Cookies help us run our site more efficiently.

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information or to customize your cookie preferences.

GoGreenNation News

Learn more about the issues presented in our films
Show Filters

Beat the Heat: How Self-Cooling Artificial Turf is Transforming Cities

A new artificial turf can cool itself by storing rainwater and using capillary action to reduce surface temperatures, providing a safer and more sustainable alternative...

Overview of the water retention system below the artificial turf field. Credit: PermavoidA new artificial turf can cool itself by storing rainwater and using capillary action to reduce surface temperatures, providing a safer and more sustainable alternative for urban sports fields.The natural grass in city parks and sports fields has often been replaced with more durable artificial turf, as it allows for heavy consecutive use. However, artificial turf has its downsides, for both people and cities as a whole. It decreases soil infiltration of rain and can reach dangerously high surface temperatures, contributing to the urban heat island effect.Innovative Cooling System in Artificial TurfNow, scientists from the Netherlands have developed an artificial turf that includes a subsurface water storage and capillary irrigation system. This system, detailed in a new study published in Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, provides a cooler, safer, and more sustainable alternative to conventional artificial turf. “Here we show that including a subsurface water storage and capillary irrigation system in artificial turf fields can lead to significantly lower surface temperatures compared to conventional artificial turf fields,” said first author Dr Marjolein van Huijgevoort, a hydrologist at KWR Water Research Institute. “With circular on-site water management below the field, a significant evaporative cooling effect is achieved.”Picture of the field site in Amsterdam with the four research plots. Credit: Joris VoetenReducing Heat on Artificial FieldsThe artificial turf and subbase system includes an open water storage layer directly underneath the artificial turf and shockpad. In this water layer, rainwater is stored. This water retention system contains cylinders that transport the stored water back up to the surface of the artificial turf, where it evaporates.“The process of evaporative cooling and capillary rise is controlled by natural processes and weather conditions, so water only evaporates when there is demand for cooling,” van Huijgevoort explained.Experimentation and ResultsConventional artificial turf can reach surface temperatures of up to 70°C on sunny days. These temperatures are high enough to cause burn injuries and trigger heat-related illnesses, ranging from mild rashes to potentially life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.In a field experiment conducted in Amsterdam, the researchers found that when conventional turf was replaced with the self-cooling turf, temperatures dropped. They reported that on a particularly hot day in June 2020, the cooled turf reached a surface temperature of 37°C – just 1.7°C higher than natural grass – whereas surface temperatures of the conventional artificial turf reached 62.5°C.Above the plots, temperatures also differed. “We found lower air temperatures 75cm above the cooled plots compared to conventional artificial turf fields, especially during the night,” said van Huijgevoort. “This is a first indication that the cooled plots contribute less to the urban heat island effect.”Environmental and Practical AdvantagesThe cooling turf combines the advantages of artificial turf and natural grass: It is durable, keeps itself cool, and offers a healthy environment to play sports. It can also store almost as much rainwater as natural grass. The field’s rainwater retention capacity also reduces stormwater drainage, which helps mitigate urban flooding. During periods when it does not rain enough, extra water can be added directly into the system. Alternatively, it could be watered like natural grass.Economic and Research ConsiderationsInstallation costs, however, can be up to twice as expensive as for conventional artificial turf. The researchers said that a full-scale cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken to find out the true value of the investment.Further research also needs to confirm how cooling turf could impact the surrounding area and cities as a whole. Learning more about the benefits of the turf in different climates and using different storage sizes, materials, and infills is also necessary to find the optimal combination, the researchers pointed out.Initial results, however, are promising. “People in urban areas, especially children, have a growing need for sport and play facilities,” van Huijgevoort concluded. “With this work we show the benefits of the subsurface water storage and capillary irrigation system without negative effects of artificial turf fields.”Reference: “Climate adaptive solution for artificial turf in cities: integrated rainwater storage and evaporative cooling” by Marjolein H. J. van Huijgevoort, Dirk Gijsbert Cirkel and Joris G. W. F. Voeten, 23 May 2024, Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.DOI: 10.3389/frsc.2024.1399858

Real-time water quality monitors installed at wild swimming spots in southern England

AI-based system designed to help people assess immediate risk of getting ill from water polluted with bacteriaReal-time water quality monitors are being installed at wild swimming spots and beaches across southern England to help people assess their immediate risk of getting ill from polluted water.Wessex Water is installing sensors at three freshwater sites in Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire, plus two coastal sites in Bournemouth, after a successful pilot study at Warleigh Weir near Bath. Here, the artificial intelligence-based system correctly predicted when bacteria in the water were high 87% of the time. Continue reading...

