Concepts for Vertical Farming

Vertical urban farming is pretty awesome and here’s 20 mockups of what urban farming could look like.

urban farming concept

If cities needed to be redesigned to fit a changing environment, a design like this one for the city of San Francisco would not only be environmentally friendly, but this one is estimated to be able to feed over 7 million people.

The world of vertical farming could offer so much to the world as it concerns food, the environment, and our living space issues, as its estimated that we could have as many as 9 billion people on the planet by 2050. It will take a lot of planning, and a lot of energy, but if most of these buildings can be somewhat self energy sufficient, vertical farming could be viable within a relatively short period of time.

US Postal Service Reveals Large Green Roof

In New York City the US Postal Service will house the largest green roof in the state. Is it just me or is NYC becoming one of the greenest cities in North America?

The new 2.5 acre park sits on the seventh story of the 2.2 million square foot facility. The new roof will last 50 years, which is twice as long as the roof they just replaced. Polluted stormwater runoff will be reduced by up to 75% in the summer and 35% in the winter. The roof will also help the facility reduce its energy use by 30% by 2015. Native plants and trees are used on the roof and emphasize drought tolerant and low maintenance species, which will be watered with collected rainwater. Planted species include coral carpet, Calamagrostis grass, John Creech, Immergrunchen and Fudaglut sedums. The landscape of the roof was designed by Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects.

Algae Biofuel to Break the $50/ Barrel Mark

The price for a barrel of oil is on the rise again and as a result the interest in alternative fuel is on the rise. A startup has recently partnered with Dow chemicals (I know, not the best reputation) to exploit their new method of farming algae for biofuel production. Their new process can decrease the price per barrel of biofuel to $50 or lower.

Algae-based biofuels come closest to Joule’s technology, with potential yields of 2,000 to 6,000 gallons per acre; yet even so, the new process would represent an order of magnitude improvement. What’s more, for the best current algae fuels technologies to be competitive with fossil fuels, crude oil would have to cost over $800 a barrel says Philip Pienkos, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. Joule claims that its process will be competitive with crude oil at $50 a barrel. In recent weeks, oil has sold for $60 to $70 a barrel.

Joule’s process seems very similar to approaches that make biofuels using algae, although the company says it is not using algae. The company’s microorganisms can be grown inside transparent reactors, where they’re circulated to ensure that they all get exposed to sunlight, and they are fed concentrated carbon dioxide–which can come from a power plant, for example–and other nutrients. (The company’s bioreactor is a flat panel with an area about the size of a sheet of plywood.) While algae typically produce oils that have to be refined into fuels, Joule’s microorganisms produce fuel directly–either ethanol or hydrocarbons. And while oil is harvested from algae by collecting and processing the organisms, Joule’s organisms excrete the fuel continuously, which could make harvesting the fuel cheaper.

Your Brain Enjoys Learning

Information is something that your brain genuinely craves and when it learns something new it gives us a little reward. New research as looked into why information is its own reward.

This preference for knowledge about the future was intimately linked to the monkeys’ desire for water. The same neurons in the middle of their brains signalled their expectations of both rewards – the watery prizes and knowledge about them.

All the neurons in question release the signalling chemical dopamine. While the monkeys were making their choices, Bromberg-Martin and Hikosaka recorded the activity of 47 dopamine neurons in their midbrains. These neurons became very excited when the monkeys saw a symbol that predicted a large amount of water, while the symbol that cued a smaller drink inhibited the neurons. The same dopamine neurons were excited during trials where the monkey only saw the symbol that heralded forthcoming information, and they were inhibited if they monkey only saw the other non-informative symbol.

Helping Fish Live can Generate Billions in Economic Activity

People who live on coasts tend to live off of the sea, which is a fantastic way to at local. However, due to modern commercial fishing fish populations and local ecosystems are being destroyed -so much so you can see damage done by commercial fishing from space. For years fisheries have argued that they have a right to continue their fishing practices because it’s how they earn a living. Well, here’s a better way to ensure they can earn a living: help those fish before you eat them (or don’t eat them 😉 ).

Pew has released a study that argues that rebuilding fish populations can generate billions of dollars for costal communities.

“Results from this study provide strong analytical evidence that there is significant value in rebuilding fish populations and lost financial benefits from delayed action,” said Dr. John M. Gates, report author and professor emeritus, Departments of Economics, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, University of Rhode Island. “It’s important to note that the primary, direct benefits represent a conservative estimate and, if related economic benefits had been included, the result would likely expand well beyond the figures estimated in this study.”

Delays in rebuilding translate to lost opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen to catch the maximum amount of fish that can sustainably be taken from a population. Failing to quickly address overfishing and allow populations to rebuild as quickly as possible forgoes current financial benefits and may result in more costly regulations in the long–term.

Key findings from the report show that:

Commercial landings would have increased by 48%, if the four populations had been rebuilt by 2007. The financial value would be approximately $33.6 million per year in perpetuity.
Rebuilding would bring an increase in recreational landings of 24% more per year than the status quo management. The economic value would be approximately $536 million per year in perpetuity.
These direct economic benefits would also likely generate secondary financial benefits in the Mid-Atlantic region through increased income, sales and jobs from businesses associated with commercial and recreational fishing, including bait and tackle shops.

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