Landscape industry seeks to transition to zero emissions

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

The landscape industry is seeking to transition to zero emissions but two industry organizations warn that the shift will require investment in expensive equipment and infrastructure. The American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) will work together on an approach to the responsible transition from gas to zero-emission equipment in the industry.

Mattel expands sustainable products with carbon neutral toys

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Mattel is expanding its sustainable product offering with new products from its Mega and Matchbox brands. The expanded offering is in line with Mattel’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all its products and packaging by 2030. 

Panama rainforest’s bird population continues to decline

Read the full story at Nature World News.

There are few long-term studies on tropical bird population patterns, and the paper sheds light on how species deal with habitat loss and climate change.

According to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, most of the species studied had decreased in number, with many of them down dramatically.

Ecolab sources renewable energy for 100% of European, North American operations

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services provider Ecolab, announced today it will source renewable energy for 100% of its European operations through a new virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with renewable energy investment and asset management firm Low Carbon.

Urban agriculture in Detroit: Scattering vs. clustering and the prospects for scaling up

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

Despite Detroit’s reputation as a mecca for urban agriculture, a new analysis of the city’s Lower Eastside, which covers 15 square miles, found that community and private gardens occupy less than 1% of the vacant land.

Drenching rains post greater threat to fire-damaged areas in West

Read the full story from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The western United States this century is facing a greatly heightened risk of heavy rains inundating areas that were recently scarred by wildfires, new research warns. Such events can cause significant destruction, including debris flows, mudslides, and flash floods, because the denuded landscape cannot easily contain the drenching moisture.

Can cloud seeding help quench the thirst of the U.S. West?

Read the full story at e360.

In the midst of an historic megadrought, states in the American West are embracing cloud seeding to increase snow and rainfall. Recent research suggests that the decades-old approach can be effective, though questions remain about how much water it can wring from the sky.

What’s behind the obsession over whether Elizabeth Holmes intentionally lowered her voice?

Was the way she spoke another strand of deception in the web of fraud spun by the former Theranos CEO? Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

by Kathryn Cunningham, University of Tennessee

There is a scene in Hulu’s new series, “The Dropout,” where Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, wearing a white blouse, stands in front of a mirror and practices saying, “This is an inspiring step forward.” With each iteration, her voice deepens.

As the world has learned about Theranos’ web of deception – whether through John Carreyrou’s bestselling book, “Bad Blood,” Apple’s podcast series “The Dropout” or Hulu’s streaming series of the same name – Holmes’ supposed attempt to alter her voice is a detail that captivates audiences. The behavior might strike some people as bizarre, even sociopathic.

But because of my training in vocology, which is the study of vocalization, and my interest in speech biases, I’m intrigued by why Holmes may have felt compelled to change her voice in the first place. I see the story of her voice as part of a broader cultural fixation on the way women speak and sound.

Reactions to Holmes’ voice

Whenever Holmes is in the news, some questions always come up:

What’s with that distinctively low voice? Is she faking it?

I have not been able to find definitive proof, in the form of video or audio recordings, to show that Holmes’ voice is noticeably different in its current form than at some previous time.

One video claims to capture Holmes shifting between two very different voice modes.

During this interview with Elizabeth Holmes, commenters highlight a vocal switch between the 1:28 and 2:08 marks.

However, it could have been easily edited. And dramatic, sustained pitch changes in speech can be associated with heightened emotional states without indicating a put-on voice. At the same time, people who know Holmes have claimed that she changed her voice in order to cultivate a persona as a Silicon Valley wunderkind.

Only a clinician like a laryngologist can make a voice-related medical diagnosis. But since I can’t definitively answer if Holmes’ voice changed intentionally, it is worth considering what natural or medical processes could cause a similar effect. Hormones directly impact the voice, including pitch and the perception of roughness or hoarseness. Women’s voices tend to decrease in pitch range during menopause.

Holmes’ young age at the time she became known for her voice may rule out an age-related hormonal voice change, but a similar effect could be found with certain hormone therapy. There are also several voice disorders that impact pitch range.

If she did it … how?