Real-time water quality monitors are being installed at wild swimming spots and beaches across southern England to help people assess their immediate risk of getting ill from polluted water.Wessex Water is installing sensors at three freshwater sites in Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire, plus two coastal sites in Bournemouth, after a successful pilot study at Warleigh Weir near Bath. Here, the artificial intelligence-based system correctly predicted when bacteria in the water were high 87% of the time.Southern Water is trialling a different monitoring system at Tankerton in Kent and Langstone Harbour in Hampshire, with a further sensor expected to be launched at neighbouring Hayling Island in the near future.Although water companies and environment regulators now test river water for markers of pollution that harm wildlife, there is no requirement to test for faecal bacteria such as E coli and intestinal enterococci, which can cause stomach upsets, unless the site is a designated bathing water.Even here, water samples must be sent to a laboratory for analysis, and the results are not published for a week or so after the sample was taken, with the final classification not published until November. This makes it difficult to assess the immediate risk posed by sewage or agricultural runoff.“One of the biggest criticisms of the current bathing water classification system is that people may be swimming at a location all year, and it is only when the final classification is published that they realise what the quality has been,” said Ruth Barden, director of environmental solutions at Wessex Water.The company decided to use Warleigh Weir as a test bed for various water quality sensors and systems after pressure from the local landowner – a keen swimmer – to disclose how its storm overflows and treatment works were affecting water quality within the River Avon, and what they were doing to improve the situation.Barden said: “We want people to be able to enjoy and use their watercourses without putting themselves in danger. But collecting this data is also helpful for us to understand what level of impact our assets are having on water quality – if any – and what the solutions could be to rectify that.”One of the systems they tested was an artificial intelligence-based approach developed by the UK-based startup UnifAI Technology. Rather than measuring bacteria directly, it infers when levels of E coli or enterococci are high, by analysing data from real-time sensors placed upstream, that measure pH, temperature, turbidity (cloudiness), dissolved oxygen and ammonia.Water companies are obliged to start installing such sensors at sites up and downstream of where their storm overflows and wastewater treatment works discharge into rivers, as part of the Environment Act 2021, which aims to improve water quality and protect wildlife.During an initial training period of about six months, river water samples are repeatedly tested for bacteria levels, and the AI learns to correlate these with patterns in the senor data. After this period, members of the public are given access to an app that gives half-hourly predictions on bacteria levels in the river, and issues a water-quality alert when bacterial levels are likely to be high.“We never tell swimmers that it is safe to get in the water; that’s a personal decision, and there are lots of reasons why it may not be safe. But an alert means there may be a problem with the water quality,” said Dan Byles, chief commercial officer at UnifAI.skip past newsletter promotionThe planet's most important stories. Get all the week's environment news - the good, the bad and the essentialPrivacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotionWessex Water is installing the system at three further swimming spots – Farleigh Hungerford in Somerset, Fordingbridge in Hampshire and Poole Park lagoon in Dorset – plus Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, with real-time swim alerts expected to be available from 2025. The company is also in discussions with landowners and river users at 20 sites across south-west England about installing the system there.The expansion of the technology to more sites could provide new insights into how storm overflow discharges and other events correlate with reduced water quality. Byles said: “We can effectively start to build up a digital twin of the river systems.”River Action UK broadly welcomed the technology, but said it should not deflect from the urgent need to tackle root causes of pollution.“Technological advances in real-time monitoring of river pollution are welcome, and well overdue, especially if they can be used to warn river users of dangerous pathogen levels proactively,” said River Action’s chief executive, James Wallace.“We need the environmental regulators to use pollution data as evidence of malpractice to underpin enforcement of the law and hold polluters to account. Only when it becomes less expensive to abide by the law than breaking it will we see the necessary investment in maintaining and upgrading sewage treatment works.”Southern Water is investigating whether UnifAI’s machine learning models could be applied to data from the sensors it is testing at coastal sites, and use its own algorithms to estimate bacteria levels, based on the scattering of light in surrounding waters. Although these sensors have been in the water for about a year, “we’re still in the science phase and not yet providing that data to the general public”, Southern Water said.

Millions of Californians live near oil and gas wells that are in the path of wildfires

In the Western U.S., the vast majority of oil wells in high wildfire risk areas are in California, and 2.6 million people live in close proximity.

