environment

Venomous sea snake washes up on California beach

Venomous sea snake washes up on California beach

Thanks to a particularly strong El Nino, sea snakes are washing up on California beaches at an increased rate. Most recently, researchers were surprised to discover a type of venomous reptile called the yellow-bellied sea snake washed ashore earlier this month on a California beach…far beyond its normal habitat. Even more surprising, this is the second of its kind discovered this year.

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Ecocapsule is a sustainable egg-shaped house the size of a car

Ecocapsule is a sustainable egg-shaped house the size of a car

It may not seem like it, but the small, egg-shaped construction seen here can actually be lived in like house, despite being even smaller than a typical New York City apartment. It's called the Ecocapsule, and it's made for total off-the-grid sustainability. It features dimensions of 4.46 x 2.25 x 2.60 m (14 x 7.3 x 8.5 ft), and only offers 6.3 sq m (67.8 sq ft) of usable floorspace. Most people probably wouldn't want to live in it, but with power, water, a toilet, and a stove, they could certainly try.

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Letter: VW should put scandal resources into zero-emissions cars

Letter: VW should put scandal resources into zero-emissions cars

More than 40 activists and clean energy executives, including Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, have signed a letter sent to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) urging a different method for dealing with Volkswagen and its emissions-cheating cars. Rather than following through with the current plan, which will have Volkswagen fix its faulty cars, the collective wants the auto maker to puts those resources into launching its zero emissions cars.

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US to ban all soap with microbeads

US to ban all soap with microbeads

Remember when we talked about how products with microbeads were terrible for the environment and that you should never, ever buy them? It would appear that the US government agrees. A bill which bans the sale of personal care products that contain microbeads has just passed the House of Representatives and will soon go to the Senate for approval. Several states have already banned the products, phasing them out over the next several years - this bill, when eventually passed into law, will ban microbeads across the country.

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Google expands its Sunroof estimates to more US territories

Google expands its Sunroof estimates to more US territories

This month, the focus is placed heavily once more is on climate change and the environment in general. Considering their reliance, as well as adverse effects, on the environment, tech companies have rallied around efforts to use or at least promote more responsible use of resources. At the start of the UN Climate Change Conference last week, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and a whole host of other Silicon Valley luminaries announced a new Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Now Google is making its own very small contribution by making its Project Sunroof available to more states in the US.

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China’s on red alert after smog reaches record high

China’s on red alert after smog reaches record high

China has issued its first ever red alert in Beijing related to smog levels, doing so as the levels of pollution in parts of China reach all time highs. According to a state run news organization, this is the first time China has had to issue a red alert in the city, which is the highest warning possible. In this case, the warning has been issued due to the anticipated high levels of smog set for coming days; presently, the smog levels right now are touch lower than they were last week. It is anticipated smog levels will reach severe levels for three or more days.

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Washington D.C.’s sewage is generating 10MW of electricity

Washington D.C.’s sewage is generating 10MW of electricity

It’s more conventional than drinking water harvested from human waste, but no less interesting: generating electricity from raw sewage. Researchers have given the subject ample attention over the years and especially lately, with the technology promising a future where waste is put to good use and its effect on the environment is lessened. Washington D.C. is one such place testing the technology.

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Newly developed sponge material sucks up oil spills

Newly developed sponge material sucks up oil spills

Oil spill catastrophes like the Gulf Coast BP disaster in 2010 are difficult to clean up, with current methods being expensive and inefficient, not to mention time consuming. Researchers from Deakin University and several other institutions may have the solution, however, and it comes in the form of a new material. Called boron nitride nanosheet, this material is described as functioning like a sponge, absorbing oil directly out of the water.

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Global bicycle ownership rates see big downturn

Global bicycle ownership rates see big downturn

According to new research, the number of households that own a bicycle is decreasing drastically across the globe, with 148 countries showing an average decline of 50% over a few decades. This comes at a time when climate change concerns and sustainability efforts are at an all time high; cycling is one of the most sustainable forms of transportation, but one that many people far and wide are turning away from. A total of 1.25 billion households were looked at over the course of the study, and ownership was split into four groups.

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Researchers: printing eyes on items reduces littering

Researchers: printing eyes on items reduces littering

Researchers at Newcastle University have found that leaflets with eyes printed on them were discarded as litter far less frequently than a leaflet printed without eyes. The reason is likely due to human nature — we’re more conscious of our actions and more likely to behave according to social rules and norms if we know others -- and, apparently, pieces of paper -- are watching us.

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New material mimics photosynthesis, produces hydrogen

New material mimics photosynthesis, produces hydrogen

With the UN Climate Change conference happening this week at Paris, the spotlight is being focused the search for renewable sources of energy, especially ones that will fuel, no pun intended, our every growing number of gadgets and gizmos. As if by happy coincidence, researchers from Florida State University, headed by Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Jose L. Mendoza-Cortes almost serendipitously came across a new thin material that could imitate the way a plant uses sunlight to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter of which can be used for fuel.

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Gates, Zuckerberg join tech founders in clean energy thrust

Gates, Zuckerberg join tech founders in clean energy thrust

Technology, perhaps more than any other industry, owes much of its existence to the use of energy. So it is only reasonable that it should also be the one spearheading the push for cleaner, greener, and more renewable sources. Of late, Apple has been picking up the pace, and the publicity, of its own green initiative, particularly in China and soon in Singapore. Now it's the turn of the other giants of the tech sector, as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and over a dozen other big names to band together under the new Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

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