Monthly Archives: June 2017

Renewables provide more than half UK electricity for first time – BBC News

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Renewable sources of energy have generated more electricity than coal and gas in the UK for the first time.

National Grid reported that, on Wednesday lunchtime, power from wind, solar, hydro and wood pellet burning supplied 50.7% of UK energy.

Add in nuclear, and by 2pm low carbon sources were producing 72.1% of electricity in the UK.

Wednesday lunchtime was perfect for renewables – sunny and windy at the same time.

Records for wind power are being set across Northern Europe.

The National Grid, the body that owns and manages the power supply around the UK, said in a tweet: “For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined.”

On Tuesday, a tenth of the UK’s power was coming from offshore wind farms – a newcomer on the energy scene whose costs have plummeted far faster than expected.

So much power was being generated by wind turbines, in fact, that prices fell to a tenth of their normal level.

Environmentalists will salute this new record as a milestone towards the low carbon economy.

Critics of renewable energy sources will point to the disruption renewables cause to the established energy system.

At the time of Wednesday’s record, 1% of demand was met by storage; this will have to increase hugely as the UK moves towards a low-carbon electricity system.

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Tilos, Greece: the first island in the Med to run entirely on wind and solar power

Tiny Tilos, in the Dodecanese, is a pioneering nature reserve. Now, Greeces green island is set to be powered by renewable energy

Youre more likely to run into friendly partridges, rare orchids and endangered eagles than people as you trek around Tilos. The entire Dodecanese island is a nature reserve, with more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds, over 650 plant varieties, and a permanent population hovering around 500. Tilos owes its extraordinary biodiversity to a network of underground springs that feed five wetlands but also to the late mayor, Tassos Aliferis, a committed environmentalist who earned Tilos its reputation as Greeces green island.

Tilos map.

Aliferis banned hunting in 1993. (He also conducted the first same-sex marriages in Greece in 2008 long before they became legal in 2015.) The current mayor, Maria Kamma, continues to champion sustainable development, and human rights. She has extended an open invitation to refugee families to settle on Tilos, working with the NGO SolidarityNow and the UNHCR to establish sheltered accommodation, language classes and mentoring schemes to help asylum-seekers set up organic farming businesses in partnership with locals.

We want to revive traditions that were dying out due to a dwindling population, like making cheese and gathering medicinal herbs, says Kamma. By integrating refugees, we can boost the local economy and encourage eco-tourism.

Soon Tilos could become even greener: its set to be the first island in the Mediterranean powered by wind and solar energy. The island currently relies on oil-based electricity from neighbouring Kos, via a submarine cable that is vulnerable to faults. Power cuts are frequent. By installing a single wind turbine and small photovoltaic park, Tilos is creating a hybrid micro-grid that will generate and store energy. Installation is under way and an 18-month pilot begins in September, as part of a 15m project largely funded by the European commission. Eventually, Tilos could export excess power to Kos, and the goal is to roll out similar projects on other small islands in Europe.

A recently installed solar radiation meter and panel on Tilos. Photograph: Tobias Blank

Financial support has also been provided for Tilos Park, a non-profit residents association set up to protect and promote the islands natural and cultural heritage, and upgrade the Information Centre, where visitors can pick up maps of nature trails, mountain bike routes, and the best spots for sighting rare birds, or sign up for canoe and kayak trips. Its hoped that knock-on effects will include increased visitor numbers which currently stand at 13,000 per year particularly among eco-minded travellers.

Tilos has many loyal fans whove come every year for 30 years, says Kamma. Now were getting a lot more interest from young people who have heard about Tilos because of the renewable energy project. They like what we are doing and want to support the island.

The islands mayor hopes its eco policies will attract more visitors. Photograph: Constantine Alexander/

Kamma also hopes the positive publicity will help generate additional funding to install solar-powered street lighting, introduce electric bicycles and motorbikes for municipal staff, and charging stations for electric cars.

Usually its hard for a tiny island community to break with tradition, but on Tilos weve always welcomed alternatives, she says. If we can do it, anyone can.

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16 Times People Did Senseless, Destructive Things at National Parks

As our world gets more and more crowded, national parks and monuments become more and more important. They’re the last refuge of nature, a place where people can see the world as it was thousands or even millions of years ago. But, naturally, people often take their visits as an opportunity to vandalize, damage, and harm the very areas we’re trying to protect.

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The Most Bizarre or Embarrassing Landmark From Every Single State

Every state has beauty and splendor that natives are ready to boast to others about.

That’s not what we’re talking about here today.

