Open-Access Science Growing in Reach

Many academic journals charge a subscription fee that is out of reach for the common person, which means that independent researchers and students are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing information. Elementa aims to make research about the anthropocene era we’re in freely accessible for everyone.

Elementa follows the example of organizations such as PLoS, who offers peer-reviewed research to academics worldwide on an open-access, public-good basis. Elementa aims to facilitate scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of accelerated human impact on natural systems. It is committed to the rapid publication of technically sound, peer-reviewed articles that address interactions between human and natural systems and behaviors. Six knowledge domains form the structure of the publication, each headed by an Editor-in-Chief – Atmospheric Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Ecology, Ocean Science, Sustainable Engineering, and Sustainability Sciences.

It’s not just academic journals that are freeing knowledge to make it more available in the USA. The White House has recently stated that research funded by the American government will be freely available:

The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers’ expense.

“Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support,” John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.

Read more about the White House’s open access stance.
Read more about Elementa.

Environmental Education Improving in Ontario

Teaching people about the environment makes a lot of sense since we live in it. Surprisingly, in many school systems knowledge and awareness about the environment is not shared. In Toronto, Evergreen has been working for years to make the environment important in education. Their efforts are paying off as schools throughout the province are benefiting from their programs.

At that institute, Inwood says, “Teachers learn concepts of ‘ecosystems thinking’—the idea that every action we take as humans affects some other form of life on the planet. Then we demonstrate how this can play out in their classrooms.”

Rather than talking to Grade 1 students about climate change, teachers are encouraged to get them excited about picking up litter, or vermicomposting.

Teachers’ growing appetite for eco-education can be partially attributed to policy. In 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Education mandated that environmental education be delivered at every grade, in every subject—not just science.

Read more at Torontoist.

Wirelessly Charging Electric Buses to be Tested

The city of Mannheim will be testing a new kind of electric bus which can be charged wirelessly. Bombardier, who makes the buses, is hoping to prove that using electric buses can be cheaper and more efficient than current models. Every time the bus stops to pickup or drop off passengers a device beneath the street will use wireless power to recharge batteries on the bus.

Two buses outfitted with special batteries will get charged by underground induction energy transfer stations each time they stop along the route.

Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said the technology could be attractive for governments looking to electrifying transit systems without installing overhead wires.

Read more here.

China to Build Car-Free City

The Chinese city of Chengdu will be getting a new neighbour, an entire city purpose built city for people instead of cars. China’s capital city Beijing is known for its smog problems and the Chinese government is under more and more pressure to implement environmentally-friendly policies. Creating sustainable urban centres are a step in the right direction.

Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture say the city will use 48% less energy and 58% less water than a more conventional city of the same size; it will also produce 89% less landfill waste and generate 60% less carbon dioxide.

“Accordingly, we’ve designed this project as a dense vertical city that acknowledges and in fact embraces the surrounding landscape—a city whose residents will live in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it. Great City will demonstrate that high-density living doesn’t have to be polluted and alienated from nature. Everything within the built environment of Great City is considered to enhance the quality of life of its residents. Quite simply, it offers a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Read more at WebUrbanist

Airships Might Help Connect Northern Canada

The Canadian government has released a report that says that airships could be the most efficient way to bring needed goods to remote areas of northern Canada. Plus, the airships can be used for reacting to natural disasters because the airships can carry a lot of tonnage but don’t require complicated infrastructure.

One company, Solar Ships, is looking to bid on transporting goods because their solution of a hybrid airship is more cost efficient than currently used methods.

Solar Ships is seeking to partially power the blimps using the sun, saying in a statement it will use the funds to keep developing the technology.
The firm says it can move cargo to remote areas in Ontario for $1.20 per ton/per kilometre, compared with truck transportation costs of $10 per ton/per kilometre.
Both the committee’s report and the announcement of funding are important steps, Prentice said.
“This isn’t quite on the scale of building the Canadian Pacific Railway, but as far as the North goes it is,” Prentice said.
“Because if we don’t have a transportation solution for the North, we’ll never solve the problems of the North.”
The recommendation to take a closer look at airships is one of several made by the transportation committee in a report released this week studying new ways to get goods and people moved across Canada.

Read more at The Star.
Thanks to Matt!

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