Category Ecology

Avant-garden

The futuristic Gardens by the Bay have become one of Singapore’s major attractions since opening one year ago.

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It looks like a scene from a science fiction movie. Stroll down Singapore’s Marina Bay and you will see 50-metre-tall trees branch out across blossoming gardens. Two air-conditioned conservatories lurk by the seaside, with glasshouse exteriors akin to giant snail shells. Inside one of them, a 35-metre-high mountain releases the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Welcome to the Gardens by the Bay.

The high-tech facility spearheads a strategy by the National Parks Board to increase the flora and green spaces in Singapore. The wider target is to boost the quality of life. In January 2006 they launched a designer competition for the complex...

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Backyard science

In Canada, a grassroots project is highlighting climate change by focusing on the country’s most treasured cultural possession: skating rinks.

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Some months ago, a group of environmental students came to notice that Canadian winters had changed. There was less ice, warmer temperatures. What was worse, it affected the skating rinks, which are about as sacred in Canada as football pitches are in Brazil. According to a study by Montreal scientists, there would be fewer days where skating was possible. Some regions, they said, would end up with no rinks at all.

The students, of Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, south-east Canada, teamed up with a couple of professors to create RinkWatch. They set up a website where, on a Google map, people could pin down their local ice rink...

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Create an eco-friendly home

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Conceptions and aspirations of the eco home are no longer confined to the domain of the ‘eco warrior’ in a grass-roofed hut. The modern ecological home can look like any other, hiding its clever environmentally friendly or economical features in inconspicuous ways. However, the ultimate eco-friendly home cannot be achieved in one easy step; it requires several significant changes from the way an ordinary house is built and managed. If you’re building a house, a cabin or a second home, here are some tips for building in an eco-friendly way and creating an eco-friendly living facility.

Start with the design

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Starting in the design process with an eco home in mind is preferable to ‘retrofitting’ to achieve an eco-friendly build...

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Power to the people

The remote villages of Nepal have long struggled with energy access, but a UN development project is changing their fortunes.

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Energy is a huge problem in Nepal, but it should not be that way. Set in the Himalayas between China and India, it possesses vast amounts of untapped hydropower resources: large valley glaciers, powerful rivers and giant waterfalls – all located at dizzying heights. The potential is enormous. But few have the know-how to exploit it.

The consequences are inevitable for Nepal; one of the poorest countries on earth. The national power grid is under huge pressure, with 16-hour power blackouts occurring in the dry season. According to the UN, less than 44 per cent of the population had access to electricity in 2009...

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Life as it should be

In Slovenia, a project named EgoZero is aiming to create zero-emission car holidays through a new way of using electric cars. Could it work?

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A car holiday without CO2 emissions. It sounds a utopian scenario, yet in Slovenia, a research institute has embarked upon a project to make it happen. The idea is that people rent an electric car, then log onto an online portal to customise their journey through Slovenia, handpicking the hotels, restaurants and activities to visit along the way. At each stop, the car is left at a recharging station to fill up. With Slovenia being a relatively small country, distances between stops are short, enabling the car to retain power throughout the journey. The result is a holiday of attractions, beautiful natural landscapes and zero carbon emissions.

The con...

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Bubbling with energy

With its vast hydropower and geothermal resources, Iceland is drawing envious looks from the rest of Europe. 

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For locals relaxing in the famous Blue Lagoon spring just outside Reykjavik, sustainable energy comes without compromises. The lagoon’s warm, natural, bacteria-free seawater, sourced from two kilometres underground, is partly why Iceland’s 300,000 residents can afford Europe’s highest energy consumption per capita and still be among the most eco-friendly places on earth. And, if you wondered, the resources are far from running out.

The country’s unusual ecology is owed to its location over the Mid-Atlantic ridge, a rift along the Atlantic seafloor where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates – the shells covering the earth’s surface – meet and friction...

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Green revolution

As plans finally get underway to make Sharm el-Sheikh carbon neutral by 2020, the Egyptian ministry of tourism says its country is moving towards a green future. 

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All has not been well of late in Sharm el-Sheikh; the 35,000-strong city on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula regarded as the jewel in the crown of Egyptian tourism. After a series of shark attacks in late 2010, in which an elderly woman was killed and four snorkelers injured, the uprising against president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 provoked further unrest among its visitors. It did elsewhere in Egypt too, with the number of tourists visiting the country falling by a third that year. Although Egypt has started to reclaim some of its popularity from 2010, when it welcomed 14...

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The desert lab

On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the world’s most ambitious green project is gradually taking shape. Welcome to Masdar City. 

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The oil-rich Emirate of Abu Dhabi may appear an unlikely driving force behind an initiative to create a zero-emission centre for clean-tech innovation. But with Masdar City, an £11billion project aiming to provide the blueprint for tomorrow’s renewal energy sources, it is just that.

Here, in what will be a city of six square miles some 17 kilometres outside Abu Dhabi’s city centre, next to Abu Dhabi International Airport, everything is designed to optimise natural energy; high-tech solar towers, driverless zip pods jetting people across the city, and an automatic ‘energy police’ that alarms you whenever water or electricity is overused...

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