No, Mandatory picked out the most “What the heck?!?” things from each and every state, so today we’re talking abouta building that looks likethe male anatomy, nuns, and a giant toilet you can throw your family into.

What more could you ask for?

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6 ways America might look different 83 years after leaving the Paris Agreement.

With the Trump administration reportedly set to leave the Paris climate agreement, it’s time to focus on what’s really important: tourism!

Since the rollout of Trump’s Muslim ban, hotels, airlines, and destinations are already losing millions as international travelers avoid the United States. But by leaving the Paris agreement, under which signatories agree to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius, the administration is ensuring that the tourism industry of 2100 will boom like never before!

President Trump may be scaring away visitors now, but America will look like a completely different country by then. A mere 76-80 years after Trump is gone, America will deliver a whole new climate change-affected experience for the adventurous tourist to enjoy!

We might be too lazy to change the slogans, but nature is probably going to change the views a whole lot.

Get pumped. Here’s what the rebrand might look like:

1. Visit beautiful Miami!

Without the concerted effort to curb carbon emissions and reduce temperature rise mandated by the Paris Agreement, the ensuing six- to 10-foot sea level rise by 2100 would probably sink much of the Florida city.

On the plus side, more party yachts and deep sea fishing!

2. Experience nature’s defrosted majesty at Montana’s Glacier National Park!

The park’s signature glaciers have already shrunk 40% over the past 50 years, and the more global temperature rises, the more that trend is expected to accelerate.

Why haul your family all the way to Montana for some boring millennia-old ice sheets when you could travel thousands of miles to see … just some regular mountains!

3. Explore the magnificent, colorful coral reefs of Key West!

Ocean warming has already bleached 91% of the Great Barrier Reef. And if it can happen in Australia, there’s no reason why it couldn’t happen here too.

Turns out, it already is down in the Florida Keys! And more to come as the temperature rises!

We’re #1! We’re #1!

4. See the majestic swimming ponies of Assateague Island!

The famous Maryland/Virginia horse sanctuary is one of many eastern barrier islands that could be doomed by rising sea levels. Every year, the wild herd swims from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, a tourist event that draws 50,000 people to the small island community.

If sea levels continue rising, the ponies might have to adjust to longer swims but the island’s kayaking industry will boom!

5. Roam the rolling wheat fields of Kansas!

A 2015 Kansas State University study found that wheat production will likely decline 6% for every degree Celsius of temperature rise.

With more of the state’s fertile farmland decaying into hazy, spooky wastelands, Halloween travel to the state is sure to explode!

6. Get up close and personal with history at Mar-a-Lago!

Along with the rest of southern Florida, a double-digit sea level rise could reduce President Trump’s favorite play place to damp, moldy rubble.

If ruined monuments to civilizational hubris rake in the bucks in Greece and Rome, imagine how well they’ll do in a country that really knows how to cash in!

While the window to stop the president from withdrawing from the Paris Agreement appears to be closing (for now), it hasn’t happened yet!

Which means if you like America as is, there’s still time to try to preserve it for your kids and grandkids.

For those of us who aren’t in office, one of the most effective ways to help save the planet is to let those who are know how we feel about the choices they make.

According to an Associated Press report, 22 Republican senators are pressuring Trump to leave the accord. If you’re represented by one of them, you can give them a call to try to change their mind.

If you’re represented by Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Vern Buchanan, or any of the other Republican elected officials who support staying in the agreement, call them and tell them to keep doing what they’re doing.

Even if the agreement goes down, all won’t be lost right away. Here’s some hopeful reading that describes the best-case scenario to a Paris Agreement-less U.S. a massive grassroots backlash that leads to more renewable energy innovation and a greener future. And cities and states are stepping in to enact tougher emissions rules where the federal government is stepping back.

But in the meantime, get calling.

The stakes are too high to hope for the best.

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11 Fun Summer Date Ideas For The Couple Who’s Broke

With summer just around the corner, most of us cant wait to soak up those beautiful rays of sunshine, dive into the deep blue, and plan weekend trips with bae and our girlfriends.

Our wallets, though, arent entirely thrilled about the idea of dishing out cash to satisfy those glorious summer feels.

When you and bae are simply broke AF, the struggle can be all too real.

But, date night doesnt have to cost a fortune, and odds are, youll have a great time with your main squeeze no matter what youre doing. Embrace those summer vibes and let the sparks fly, without breaking the bank.

Here are 11 fun summer date ideas for every couple whos broke.

1. Plana backyard campfire and movie night.

Set up a picnic blanket or comfy outdoor chairs, and watchthe sun set together before you turn on your movie. Dont forget the popcorn and smores, too!

