This nonprofit is helping low-income communities harness the sun’s energy

When Tyrone Evans moved into his Washington, D.C. neighborhood about 25 years ago, he remembers seeing black smoke coming from the smokestacks just down the street.

But a lot has changed since he came to the neighborhood, including his own primary source of energy. Just a few years ago, an outreach coordinator from the nonprofit GRID Alternatives came to his door and asked if he’d be interested in having solar panels installed on his roof.

Evans jumped at the opportunity to reduce what sometimes amounted to a $100 electric bill during the winter months. Because Evans qualified as low-income, GRID Alternatives installed solar panels on his roof for free in 2016, slashing the cost of his electric bill.

Continue reading “This nonprofit is helping low-income communities harness the sun’s energy”

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Archaeologists are racing against time to recover ancient artifacts exposed by climate change

Glacial archaeologists in Oppland, Norway are racing against the clock to recover ancient artifacts that are emerging from the ice due to climate change.

Lars Pilø, the co-director of the Glacial Archeology Program at Oppland County Council, said the artifacts have been melting out of the ice since about 2006. Over the past 10 years or so, he and other glacial archaeologists have recovered more than 2,000 artifacts from 51 ice patches and glaciers.

Some of those artifacts date as far back as 6,000 years. Continue reading “Archaeologists are racing against time to recover ancient artifacts exposed by climate change”

That freshly-bottled Bloody Mary mix you just snapped up was made possible by a public cannery

A few years ago, food entrepreneur Will Gray was struggling to find a full-scale copacker interested in working with fresh produce.

Gray was looking for a way to scale-up his business, Back Pocket Provisions, and get it out of his kitchen.

He ended up connecting with Allie Hill, the director of the nonprofit Virginia Food Works. Virginia Food Works is supported by Prince Edward County and helps manage the commercial clients that rely on the county’s public cannery, located in Farmville, Virginia, to produce their products. Continue reading “That freshly-bottled Bloody Mary mix you just snapped up was made possible by a public cannery”

People aren’t Africa’s only victims of war, large mammals have also suffered

From 1977 to 1992 Mozambique’s civil war claimed the lives of an estimated one million people, according to UNICEF.

But humans weren’t the only victims of that 16-year conflict.

Gorongosa National Park served as the headquarters for both the rebel army (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana or RENAMO) and the government army (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or FRELIMO) at different times throughout the war. By the time the war ended, the park had lost more than 90 percent of all its large mammals. Continue reading “People aren’t Africa’s only victims of war, large mammals have also suffered”

You can’t often touch a piece of history, but 3D printed artifacts are teaching kids about slavery

Our knowledge of history often comes from textbooks or from visiting museums, but it’s rare to be able to hold a piece of history in your hands.

One Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) professor is trying to change that.

Bernard Means, the director of VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory, and his students are using 3D printing to put Virginia’s history within reach for teachers and their students. Continue reading “You can’t often touch a piece of history, but 3D printed artifacts are teaching kids about slavery”

You are what you eat, and this photographer is showing us exactly what that looks like

Imagine keeping a journal of everything you ate in a week and then having your photo taken, surrounded by all that food.

What would your diet look like in one photo?

More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). And on top of that, the CDC notes that about one in five school-aged children has obesity.

That’s partially what prompted photographer Gregg Segal to explore diets in the U.S. and around the world through his latest series, Daily Bread. Continue reading “You are what you eat, and this photographer is showing us exactly what that looks like”

Seeds help farmers fill fields with crops. Can a similar sowing technique work for coral reefs?

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef experienced its second consecutive year of mass coral bleaching in 2017, and an international team of researchers say the time between bleaching events is likely to continue decreasing.

According to a report published Jan. 5 in the journal Science, researchers analyzed the coral bleaching records at 100 reef locations across the world from 1980 to 2016.

“The time between bleaching events at each location has diminished five-fold in the past 3-4 decades, from once every 25-30 years in the early 1980s to an average of just once every six years since 2010,” said Terry Hughes, the lead author and director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE). Continue reading “Seeds help farmers fill fields with crops. Can a similar sowing technique work for coral reefs?”

All aboard the solar express! No really, this is the world’s first fully solar-powered train.

In the coastal town of Byron Bay, Australia, visitors can experience old world charm and new world technology all in one place: a train.

In mid-December, the Byron Bay Railroad Company (BBRC) unveiled the world’s first fully solar-powered train. The 70-year-old train was built shortly after WWII at the Chullora Railway Workshops in Sydney. Continue reading “All aboard the solar express! No really, this is the world’s first fully solar-powered train.”

Dreaming of a White Christmas? Here are the odds of that wish coming true.

Nearly every holiday movie out there shows us picturesque scenes of snow covering the ground on Christmas morning, but what’s the probability of you actually waking up to a blanket of white?

Well, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a pretty good idea of which places have the best climatological probability of seeing at least an inch of snow on the ground by Dec. 25.

NOAA determined the probability based on the 1981-2010 climate normals, which are three-decade averages of variables ranging from temperature to precipitation. The Climate Normals are calculated based on observations at 9,800 stations operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service. Continue reading “Dreaming of a White Christmas? Here are the odds of that wish coming true.”

Ever wonder where all the letters to Santa go? Here’s why some end up in Indiana.

Writing letters to Santa is a treasured holiday tradition, but have you ever wondered where all those letters end up or who responds to them?

This year is the 105th anniversary of the United States Postal Service’s Operation Santa program, which is responsible for providing a written response to many of those letters.

It started back in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock officially authorized employees and citizens to start responding to the increasing number of letters written to Santa each holiday season. Continue reading “Ever wonder where all the letters to Santa go? Here’s why some end up in Indiana.”