As firefighters continue to battle more than two dozen active wildfires in California, new research has found that millions of people are living in close proximity to oil and gas wells that are in the potential path of flames.More than 100,000 wells in 19 states west of the Mississippi River are in areas that have burned in recent decades and face a high risk of burning in the future, with the vast majority in California, according to a study published recently in the journal One Earth. What’s more, nearly 3 million Americans live within 3,200 feet of those wells, putting them at heightened risk of explosions, air and water pollution, infrastructure damage and other hazards. “One of the things that surprised me was just the extent of how many oil wells had been in wildfire burn areas in the past, and how much this was impacting people in California — and is likely to in the coming century,” said David J.X. González, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at UC Berkeley. Aggressive and impactful reporting on climate change, the environment, health and science. California is particularly vulnerable to the threat. Of the roughly 118,000 western oil wells in high fire risk areas, 103,878 of them — more than 87% — are in California, with 2.6 million residents living in close proximity to them, according to the study, which was described as the first to investigate historic and projected wildfire threats to oil and gas infrastructure in the United States. The researchers examined active and inactive oil wells because some inactive wells continue to leak methane and other harmful or combustible emissions, González said. In California, the danger is particularly high in Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern and Orange counties, which are high fire risk areas that are also home to large populations and numerous wells. A pump station sits idle near homes in Arvin, Calif., where toxic fumes from a nearby well made residents sick and forced evacuations in November 2019. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times) Many Angelenos have already experienced the perils of living near oil and gas infrastructure. In 1985, methane linked to a long-abandoned oil field fed an explosion at a Ross Dress for Less store in Fairfax, injuring more than 20 people. In 2015, a massive gas leak from the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility near Porter Ranch released about 100,000 tons of methane, ethane and other chemicals into the air, forcing more than 8,000 families to flee their homes and prompting reports of nausea, skin rashes, nosebleeds and other health issues. Four years later, a 90-year-old well erupted beneath a construction site in Marina del Rey and spewed oil, gas and other debris into the air for several days. And in 2017, the Thomas fire burned through areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties that contained more than 2,100 oil and gas wells — the long-term effects of which have yet to be studied. It’s not only California that is at risk however. Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico also host wells in high fire risk areas, the study says. The U.S., in general, has been the top global producer of crude oil and natural gas since 2014, with the majority of production concentrated in the West.Additionally, oil drilling continues across the country, despite federal and state efforts to curb new wells and cap old ones. One of the provisions included in President Biden’s landmark climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, allows for new oil leases to be auctioned on federally managed lands, which means California and other states could see more new wells in the future.But the California Department of Geologic Energy Management, which oversees oil and gas wells in the state, said production here has been steadily declining since its peak in 1985.“Presently, CalGEM approves far more permitting applications from operators to plug oil wells than it does to drill new wells,” agency spokeswoman Janice Mackey said in an email. She noted that over the last 12 months, the state agency approved 5,059 permits to permanently plug oil and gas wells while approving only 56 new drills.Mackey said most of the nearly 250,000 wells under the state agency’s jurisdiction are in the San Joaquin Valley, “but there are also many others in high fire threat areas such as Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties.”That could prove to be a problem as wildfire activity continues to worsen, even in the face of slowing oil production. One recent study found that wildfire burn areas in California could increase 50% or more by midcentury, due largely to climate change. Eighteen of the state’s 20 largest wildfires have occurred since 2000.Additionally, Mackey said the placement of new wells — which are determined by oil and gas operators who seek permits from local governments — has little to do with fire risk. “California’s oil fields are well established from decades to [over a] century old,” she said. “Operators continue to drill in areas where oil and gas is known to exist.”Estimates included in the study indicate the hazards will get worse in the decades ahead as population and wildfire activity expand. Between 1984 and 2019, the researchers documented a five-fold increase in the number of wells located in wildfire burn areas, and a doubling of the population living within 3,200 feet of those wells.By midcentury, more than 122,000 wells are expected to be in high wildfire risk areas, and by late century that number will grow to more than 205,000, according to the study. Both projections are significantly higher when also accounting for moderate wildfire risk areas, and both show that California will continue to experience the lion’s share.“Wildfires are increasingly burning in oil fields over the past four decades, and it’s a trend that’s very likely to continue throughout the rest of the century, including near some densely populated parts of California,” González said. A 2020 photo shows one of more than 1,100 producing oil wells in the McKittrick oil field, just north of McKittrick, Calif., on State Route 33. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times) He added that estimates for the number of wells and people in harm’s way are likely conservative, as the study assessed wells drilled before 2020. That same year was California’s worst wildfire year on record, and saw more than 4.3 million acres burn.The researchers also found that exposure to oil wells in the path of wildfires was unevenly distributed. Black, Latino and Native American people faced disproportionate risk. The reasons for this are myriad, according to González. For one, an estimated 350,000 new houses are constructed each year in the wildland urban interface, or the area where human development meets forestland and other natural landscapes. Such areas often draw people seeking lower costs of living, but face significant wildfire risks because of their remoteness and high vegetation content.In urban areas, research has found that oil wells are more likely to be sited in neighborhoods that were historically redlined, or racially segregated. New wells are also disproportionately drilled in areas where Black and Latino people live.There are solutions, however — or at least recommendations to help mitigate the risks of oil wells in populated, wildfire-prone regions. California recently approved legislation that prohibits new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, healthcare facilities and other sensitive sites. The state will also receive more than $35 million in federal funding to help plug and remediate more than 200 high-risk orphaned oil and gas wells, and plans to invest more than a quarter of a billion state and federal dollars into orphan well plugging in the coming years. The researchers also recommended limiting or eliminating drilling in high wildfire risk areas, and investing in better technology for monitoring wells for leaks of flammable gases. “There’s a strong base of evidence that active wells are harmful for people that live nearby — even in the absence of wildfires,” González said. “So I think from a public health perspective, additional protections are well justified.”Mackey, of the California Department of Geologic Energy Management, said oil and gas operators in the state are subject to multiple layers of regulation, including requirements that well pads and tanks be kept free of vegetation, and that wells within specified distances of homes and public rights-of-way have fire prevention devices, sensors and alarm systems.“In the event of a fire, CalGEM will contact affected field operators to warn them of the possible risk and discuss strategies to prevent damage to wells and equipment,” she said. “Operators are directed to close pipelines and tanks and shut off power to wells if they are not already doing so. Operators also have fire suppression capabilities they deploy during emergencies.”During the Thomas fire, which was the largest in California at the time, the operators in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties shut down their wells, pipelines and rig work as part of their emergency response to mitigate the risk of fire-related incidents, she said. Despite such efforts, the study also highlighted what it referred to as a “pernicious feedback loop.” The production and consumption of fossil fuels are driving global warming, which is in turn increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires, it says. Greenhouse gases emitted by fires are also exacerbating climate change and contributing to the cycle. González said he hopes the study will prompt more action to not only reduce wildfires, but also to better protect people living in or near the oil wells in their paths.“We have an opportunity now to take action to prevent future disasters,” he said. Newsletter Toward a more sustainable California Get Boiling Point, our newsletter exploring climate change, energy and the environment, and become part of the conversation — and the solution. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Domesticated rabbits can ‘rewild’ thanks to feral DNA, study finds

The researchers found that the descendants of domestic rabbits quickly shed the docility and coat colors that humans prefer in pet bunnies.

Feral DNA may help domestic rabbits thrive in the wild, a new analysis suggests, shedding new light on the evolution of an animal that can cause major environmental destruction.Publishing in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers looked at the relationship between rabbit genetics and “feralization,” an evolutionary process in which the descendants of domestic rabbits that live in the wild shed characteristics that helped them survive in human settings, taking on those of feral animals instead.The researchers sequenced DNA from 297 rabbits in six populations in South America, Europe and Australia, all places where rabbits were introduced within the past 200 years. They compared the genetic information with the DNA of other wild and domestic rabbits.To their surprise, the researchers discovered that all of the rabbits studied had a mixture of wild and domestic DNA.“This was not what we had expected to find,” Leif Andersson, a professor of veterinary integrative biosciences at the Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a co-author of the study, says in a news release. “We expected that feral rabbits were domestic rabbits that have somehow relearned how to live in the wild. But our findings show us that these rabbits already had a portion of wild DNA helping them survive in nature.”The researchers found that the descendants of domestic rabbits quickly shed the docility and coat colors that humans prefer in pet bunnies, trading them for characteristics that help them thrive in the wild.That might explain why rabbits in Australia, a continent now overrun with wild bunnies, didn’t immediately take over when domestic rabbits were first introduced. The rabbit population surged only after 1859, when the introduction of just 24 wild and domestic rabbits began a population boom that continues to this day.Today, there are at least 150 million feral rabbits in Australia. The animals are considered invasive pests, competing with livestock and native animals, destroying native plants and crops, and even affecting groundwater absorption.

Sharks have weathered numerous mass extinctions. Will they survive us?

