Merlin Flying Further Afield

We’ve written about this amazing APP on our pages before, and it’s exciting to watch it’s evolution and expansion of both technology and territory.

Our work has yet to expand to Mexico, but birds don’t acknowledge national borders, so the majority of the species in the Yucatan  can be found in all 3 countries that make up the peninsula – Belize, Guatemala and of course, Mexico.

We look forward to having our marvelous guides try it out just for fun!

 Merlin Expands to Mexico

We’ve spent the last few months working to expand coverage of Merlin, and we’ve just released a new bird pack for the Yucatan Peninsula. Research at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology repeatedly points to the Yucatan Peninsula as a vital wintering ground for many of our favorite breeding birds in the United States. It’s also home to many dazzling birds unique to the Neotropics. Continue reading

You Had Us At Non-Toxic

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Photo: Organic mega-flow battery in the Harvard SEAS lab. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)

Thanks to Anthropocene:

This non-toxic battery lasts a decade, could be renewable energy’s missing piece

by Prachi Patel

As more and more people install solar panels, the need to store solar power is growing. Batteries that store sun-generated electricity are key for houses to have power at night or when it’s cloudy. But today’s battery technologies are riddled with issues such as high cost, toxicity, and short life. Continue reading

Cleaner Cook Stoves

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Image: Gumilang Aryo Sahadewo/Flickr

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Tackling climate change through cleaner cookstoves

Design Worth Reading About

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INGO MECKMANN/PIAGGIO FAST FORWARD

Sometimes it makes more sense to look at a design rather than read about it. This story is in itself interesting (thanks to Wired) and that is because of the combination of the history of Piaggio and the character at the center of the design story:

IN THE SUMMER months of 2015, Jeffrey Schnapp and a few of his colleagues started collecting rideables. The hoverboard craze was in full swing, and OneWheels and Boosteds were showing up on roads and sidewalks. Schnapp and his co-founders rode, drove, and crashed everything they could find. For Schnapp, a Harvard professor and longtime technologist with a shaved head, pointy goatee, and a distinct Ben Kingsley vibe, this was market research. Continue reading

Nanowire & Swamp Surprises

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An artist’s rendition of Geobacter expressing electrically conductive nanowires. Credit: UMass Amherst

Thanks to Anthropocene for a great title to this summary of important recent research finding:

From the swamps of the Potomac, new hope for green electronics

Protein filaments just 3 nanometers wide that are produced by certain species of bacteria could be a key to environmentally friendly electronics manufacturing, according to microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Scientists discovered the filaments, dubbed “nanowires,” about 5 years ago. Bacteria use them to make electrical connections with other bacterial cells or to generate reactions with metals in the environment. Continue reading

Boosting Crop Yields Without GMO

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Yann Coeuru/Flickr.com

Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary on agricultural technology possibly breaking through the GMO debate in the near future:

A non-GMO approach to producing bigger, better wheat

by Catherine Elton

Researchers have developed a new technology that not only increases the yield of wheat plants, but also makes them more resilient to drought. What makes this technology so interesting is that—if  successful in field trials—it might provide an alternative to genetic modification approaches to boosting wheat yields. Continue reading

Carbon Capturing Crystals

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a scientific news item worthy of our attention:

A cheaper way to pull carbon dioxide from the air, turn it into crystals

Adaptation, Climate Change, Winery Operations

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Solar panels dot the buildings at the family’s Carneros Hills Winery. Jason Henry for The New York Times

When a family does its homework on the property that represents its livelihood and our own appreciation for their craft, we take note just as we do when the professor teaches:

Falcons, Drones, Data: A Winery Battles Climate Change

Jackson Family Wines is among California
winemakers employing both high-tech and old-school
techniques to adapt to hotter, drier conditions.

By

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Harvested grapes. Jackson Family Wines is one of the largest family-owned winemakers in the country. Jason Henry for The New York Times

On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Calif., Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling.

But on this day, Ms. Jackson, the vice president for sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate.

Continue reading

Carbon Capture In India

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Tuticorin thermal power station near the port of Thoothukudi on the Bay of Bengal, southern India. The plant is said to be the first industrial-scale example of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). Photograph: Roger Harrabin

Thanks to the Guardian’s Environment section for this news:

Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough

Carbonclean is turning planet-heating emissions into profit by converting CO2 into baking powder – and could lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year Continue reading

Solar Road In Normandy Breaks New Ground

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A test phase will evaluate whether the solar panel road can provide enough energy to power street lighting. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

When we think of Normandy, apples and oysters come to mind. Calvados, too. We are happy those traditions endure but even happier to see the roads there as a hotbed of environmental innovation:

World’s first solar panel road opens in Normandy village

Route in Tourouvre-au-Perche cost €5m to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during two-year test period Continue reading

Better Nets, Better Fishing

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Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Institute has designed a trawl net that aims to target species that can still be profitable while avoiding cod. Courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Thanks to the salt folks at National Public Radio (USA):

Fishermen Team Up With Scientists To Make A More Selective Net

FRED BEVER

Some New England fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net being used in the Gulf of Maine, one that scoops up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which are in severe decline.

