Big-money investors gear up for a trillion-dollar bet on farmland

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Ray Williams bought this land just north of the small town of Dumont, in Butler County, Iowa.

For a glimpse of what could happen to a trillion dollars worth of American farmland, meet Ray Williams.

He’s a lawyer-turned-farmer, growing organic grain and feeding young cows on 3,000 acres in northeastern Oregon. Last year, he and his brother Tom decided that they were getting too old for the long hours and hard work.

“We told our clients, you don’t want to rely on senior citizens for your high quality organic products. Trust me on this!” says Williams, age 68.

Their farm sold for $23 million. The buyer was a company registered in Delaware with a mailing address in Manhattan. The people behind that company wish to remain anonymous.

This left Williams with a pile of money to invest, and he parked almost $3 million of it in farmland halfway across the country. He bought 293 acres in Butler County, Iowa, from a farmer named Rich Showalter, and another 160 acres in O’Brien County from the estate of a woman who was born in Iowa but died in Indiana at the age of 100.

The end result: Control over this land has passed to people with little personal connection to it, who live a thousand miles away. The new owners will decide what happens to that land, whether to plow or drain it, or even to stop farming it entirely. Their decisions will have profound effects on rural communities, wildlife and even the global climate.

Continue reading… “Big-money investors gear up for a trillion-dollar bet on farmland”

Fabien Cousteau is raising $135 million to build the International Space Station of the deep sea

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Concept design for the Proteus undersea habitat.

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famous undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is building on his family legacy by constructing a state-of-the art research facility—60 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Fabien Cousteau was born to be an aquanaut. The grandson of the famed explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau learned how to scuba dive at the age of four and grew up joining his grandfather on research expeditions. “Scuba diving is an amazing blessing, but there’s a very real limit of time,” he says.

One way to circumvent that time limit is to live in an underwater habitat, which provides researchers the opportunity to do more extended work in the ocean. His grandfather pioneered such habitats in the 1960s, and today Fabien plans to continue that legacy with the construction of Proteus, an underwater habitat and research station that would be one of the largest ever built. The habitat will take three years to complete, located 60 feet underwater in a marine protected area off the cost of Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean Sea. And it will have room for up to 12 people to live underwater for weeks—possibly even months—at a time.

Continue reading… “Fabien Cousteau is raising $135 million to build the International Space Station of the deep sea”

This is now the world’s greatest threat – and it’s not coronavirus

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An environmental worker stands near an excavator amid waste at Tianziling landfill in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China August 7, 2019.

Affluence is the biggest threat to our world, according to a new scientific report.

True sustainability will only be achieved through drastic lifestyle changes, it argues.

The World Economic Forum has called for a great reset of capitalism in the wake of the pandemic.

A detailed analysis of environmental research has revealed the greatest threat to the world: affluence.

That’s one of the main conclusions of a team of scientists from Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, who have warned that tackling overconsumption has to become a priority. Their report, titled Scientists’ Warning on Affluence, explains that true sustainability calls for significant lifestyle changes, rather than hoping that more efficient use of resources will be enough.

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Smart cities: The future of urban infrastructure

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Songdo in South Korea has been designed with sensors to monitor everything from temperature to energy use to traffic flow. By Timothy Carter

Technology is changing everyday city life, allowing us to instantly adapt to everything from storm threats to traffic jams.

Infrastructure is not exactly the sexiest word in architecture. There are no “starchitects” proudly boasting about their pipe designs or subsurface drainage systems. By its very definition – the underlying structures that support our systems – infrastructure is inherently hidden from us, and therefore often overlooked. But without it our current cities couldn’t possibly exist. Without finding ways to improve it, our future cities will struggle to survive.

Historically, our urban infrastructure has materialised as a response to some emergent or acute problem, like natural disasters. In 2010 it was estimated that over 40% of the global population lives in coastal areas, and much of the large-scale devastation in these areas is due to hurricanes and typhoons. Multi-billion-dollar estimates of infrastructure damage from Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, as well as the recent devastation in the Philippines, demonstrate the amount of damage and human cost these disasters create.