Evolution has gifted sharks with surprising adaptability, but climate change could be their death knell

Sharks have undeservedly earned a bad reputation, striking fear in the hearts of many, who often describe oceans as "infested" with the creatures. But it's not technically possible for them to infest their own home. Indeed, sharks have roamed the oceans for 450 million years, producing giants like the Megalodon, the Otodus and the Ptychodus. For many ages of world history, sharks could be regarded as the unchallenged masters of the ocean. With such robust evolutionary versatility, these cartilaginous fishes have survived not one, not two, but five mass extinctions in Earth's history. On geological timescales, nature regularly goes on killing sprees, wiping out countless species forever. But sharks have surprising resilience and have weathered the Late Devonian Extinction, which ended the "golden age" of sharks; the Permian-Triassic mass extinction that wiped out 90 percent of marine species; and even the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction, which famously wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. Despite how resilient sharks may seem, though, they may not be able to dodge the fate of the dodo or the passenger pigeon. Human activity, which seems to be driving a sixth mass extinction, is making it harder and harder for them to survive. It begs the question: Will sharks be able to outlive us? Sharks have been getting a raw deal from humans for a long time. Almost sixty years before the classic 1975 creature feature "Jaws" scared moviegoers away from the beaches, President Woodrow Wilson infamously declared a "war on sharks" to retaliate against the species for a series of New Jersey shore attacks. Countless innocent sharks were slaughtered by hunters eager to claim state rewards. As humans pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, out-of-control heat waves are causing "weird" weather while killing thousands of humans. Sharks are also heavily impacted by these rising temperatures, as they inhabit an ocean that traps increasing quantities of heat causing sea levels to continuously rise and millennia-old ocean current patterns to shift. "Temperature is the most pervasive climate change stressors on sharks, affecting their metabolic rates, distribution patterns and overall survival, as it influences every aspect of their physiology and behavior, from growth and reproduction to prey availability and habitat selection," Dr. Jodie L. Rummer, a James Cook University marine biology professor, told Salon. "Elevated water temperatures increase metabolic rates in sharks, necessitating higher food intake while reducing prey availability. For instance, a 3° C increase can significantly impact energy levels and recovery times of reef shark pups, making them vulnerable to predation and exhaustion." The sharks aren't just tired from this global heating, they are also shrinking, less resembling the Hollywood "monsters" from "Jaws" and "The Meg." "Warmer temperatures are causing sharks to grow to smaller sizes, which can limit their ability to swim long distances and migrate to new habitats as their current ones become unsuitable," Stockholm University zoology assistant professor Dr. Valentina Di Santo said. "Ocean acidification, driven by higher levels of carbon dioxide, affects the mineralization of shark skeletons. This makes their bones denser and heavier, reducing their buoyancy and increasing the energy they need to swim." As if being punier is not bad enough, the sharks also become inferior hunters. "Acidification also interferes with their ability to detect prey," Di Santo said. "These combined stressors not only affect individual sharks but also have broader implications for shark populations and the health of marine ecosystems." Want more health and science stories in your inbox? Subscribe to Salon's weekly newsletter Lab Notes. "Warmer temperatures are causing sharks to grow to smaller sizes, which can limit their ability to swim long distances and migrate to new habitats as their current ones become unsuitable." Sharks are even vulnerable to global heating before they have been born.  "Early life stages, such as newborn and juvenile sharks, are particularly vulnerable due to their narrow temperature tolerance ranges and the dynamic conditions of their coastal nursery habitats," Rummer said. "For example, epaulette 'walking' sharks, which develop in an egg (i.e., kind of like a chicken), show a reduced incubation time (i.e., from 4 to 3 months) under warming conditions, and those neonates hatch smaller, with less yolk reserves (energy), but with higher metabolic costs than their current day temperature counterparts." Rummer added, "Finally, being K-selected species characterized by slow growth, late maturity and low reproductive rates, makes sharks more vulnerable to these changes, as they cannot adapt quickly enough (i.e., over generations) to keep pace with the rapidly shifting environmental conditions around them." In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, sharks are endangered by human activities such as overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and as the unintended victims of commercial fishing, or "bycatch," in which the become tangled in commercial fishing gear, leading to injury or death​. "Sharks are heavily targeted for their fins, meat and liver oil," Rummer said. "The global shark fin trade is particularly devastating, with millions of sharks killed annually​."  The animals also rely on habitats like coral reefs and mangroves that humans are destroying, all of which makes "it harder for sharks to find suitable breeding, nursery and feeding grounds​," Rummer said. Finally, "chemical pollutants and plastics accumulate in sharks, causing health issues and impacting reproductive success​." Both Rummer and Di Santo agree that sharks are worth protecting because of their intrinsic value. Rummer works for The Physioshark program, which works to establish and protect marine protected areas and shark sanctuaries. Predominantly doing field work in French Polynesia, Rummer works in the world's largest shark sanctuary which "provides an ideal environment for studying and protecting shark populations without fishing pressures." "My team’s work with newborn sharks in Mo'orea involves capturing, tagging, and studying these animals in their natural habitats," Rummer said. "These experiences deepen our understanding and commitment to shark conservation, highlighting the importance of protecting these vulnerable stages of shark life​. Since we have been doing this for over a decade now, we are starting to see the babies of our first babies, which is really remarkable." She recalled several special moments: "Capturing a newborn shark that was probably born within the hour, learning to tell how old a newborn shark is by how much their umbilical scar (i.e., their belly button) has healed, using an ultrasound on a female blacktip reef shark to confirm she’s pregnant, and of course learning from Polynesians about the rich culture surrounding sharks." Di Santo, by contrast, has a formative shark memory with which millions can immediately identify. "When I was about three years old, my older brother thought it would be hilarious to watch 'Jaws' with me," Di Santo said. "I was absolutely terrified— For weeks, I was convinced there was a shark lurking in our bathtub. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to study many different shark species. While Hollywood loves to spotlight the great whites, I’ve gravitated towards the less glamorous, but equally fascinating benthic sharks (and stingrays and skates.) These bottom-dwellers might not get the same attention, but their unique locomotor adaptations (some can walk and swim!) are endlessly intriguing to a biomechanist like me."

