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Greenpeace Launches Maps Tracking “near real-time” Indonesian Deforestation and Fires

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As a new forest fire crisis builds in the country, with fire hotspots numbering in the hundreds on many recent days, Greenpeace Indonesia today launched a mapping tool allowing the public to monitor fires and deforestation in near-real time, and see to an unprecedented extent who controls the land where they are taking place.

The system will let users see whether the fire is on peatland, in primary or secondary forest, in tiger or orangutan habitat, in a palm oil, pulpwood, logging or coal-mining concession.

“Indonesia is still recovering from last year’s fires disaster, driven in large part by reckless peatland draining and forest clearing for plantations. In the wake of the fires, President Joko Widodo announced new plans to protect and restore damaged and at-risk areas,” said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Teguh Surya.

“The president’s bold plan deserves our support, which is why Greenpeace is launching the “Kepo Hutan” interactive map. Kepo Hutan allows the public to see the most detailed-ever company information, showing the borders of concessions and who owns them, and how it relates to peatlands, fire hotspots and deforestation alerts.

“The transparency promised by President Jokowi, which includes the One Map agenda, is still an urgent and unmet need. Fires are returning in East Kalimantan and also in Riau, where the provincial government has declared a state of emergency. Greenpeace is making this map data available today both to spur progress on the stalled One Map, and to allow the public to prevent another crisis by monitoring fires in forests and peatlands.”

Bambang Widjojanto, former deputy chief of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spoke at the Kepo Hutan launch event.

“This new map platform will shed much-needed light on forest management in Indonesia, which remains far from fully transparent. Transparency is the hallmark of accountable government, and can help eradicate corruption. By ensuring everyone can see where rights over forests have been handed out, and to whom, these maps will help reduce state losses through corruption in granting concessions, and improve compliance with land management rules.”

This interactive map, produced using open source technology provided by Global Forest Watch, makes available for the first time a comprehensive collection of data on palm oil, pulpwood, selective logging and coal mining. In order to produce the platform, Greenpeace compiled concession data from multiple sources, including paper maps and PDFs, digitising it into scalable digital maps for use in Geographic Information Systems (shapefile format). These shapefiles are highly suitable for analysis in combination with data the platform provides on fire hotspots, types of forest cover, peat depth, deforestation, and orangutan and tiger habitat.

“We have done our best to gather in one place every map available. But public information on who controls our forests could and should be even better. The government should comply with our formal requests to publish accurate, up-to-date official concession maps, in shapefile format, to save this case from having to proceed to an appeal in the Public Information Commission,” said Teguh.

“The public has the right to comprehensive geospatial information in the most useful format — shapefiles — to allow continuous analysis and monitoring. No-one should have to jump through legal hoops and wait months or years to gain access to scraps of vital data. The government standard should be: all of the data, all of the time, available to all,” said Bambang Widjojanto.

Greenpeace’s Kepo Hutan platform also enables the public to download the shapefiles which underpin the new map platform, enabling community organisations and researchers to carry out their own analyses. The data available via the Kepo Hutan platform includes game-changing GLAD deforestation alerts for Kalimantan, which show where tree cover appears to have been lost over areas as small as just two basketball courts, a resolution an order of magnitude higher than previous systems.

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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