The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution

A housing solution for big cities as well as rural areas, Nubian vaults have become popular in the region of Boromo and have spread across five other regions. And a large market for Nubian vaults has emerged in big cities like Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

March and April are the two hottest months in Burkina Faso, with temperatures often rising to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the shade. In homes and offices, built in the most part out of cement and concrete, the only solution to the heat is air conditioning.

As a result, energy consumption during these months is extremely high, to the point where the national electricity provider is unable to supply sufficient electricity to meet the sudden increase in demand often causing systematic power cuts across the city during these months.

Due to these factors, in the heart of the affluent district of Ouaga 2000, where villas and futuristic homes line the streets, a new trend in housing is beginning to show. Inspired by ancient techniques, the buildings are made from only earth bricks and earth mortar.

Nubian vaults, recognizable by their thick walls, lack of roofing tiles and the absence of wooden beams, are becoming increasingly popular due to their cooling properties. Nubian vaults also only use locally sourced materials in their construction: adobe, clay and straw, and are thus ecologically sound.

Because of climate change and deforestation, there’s not enough locally available construction timber in the Sahel region of Africa. Traditional roofs are often replaced by imported corrugated zinc sheets and timber frames – an expensive and climatically inappropriate solution. But with the Nubian Vault technique, using raw earth as the principal construction material, a building can go up without using timber. Such buildings are well adapted to both rural and urban contexts and to just about any geographic area.

Video – Check out these amazing buildings, which include two-story homes, using the Nubian Vault method for a solid, comfortable, and affordable home – FR / English Subtitles

Source: The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution | Impact Journalism Day 2018

In the Deepest Ocean Trenches, Animals Eat Plastic

Alan Jamieson remembers seeing it for the first time: a small, black fiber floating in a tube of liquid. It resembled a hair, but when Jamieson examined it under a microscope, he realized that the fiber was clearly synthetic—a piece of plastic. And worryingly, his student Lauren Brooks had pulled it from the gut of a small crustacean living in one of the deepest parts of the ocean.

“I imagine pollution in the Mariana Trench is an abstract concept for most people, but for those of us living in the Mariana Islands this has consequences for what ends up on our dinner plates,” says Angelo Villagomez, an indigenous Chamorro from the Mariana Islands who works for the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy.

“So what can we do? The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommends we protect 30 percent of every marine habitat to address human impacts, but that will only help if we’re also sustainably managing the remaining 70 percent, reducing carbon emissions, and limiting the pollution being dumped in the ocean in the first place.”

Source: In the Deepest Ocean Trenches, Animals Eat Plastic – The Atlantic

Progress and Sustainability Are Intertwined

History shows whale blubber and buggy whips were once fine industries, but progress moved us away. And through progress today we know the days are well over of a false choice between environmental protection and economic growth.

And similarly it’s time we progressively and nimbly move away from fossil fuels. It’s not a question of if, but how best and quickly, to do it. It’s not just our moon shot, it’s our effort to address an existential threat. The old obsolete ways do not compete with more efficient, ecopostive and regenerative economic practices.

We want to encourage our City and community owned CPSEnergy, to be world leaders in the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. And preeminent in each of their own industry’s disruptive technologies. Rather than abdicating our leadership to other cities and nations.

In the spirit of practical bipartisanship, since when did the simple concept of leaving the planet a better place for our kids become a partisan issue? We all benefit from energy independence, green jobs, preservation of habitat and watersheds, livable cities, clean air and water, and healthy children.

Especially when we look at it as an apolitical issue of good economics, health and progress. Today we can actually rebuild our infrastructure to help the populace and strengthen society to be an advanced civilization and species on the planet.

The business leaders in our development community and oil and gas industries need to step-up there game, rise to the occasion, embrace the many new opportunities of creating climate wealth, and become leading experts in their respective profession’s modern methods.

Smart growth through sustainable development is the new frontier, as we can see climate change is here and PCBs along plastic pollution have been found in the deepest ocean trenches of our planet.

And even if we don’t think climate change is real, we could do worse than to create a better, more livable world, for nothing. Just ask our kids.

Those who have local operational control of our emissions need to take seriously their responsibility of limiting GHGs.