Air quality alert affecting Grant and Morrow counties Sunday

On Saturday at 11:04 p.m. an air quality alert was issued valid until Sunday at 3 p.m. for Grant and Morrow counties.

On Saturday at 11:04 p.m. an air quality alert was issued valid until Sunday at 3 p.m. for Grant and Morrow counties.According to the National Weather Service, "Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Air Quality Advisory IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 p.m. MONDAY. A Smoke Air Quality Advisory has been issued. Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels. Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes runny nose aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health problems. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition."Air quality Alerts: NWS prescribes safety measuresWhen an air quality alert pops up on the radar, deciphering its implications is crucial. These alerts, issued by the weather service, come with straightforward yet essential guidance to ensure your safety:Prioritize indoor stay:If possible, remain indoors, especially if you have respiratory issues, other health concerns, or fall within the senior or child demographics.Minimize outdoor ventures:When venturing outside becomes unavoidable, limit your outdoor exposure strictly to essential tasks. Reducing your time outdoors is the name of the game.Mitigate pollution sources:Exercise prudence when it comes to activities that exacerbate pollution, such as driving cars, wielding gas-powered lawnmowers, or utilizing other motorized vehicles. Minimize their use during air quality alerts.A no to open burning:Refrain from igniting fires with debris or any other materials during air quality alerts. Such practices only contribute to the problem of poor air quality.Stay informed:Keep yourself informed by tuning in to NOAA Weather Radio or your preferred weather news station. Staying in the know ensures that you can make informed decisions about outdoor activities during air quality alerts.Respiratory health caution:If you have respiratory issues or health problems, exercise extra caution. These conditions can make you more vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor air quality.Following the recommendations from the weather service helps bolster your safety during air quality alerts, minimizing your exposure to potentially harmful pollutants. Stay vigilant, stay protected, and make your health the top priority.Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service provided by United Robots, which uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.

Air quality alert affecting Umatilla County Sunday

An air quality alert was issued in effect until Sunday at 3 p.m. for Umatilla County.

An air quality alert was issued in effect until Sunday at 3 p.m. for Umatilla County.According to the National Weather Service, "Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Air Quality Advisory IN EFFECT UNTIL midnight TONIGHT. A Smoke Air Quality Advisory has been issued. Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels. Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes runny nose aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health problems. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition."Guidance for air quality alerts: Insights from the weather serviceWhen an air quality alert pops up on the radar, deciphering its implications is crucial. These alerts, issued by the weather service, come with straightforward yet essential guidance to ensure your safety:Retreat indoors whenever feasible:If possible, remain indoors, especially if you have respiratory issues, other health concerns, or fall within the senior or child demographics.Minimize outdoor ventures:When venturing outside is unavoidable, restrict your time outdoors solely to essential activities. Reducing exposure is paramount.Reduce pollution contributors:Be conscious of activities that contribute to pollution, such as driving cars, using gas-powered lawnmowers, or relying on motorized vehicles. Curtail their use during air quality alerts.A ban on open burning:Avoid burning debris or any other materials during air quality alerts. This contributes to worsened air quality.Stay informed:Keep yourself informed by tuning in to NOAA Weather Radio or your preferred weather news station. Staying in the know ensures that you can make informed decisions about outdoor activities during air quality alerts.Respiratory health caution:If you have respiratory issues or health problems, exercise extra caution. These conditions can make you more vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor air quality.Following the recommendations from the weather service helps bolster your safety during air quality alerts, minimizing your exposure to potentially harmful pollutants. Stay vigilant, stay protected, and make your health the top priority.Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service provided by United Robots, which uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.

What Time Do You Eat? Recent Research Reveals That It Can Impact Your Overall Health

A special issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on chrononutrition clarifies the science behind the effectiveness of fasting regimes. Recent...

