Day: January 10, 2020

How 200 historic Hollywood backdrops were saved from the dumpster

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

Hillsides, houses, airports and cathedrals; cityscapes, landscapes and the ocean rocking toward the horizon; courtrooms and bedrooms, bungalows and castles; gas stations, skyscrapers, apartment buildings; the roofs of Paris and New York, corridors, tapestries, train depots and a mineshaft burrowing into an icy mountain.

The magic of Hollywood, in a Valencia warehouse, rolled up and waiting to be claimed.

These are the 90 painted backdrops that remain of more than 200 saved through the Art Directors Guild Backdrop Recovery Project, a two-year attempt to keep a relatively few pieces of irreplaceable art and Hollywood history from the fate of so many sets, props, costumes and backdrops: the studio dumpster.

What happened with Samsung’s smartphone upcycling program

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

To turn an older phone that’s maybe two to three years old into a new platform ready for development, Samsung’s engineers reimaged the devices with updated software, allowing custom applications to be developed — not what you would find on your personal phone.

While many initial concepts from the pilot program were consumer-focused — need a pet-feeding app? — some ideas that have emerged could prove far more impactful from a commercial or societal perspective. 

Florida Real Estate Developer Creates First Single Family Home to Receive LEED Zero Certification

Read the full story in Environment & Energy Leader.

Pearl Homes, a developer of sustainable smart home communities and a LEED-certified residential developer, recently announced that it has fulfilled the requirements of LEED Zero Energy, as verified by Green Business Certification Inc., for its Hunters Point resort unit in Florida.

Are There Solutions to Landfill Slopes that Challenge Solar Projects?

Read the full story at Waste360.

Most operators and developers avoid side slopes, but a few are trying to take them on, at least to some degree.

Government call for science ‘weirdos’ prompts caution from researchers

Read the full story in Nature.

The UK prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings wants scientific approaches to inform government — but researchers worry his view is simplistic.

Old journals shed light on climate change

Read the full story at SFGate.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the hunting guide L.S. Quackenbush lived in a cabin in remote Oxbow, Maine. He rented cabins to hunters, cut, stacked and split wood and used his daily walks to keep detailed notes on the spring arrivals of songbirds and the first appearances of flowers and tree leaves.

His journals meticulously documenting the changing seasons grew and grew, eventually totaling more than 5,000 pages. Now they are filling gaps on how trees and migratory birds are responding to a changing climate in northern Maine, where historical data is sparse.

A new paper by the University of Maine’s Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie compares Quackenbush’s journals to recent observations, and suggests bird arrivals may be lagging behind the earlier leaf-out and flowering induced by a warming climate. Flora appears to be more directly responsive to local warming, while migratory bird schedules are more complex.

These vintage-style travel posters show favorite tourist destinations post-climate change

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Vintage travel posters showed idyllic getaways with bold graphics: scenes of sunny California, underwater adventures teeming with marine life, and the crisp Alps covered in snow. But with climate change threatening all these environments, modern-day travel posters might show things a bit differently—the California countryside on fire, Queensland, Australia’s disappearing coral reefs, Switzerland’s Zermatt mountain with barely any snow, instead covered in patches of dry, brown grass.

In a new campaign from creative agency FF Los Angeles and Fridays for Future, the international movement of those striking for the climate led by Greta Thunberg, that’s exactly what we see. The campaign reimagines classic tourism posters with a climate-change twist. “You don’t believe in global warming?” the posters read. “How about local warming?”

Land and Water Conservation Fund Act: Forest Service Has Not Taken Steps to Ensure Compliance with Limitation on Land Acquisition

Download the document.

What GAO Found

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a U.S. Treasury fund used by the Forest Service, in the Department of Agriculture, and other federal land management agencies for several purposes, including land acquisition. The LWCF Act of 1965, as amended, authorizes the LWCF. One of the act’s provisions limits the amount of land the Forest Service can acquire in the western part of the United States using LWCF funds. Specifically, this provision states that “[e]xcept for areas specifically authorized by Act of Congress, not more than 15 percent of the acreage added to the National Forest System pursuant to this section shall be west of the 100th meridian.” The 100th meridian is a line of longitude that goes through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. During fiscal years 2014 through 2018, the Forest Service acquired a total of 153,228 acres using funds from the LWCF, and the majority of this land was west of the 100th meridian. Specifically, 80 percent of this total acreage (121,909 acres) was located west of the 100th meridian, and 20 percent (31,319) was located east of the meridian.

The Forest Service acknowledges the 100th meridian provision in its process for identifying LWCF projects for funding. Specifically, the Forest Service’s annual letters to regional offices requesting them to nominate LWCF projects for funding references the 100th meridian provision and allows for additional projects from the eastern part of the United States to be nominated, but the agency has not taken steps to ensure it is complying with the provision. Specifically, Forest Service officials told GAO that the agency has not issued guidance on how to comply with the provision, such as what areas are to be excluded from the requirement as “areas specifically authorized by Act of Congress” or whether the agency needs to comply with the provision on an annual basis or over the life of the LWCF program. Although the agency has not taken steps to ensure compliance with the 100th meridian provision, Forest Service officials said that since Congress appropriates money from the LWCF for land acquisition projects, they believe that these areas are authorized by Congress and are not subject to the 100th meridian provision.  Officials told us they have not sought clarification on the meaning of the provision from Department of Agriculture attorneys or Congress. Without taking steps to ensure compliance with the 100th meridian provision, including developing an interpretation of the provision, the Forest Service is unable to demonstrate it is meeting this requirement of the LWCF Act.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Forest Service manages about 193 million acres in 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands that support, recreation, grazing, timber, and conservation, among other things. The agency uses LWCF funds to acquire lands that may, for example, provide increased recreational access to a trail or help consolidate land ownership within a National Forest.

This report (1) describes the location of the lands the Forest Service acquired with LWCF funds in fiscal years 2014 through 2018 and (2) examines the steps, if any, the Forest Service has taken to ensure compliance with the 100th meridian provision of the LWCF Act. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed Forest Service land acquisition data for fiscal years 2014 through 2018, the most recent 5-year period; examined relevant laws and legislative history, agency guidance, and documents such as letters sent to regional offices in 2017 through 2019 requesting LWCF project nominations; and interviewed agency officials about the 100th meridian provision.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Forest Service take steps to ensure compliance with the 100th meridian provision, such as developing an interpretation of the provision. The Forest Service concurred with this recommendation.

New website aims to gather all those camera trap mugs of wildlife

Read the full story in Science.

Camera traps—automated cameras that snap a picture whenever an animal walks by—have become an indispensable tool for wildlife biologists, helping them study behavior and estimate populations. But each trap can generate thousands of photos, and researchers often don’t have the time to sort through all the images, pick out their study subjects, and toss the “bycatch”—all the other critters that get their portraits taken. As a result, there are countless “hard drives around the world full of very, very useful data just sitting there, unused,” says Margaret Kinnaird, a wildlife practice leader at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, D.C.

Today, Google Earth, WWF, and other conservation organizations are launching an online database that aims to change that. Wildlife Insights will allow users to upload camera trap images and then have software powered by artificial intelligence analyze them. Users will be able to ask the system to search for their animal of interest, and all of the images will be publicly available. That could be a huge help to researchers, Kinnaird says, saving time and putting a global data set within easy reach.

Animals Thrive in Areas Evacuated by Humans After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Read the full story in Vice.

Nearly nine years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, the most catastrophic nuclear accident since Chernobyl, which was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

But despite the severity of the meltdown, wildlife is now thriving in the evacuated regions surrounding the disabled power plant, known as the Fukushima exclusion zone, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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