Cool Cities Have Botanical Gardens

If you live near a park you know that even a small amount of nature can cool the local environment, and you know that the bigger the park the more cool it is. In terms of a land-to-cooling-effect ratio certain types of parks are more efficient than others with the clear winner being a botanical garden. A simple playground with some trees can cool the local area by 2.9 degrees, a green roof can cool areas by 4.1 degrees, botanical gardens reduce outdoor temperature by 4.9 degrees! Any natural spaces can cool your neighbourhood so this summer get out there, plant some plants, and make your city a cooler place.

From a pool of more than 27,000 research papers, the researchers selected 202 for meta-analysis based on a number of urban green-blue-grey infrastructure categories – including parks, engineered greening projects, wetlands, green walls, parks and botanical gardens.

Trees and plants, for example, help reduce heat by reducing the amount of direct sunlight reaching the ground, while also releasing moisture into the air. Water bodies cool the surrounding environment via “evapotranspiration, shading, the albedo effect, groundwater recharge and temperature buffering” and could also serve as heatsinks, cooling during daylight hours and offering warming potential at night. Green roofs and walls not only help insulate buildings, but also reduce heat absorption, and vegetation can serve as windbreaks for natural ventilation.

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eBikes are Killing the Oil Industry

This Earth Day it’s good to reflect on one’s own love for the planet Earth. If you want to express your love and appreciation for this ball of rock and air that orbits then Sun then you should ride a bike everyday. If an ordinary bike isn’t your style then you may want to consider an ebike. The future of our built environment will be about two wheels instead of four, and this can’t happen too enough. Thankfully the rise of ebikes is bringing us that future by getting people to ditch their lethal four wheel machines for better two wheeled solutions. Indeed, the oil industry may come to end sooner than projected because ebikes are lowering demand for gasoline!

If taken up, electric micromobility can cut urban emissions. A study of e-scooter riders in the United Kingdom found these trips produced up to 45 percent less carbon dioxide than alternatives.

US researchers estimate that if e-bike trips expanded to 11 percent of all vehicle trips, transport emissions would fall by about 7 percent.

As petrol prices increase and battery prices fall, the cheaper running costs of electric vehicles and even cheaper running costs of electric mopeds, bikes, and scooters will keep eating away at the demand for oil.

Global oil demand is now projected to peak in 2028 at 105.7 million barrels per day—and then begin to fall, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Floating Flowers Clean Pollution in Waterways

Industrial farming, golf courses, and some industries all contribute an incredible amount of nutrient runoff that enters our waterways. This influx of unexpected nutrients can cause algae blooms and otherwise damage the local ecosystem. To combat this damage from runoff a team from the Florida International University created a floating platform that allows flowers to grow while not flooding out their root systems. The flowers they have chosen to grow are ones that are in demand so they can be sold commercially to fund more floating flowers. This is a novel idea that looks promising and they are already looking to expand the project.

We floated 4-by-6-foot (1.2-by-1.8-meter) mats of inexpensive polyethylene foam called Beemats in 620-gallon (2,300-liter) outdoor test tanks that mirrored water conditions of nearby polluted waterways. Into the mats, we transplanted flower seedlings, including zinnias, sunflowers, and giant marigolds. The polluted tank water was rich in nutrients, eliminating the need for any fertilizer. As the seedlings matured into plants over 12 weeks, we tracked the tanks’ improving water quality.

Encouraged by the success of the marigolds in our tanks, we moved our trials to the nearby canals of Coral Gables and Little River. We anchored the floating platforms with 50-pound (22.7-kilogram) weights and also tied them to shore for extra stability. No alterations to the landscape were needed, making the process simple and doable.

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Let’s End Gas Subsidies

For some strange reason countries like Canada keep giving tax money to ultra wealthy oil and gas companies even though they keep killing all life on the planet. Let’s stop this. The team at Solar Share hosted a good information session on how we can reduce government money going to oil and gas, and of course, channeling that money to renewables. It’s worth a watch.

On February 12, over 30 participants joined us for our webinar about ending gas subsidies in Ontario, featuring Kent Elson (Elson Advocacy) and Jessica Hamilton (former political candidate and staffer).

We discussed the Ford government’s plan to overrule the Ontario Energy Board’s decision on gas subsidies, what “natural” methane gas is, and how to effectively engage with our elected representatives in Ontario.

There were some excellent questions and comments, and you can watch the recording here!

Hot People are More Likely to be Depressed

There’s a popular theory that hot people have it easier in life, and that might be true for looks but not for temperature. People were asked to self report their levels of depression and it turns out that there’s a correlation between their body temperature and mood. The results revealed that people with higher body temperatures were more likely to be depressed. This connection can help researchers better understand depression and how we can treat it better.

The study data showed that as self-reported depression symptoms became more severe, body temperature averages got higher. There was also some association between higher depression scores and lower daily temperature fluctuations, but not to a statistically significant level.

With around 5 percent of people around the world thought to be living with depression, efforts to understand and effectively treat it are now more urgent than ever. Each new discovery brings more hope in tackling the problem.

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