Especially when methane accounts for 25% of human made GHG emissions and is 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas.

The scientific community has found a 20 year time-frame is more useful for policymakers, and common sense tells us we’re more likely to effect change in a 20-year period of our lifetime, than a 100 year period.

Subsequently, a 20-year impact action needs to be most prominent in our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) goals so policymakers can not miss it when setting immediate priorities.

Many people are concerned only about the costs while somehow being unaware of the savings that come with higher efficiencies of resource use and all of the economic benefits that are intertwined with progress and sustainability.

And as city leaders we need to work to better educate and inform our city’s residents and business community about the CAAP and the wealth and prosperity it brings for now and the future.

Larry Fink, Tucker Carlson, David Brooks And The Call For A Capitalist Reformation

A Capitalist System for the Future

The perverse incentives inherent in a largely unconstrained capitalist system still exist. These incentives drive behaviors that increase inequality, reduce social mobility, devalue communities, deplete soils, acidify oceans, destroy biodiversity, trigger mass migrations and social instability, and fuel violence and war. These perverse incentives lead to concrete business practices such as predatory pricing, wage suppression, insufficient investment in a just transition to zero-carbon business models, as well as business trends that are or are likely to impose huge costs on taxpayers resulting from rising contract labor, accelerating automation and worsening natural disasters. From the perspectives of a growing number of business leaders, investors and policy makers, these incentives are now creating unacceptable systemic risk. This is why the systemic design flaws in unconstrained capitalism are creating unlikely bedfellows such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Mike Pence and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.

BlackRock manages more than $6 trillion in assets, making it the largest investor in the world. Fink’s just-released 2019 Letter to CEOs titled “Purpose & Profit” challenges CEOs to lead with purpose and follows his 2018 letter which served notice that if both publicly traded and private companies can’t demonstrate that they’re creating positive social value, they might lose their license to operate and, more pointedly, lose BlackRock’s support. These are big words from the largest institutional investor on the planet. One observer called it “a watershed moment on Wall Street, one that raises all sorts of questions about the very nature of capitalism.”

One of the most powerful arguments of the counter-reformation is used so often it has an acronym: TINA, which stands for There Is No Alternative. Sometimes this argument is used with condescension, sometimes in resignation.

The good news is that today There Is a Credible Alternative. It is no longer acceptable to lament the constraints of market forces, wishing there were a tool that could harness unconstrained capitalism’s otherwise amoral power for a higher purpose than profit maximization. That tool is here today, and it is in use by companies across the globe.

Source: Larry Fink, Tucker Carlson, David Brooks And The Call For A Capitalist Reformation

How Rural States Are Leading the Clean Energy Revolution

In rural communities struggling with limited job growth and a roughly 40 percent net decline in farm incomes since 2011, wind and solar royalties have dramatically boosted economic development. In 2017 alone, farmers and ranchers received $267 million in wind farm lease payments, while other communities have seen their tax base increase from clean energy infrastructure projects.

The growth of low-carbon, affordable power across rural America is helping states attract investment from companies looking to improve their environmental performance. Just this past December, Apple pledged to spend $10 billion on new infrastructure across the United States, much of which will go to massive data centers run on electricity generated by renewable energy in rural North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Iowa. Walmart, which is often an important player in local economies throughout the country, is also investing in a comprehensive sustainability plan to procure more clean energy technologies, reduce waste, and improve land usage. 

Source: How Rural States Are Leading the Clean Energy Revolution | RealClearEnergy

Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room

Lessons from nature…Cohabitation

In ‘crown shyness,’ some tree species respect those nearby and keep their leaves to themselves.

I could write about trees until I was green in the gills; and I do. And it’s probable that every time I write about them, I slip into anthropomorphising them. Maybe they don’t walk around and fly to the moon, but they are truly remarkable organisms with gifts and talents all their own. They are some of the planet’s most noble workhorses – we’d be nothing without them – and they deserve all the respect they can get.

(Exhibit A: See the related stories below.)

Source: Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room | TreeHugger

‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax with dividends

Forty-five top economists from across the political spectrum are calling for the United States to put a tax on carbon, saying it is by far the best way for the nation to address climate change.