Recent research in chrononutrition reveals that meal timing can significantly affect health outcomes. Intermittent fasting regimens offer a simplified dietary approach that can enhance weight management and overall health without the burden of calorie counting, particularly benefiting those with limited resources.A special issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on chrononutrition clarifies the science behind the effectiveness of fasting regimes.Recent research explores how aligning meal times with our biological clocks can improve health, focusing on intermittent fasting’s role in weight management and metabolic health without the need for calorie counting.Accumulating research on the timing of meals in relation to our circadian rhythms and metabolism suggests that the timing of our food intake could impact our health and well-being. A special issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND) on chrononutrition, published by Elsevier, examines the effects of various fasting regimens and covers safety considerations and practical guidance.The field of chrononutrition is gaining traction as it explores the relationship between temporal eating patterns, circadian rhythms, and metabolism for optimal health. Guest Editor Krista Varady, PhD, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois Chicago, specializes in studying the efficacy of intermittent fasting for weight loss, weight management, and lowering the risk of metabolic diseases in obese adults. With more than 15 years of research experience, she is recognized as one of the top researchers in this field.Dr. Varady says, “Intermittent fasting has emerged as one of the most popular diets for weight loss in recent years. The diet can be defined, in basic terms, as periods of eating, alternated with periods of not eating. This special issue examines the effects of various fasting regimens, such as time-restricted eating, alternate-day fasting, and the 5:2 diet, on body weight, cardiometabolic disease risk, and sleep and exercise performance in human subjects. Pertinent safety considerations and practical guidance on applying the diets are also covered.”Clinical Implications and StudiesEditor-in-Chief of JAND, Linda G. Snetselaar, PhD, RDN, FAND, LD, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa, adds, “The findings presented in this special issue have important clinical implications. I believe the timing of eating will become increasingly important as we address dietary interventions related to chronic disease risk factors.”The special issue includes the novel study “Randomized Controlled Feasibility Trial of Late 8-Hour Time-Restricted Eating for Adolescents With Type 2 Diabetes,” in which researchers examine the feasibility of eating within an 8-hour window as an interventional strategy for weight loss and glucose management among adolescents diagnosed with obesity and new-onset type 2 diabetes, compared with a prolonged eating window.Lead investigator Alaina P. Vidmar, MD, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Keck School of Medicine of USC, explains, “The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in adolescents is steadily increasing, specifically among historically marginalized communities. Many adolescents prefer to go to bed later and sleep in later, so an early eating window may not align with developmental and social schedules that often shift their food consumption to later in the day. We trialed a late eating window for our cohort and found that late time-restricted eating is safe and acceptable for this subset of adolescents as it can result in clinically meaningful weight loss, reduction in alanine transaminase, and significant caloric reduction; it did not negatively impact sleep, eating behaviors, or physical activity.”Sleep and Eating PatternsAnother paper, “Indices of Sleep Health Are Associated With Timing and Duration of Eating in Young Adults,” details findings from a cross-sectional study among 52 young adults without chronic diseases or conditions on whether timing and/or duration of eating behaviors throughout the day affect sleep health.Lead investigator Jess A. Gwin, PhD, Military Nutrition Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, says, “Breakfast skipping and nighttime eating are among typical eating behaviors observed in young adults in the United States. Our study found that the timing of eating was associated with sleep-wake onset and sleep efficiency. This highlights the need for additional studies to understand whether manipulating the timing of eating occasions to better align with sleep-wake cycles could improve sleep health.”Interventions tailored to individuals’ preferences and circumstances may benefit time-restricted eating adherence, according to the article “Time-Restricted Eating in Community-Dwelling Adults: Correlates of Adherence and Discontinuation in a Cross-Sectional Online Survey Study.” Leader of the research team Sydney G. O’Connor, PhD, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health, notes, “Dietary adherence is the strongest predictor of successful weight loss and maintenance; therefore, identifying dietary strategies that facilitate adherence is a priority in the field of behavioral weight management. We looked at motivators such as weight maintenance, health (not weight), improved sleep, disease prevention, and drivers such as the ability to work from home and the impact of COVID-19.”Dr. Varady concludes, “Many people stop adhering to standard diets that restrict calories because they become frustrated with having to regularly monitor food intake day in and day out. Intermittent fasting protocols can bypass this requirement by allowing participants to simply ‘watch the clock’ instead of monitoring calories, while still producing weight loss. Furthermore, intermittent fasting does not require the purchase of expensive food products and allows individuals to continue consuming familiar foods, making it a highly accessible diet, especially for lower-resource patient groups. Although fasting regimens are no more effective than other diet interventions for weight management, these protocols offer individuals an alternative, straightforward approach to addressing obesity by omitting the need for calorie counting. While weight loss is important, having a diet with a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes is paramount in maintaining a replete nutritional status. These foods can be both inexpensive and culturally appropriate.”References:“Randomized Controlled Feasibility Trial of Late 8-Hour Time-Restricted Eating for Adolescents With Type 2 Diabetes” by Elizabeth Hegedus, My H. Vu, Sarah Jeanne Salvy, Jomanah Bakhsh, Michael I. Goran, Jennifer K. Raymond, Juan C. Espinoza and Alaina P. Vidmar, 30 October 2023, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2023.10.012“Indices of Sleep Health Are Associated With Timing and Duration of Eating in Young Adults” by Charlotte A. Griffith, Heather J. Leidy and Jess A. Gwin, 30 April 2024, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2024.04.016“Time-Restricted Eating in Community-Dwelling Adults: Correlates of Adherence and Discontinuation in a Cross-Sectional Online Survey Study” by Caitlin P. Bailey, Patrick Boyd, Marissa M. Shams-White, Susan M. Czajkowski, Linda Nebeling, Jill Reedy and Sydney G. O’Connor, 16 December 2023, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2023.12.006

Could robot weedkillers replace the need for pesticides?

The robotic services allow farmers to rely less on chemicals. ‘This solves a lot of problems,’ workers sayOn a sweltering summer day in central Kansas, farm fields shimmer in the heat as Clint Brauer watches a team of bright yellow robots churn up and down the rows, tirelessly slicing away any weeds that stand in their way while avoiding the growing crops.The battery-powered machines, 4ft (1.2 metres) long and 2ft (0.6 metres) wide, pick their way through the fields with precision, without any human hand to guide them. Continue reading...

