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US: Tribally owned solar power plant beats skeptics, odds on Navajo Nation
16 August 2018 - Deenise Becenti remembers watching this summer as a woman in the Navajo Nation who had been waiting more than 20 years to get electricity in her home flipped the switch to turn on the lights for the first time. 'The day' was made possible by the Kayenta Solar Project, the first large-scale solar farm on the Navajo Nation and the largest tribally owned renewable power plant in the country. The 27.3-megawatt plant, which went on line last summer, now generates enough power for 18,000 homes on Navajo lands. But many thought the day might never come. (more)

Despite summer heat, Brussels' flower carpet emblazons city center
16 August 2018 - Belgian flower growers bested the summer's blistering heat to lay out 500,000 blossoms on the central square of Brussels, in this year's edition of the world famous flower carpet. ... organizers once again arranged an 1,800 square-meter flower carpet on the city's landmark Renaissance town square, which this year drew inspiration from the Mexican region of Guanajuato. (more)

US: Arizona is among top states for renewable energy, report says
16 August 2018 - The Environment Arizona and Policy Center released a report on Tuesday (17 July) that focuses on how well the nation is utilizing renewable energy. Arizona has dramatically increased renewable energy production since 2008, the report said, and ranks high in several categories. (more)

'Back-and-forth' conversations with young kids may aid brain development
15 August 2018 - For decades, doctors have told parents to talk to kids as often as possible to help build speech and language skills. Now, a new study suggests that how parents talk to children may matter just as much as how much time they spend talking. 'We found that the most relevant component of children's language exposure is not the sheer number of words they hear, but the amount of back-and-forth adult-child conversation they experience,' said lead study author Rachel Romeo of Boston Children's Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (more)

Canada to phase out crop chemicals linked to bee deaths
15 August 2018 - The Canadian government said on Wednesday (15 August) it would move to restrict use of two types of crop chemicals that have been linked to deaths of aquatic insects and bees, in a victory for environmentalists and the latest setback for companies that sell the pesticides. Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) said it would phase out, over three to five years, the outdoor use of thiamethoxam, made by Syngenta AG, and clothianidin, produced by Bayer AG. (more)

Refugees integrate well in Australia, survey finds
14 August 2018 - A new study from Australian researchers shows that refugees and new immigrants integrate well in Australia -- especially in regional areas. The research found that refugees were welcomed by their new communities, found it 'easy' to get along, and felt a strong sense of belonging to their new homes. (more)

Clinton, Bloomberg, Expedia announce solar projects on St. Thomas, St. John
11 August 2018 - In his second visit to the territory following the 2017 hurricanes, former President Bill Clinton toured St. Thomas and St. John Friday (10 August) to announce the Clinton Global Initiative-led solarization of two St. John schools and the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas. ... The solarization project [is being] done in collaboration with the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Expedia Group ... (more)

Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in world's first Roundup cancer trial
10 August 2018 - A California jury on Friday (10 August) found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company's glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused his cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. (more)

Refugees sow crops with Kenyan hosts - and reap integration
10 August 2018 - Kenyan villager Ekeno Pedo never considered that golden fields of sorghum -- or indeed any crop -- might one day flourish on the outskirts of his village in drought-stricken Turkana county. A 14-year project aims to provide refugees with sustainable livelihoods through agriculture, while helping them integrate with the local Kenyan community. The fields that have sprung up in this vast and arid scrubland in Kenya's northwest are in part due to the hard work of refugees, who have come here from neighbouring South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda in recent decades. Residents and refugees alike say it has worked well. (more)

African refugee grows homeland's bitter eggplants in Vermont
9 August 2018 - After surviving refugee camps in Africa, Janine Ndagijimana settled in Vermont and began to dream of farming. When she considered what to plant, she thought back to her time in Tanzania and settled on the African eggplant, also called bitter ball or garden egg. It wasn't found in Vermont, and she remembered how it garnered a good price at the refugee market. These days, Ndagijimana's farming of the oblong white fruit and other varieties has turned her into a refugee success story in Vermont, one of the least culturally or racially diverse states . . . She's part of a growing number of farmers from other parts of the world who have used social media, the internet, and niche markets often in big cities to successfully sell crops native to their home countries. (more)

Caribbean states kick off green defense against disasters
9 August 2018 - British billionaire Richard Branson and two dozen Caribbean nations and territories announced in Jamaica on Thursday (9 August) the creation of a multi-million dollar program to turn the hurricane-prone region into a green tech hub resilient to disasters. (more)

Palestinians turn to the sun to reduce their power shortfall
9 August 2018 - From orderly rows of solar panels in a field in the West Bank to the chaotic rooftops of Gaza, Palestinians are hoping that harnessing the energy of the sun can reduce their dependence on Israel for electricity. ... The number of panels in the enclave has increased four-fold in four years and they are now dotted on most rooftops and balcony on homes, schools, hospitals, shops, banks, and mosques in a place where the sun shines 320 days a year. (more)

