designed to encourage sustainable community travel!

I know treehouses were a thing of our childhoods but it doesn’t have to be! Get ready to take a beautiful virtual tour of the O2 Treehouse by Treewalkers that blend the best of our childhood imagination with glamping reality while keeping it all an eco-friendly experience! Treewalkers is one of the leading players in the world of treetop construction – they actually make treehouses that adults cannot reason out of.

The treehouses have unique geodesic domes and can be connected to create entire villages. The houses are modular so it enables franchisees to start their own village setups with one or more units – this can be a sustainable hotel, unusual Airbnb getaway, or simply a camping site that offers a different kind of stay. The innovative modular lattice design is what makes this a flexible accommodation — while catering to the individual’s needs and it also allows them to customize details. The units come with a standard a bug-proof outer socket, interior furniture, and canvas canopy roofing. As part of the franchise program, hosts have the option to open up their Treewalker to other hosts in exchange for points that can be used towards other stays – sustainable community tourism! There are many intriguing shapes but the most iconic one has to be the A-shaped floating tent because that is something we have all tried to create with a blanket in our living rooms. The interiors are warm + woody and have a plush bed with a seating area. As you can imagine there will be plenty of natural light and ventilation. While there is no clear indication of the bathroom being in-unit, I assume that will be a separate pod in itself or have other arrangements like porta-potty if its a campsite.

The California-based design studio has extended its realm with a franchise-hospitality brand to make it possible for anyone to own one of the O2 Treehouses. “Treewalkers is a franchise-based treehouse hospitality brand that lends homeowners a way to launch into the home-sharing market with low risk and a high ROI, and lends travelers an easily accessible network of eco experiences,” says founder Dustin Feider. Finally, O2 Treehouse estimates a 1-3 year return on investment based on a rate of $150 per night, occupied for 30-60% of the year and they have broken down the math for you on their website should you decide to go that route. The ultimate mission of the brand is to design architectural structures that heal the bond between humans and nature so they can coexist peacefully!

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This 100% electric pod inspired by James Bond is the worlds first floating eco-hotel suite!

Half the year is over and we haven’t been able to catch a break. To keep my hopes up, I continue to make a travel bucket list, and right now all I want to do is go off-the-grid regardless of the place. And there is nothing more perfect for that than Anthénea which is the world’s first autonomous and eco-friendly floating suite equipped with high-end facilities. This modern pod will literally wash all those worries away and you can continue being an eco-conscious traveler!

Anthénea is a UFO-shaped water suite made in France by veteran designers, engineers, and naval architects, whose vision was to create a nomadic vessel for eco-conscious tourists. It was a project born from the dreams of Jean-Michel Ducancelle, a naval architect, who was inspired by James Bond’s floating pod in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977). The 50 sqm pod has three living spaces – a living area, a sleeping zone, and a lounge area that features a 360° solarium on its roof for 12 people. All interior elements are entirely made from sustainable materials. Anthénea adapts to a wide temperature range (-30°C to +40°C) and its stabilizing ballasting keeps the seasickness at bay! Coastlines are often overburdened with tourism and Anthénea offers an ecological way to lighten that load while promoting sustainable travel which is our ultimate future.

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This former semiconductor factory is now the worlds largest indoor farm, producing 10k heads of lettuce per day

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This indoor Japanese farm uses LED lights and hydroponics to produce lettuce 2.5 times faster, with just 1% of the water, when compared to an outdoor farm.

When we think about factories, and what we decry as “factory farms,” we probably don’t think very highly of them as being a key component in the future of agriculture, but if we can take what factories do best, such as use technology to build efficient production lines, and pair that with what nature does best, which is growing biomass from light and water and minerals, then growing food in plant factories starts to make a lot of sense.

Converting what were formerly industrial buildings into indoor farming operations, especially in urban areas and locations that aren’t conducive to year-round outdoor food production, could be an excellent reuse of existing resources (the buildings themselves, the infrastructure that supports them, and their locations in or near cities) to help build a more sustainable food system. And this sort of operation can be done in a way that’s both highly efficient and productive (PDF), in essence turning our ideas about industrial-scale factory farming on their heads.

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Make like a leaf: Researchers developing method to convert carbon dioxide

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Professor Jun Huang from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is developing a carbon capture method that aims to go one step beyond storage, instead converting and recycling carbon dioxide (CO2) into raw materials that can be used to create fuels and chemicals.

“Drawing inspiration from leaves and plants, we have developed an artificial photosynthesis method,” said Professor Huang.

“To simulate photosynthesis, we have built microplates of carbon layered with carbon quantum dots with tiny pores that absorb CO2 and water.

“Once carbon dioxide and water are absorbed, a chemical process occurs that combines both compounds and turns them into hydrocarbon, an organic compound that can be used for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, clothing, and construction.