2. Savor a romantic potluck picnic in the field.

Lay out at your go-to favorite spot together, or choose a beautiful park or garden neither of you have been to before.

Bae can surprise you with a delightful main course, and you can whip up something delicious for dessert. Chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne, anyone?

3. Have an at-home dinner date.

Whether youre whipping up a couple of yummy pizzas, or putting together some sushi rolls, the best part is that youre working together to create something awesome (and delicious).

4. Hit up a free local music or art festival.


Soak up the exquisite art, dance to the live music, and let the good times roll.

5. Go on a hike.

If you have dogs at home, feel free to bring the fur babies along with you. Dont forget to pack some snacks and, of course, several pouches of wine to toast when you reach the top.

6. Grab a six-pack and watch the sun set at the beach.

This one never gets old, and its just as romantic every damn time.

7. Go surfing or paddle boarding.

If either you or your honey have a surfboard or paddle board, go to your favorite beach, chill out, and shred up the waves for the day.

8. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter.

Youll feel amazing experiencing this together. And, who knows, maybe youll end up adopting a sweet puppy in need of a forever home.

9. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, and treat yoselves to pizza on the other side.


If youre based in New York City, of course, this is a perfect option. And if you call the West Coast home, bike ride or walk over the Golden Gate Bridge.

10. Plan a scavenger hunt around your city or town.

Explore spots youve never been before in your city, and have fun getting lost together.

11. Go to a local carnival.

Revert back to your childhood, indulge in some cotton candy, and hit up the ferris wheel. Real talk: We all low-key still love the carnival.


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Venice world heritage status under threat

While the local population dwindles, passengers from giant cruise ships continue to flood into La Serenissima. So how are locals trying to save the city?

A monster cruise ship meets a giant octopus and crashes into the Rialto bridge, provoking a tsunami. Its an apocalyptic vision of Venice. The message of Stop the Madness, Philip Colberts pop-art-with-a-purpose at the current Venice Biennale, is echoed by Lorenzo Quinns Support, a large-scale installation of giant hands reaching out of the Grand Canal to prop up the crumbling Palazzo Sagredo.

Venices mayor Luigi Brugnaro could also do with a helping hand. Under-populated and over-touristed, Venice is facing threats from all sides. Its status as a world heritage site is slowly sinking, with Unesco threatening to slap the city on its in-danger list, a fate normally reserved for war-ravaged ruins, under-funded third world sites and, er, Liverpool. Unescos concerns about cruise ships, mass tourism and damage to the fragile lagoon ecosystem have been met with empty promises but no concrete proposals, according to Italia Nostra, the countrys influential heritage body.

For outsiders, megaships are the biggest blight, symptomatic of the vested interests that paralyse Venetian decision-making. For Jonathan Keates, chairman of Venice in Peril, the cruise ships are an abomination whose size threatens the dimensions of the city. Indeed, the World Monument Fund put Venice on its watch list in 2014 precisely because large-scale cruising is pushing the city to an environmental tipping point and undermining quality of life for its citizens.

Lorenzo Quinns installation: Support. Photograph: Lorenzo Quinn

Despite Unescos desired cruise ban, the city authorities are unapologetic about welcoming the vast ships into the lagoon. The city cruise association says that Venice keeps the entire Adriatic cruise industry afloat and provides 5,000 jobs. The eco-friendly option, to create a reversible cruise terminal outside the Lido entrance to the lagoon, was rejected. This response is viewed by many as part of a political mindset that puts short-termism before sustainability and misconceived big projects before an array of smaller but sounder projects.

Local associations pour scorn on the latest cruising solution, a cosmetic gloss to remove the ships from the St Marks sightline. Venetian activist Marco Gasparinetti slams the agreed route, which will see the re-opening of the Vittorio Emanuele channel in the polluted petrochemicals zone of Marghera, on the mainland: The channel triples the current transit time for ships and increases exposure to toxic emissions, all to deposit passengers in the same cruise terminal, moored right by our homes.

Environmental scientist Jane da Mosto concurs: Cruise ships bring incompatibly large numbers of visitors but vested interests conspire to keep the terminal where it is, in the heart of historic Venice. As head of the social enterprise We Are Here Venice, da Mosto is keen to raise awareness about safeguarding Venice and its lagoon: Water is not Venices enemy, it is its soul. The passage of every single ship causes erosion of the mudflats and sediment loss.

Stop the Madness by Philip Colbert. Photograph: Philip Colbert

For environmental non-profits such as Venezia Nostra, re-opening the channel would be a backward step, with deep dredging in the delicate lagoon causing damage to the buffer zone designed to keep Venice safe. As it is, the cruise lines pledge to use cleaner, low-sulphur fuel is only as good as the ships willingness to respect the agreement and the authorities ability to monitor breaches.