There are all sorts of reasons people seek voice therapy or coaching to address vocal insecurities. Whether they’re concerned about their voice range or simply seeking skills to become better communicators, the voice is resilient and can be developed with training. There are also wonderful resources available for gender-affirming voice support for transgender people.

So what is the physiological process at play when someone intentionally lowers their voice?

Woman wearing mask seated in back seat of car.
Elizabeth Holmes leaves a San Jose, Calif. courthouse after testifying in her defense in November 2021. Ethan Swope/Getty Images

Engaging a tiny laryngeal muscle called the thyroarytenoid causes the vocal folds, which are housed inside the larynx (or “voice box”), to relax and become shorter and thicker. Imagine decreasing tension on a rubber band. These shorter, thicker folds vibrate at a lower frequency, resulting in a lower-pitched voice, just as a thicker or more lax guitar string has a lower pitch.

It is likely the singular nature of Holmes’ voice is related not only to its low pitch, but also its resonance, the unique tonal quality and placement of the voice. Holmes might adjust her resonance by consciously lowering the larynx. Doing so creates a longer space above the larynx, which boosts the deeper, darker tones in the voice.

Women’s voices subject to scrutiny

In my role as a theatrical voice coach, I’m sometimes asked to help women actors lower their voices. I’ve encountered directors and producers with significant distaste for higher-pitched women’s voices, especially when this pitch range is combined with nasal resonance.

In movies and on TV, characters with high-pitched voices are often portrayed as comical, dim-witted and generally undesirable. Think of Lina Lamont, the character from “Singin’ in the Rain” memorably played by Jean Hagen. Her high, piercing voice became a source of consistent laughs.

Might sexist attitudes about women’s voices cause women in leadership roles to feel pressured to adjust their pitch range down?

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” famously down-shifted her voice to burnish her stature. Research on perceptions of pitch in women’s voices shows higher ones are associated with physical attractiveness, while lower voices are associated with dominance.

Meanwhile, many women radio and podcast hosts are barraged with negative listener feedback about “vocal fry,” the creaky mode of speaking made famous by Kim Kardashian.

Yet physiologically, to create this sound, the vocal folds must vibrate at a low frequency, associated with low pitch. This much-maligned vocal feature is at one end of the pitch spectrum. But there’s another equally hated speech feature that is achieved at the other end: the high-rising terminal intonation pattern, or “uptalk.” This feature is noted for the dramatic upward pitch at the end of each thought, which can make statements sound like questions.

The insistence that women in media change the pitch of their voices often comes with little concern for the anatomical and physiological factors that will limit how much pitch change is ultimately possible. My current research is investigating perceptions of women’s speaking voices in the performing arts and considering whether it’s time to part ways with some old aesthetic preferences.

Either way, the delicate dance of trying to strike a happy medium – the Goldilocks voice profile, where one can be taken seriously as a leader without being perceived as inauthentic, grating or patronizing – seems to be elusive. Women’s voices are the subject of endless scrutiny at both ends of the range – it seems they just can’t win.

If everything about this story were the same except the gender of Theranos’ CEO, I wonder whether his voice would even be remarked upon. If it were, might the same vocal qualities be perceived as positive traits befitting a capable, serious-minded leader?

Elizabeth Holmes undoubtedly lacks the practical skills and moral compass to be a great leader. But all the noise about her voice, and the potential that she changed it to get ahead, just may reveal a sexist double standard that women seemingly can’t escape.

Kathryn Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Theatre, University of Tennessee

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Maximizing taste, minimizing waste: 14 upcycled vegan food brands reducing food waste

Read the full story at Green Queen.

As someone passionate about fighting food waste, upcycled food gives me so much hope. An astounding one-third of all the world’s food is wasted, which amounts to $1 trillion in losses. A rising number of clever food brands across the globe are doing their part to recognise divert food waste from dumpsters or landfills by creating moreish snacks you’ll want to taste.

Blockchain based circular system being developed to assess rare earth sustainability

Read the full story at Circular.

The project aims to help strengthen the transition to a circular economy through tracking and traceability of critical materials.