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Bacteria that eats metal accidentally discovered by scientists

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Manganese oxide nodules generated by the bacteria discovered by the Caltech team.

(CNN)Scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal, after suspecting they exist for more than a hundred years but never proving it.

Now microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) accidentally discovered the bacteria after performing unrelated experiments using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element.

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This Company Is Sucking Carbon From the Air and Making Soda With It

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Carbon removal is increasingly seen as a vital part of any climate solution.

 The United Nations calls on countries to curb their emissions and invest in carbon removal technologies to achieve goals set under the Paris climate agreement. Some of these methods are low-technology like planting trees and others, like direct air capture, are cutting-edge. You can join us by taking action here to help achieve the UN’s Global Goal 13 for climate action.

The same carbon that’s heating up the planet could soon be making your soda fizzy.

Climeworks, based in Switzerland, is one of several companies working to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a way to fight climate change — and soft drinks happen to be one of many destinations for the retrieved element. The majority of the CO2 that Climeworks removes gets stowed deep underneath Iceland, in natural formations made of basalt.

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Sony’s wearable, pocket-sized air conditioner is finally available for sale!

Summer is not for everyone – sure it is nice when you are at the beach but is it nice to feel like you are being roasted like a turkey when its not Thanksgiving? I personally thrive in the snow but keeping on brand with being unprecedented like 2020, I have found myself in lockdown in India which means I am currently dealing with a hot, humid, tropical climate and it feels like I am an iPhone on 1% battery. What people like me need is Sony’s Reon Pocket air conditioner, which is FINALLY on sale, to keep us cool, calm, and collected!

A portable, wearable, air conditioner is no more a thing of futuristic TV shows. The Reon Pocket is a smartphone-controlled personal gadget that was designed to be compact and cool. It works using thermoelectric cooling and can cool the user’s body temperature by 13 degrees celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) and raise your temperature by about 8 degrees Celsius (about 14 degrees Fahrenheit). Reon sits on the base of your neck in a special undershirt designed for it. It uses the Peltier effect which means a temperature difference is created by applying a voltage between two electrodes connected to a sample of semiconductor material. The heat is absorbed or emitted when you pass an electrical current across a junction to either lower your temperature or increase it without bulk or noise.

It is sleek, minimal and comfortable as a piece of wearable tech. Like any smart device of our times, Reon’s functions can be controlled via Bluetooth. Set to the desired temperature using the mobile app which also features an automatic mode. It only weighs 85 grams and can be charged with the common USB-C port. The only downside is that the battery lasts for just two hours on a single charge but that is enough time for you to run all errands or enjoy a picnic before you start to melt.

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How green sand could capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide

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The green sand Papakōlea Beach in Hawaii.

Scientists are taking a harder look at using carbon-capturing rocks to counteract climate change, but lots of uncertainties remain.

PROJECT VESTA

A pair of palm-tree-fringed coves form two narrow notches, about a quarter of a mile apart, along the shoreline of an undisclosed island somewhere in the Caribbean.

After a site visit in early March, researchers with the San Francisco nonprofit Project Vesta determined that the twin inlets provided an ideal location to study an obscure method of capturing the carbon dioxide driving climate change.

Later this year, Project Vesta plans to spread a green volcanic mineral known as olivine, ground down to the size of sand particles, across one of the beaches. The waves will further break down the highly reactive material, accelerating a series of chemical reactions that pull the greenhouse gas out of the air and lock it up in the shells and skeletons of mollusks and corals.

This process, along with other forms of what’s known as enhanced mineral weathering, could potentially store hundreds of trillions of tons of carbon dioxide, according to a National Academies report last year. That’s far more carbon dioxide than humans have pumped out since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Unlike methods of carbon removal that rely on soil, plants, and trees, it would be effectively permanent. And Project Vesta at least believes it could be cheap, on the order of $10 per ton of stored carbon dioxide once it’s done on a large scale.