En masse, we tourists are toxic, too. Venice, a city of 54,500 resident, receives 30 million visitors a year, of whom many are grab-and-go day-trippers. As hotelier Alessandro Possati of Bauer Hotels observes: Its ironic how for a timeless city no one has any time for her. From bottlenecks on bridges to overflowing ferries and death-by-carnival clowns, La Serenissima feels anything but serene.

Still, making a city centre pay-to-play is a contentious issue and Italys tourism minister insists that cities must stay open and free. Paola Mar, Venices head of tourism, dismisses ticketing entry with the conceivable exception of St Marks Square, should we find no alternative. St Marks is the citys biggest draw but the shopkeepers association rejects any such proposal, saying it would simply shift the crowds elsewhere. For now, rather than capping tourism, the city plans to monitor numbers at key hotspots. Longer term, the council favours incentivising pre-booking rather than imposing bans.

Tourists walking in the Piazza San Marco. Photograph: Kimberley Coole/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Tourism controls may be on the agenda but the city is timorous about bolder, revenue-raising measures, with funds used for conservation.

Local activists such as writer Michela Scibilia favour trialling a ticketing scheme to St Marks, with early bookers free but last-minute visitors made to pay. Instead, according to Paola Mar, immediate plans to manage tourism range from setting up designated picnic sites to the introduction of tourism police and a crackdown on unauthorised B&Bs. A tourist charter will be enforced, prohibiting picnics in St Marks, the feeding of pigeons and crowds blocking the bridges.

While the city authorities ponder pigeons and picnic sites, Venice is dwindling away. Around a thousand residents move to the mainland every year, unable to afford rapacious rents or find a niche beyond tourism.

The culture of mass tourism is intolerable. The resident population has halved since the 1970s but if it falls below 40,000, Venice will not be a viable, living city any longer, says Keates, who believes the solution is a long-term plan which favours residents but not buy-to-let businesses. The plan should manage tourism, impose higher tourist taxes, introduce tax breaks for small businesses and favour affordable housing: Venice needs the feet of residents on the ground, children playing in the campi, old codgers on benches a proper Italian city as we know it, he adds.

Photograph: Stuart McCall/Getty Images

As for Unescos verdict, the city authorities may well be sipping a spritz in the last chance saloon. The case for a final reprieve has been submitted to Unesco but remains secret because neither the Venetian authorities nor the Italian government wish their proposals to be open to scrutiny.

According to Lidia Fersuoch, head of the Venice chapter of Italia Nostra, blacklisting is the best option as international oversight is the sole means of ensuring Venices survival. But international embarrassment alone wont resolve the issues. As Scibilia says: Who wants to live in a city at risk? Were not going to attract new residents like that.

Mose, the mobile flood barrier designed to save Venice from the sea, remains mired in controversy, with its completion date slipping to 2019. Corruption scandals aside, the project has dented Venetian morale and devoured funds of over 6bn, according to FAI, the Italian version of the National Trust.

Curiously, the fact that the city coffers are bare gives supporters of sustainable Venice some hope for salvation. Many citizens are campaigning for a separation from the mainland, to be determined by referendum in October. The mayor, largely elected with mainland votes, is challenging its legality. Given the much greater population of the Mestre (mainland Venice), the divergent interests of mainland Venetians are imposed on historic Venice. This time, the Venexiteers are in with a chance.

Ultimately, as Unesco says, saving Venice means saving the Venetians. Most Venice residents put their faith in an independent, internationally backed solution to averting this perfect storm. We are all custodians of this treasure. As Venice fan Vivienne Westwood has said: If we cant save Venice, we cant save the world.

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Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.

The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.

The report also found that through 2040:

  • China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
  • The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
  • At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
  • Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.

That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.

“These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest.

Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be cancelled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.

Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S., where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half of what it is now after older plants come offline and are replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.

In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal to abate starting around 2026 as governments work to reduce emissions in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.

All told, the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.

The data suggest wind and solar are quickly becoming major sources of electricity, brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive to rival traditional fuels.

By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity, up from just 12 percent now, and account for 34 percent of all the power generated, compared with 5 percent at the moment, BNEF concluded.

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Accommodation Spotlight: Double Six Luxury Hotel in Bali

Bali is one of the hottest destinations in Southeast Asia right now, and when it comes to luxury escapes there’s nowhere quite like it in the the region. The island boasts a wealth of luxury accommodation from plush villas to high end hotels with magnificent spas where you can relax in style. The nightlife is […]

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