Plantagon: Geodesic Dome Farm of the Future

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Lots of cities have farmers markets, but most — if not all — of the produce comes from rural farmers that use oil-intensive methods of transportation to cart around their food. With 80% of all people on the planet projected to live in cities by 2050, food production will have to move into cities if it is to remain cost-efficient. A Swedish-American company called Plantagon has conceived of an incredible solution: a massive urban greenhouse contained within a geodesic dome. The vertical farm, which consists of a spiral ramp inside a spherical dome, is currently in the development stages.

To read complete article by Ariel Schwartz go to inhabitat.com

15 Year Old Invents Algae-Powered Energy System

algaepower-ed021.jpgThanks to 15 year old Texan Javier Fernández-Han, we feel a little more hopeful about the next generation’s ability to adapt to a world of limited resources. The high school student developed a fully featured algae-powered energy system that combines a dozen new and existing technologies to treat waste, produce methane and bio-oil for fuel, produce food for humans and livestock, sequester greenhouse gases, and produce oxygen. Dubbed the VERSATILE system, the project is this year’s winner of the annual Invent Your World Challenge $20,000 scholarship.

“Voluntourism”: See the World–And Help Conserve It

easterisland_1.jpg “Voluntourism” ramps the ecological impulse up a notch, providing ways for vacationers to help save the world’s sustainable resources.

Rain forests and tundra, deserts and savannas, mountaintops and undersea reefs. No spot on the planet is too remote for the movement that has changed the face of leisure travel. Ecotourism, in all its various guises—green tourism, sustainable tourism, adventure travel—has gained traction as enthusiasts seek to experience the earth’s wonders while treading lightly on them.

Lately a new subset of this boom has emerged. “Voluntourism” ramps the ecological impulse up a notch, providing ways for vacationers to help save the world’s sustainable resources. The trend has been described as a kind of mini version of the Peace Corps. Depending on your interests, you could find yourself repairing trails leading to Old Faithful, tracking sharks in the Atlantic, or mixing cement for housing in the Andes. Voluntourism is becoming a significant growth sector of the travel industry. Online trip planner Travelocity, for example, now partners with tour operators such as GlobeAware, Cross-Cultural Solutions and Take Pride in America, which specialize in launching voluntourists on service-oriented vacations.

To read complete article by Jim Cornfield go to ScientificAmerican.com

Power to the People: 7 Ways to Fix the Grid, Now

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Filthy coal-fired power plants spew carbon into the air. A mish-mash of 9,200 generators streams vital electrons along 300,000 miles of aging, inefficient transmission lines and one untrimmed tree in the wrong place could plunge a quarter of the country into darkness. This is our electric grid. A whopping 40 percent of all the energy used in the US—be it oil, gas, wind, or solar—is converted into electrons that travel over these wires. Any attempt at energy reform must begin here.
But this keystone of our 21st-century economy has yet to advance much beyond its 19th-century roots. Considering how wasteful, unresponsive, and just plain dumb the grid is, it isn’t surprising that outages—which have been increasing steadily over the past quarter century—cost us $150 billion a year. The real shock is that the damn thing works at all.
Now consider what we will ask the grid to handle in the near future: Demand for electricity is expected to increase by as much as 40 percent in the next two decades—more than twice the population growth rate. To meet that need, we will have to generate an additional 214 gigawatts, a feat that would require the construction of more than 357 large coal plants. We also want to plug in dozens, if not hundreds, of gigawatts of wind and solar power harvested from the most remote corners of the country. And we will want to recharge millions of electric vehicles every night, without fail.

To read complete article by Brendan Koerner go to WIRED.com

The Edible Schoolyard: Seed-to-Table Learning

 

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Garden of Eating: Middle School Students Grow Their Own Lunch
Berkeley’s curriculum-based Edible Schoolyard gardening program connects students with the Earth.