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This brilliant hydroponic system puts a whole garden on your countertop

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Growing your own food is one of life’s great pleasures—plus it’s good for you and for the environment. But in increasingly tight, urban homes, we don’t all have room for gardens. And hydroponic systems, as appealing as they may be, often appear to be a whole lot of hardware for only a bit of actual green. Some fresh arugula would be nice for dinner, but who wants giant plastic box taking up half their kitchen to get a few leaves?

The Rotofarm, by an Australian company called Bace (which appears to have produced skincare products in a past life), is a space-friendly hydroponic system, and it doubles as a beautiful sculpture in your home. With a circular design, which rotates plants like a Ferris wheel through the day, the Rotofarm is able to fit nearly five feet of growing area inside a countertop footprint of just 11 inches. Water is dispersed through the nutrient and water reservoir in the stainless steel base, and a bright LED grow light lives in the middle like a tiny sun. Then to harvest, you can tilt the farm 180-degrees and pull off its clear cover. You take what you want (kale, mint, lettuce, spinach, or, yes, marijuana), and close it back up.

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Giant shipper bets big on ending its carbon emissions. Will it pay off ?

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The Danish company Maersk has been shipping goods around the world since the age of steamships. Now it wants to usher in a new era, with carbon neutral transport.

Maersk — the world’s largest container shipping company — has an astonishing goal. By 2050, the company vows to send goods — everything from electronics to soybeans to sneakers — around the world with zero carbon emissions.

The environmental logic behind such a promise is straightforward: Shipping contributes substantially to global climate change.

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This cool artificial reef was just deployed in Sydney Harbor

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Earth’s oceans have seen better days. They’re inundated with plastic waste, both whole single-use plastics and tons of plastic microparticles that find their way back into our food and drinking water. Their water temperatures are rising due to climate change, causing coral bleaching and other harmful phenomena. Overfishing has depleted multiple marine species.

Organizations and individuals around the world have leaped to action to try to reverse some of the damage human activity has caused the oceans. The Ocean Cleanup is using a two-kilometer-long screen to collect plastic waste. Origin Materials aims to make a new type of plastic that’s sustainable and renewable. The 5 Gyres Institute’s mission is to end plastic pollution, which it calls a global health crisis

Last week another effort joined the ranks: a purpose-built artificial reef in Sydney Harbor. The result of a three-year partnership between the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the Sydney Opera House, and the government of New South Wales, the reef was made by Reef Design Lab and consists of eight one-meter-tall pods, each containing three steel and concrete hexagonal structures. Half the units also have triangular tiles extending from the hexagons’ cores.

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Solar-powered moisture harvester collects and cleans water from air

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Access to clean water remains one of the biggest challenges facing humankind. A breakthrough by engineers at The University of Texas at Austin may offer a new solution through solar-powered technology that absorbs moisture from the air and returns it as clean, usable water.

The breakthrough, described in a recent issue of the journal Advanced Materials, could be used in disaster situations, water crises or poverty-stricken areas and developing countries. The technology relies on hydrogels, gel-polymer hybrid materials designed to be “super sponges” that can retain large amounts of water.

A research team led by Guihua Yu in UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering combined hydrogels that are both highly water absorbent and can release water upon heating. This unique combination has been successfully proved to work in humid and dry weather conditions and is crucial to enabling the production of clean, safe drinking water from the air.

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Microorganisms that eat seaweed can create biodegradable plastic

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Ocean Of Opportunity

Earth’s oceans contain tens of millions of tons of plastic pollution. But a new technique that creates biodegradable plastics out of seaweed could finally give the oceans relief.

Bioplastics are plastics manufactured from biomass sources instead of fossil fuels. Many degrade far more quickly than traditional plastics, but creating them typically requires fertile soil and fresh water, which aren’t available everywhere.

Now, researchers have found a way to create a bioplastic using seaweed, a far more accessible resource — a promising new approach that could both reduce strain on the plastic-clogged oceans and reduce the Earth’s dependence on fossil fuels.

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Why sun-grown cannabis will make the marijuana industry greener and richer

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The future of cannabis cultivation isn’t in massive grow facilities with high-tech lights and complex temperature control systems. It’s out in the open air, according to proponents of the sun-grown movement.

The sun-grown movement is being led by companies like Flow Kana, who consider outdoor cultivation essential to the sustainability of the cannabis industry. Embracing the small, independent farm system infrastructure that exists in California, the company works with craft farmers to help scale their product and extend the range of distribution.

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World-first: Bio-bricks made from urine

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The world’s first bio-brick made using human urine was unveiled at UCT this week. In picture are (from left) the Department of Civil Engineering’s Dr Dyllon Randall and his students, Vukheta Mukhari and Suzanne Lambert.

The world’s first bio-brick grown from human urine has been unveiled by University of Cape Town (UCT) master’s student in civil engineering Suzanne Lambert, signalling an innovative paradigm shift in waste recovery.

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