Does this plan include exempting the fossil fuel industry from any kind of legal action or reparations for having lied about climate change for decades?

When corporations have evidence of a health or environmental issue in direct relation to the use of their product, do they have a legal duty to not create a propaganda campaign in an attempt to cover up or debunk their own findings?

Source: ‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax – The Washington Post

Biological Pest Control, Biomimicry & Mycology

Biological pest control is the way of the future using biomimicry to emulate what nature does. Why genetically modify when we can just learn from nature how it’s already being done, and has been doing it for millions of years. Or in other words, why reinvent the wheel?

Mycology is also a great example of such and Paul Stamet is, and has been, doing some great work. If short on time skip to 13:00 for specific info about pesticides.
https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world

Mas info…insects are pretty cool too…
http://www.biocomes.eu/biological-control/biological-control-examples/

Planting Calendar & Companion Planting Guide

Here is your San Antonio Area Planting Calendar in pdf format suitable for printing. We’ve been giving these away for years. Includes most favorable dates for planting and destroying crops yielding their harvest ABOVE and BELOW ground for Spring and Fall Gardens. 

https://cbks1.google.com/cbk?output=thumbnail&cb_client=maps_sv&thumb=2&thumbfov=105&ll=29.406935,-98.399114&yaw=344.5&thumbpegman=1&w=300&h=118Please give some love to the helpful folks at Fanick’s Nursury and Garden Center by buying something from them! They are really great people, have been around for years and are experts and one of the few remaining independent nurseries in the San Antonio Metro area. Doing so helps support local businesses and keeps our dollars in the community while lowering our carbon footprint.

Fanick’s Garden Center – With knowledgeable staff to Assist you
1025 Holmgreen Road (map/directions) San Antonio, TX. 78220
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Companion Planting can be described as the establishment of two or more plant species in close proximity so that benefits such as pest control, higher yield, etc. can be derived from the practice.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

What did Exxon know and when did they know it, will it be like the tobacco industry's debacle of deniability?

Massachusetts' attorney general is trying to force Exxon to turn over decades of records involving what it knew about climate change and what it told the public.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil's latest attempt to block Massachusetts' investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change.

The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming.

Those records could open a window into the company's internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil’s latest attempt to block Massachusetts’ investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change. The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming. Those records could open a window into the company’s internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

Going plastic-free: The rise of zero-waste shops – BBC News

How long until this concept crosses the pond?

Packaging-free refill shops are on the rise in Wales as the backlash against plastic gathers pace.

Last year saw "zero waste" shops open in Crickhowell in Powys, Tenby in Pembrokeshire and in Cardiff.

"It's a more modern way of doing an older thing," Sophie Rae, founder of Cardiff-based Ripple said.

Customers bring their own containers from home to the stores and weigh the goods they want to buy – minus the weight of the packaging.

Source: Going plastic-free: The rise of zero-waste shops – BBC News

Vladimir Vernadsky and the Disruption of the Biosphere

Virtually unknown in the west, the great Russian geologist and geochemist pioneered scientific study of life’s impact on the Earth.

As we’ve seen, metabolism, a defining feature of all life, always involves exchanges with the world outside the organism. Life cannot exist without ingesting matter and excreting waste. The fact that the Earth is a sphere surrounded by a vacuum, and that we have access only to its outer few kilometers, means that the amount of matter available for life to use is finite, and that life’s wastes have nowhere else to go.

If metabolisms were linear, if inputs were simply consumed, the nutrients needed by living organisms would soon be depleted. Plants could consume all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in about 8,000 years, and all the nitrogen in a million years. Life has lasted far longer than that because its support systems are circular. Vast recycling operations endlessly reprocess and reuse essential elements and compounds. Radical biologist Barry Commoner described the Biosphere as “a closed, circular system, [in which] there is no such thing as ‘waste’; everything that is produced in one part of the cycle ‘goes somewhere’ and is used in a later step."