On a sweltering summer day in central Kansas, farm fields shimmer in the heat as Clint Brauer watches a team of bright yellow robots churn up and down the rows, tirelessly slicing away any weeds that stand in their way while avoiding the growing crops.The battery-powered machines, 4ft (1.2 metres) long and 2ft (0.6 metres) wide, pick their way through the fields with precision, without any human hand to guide them.Brauer, a former California-based tech executive who moved back to his family farm in central Kansas after his father developed Parkinson’s disease, sees the robots as critical tools to help farmers reduce their reliance on chemicals and be more protective of their health and the environment.His Greenfield agricultural technology company now builds and programs its robots in a shed behind an old farmhouse where his grandmother once lived. Twenty farmers are signed up for the robotic services this season, and the company hopes to weed 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) this year.“The answer is here,” he said. “This solves a lot of problems for farmers.”Farmers have been fighting weeds in their fields – pulling, cutting and killing them off with an array of tools – for centuries. Weeds compete with crops for soil moisture and nutrients and can block out sunlight needed for crop growth, cutting into final yields. Over the last 50-plus years, chemical eradication has been the method of choice. It is common for farmers to spray or otherwise apply several weedkilling chemicals on to their fields in a single season.But as chemical use has expanded, so has scientific evidence that exposure to the toxic substances in weedkillers can cause disease. In addition to glyphosate’s link to cancer, the weedkilling chemical paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Another common farm herbicide, atrazine, can be harmful to reproductive health and is linked to several other health problems.Weedkilling chemicals have also been found to be harmful to the environment, with negative impacts on soil health and on pollinators and other important species. The widespread use of herbicides in farming has fueled weed resistance, leaving many farmers struggling to control weeds in their fields even with repeated applications of herbicides.Greenfield founder Clint Brauer tests one of his fleet of weed-whacking robots in a Kansas sorghum field. Photograph: GreenfieldA ‘personal mission’Financial backing is flowing to companies making weedkilling robots from venture capital funds, private investors and large food and agricultural companies eager to make bets on the bots as a means to promote more sustainable food production.The investment arm of Chipotle Mexican Grill, the global restaurant chain, is among Greenfield’s investors. Christian Gammill, who leads Chipotle’s venture fund, said Greenfield’s work was “important and impactful”. Greenfield has raised about $12m in capital, and is seeking more, according to Brauer.North Dakota-based Aigen Robotics has raised $19m to date. Its compact robots are powered by solar panels fixed to the top of each machine and are designed to work autonomously, sleeping and waking up on farm fields.Kenny Lee, the Aigen co-founder and CEO who previously worked in cyber security, said he and partner Richard Wurden, who worked in the electric vehicle industry, are on a “personal mission” to reduce herbicide use in farming. Lee is a survivor of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found can be caused by glyphosate-based weedkillers, such as the popular Roundup brand.The company and is deploying 50 robots this summer in sugar beet fields in the US Midwest, aiming to grow its fleet to 500 for use with an expanded array of crops.A solar-powered farm robot from Aigen, aimed to reduce herbicide use in farming. Photograph: AigenOther companies are rolling out farm robots designed specifically to spray herbicides in ways that are more precise than conventional methods, according to developers.Even the global agrochemical company Bayer, which sells Roundup herbicides, is taking an interest in robots for farms.What skeptics are sayingStill, many farmers and academic experts are skeptical that farm robots can make a substantial difference. They say that there is simply too much farmland and too many diverse needs to be addressed by robots that are costly to make and use. The better path, many say, is for farmers to work with nature, rather than against it.The model of regenerative agriculture – using a variety of strategies focused on improving soil health, including limiting pesticides, rotating crops, planting crops that provide ground cover to suppress weeds and avoiding disturbing the soil – is the better path, they say.“I think the robots can be a useful tool as part of an integrated weed approach, but using as a single tool … is probably not going to work that well,” said Adam Davis, a professor and head of the University of Illinois department of crop science.Wisconsin farmer Ryan Erisman agreed. “The robot weeders represent another round in the arms race against nature,” he said. “So many of our agricultural tools are really weapons … that we use against perceived threats. When we keep running into the same problem year after year or season after season, it’s not our tools, our techniques, or our technology that needs reworking. It is our failure to understand the system we are working in and our relationship to it.”A robotic machine moves through the spaces in a field. Photograph: EarthSenseDespite the naysayers, Kansas farmer Torrey Ball is eagerly awaiting his turn for Greenfield’s robotic fleet. Last year, the company’s robots weeded his sunflower fields. This month they will weed some of his soybean acreage.Ball is a longtime user of many of the leading weedkilling herbicides and knows first-hand how expensive and how ineffective some products have become as weeds have developed resistance to the widely used chemicals, particularly glyphosate. He also knows of the research showing the risks to human health, and he worries what the chemicals are doing to water quality.He only runs the robots on a small portion of his 2,000-acre (809-hectare) farm for now, but hopes one day they may help him break free of chemical dependency on all his land.“If we can use less chemicals I’m all for that,” Ball said. “We’re going to try and leave the ground in better shape than what it was when we took it over, which is hopefully everybody’s goal.”This story is co-published with the New Lede, a journalism project of the Environmental Working Group

The US is failing renters during extreme heat waves

Laws require landlords to provide heat. It’s not the same for AC.