But there are huge questions around this concept as well. How do you mine, grind, ship, and spread the vast quantities of minerals necessary without producing more emissions than the material removes? And who’s going to pay for it?

Continue reading… “How green sand could capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide”

This 3D printed house reduces carbon emissions and takes 48 hours to build!

The construction industry contributes to 39% of global carbon emissions while aviation contributes to only 2% which means we need to look for alternative building materials if we are to make a big impact on the climate crisis soon. We’ve seen buildings being made using mushrooms, bricks made from recycled plastic and sand waste, organic concrete, and now are seeing another innovative solution – a floating 3D printed house!

Prvok is the name of this project and it will be the first 3D printed house in the Czech Republic built by Michal Trpak, a sculptor, and Stavebni Sporitelna Ceske Sporitelny who is a notable member of the Erste building society. The house is designed to float and only takes 48 hours to build! Not only is that seven times faster than traditional houses, but it also reduces construction costs by 50%. No bricks, cement, and concrete (responsible for 8% of CO2 emissions alone!) are used which means it reduces carbon emissions by 20% – imagine how much CO2 could be reduced if this was used to build a colony. A robotic arm called Scoolpt designed by Jiri Vele, an architect and programmer, will be used in 3D printing and can print as fast as 15 cm per second.

 

The 43 square meter home will have all the essentials – a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. It will be anchored on a pontoon and is designed in a way that owners can live in it all year round. Prvok is partially self-sufficient and is equipped with eco-technologies that enable it to recirculate shower water, use a green roof, and host reservoirs for utility, drinking, and sewage water. Each detail and element of the house has been thoughtfully added after making sure it can last for 100 years in any environment. Prvok is an example of what the future of hybrid houses that work for you and the environment could look like.

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These hungry superworms happily munch through plastic

 

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A superworm can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects.

Recycling seems like a simple cure for our plastic addiction: just take the plastic we have and make it into new items. But problems abound. Current technology mostly creates plastic of a lower quality than it was before, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable at all, and much of the plastic is floating in the ocean, not even in the recycling stream. So it’s vital that we find new ways to break down plastic, and scientists have just discovered one: a superworm that can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects like mealworms.

Superworms are actually beetle larvae, and commonly sold at pet stores as food for reptiles and fish. In a paper recently published by the American Chemical Society, researchers Jiaojie Li, Dae-Hwan Kim, and their team detail how they placed 50 superworms in a chamber with two grams of polystyrene. After 21 days, the superworms had consumed about 70% of the polystyrene.

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New study : Every electric car brings $10,000 in life-saving benefits

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Converting all cars and SUVs in the Greater Toronto area into electric vehicles would cause 313 fewer deaths per year, an estimated social benefit of $2.4 billion. That’s the high-level finding of a study published today by Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association.

EV drivers cite numerous reasons for ditching a gas car and buying an EV: lower operating costs, high resale values, quick and quiet acceleration, and mitigating climate change. But what’s more compelling than saving human lives?

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These drones will plant 40,000 trees in a month. By 2028, they’ll have planted 1 billion

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One of Flash Forest’s prototype drones.

We need to massively reforest the planet, in a very short period of time. Flash Forest’s drones can plant trees a lot faster than humans.

This week, on land north of Toronto that previously burned in a wildfire, drones are hovering over fields and firing seed pods into the ground, planting native pine and spruce trees to help restore habitat for birds. Flash Forest, the Canadian startup behind the project, plans to use its technology to plant 40,000 trees in the area this month. By the end of the year, as it expands to other regions, it will plant hundreds of thousands of trees. By 2028, the startup aims to have planted a full 1 billion trees.

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Discover the Hidden Patterns of Tomorrow with Futurist Thomas Frey
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By delving into the futuring techniques of Futurist Thomas Frey, you’ll embark on an enlightening journey.

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