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Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

India Has Its First Fully Organic State

Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

As of late last month, the farms of Sikkim in northwest India have been certified 100 percent free of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, making it the country's first fully organic state.

This achievement has been a long time coming. A resolution to make the Himalayan region completely organic first passed through the state legislative assembly in 2003. Over the next 12 years, the import of chemical additives was restricted and their sale in the state forbidden, leading to the gradual organic certification of 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.

The harmful effects of pesticides and fertilizers has been an issue facing India for decades. Following the Green Revolution of the mid-20th century, India’s food production increased which led to a higher prevalence of modified seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides in farming. The chemicals were hazardous to the environment, as well as a threat to the health of citizens. Several years ago, over 150 people in south India were struck by a condition related to head swelling and brain damage caused by a deadly pesticide called endosulfan, which led to its nationwide ban in 2011. 

Sikkim has one of the smallest areas of farm land in India, with the majority of it dedicated to maize, paddy, and cardamom. Amit Khurana, the program head of New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment’s food safety team, told Quartz there’s still a lot to be done before the rest of the country gets up to speed.

“(W)e need a system in place that regulates the daily acceptable intake of pesticides,” he said. “There are also concerns that close to one-fifth of pesticides used in the country don’t have their minimal residual limit approved by food safety authorities.”

Despite the long road ahead, according to Khurana, the initiative in Sikkim is now inspiring other states to implement similar policies of their own. 

[h/t: Quartz]

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environment
Eco-Friendly Cruise Ship Design Includes Vertical Farms, Solar Sails, and a "Plant Kingdom"
Oliver Design
Oliver Design

If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your next vacation, you could do better than boarding a cruise ship. Luxury liners consume tons of fuel and produce even more sewage that is often dumped directly into the ocean. But cruises don’t have to be disastrous for the Earth by design: As inhabitat reports, the newly-designed Ecoship aims to be the most eco-friendly cruise ship on the seas.

The futuristic vessel was envisioned by the firm Oliver Design for the Japanese humanitarian organization Peace Boat. For decades, Peace Boat has been spreading its message of global social change through “peace voyages” that sail around the world. The Ecoship will embody this mission by being kinder to the environment than conventional cruise ships. Ten photovoltaic solar sails extend from the deck like giant fins, collecting clean energy to supplement the hybrid engine. Retractable wind generators harvest energy as well.

According to Oliver Design, the Ecoship will produce 30 percent less carbon dioxide than modern cruise ships. The vessel’s electrical system has also been updated with both the solar sails and kinetic floors onboard providing power. The biggest change comes in the sewage operations: Both the waste and water will be fed through a closed loop, which means that whatever’s produced is filtered and recycled again and again.

As these features are working behind the scenes, passengers will get to see some Earth-friendly amenities up close. A “plant kingdom” that covers five decks will consume surplus waste, water, and carbon dioxide produced by the ship, while vertical farms will be used to grow vegetables for meals.

When the Ecoship sets sail in 2020, it will continue to spread awareness of the changing climate that inspired its design. Oliver Design writes on its webpage, “The organization [Peace Boat] wants the Ecoship to be a turning point for the shipping industry and a flagship for raising awareness on climate change. As well as hosting Peace Boat’s voyages throughout the world, the ship will be used to stage exhibitions on green technology at the 100 ports where it is expected to dock each year.” You can check out the concept art for the project in the video below.

[h/t inhabitat]

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
iStock
iStock

It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


WalletHub

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