As this summer has already made clear, extreme heat is here, and it’s poised to get worse in the coming years. Due to soaring temperatures, more and more people are also at risk for severe health concerns that come with them, including heat stroke, cardiovascular problems, and respiratory issues.That’s particularly true for already-vulnerable groups including elderly people, those who are pregnant, and those with preexisting conditions like heart disease or diabetes. In Texas — a state that often sees some of the hottest temperatures in the country — extreme heat killed more than 330 people in 2023, setting a new record. More recently, millions of people in cities like Houston have had to deal with a massive heat wave while navigating power outages caused by Hurricane Beryl. Despite the growing toll, there’s shockingly little regulation around protecting people from the effects of heat. It’s a stark contrast to how policies tend to treat the extreme cold. And while extreme cold continues to be deadlier than extreme heat, as heat waves become more dangerous, the gap between the two is likely to shrink. For example, very few states have laws that require landlords to provide air conditioning for their renters. Conversely, most states have policies that mandate the provision of heat in the winter. But even navigating what is and isn’t required around extreme heat is difficult. A comprehensive state-by-state cooling policy resource doesn’t yet exist, which speaks to the sparse landscape of regulations considering heat exposure. That’s largely due to policymakers lagging behind climate change, the opposition from landlord groups to such requirements, and the hefty cost of both energy bills and equipment that would actually address the problem. There are questions, too, over who would bear those costs, including concerns that mandates for air conditioning would simply fall on tenants in the form of higher rents. The need for adequate cooling will only become more pressing, though. And the growing prevalence of heat waves — which are getting stronger, longer, and more frequent — underscores the fact that air conditioning is no longer a luxury but a necessity and that the lack of it in people’s homes could prove fatal. There are big gaps in cooling policies Cooling policies for rental properties vary state by state, often city by city. There’s no federal law or regulation governing them, and many states don’t have them either. Although some cities like Dallas have approved ordinances mandating that landlords provide air conditioning, for instance, Texas doesn’t offer the same protections statewide. “There’s no baseline right to air conditioning or anything like that at the federal level,” David Konisky, Indiana University’s co-director of the Energy Justice Lab, told Vox. As a result, such measures — known as habitability laws— are highly dependent on where people live. These laws, which determine what requirements a landlord must meet for the housing they provide, rarely include cooling. For heat, meanwhile, these policies tend to say that rental properties need to include a heating unit that keeps them above a certain temperature. “Unlike heat, cooling is really not incorporated into habitability standards or enforced in increasingly hot summers,” says Ruthy Gourevitch, a housing policy manager at the Climate and Community Project. Read Next The surprisingly simple way cities could save people from extreme heat Matt Simon Some state policies, like those in California and New York, require landlords to maintain air conditioning that’s already in a unit, but they don’t mandate that they provide AC in the first place. Most states have experienced scorching heat waves in recent years yet many still have no state law on the books to require cooling systems. A similar dynamic is evident when it comes to federal energy assistance programs, which often dedicate most of their funds to assisting tenants in the winter to cover heating costs. About 80 percent of the funds allocated to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are doled out in the winter, while far less is distributed in the summer, says Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. That’s largely a byproduct of the underfunding of the program, with much of the money running out after it’s been used in the winter, Wolfe says. This breakdown can leave tenants in need of such aid struggling to cover costs in the summer even if they have access to air conditioning. As Rebecca Leber previously reported for Vox, this same trend holds true when utility companies shut off power, something they do when a customer misses their payments.Many states will offer protections to customers in these situations during the cold months of winter. Not so with the increasingly fierce, hot months of summer. According to Vox’s previous reporting, 41 states offer customer protections from utility shut-offs during the extreme cold if they fail to pay a bill, while just 18 states offer the same for extreme heat. Preventing such shut-offs is one key way to ensure that people have air conditioning access during dire spikes in temperature, Leber writes. “There are lots of areas of policy where we have this distinction historically, between cold and heat,” says Konisky. “[We’ve thought that] trying to protect people from extreme cold temperatures has been more important.” But, now, “heat is just as deadly, just as big of a concern.” These omissions could have severe consequences As extreme heat becomes more common and more hazardous to people’s health as a result, the impact of these gaps will become increasingly apparent. Low-income tenants, in particular, are disproportionately affected by such omissions, experts say, because they’re less likely to be able to afford their own cooling systems. Black Americans are also more likely to live in places where they are exposed to extreme heat, a 2020 study found. According to research by climate and health scientists Adrienne Hollis and Kristy Dahl, “counties with large African American populations are exposed to extreme temperatures two to three more days per year than those counties with smaller African American populations.” The risks of being indoors without air conditioning or other cooling options during these heat waves are high especially for older people, infants, pregnant people, and those with serious health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. Severe complications that could result include blood clots, kidney impairment, and asthma. Read Next In a rare court action, an Oregon county seeks to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for extreme temperatures Victoria St. Martin, Inside Climate News “With access to cooling, unfortunately, it’s heading that direction of being another one that shows the economic divide in the country and also the globe,” says Wolfe. Roughly 13 percent of US households lack air conditioning, with renters more likely to go without than homeowners. The consequences of that lack have been increasingly evident in recent years, with multiple cities like Phoenix recording record-high deaths from heat. In 2023, Phoenix experienced 30 consecutive days of heat over 110 degrees Fahrenheit and saw 645 deaths, almost double the number from the year before. A large proportion of these deaths included people who were low-income or unhoused, according to Phoenix officials. Being inside during such heat waves, without air conditioning, is particularly hazardous. “It can actually get hotter indoors than outside, and this is a really important environmental justice issue,” Leah Schinasi, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Drexel University, concluded in a 2024 Heliyon study. The policies that could change In addition to regulations that treat cooling systems like a necessity, experts say there needs to be more funding to cover the costs associated with them. Some cities, where temperatures have been consistently high and climbing, like Dallas, have approved ordinances in recent years to mandate that landlords provide air conditioning that keeps units under a specific temperature. Other cities, like Los Angeles, are considering similar proposals. Such policies add to a handful of laws at the state level. Seth Gertz-Billingsley, a Harvard law student who has studied heat protection policies across different states, notes that the Oregon law is one of the most expansive. That law — which passed in 2022 — allows renters to install air conditioning, and also sets up an emergency fund to help low-income tenants afford AC. It doesn’t, however, mandate that all landlords offer air conditioning. Read Next Biden admin unveils first-ever heat protections for workers. Here’s what to know. Frida Garza & Ayurella Horn-Muller In addition to strengthening requirements for air conditioning and other cooling systems, advocates say it’s important that such policies account for the costs that would accompany these changes, so they aren’t simply passed on to tenants. Federal and state governments could offer subsidies to landlords, for instance, says Wolfe. And more funding is needed for energy assistance programs directly focused on tenants.Wolfe estimates that LIHEAP could use an additional $3 billion annually to cover the costs people face in summer.Tenant protection from rent increases and potential evictions needs to be baked into such proposals, too, says Gourevitch. Another key consideration is the need to install cooling options, like heat pumps, which are more efficient than traditional AC. The paradox of air conditioning has long been that it’s crucial to help preserve people’s health during heat waves but that it simultaneously spews a sizable amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Devices like heat pumps, which move heat from indoors to outdoors and vice versa, are a more climate-friendly alternative, especially in the winter since they are vastly more efficient than conventional furnaces. To change such policies, however, lawmakers need to catch up with how quickly climate change is taking place and affecting people’s lives. Forecasts for this summer and beyond show that the world is poised to get hotter. “Many of our habitability laws and enforcement policies are many decades old, and need to be updated to confront the new reality that we live in,” says Gourevitch. This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The US is failing renters during extreme heat waves on Jul 20, 2024.

No Results today.

Our news is updated constantly with the latest environmental stories from around the world. Reset or change your filters to find the most active current topics.

Join us to forge
a sustainable future

Our team is always growing.
Become a partner, volunteer, sponsor, or intern today.
Let us know how you would like to get involved!

CONTACT US

sign up for our mailing list to stay informed on the latest films and environmental headlines.

Subscribers receive a free day pass for streaming Cinema Verde.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.