For centuries, cod were plentiful and a prime target for the Gulf of Maine fleet. But in recent years, catch quotas have been drastically reduced as the number of cod of reproductive age have dropped perilously low. Continue reading

Keeping A Family Business Busy, Moving Into The Future While Preserving The Past

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Camillo Sirianni, a third-generation family business that began as a mechanized carpentry company in 1909, has overcome the isolation of its hometown to become a leading manufacturer of school furniture. Credit Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

The EU, like all governance systems and especially relatively young ones, had its shortcomings; but it also had plenty of visionary good that we continue to admire:

Internet Throws Lifeline to Family Businesses in Small Town in Italy’s South

By

SOVERIA MANNELLI, Italy — Mario Caligiuri can still recall the night that may be credited with changing the fortunes of Soveria Mannelli.

It was New Year’s Eve at the turn of the millennium, and as mayor he dashed off an email to the authorities in Rome seeking an audience to explain his initiative to connect his struggling mountaintop town of about 3,000 inhabitants to the internet. Continue reading

Recycling Thermal Erstwhile-Waste

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Illustration by Tamara Shopsin; Photos by All for You, Mrnok, via shutterstock

We appreciate that the City of Lights keeps brightening our future, as well as their own:

If the Pool Is Warm in Paris, Thank the Washing Machine

By

What do washing the dishes and uploading pictures to Facebook have in common? Continue reading

How Much Energy Does A Bicycle Produce?

We had been wondering this too, we admit:

An NPR listener (with what may be the best Twitter handle ever — Booky McReaderpants) inquired whether a home can be powered by bicycle-powered generator.

It’s an interesting issue about energy and the modern world. And the short answer comes from just running the numbers.

A typical house in the U.S. uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy in a month. So — to Booky McReaderpants’ question — could you generate that much power all by yourself on stationary bike?

No.

Nope.

Not even close. Continue reading

App For Food Waste Reduction

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin. Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin.
Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

Thanks to the Guardian for their coverage of stories about reducing food waste:

FoodCloud: new app proves a nourishing idea for wasted food

The distribution of surplus food in Ireland is being transformed by FoodCloud. Killian Fox meets the duo behind the venture

Killian Fox

Within one community, there can be a business that’s throwing away perfectly good food and just around the corner there’s a charity that’s struggling to feed people in need,” says Iseult Ward of FoodCloud, a remarkable social enterprise which she co-founded with Aoibheann O’Brien in 2012. “We wanted to connect the two.” Continue reading

Sound-Recognition Software Advances

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The researchers’ neural network was fed video from 26 terabytes of video data downloaded from the photo-sharing site Flickr. Researchers found the network can interpret natural sounds in terms of image categories. For instance, the network might determine that the sound of birdsong tends to be associated with forest scenes and pictures of trees, birds, birdhouses, and bird feeders. Image: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

From Larry Hardesty at the news office of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology an interesting article on machine-learning, which we thought was going to be about a new app for birders but it is a much broader finding:

Computer learns to recognize sounds by watching video

Machine-learning system doesn’t require costly hand-annotated data.

Watch Video

In recent years, computers have gotten remarkably good at recognizing speech and images: Think of the dictation software on most cellphones, or the algorithms that automatically identify people in photos posted to Facebook. Continue reading

Food Waste Approaching Zero (Goals Are Powerful)

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Junior Herbert, a volunteer with Olio, collects leftovers from vendors at London’s Camden Market. London has become a hub for apps and small-scale businesses that let restaurants and food vendors share leftovers with the public for free, and otherwise reduce the amount of edibles they toss. Maanvi Singh for NPR

Green entrepreneurship is alive and well in London (thanks to National Public Radio, USA, and its program the salt for this story):

Eat It, Don’t Leave It: How London Became A Leader In Anti-Food Waste

MAANVI SINGH

It’s around 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, and Anne-Charlotte Mornington is running around the food market in London’s super-hip Camden neighborhood with a rolling suitcase and a giant tarp bag filled with empty tupperware boxes. She’s going around from stall to stall, asking for leftovers.

Mornington works for the food-sharing app Olio. “If ever you have anything that you can’t sell tomorrow but it’s still edible,” she explains to the vendors, “I’ll take it and make sure that it’s eaten.” Continue reading

Renewable Energy Outlook

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World electricity production going from black to green

In a time of troubling headlines, the more promising headlines can get lost, but they are there. At least with regard to renewable energy. Click the image above to read the summary of this book at Anthropocene or the image below to go to the source:

MTrenew2016.jpgThe rapid spread of renewable energy is a bright spot in the global energy transition towards a low carbon economy. Despite lower fossil fuel prices, renewable power expanded at its fastest-ever rate in 2015, thanks to supportive government policies and sharp cost reductions. Continue reading

Dutch Methane Capture

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Agriculture produces about 10% of the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions. A new project will help capture methane emissions from Dutch dairy farming. Photograph: Julian Stratenschulte/EPA

Thanks to the Guardian for this:

Poo power: Dutch dairy industry launches €150m biogas project

Will a scheme to turn cow manure into biogas help the Netherlands lose its reputation as the ‘bad guy’ of Europe when it comes to agricultural emissions?

The air smells fruity, slightly alcoholic. Against the strong hum of machinery, 175 cows are eating hay. As their dung drops to the slatted floor, a machine sweeps it through and it runs underneath the barn to a futuristic dome outside. Continue reading