The apple crisp is baking in the oven and the smell of bubbling cinnamon, sugar, and apples fills the air and makes the kitchen feel warm and cozy — the perfect contrast to the cold and windy November morning just outside the door. Groups of students sit with their teachers around large farm tables set with tablecloths, centerpieces, and plates painted with delicate blue flowers. Some are talking and laughing, others are just enjoying the delicious aroma, waiting anxiously for their homemade dish to be served.
Welcome to the kitchen at the Edible Schoolyard, located on the campus of Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Berkeley, California. This 1-acre urban garden and fully equipped kitchen are the home to a thoughtful, curriculum-based program designed to connect students with the earth, the environment, and an eclectic group of adults outside the traditional classroom. The project began in 1994 when the seed of an idea was planted by world-renowned chef and food activist Alice Waters. Her dream: to provide students with the opportunity to grow the food and then participate in the preparation of their own school lunches. “We’re in the middle of a health epidemic,” says Waters. “If we could somehow bring in a curriculum around school lunch, we could begin to change the way kids think about eating.”
Although the dream of having students prepare and eat their own organically grown, healthy lunches is still a work in progress, the school’s garden and kitchen are now a world-famous success story — a model for schools throughout the country (and the world, really) that want to provide students with an integrated, hands-on gardening curriculum.

To read complete article bt Roberta Furger go to edutopia.org/edible-schoolyard

Ten important reasons for this project, Oasis A-Z

10. To tell Arizona’s story in complement of its cenntenial celebration in 2012.

9.  To showcase alternatives to burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation.

8. To promote improved stewardship of our planet earth.

7. To encourage and showcase entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators.

6. To advance scientific interest to all generations by by providing an “educational annex” for Arizona’s school systems.

5. To raise awareness of climate change and its effects around the world.

4. To cultivate and promote a lifestyle of health and sustainability within the global community.

3. To participate in the green business revolution.

2.  To create a destination resort where recreation, education, research and development coexist and collaborate.

1. To create a unique environment like nowhere else on the planet.

So Much to Learn About the Oceans From Sand

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — As a young geophysicist in the 1980s, Rob Holman attended a conference in San Francisco that included a field trip to a beach. Dr. Holman, who grew up inland, in Ottawa, stared at the ocean, assessing the strengths and vectors of the waves and currents. But when he looked around, everyone else was studying the sand.
He realized, he recalled, that “sand is not the same everywhere.” So he started collecting it. “I collected a few samples and put them in jars,” he said. “Then I had so many I built a rack. Then I built three more racks. Then I built four more.”

To read complete article by Cornelia Dean go to NYTimes.com

The Future of Food: How Science Will Solve the Next Global Crises.

Forty years ago, advances in fertilizers and pesticides boosted crop yield and fed a growing planet. Today, demand for food fueled by rises in worldwide consumption of meat and protein is again outpacing farmers ability to keep up. It’s time for the next Green Revolution.

To read article go to Wired.com

Green Architecture’s Grand Experiment— Part 1: The Building

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Nine years ago the California Academy of Sciences asked: What’s a natural history museum in the 21st century? Its stunning new building is the emphatic answer. 

The new California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is a building of mythic proportions. At 410,000 square feet, it’s expected to be the largest public building ever to attain a LEED Platinum rating. And, with a $488 million price tag, it also represents the largest fund-raising effort for a cultural institution in San Francisco history. How did this low- profile natural history museum and research facility become a half-billion-dollar marquee project by a Pritzker Prize–winning architect, not to mention a landmark in sustainable design?
According to an oft-told origin story, it all started on the roof. In late 1999, architect Renzo Piano visited the site, climbed up on top of the Academy’s former building, and—there amid the canopy of trees—declared that the roof itself needed to be-come an exhibit of the museum. “This was a magic place in the middle of Golden Gate Park,” Piano recalls. “I said, ‘The roof has got to be part of the experience of the building, part of the itinerary.’”

To read article by Karen E. Steen go to Metropolis.com

Green guru’s lifestyle inspires others

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It was a steamy morning in late July when Greg Peterson walked out the door of his Phoenix home. He was talking on his cordless phone while hunting amid the fruit trees and vegetables in his garden for something to cook for dinner.

Outside, he was sidetracked by an exciting discovery. A beefy crawdad had wandered onto his lawn.

Peterson knew just what to do. He picked the crawdad up, walked it through his house and plopped it into his backyard fishpond.

It was typical behavior for Peterson, proprietor of the Urban Farm and the guru of green. Peterson, perhaps the Valley’s most influential voice on sustainable living and ever the curious student of Mother Nature, takes in new findings with the enthusiasm of a child.

The Urban Farm is Peterson’s home. It’s an average ranch-style house near 13th Place and Glendale Avenue, snuggled amid dozens of fruit trees (43 in the front yard alone), with a handful of chickens in back. The home is powered by enough solar energy that several times a year, he has no monthly electric bill to pay.

To read complete article by Lisa Nicita go to Arizona Republic.com