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Botswana unveils blue diamond to rival the Hope Diamond
18 April 2019 - Botswana has unveiled a blue diamond whose value could outstrip that of the storied Hope Diamond: the 20.46-carat, close-to-flawless Okavango Blue. The diamond was presented in Gaborone, Botswana by the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. Found as a 41.11-carat rough stone ... is the largest blue diamond ever found in Botswana. While the Hope Diamond is larger at 45.52 carats, the Okavango Blue's immense value lies in its clarity. (more)

Butterflies swarm Lebanon's meadows in numbers unseen for 100 years
17 April 2019 - A vast number of migrating butterflies have swarmed across Lebanon this year after heavy winter rain in the Middle East led to an exceptional spring for wild flowers. The sheer number of Vanessa Cardui butterflies traveling from Africa to northern Europe caused admiring bewilderment, as millions crossed mountains, fields, villages, and cities. (more)

US: Goats are the latest weapons in the war against wildfires
17 April 2019 - Reinette Senum is the vice mayor of Nevada City. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, 147 miles northeast of San Francisco, the town's streets are lined with characterful wooden houses that date back to the late 19th century. Senum had been investigating ways to reduce the town's fire risk for years ... Obtaining government grants is a slow process, so last December Senum launched a crowdfunding campaign -- Goat Fund Me. (more)

Living in a country that thinks green
16 April 2019 - European countries dominate the top 10 on the Planet and Climate portion of the Good Countries Index, but nations around the world are making strides to reduce their negative impact on the environment. We [BBC] spoke to residents in five high-performing countries and asked what it's like to live in a place that's doing more to save the planet. (more)

India's ReNew Power commissions 300 megawatt solar project
16 April 2019 - One of India's largest independent renewable energy generation companies has announced that it commissioned its largest solar power project to date. ReNew Power Limited announced that it commissioned 300 megawatts of solar power capacity in the southern state of Karnataka. The project is part of the Pavagada solar power park, one of the largest solar power parks in the country. (more)

US: Homes with solar panels sell for 4.1 percent more
16 April 2019 - Not only can adding solar panels to a home save energy costs and help the environment, it also can potentially increase a home's value. During the past year, homes with solar-energy systems sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274. (more)

US: Public Service Commission approves 5-fold solar expansion in Wisconsin
16 April 2019 - Last week at its Open Meeting, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved five interrelated cases that will lead to a five-fold expansion of solar energy in Wisconsin. By RENEW Wisconsin's estimates, the state of Wisconsin closed 2018 with about 103 megawatts of solar power, about 80 percent of that residing on homes and buildings, directly serving the customers who bought the solar arrays. (more)

'Historic breakthrough': Norway's giant oil fund dives into renewables
15 April 2019 - Experts say even nations that got rich on fossil fuels are seeing the future is green. Norway's $1tn oil fund, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, is to plunge billions of dollars into wind and solar power projects. The decision follows Saudi Arabia's oil fund selling off its last oil and gas assets. (more)

This is the first photo of a black hole
15 April 2019 - In April 2017, scientists used a global network of telescopes to see and capture the first-ever picture of a black hole, according to an announcement by researchers at the National Science Foundation Wednesday morning (10 April). They captured an image of the supermassive black hole and its shadow at the center of a galaxy known as M87. This is the first direct visual evidence that black holes exist, the researchers said. (more)

Algorithms gave us the black hole picture. She's the 29-year-old scientist who helped create them.
15 April 2019 - Katherine Bouman had a secret: An algorithm she'd developed had stitched together a picture of a black hole. She told nobody except her colleagues. Until today. That's when Event Horizon Telescope team, of which Bouman is a member, unveiled the first image of a black hole. Bouman, 29, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, had been working on such an algorithm for almost six years, since she was a graduate student at MIT. (more)

Katie Bouman: The woman behind the first black hole image
15 April 2019 - A 29-year-old computer scientist has earned plaudits worldwide for helping develop the algorithm that created the first-ever image of a black hole. Katie Bouman led development of a computer program that made the breakthrough image possible. The remarkable photo, showing a halo of dust and gas 500 million trillion km from Earth, was released on Wednesday (10 April). (more)

Starting workouts in middle age tied to longer life
15 April 2019 - While regularly exercising over the course of decades is a great way to live longer, a U.S. study suggests that even people who don't start working out until middle-age may see similar longevity benefits. (more)