Source: Vladimir Vernadsky and the Disruption of the Biosphere

What We Do | Stop Ocean Plastic & Reduce Poverty with Plastic Bank – Plastic Bank

By enabling the exchange of plastic for money, items or Blockchain secured digital tokens, we reveal the value in plastic. This empowers recycling ecosystems around the world and stops the flow of plastic into our oceans. All while helping people living in poverty build better futures. HOW WE CREATE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Plastic Bank creates social and environmental impact in areas with high levels of poverty and plastic pollution by turning plastic waste into a currency.

Source: What We Do | Stop Ocean Plastic & Reduce Poverty with Plastic Bank – Plastic Bank

Exclusive: In new policy, downtown housing incentives would spread to other parts of San Antonio, exclude ‘luxury’ developments – San Antonio Heron

Editor’s Note: This is an analysis of the latest revisions to the Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP), which the City Council has not yet discussed. The council is scheduled to discuss the changes you’re about to learn about on Dec. 12, and vote on them Dec. 13.

In a set of revisions meant to appease Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s concern about a lack of true affordable housing being produced, the downtown housing incentives policy, which is responsible for the flurry of new apartments in the center city

Source: Exclusive: In new policy, downtown housing incentives would spread to other parts of San Antonio, exclude 'luxury' developments – San Antonio Heron

Paula Gold-Williams and the Generators of Opportunity at CPS Energy

While clean energy projects continue to reshape the oil and gas sector, the largest municipally owned electric and gas utility company in the United States is proving that inclusive leadership is as crucial to the energy industry’s future as a diverse portfolio. Based in San Antonio, Texas, CPS Energy bucks state and national norms with unusually high gender diversity at the helm—four out of six members of the executive team are women. That unorthodox culture, cultivated to empower all levels of the workforce, is redefining what it means to be a leader in the energy industry.

Source: Paula Gold-Williams and the Generators of Opportunity at CPS Energy

Rethinking Recycling | Think

The United States recycles about 34 percent of its waste – a number that hasn’t increased much in decades. Beth Porter, climate and recycling director for Green America, joins host Krys Boyd to talk about recycling strategies for both individuals and municipalities, which she writes about in “Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine: Sorting Out the Recycling System” (Rowman & Littlefield).

Source: Rethinking Recycling | Think

Net-Zero Energy Homes Pay Off Faster Than You Think—Even in Chilly Midwest | InsideClimate News

Zero-energy homes start with well-sealed and well-insulated attics, walls and basements or slabs. They often use triple-pane windows, especially in places with cold winters. Inside, energy-efficient appliances, highly efficient LED lighting and smart thermostats help avoid energy waste. Their designs often take natural lighting into account, too, and position windows and overhangs for additional solar heating in the winter and shade in summer. Since the homes are sealed to avoid letting cold or hot air in—and cool or warm air out—they also have ventilation systems customized to maintain comfortable circulation.  

Source: Net-Zero Energy Homes Pay Off Faster Than You Think—Even in Chilly Midwest | InsideClimate News

What Minimum-Wage Foes Got Wrong About Seattle – Bloomberg

A living wage is part of a sustainable economy.

The dire warnings about minimum-wage increases keep proving to be wrong. So much so that in a new paper, the authors behind an earlier study predicting a negative impact have all but recanted their initial conclusions. However, the authors still seem perplexed about why they went awry in the first place.

Source: What Minimum-Wage Foes Got Wrong About Seattle – Bloomberg

San Antonio’s Compost Queens taking food out of landfills to replenish the land – ExpressNews.com

A small San Antonio family business is trying to combat the dangers of decaying banana peels and the gaseous gore of yesterday’s lunch scraps.

Betsy Gruy and daughter Kate Gruy Jaceldo started Compost Queens to keep food waste out of the landfills and within the food cycle.

The Compost Queens make their rounds every week in a Chevrolet truck equipped with a special lift mechanism, collecting 5-gallon buckets of food waste and replacing them with clean ones for individuals who pay about $20 per month per month for the service.

They also work with commercial properties and restaurants, though those sites get 35-gallon bins.

It’s a business that restaurants and apartment complex residents like because they don’t qualify for the city’s green compost bins, and it’s timely given the increased awareness of how food waste — and the enormous amounts of heat-trapping methane it produces — contributes to climate change…read more source: San Antonio’s Compost Queens taking food out of landfills to replenish the land – ExpressNews.com