U.S. appeals court orders EPA to ban pesticide said to harm
9 August 2018 - A divided federal appeals court on Thursday (9 August) ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban a widely-used pesticide that critics say can endanger children and farmers. Writing for the Seattle-based appeals court, Judge Jed Rakoff directed the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days, saying the agency failed to counteract 'scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children.' (more)

How India gave us the zero
8 August 2018 - The invention of zero was a hugely significant mathematical development, one that is fundamental to calculus, which made physics, engineering, and much of modern technology possible. ... The nation has long had a fascination with sophisticated mathematics. Early Indian mathematicians were obsessed with giant numbers, counting well into the trillions when the Ancient Greeks stopped at about 10,000. They even had different types of infinity. (more)

US: Vermont city employs goats to get rid of poison ivy
8 August 2018 - Vermont's capital city (Montpelier) is trying a natural way to get rid of poison ivy -- grazing goats. The goats graze on the poison ivy, causing stress to the plants so that they retreat, said the goat's owner Mary Beth Herbert. It's expected to take several years of cyclical grazing to eradicate the poison ivy, she said. The poison ivy doesn't harm the goats named Ruth, Bader, and Ginsburg. (more)

New Zealand: Government pumps another $3.9 million into electric vehicle projects
7 August 2018 - The government [of New Zealand] is pumping another $3.9 million of co-funding into 19 projects that range from improving the range of electric camper vans to building a series of charging stations as part of its goal to get 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021. (more)

US study: Greening vacant lots improves mental health
7 August 2018 - Planting new grass and trees and making other improvements to vacant lots may reduce neighbors' feelings of depression and worthlessness, a recent study suggests. Improving blighted areas could be an inexpensive way for communities to help address local mental health, say the authors. A commentary published with the study points out that a growing body of evidence ties contact with nature to health benefits. (more)

US: Navajo robotics team heads to international competition
7 August 2018 - A team of Navajo high school students from a remote town in southern Utah is building a robot to represent North America in an international robotics competition. The team was specially invited to compete in the First Global Challenge that starts August 14 in Mexico City. Teams from more than 190 countries will create robots for energy generation, especially renewable power. Teams hail from countries ranging from Congo to Ukraine, and also include separate teams representing specifically the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. (more)

How South Africa built one of the world's most advanced telescopes
6 August 2018 - A telescope built in South Africa is revealing new details about the Milky Way. The telescope is made up of 64 satellite dishes that are connected across five miles in a semi-arid and sparsely populated area of South Africa, where signal interference is minimal. 'It's the clearest view ever made of the center of our galaxy,' chief scientist Fernando Camilo said of images produced by the MeerKAT radio telescope. (more)

Birds learn another 'language' by eavesdropping on neighbors
3 August 2018 - For birds, understanding neighborhood gossip about an approaching hawk or brown snake can mean the difference between life or death. Wild critters are known to listen to each other for clues about lurking predators, effectively eavesdropping on other species' chatter. Birds, for example, can learn to flee when neighbors cluck 'hawk!' -- or, more precisely, emit a distress call. (more)

US: In a conservative Northern California county, a team of Mexican immigrants helps battle the Carr fire
3 August 2018 - Behind River Ridge Terrace in Redding, where the monstrous Carr fire had destroyed homes, a team of 20 men used shovels to stab the charred earth. Under the blazing sun, the clinking of metal stopped when one of the men scooping dirt out from under a tree spotted smoke rising from the ground. ... From afar, the mop-up operation was typical firefighting work, with one exception -- it was being done by mostly Mexican immigrants who spend their off-seasons picking oranges, lemons, and cherries across Washington, Oregon, and California. (more)

A makeover for milkweed, for the sake of butterflies
2 August 2018 - For generations, North American farmers have despised milkweed and done their best to rid their lands of it. 'I hate to have milkweed in my strawberry field,' Nathalie Leonard says from her farm by the Quebec village of Lac-du-Cerf. So why does she have 60 acres of milkweed growing on purpose? It's for the sake of butterflies -- the iconic monarchs. And for a chance to turn milkweed into profit. (more)

British business helping women prisoners rebuild lives
2 August 2018 - Fewer than one in 10 women prisoners have a job to go to on release. As Rita neared the end of a 10-year jail sentence for money laundering, her first thought was getting back her four children -- and finding a way to support them. Enter Shine, an innovative business in northern England that provides job opportunities for female offenders, starting while they are still serving their sentences. (more)

This is the world's first fully solar powered airport. (It serves as many people as Dulles Airport)
1 August 2018 - The United Nations Environment is bestowing its highest annual honor on an airport in India for being the first airport in the world to function entirely on solar energy. UN Environment named Cochin International Airport as the 2018 recipient of its Champion of the Earth Prize. Cochin is not some small regional airport. ... For comparison's sake, this is roughly the passenger volume of Midway Airport in Chicago or Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. And it runs entirely on solar power. (more)

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