Thank this student for first black hole image
15 April 2019 - An international team of more than 200 researchers unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole on Wednesday (10 April). The effort wouldn't have been possible without Katie Bouman, who developed a crucial algorithm that helped devise imaging methods. Three years ago, Bouman led the creation of an algorithm that eventually helped capture this first-of-its-kind image: a supermassive black hole and its shadow at the center of a galaxy known as M87. She was then a graduate student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (more)

Meet Katie Bouman, the young scientist who worked on the algorithm that helped create the image of the black hole
11 April 2019 - While the entire world was celebrating the first ever image released of the Supermassive Black Hole on Wednesday, a woman, MIT graduate Katie Bouman, among others in her team, was feted extensively on the internet for being the leading 'star' behind the image. Thursday's achievement is big not only for Bouman but also for women scientists all over the world. (more)

US: Mayor bans New York City agencies from buying single-use plastics
11 April 2019 - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Thursday to exchange single-use plastics for compostable or recyclable alternatives the city. De Blasio said this executive order will reduce the city's carbon emissions by about 500 tons per year, decrease plastic pollution, and reduce risks to wildlife. (more)

Indonesia creates three marine protected areas within Coral Triangle
10 April 2019 - The Indonesian government has established three new marine protected areas within the Coral Triangle, home to the highest diversity of corals and reef fishes anywhere on the planet. They're centered, respectively around the islands of Sula, Rao and Makian, which are all part of the Morotai archipelago in the eastern province of North Maluku. Indonesia has committed to setting aside 200,000 square kilometers (77,200 square miles) of its territorial waters for conservation by 2020, and has to date achieved 191,400 square kilometers (73,900 square miles), or about 96 percent of its target. (more)

US survey: Indiana, Minnesota lead clean energy job growth
10 April 2019 - A new survey says Indiana and Minnesota had the Midwest's biggest growth in clean energy jobs last year. The fourth annual Clean Jobs Midwest survey found that Indiana's clean energy jobs grew by 4.7 percent last year, tying it with Minnesota. (more)

Are we on the brink of a recycling revolution?
9 April 2019 - New innovations in recycling technology are making a more circular economy more likely: When an old plastic container can be used to make a new container or other product in a closed loop, and old plastic suddenly has more value. At least 60 companies are now trying to reinvent plastic recycling, and more than 40 of those already have commercial plants. (more)

Over 1 million gardeners have united to create Global Network of Greenery that nourishes bees and butterflies
8 April 2019 - Over 1 million homeowners and gardeners from around the world have joined the fight to save dwindling pollinator populations. Though most of the registered pollinator gardens are concentrated in the United States, the ambitious project has also recruited members in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. The registered spaces, most of which are comprised of private yards and public gardens, all add up to a network of approximately 5 million acres of enhanced or new pollinator habitat. (more)

US: New York State Assembly Majority bans plastic bags
8 April 2019 - At the end of March, the New York State Assembly Majority passed legislation that would cause plastic bags to become illegal in the state of New York. According to an official press release, the purpose of banning plastic bags is to 'protect New York's waterways and the environment by banning plastic carryout bags.' (more)

Estonian coalition to ban GMOs
7 April 2019 - The coalition being formed by three parties in Estonia intends to prohibit the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Estonia. The coalition is planning to support the establishment and development of associations belonging to farmers that produce, process and sell products. (more)

Norway doubles investment in renewable energy by Sovereign Wealth Fund
6 April 2019 - The Norwegian government announced on April 5 that its sovereign wealth fund will be permitted to double its investment in unlisted renewable energy ventures to $14 billion. In a statement, it said it is 'now allowing for the Government Pension Fund Global to be invested in unlisted renewable energy infrastructure. The investments shall be made within the scope of the special environment-related mandates only.' (more)

Belize more than doubles protected marine area
5 April 2019 - Belize has approved a plan to set aside nearly 12 percent of its territorial waters as a protected area, more than doubling the size of existing reserves in the world's second largest barrier reef. (more)

Southeast Asia launches $1-billion facility for green infrastructure
4 April 2019 - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and major financiers on Thursday launched a facility to spur more than $1 billion in green infrastructure investments across Southeast Asia. The facility offers loans and technical assistance for sovereign projects in areas such as sustainable transport and clean energy ... ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (more)

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