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The latest news on Environment from Business Insider

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    Iran earthquake aftermath

    A deadly earthquake shook the mountains along the northern border between Iran and Iraq Sunday evening, sending locals scrambling into the streets and rushing to recover neighbors trapped under the rubble.

    The magnitude 7.3 quake killed more than 400 people, according to Reuters, and triggered landslides that have hindered rescue efforts.

    Here's what it looks like on the ground.

    SEE ALSO: These photos of pollution in Delhi reveal why authorities are calling the city a 'gas chamber'

    The earthquake hit Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday evening, shortly after 9 p.m. local time.

    According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck about 20 miles (32 km) south of the northeastern Iraqi city of Halabja.

    Reuters reports more than 400 people have died in Iran, and at least six people have died in Iraq.

    The quake shook the ground as far away as Baghdad, roughly 200 miles away from the epicenter.

    "I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air," Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital's Salihiya district with her three children told Reuters"I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming, 'Earthquake!'"

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Keurig smash

    • After Keurig pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity's Fox News show, some viewers posted videos on Twitter of themselves destroying their Keurig coffee makers on Sunday night.
    • #BoycottKeurig is trending and is likely to continue to circulate into Monday.
    • Keurig has had social-media boycotts before because of its K-cups, which generate a lot of waste that is not compostable.

    Last week, Keurig decided to pull its ads from Sean Hannity's Fox News show amid mounting pressure surrounding Hannity's recent interview with Roy Moore, the US Senate candidate in Alabama who last week was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl and of pursuing relationships with several teenagers almost 40 years ago when he was in his 30s.

    Supporters of Hannity protested on Sunday by posting videos of themselves smashing their Keurig coffee makers and circulating the Twitter hashtag #BoycottKeurig.

    The company is no stranger to social-media protests, but in the past these have been related mostly to environmental concerns. The hashtag #killthekcup started circulating on Twitter in 2011, and it has reemerged with the Hannity controversy. In 2015, a satirical video depicting monsters made of K-Cups destroying a city gained nearly 1 million views.

    Keurig sold more than 9 billion of its single-serve plastic coffee pods, called K-Cups, in 2015. As The New York Times noted last year, placed next to each other, that's enough pods to circle the planet 10 times over. None of these K-Cups can be easily recycled.

    Keurig sales have continued to fall since 2014, and mounting concerns among environmentalists in the past decade could be one factor. (As BuzzFeed's Vanessa Wong noted last year, consumers did not respond well to Keurig 2.0, a machine that debuted in 2014 and works only with K-Cups.)

    In late 2016, Keurig debuted recyclable pods composed of polypropylene, which is found in most plastic bottles. By 2018, the company aims to convert 100% of its Canadian K-Cup supply to the new pods.

    But the recyclable K-Cups haven't silenced worries from environmentalists. The new cups still aren't compostable or reusable. That means Keurig will still be selling billions of pieces of plastic every year. And even if something is recyclable, that doesn't mean it will actually be recycled.

    The company has tried to create a more environmentally friendly K-Cup, Monique Oxender, Keurig's chief sustainability officer, told The Times. But this has proved difficult. A reusable or compostable pod would need to have the same circular shape as current pods so it could work with the old machines. Creating a new pod that has a strong oxygen barrier, is rigid, and is easy to puncture has also been challenging.

    On its site, Keurig has also vowed to reduce its other environmental impacts, including greenhouse-gas emissions and water use.

    SEE ALSO: The science behind why pod coffee tastes so bad

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What 2,000 calories of your favorite foods looks like

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    recycling recycled cans blocks warehouse workers teamwork Paulo Whitaker RTS28YI

    America Recycles Day is on Wednesday, and the green holiday exists for good reason: Recycling helps keep rubbish off the roads, reduces the need for Earth-scarring metal-mining operations, and fuels industry jobs.

    The practice also keeps planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air. Every ton of recycled aluminum cans (about 625 of them), in fact, keeps 10 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, according to Popular Mechanics.

    Recycling is no panacea, though. An ever better idea is to curb carbon emissions, though President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

    That globally denounced decision came on the heels of the hottest year the world has seen since 1880— when scientists started keeping global temperature logs — and the fifth annual heat record of the past dozen years. In 2016, planet Earth's temperature averaged 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.26 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial averages, which is dangerously close to the 1.5-degree-Celsius limit set by international policymakers

    "There's no stopping global warming,"Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, previously told Business Insider. "Everything that's happened so far is baked into the system."

    That means that even if carbon emissions were to drop to zero tomorrow, we'd still be watching human-driven climate change play out for centuries. And we all know emissions aren't going to stop immediately. The key thing now, Schmidt said, is to slow climate change down enough to allow us to adapt as painlessly as possible.

    This is what the Earth could look like within 100 years if we succeed in curbing climate change.

    Sarah Kramer wrote a previous version of this post.

    DON'T MISS: 25 photos that prove we're all stowaways on a tiny, fragile spaceship

    SEE ALSO: A giant plume of hot rock may be melting some of Antarctic its ice sheets from the bottom-up

    "I think the 1.5-degree [2.7-degree F] target is out of reach as a long-term goal," Schmidt said. He estimated that we will blow past that by about 2030.

    But Schmidt is more optimistic about keeping temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees F, or 2 degrees C. That's the increase the UN hopes to avoid.

    Let's assume that we land somewhere between those two targets. At the end of this century, we'd be looking at a world that is on average about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above where we are now.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Smoke rises from the chimneys of a power plant in Shanghai December 5, 2009.

    • Experts said they were disappointed to see that carbon emission rates are on the rise again.
    • World carbon emissions are set to rise 2% this year, hitting a new all-time high of 37 billion metric tons.
    • Part of the reason is an increase in coal use, especially in China and the US.

    BONN, Germany - World carbon emissions are set to rise 2% this year to a new record, scientists said on Monday, dashing hopes that global emissions had already peaked.

    Carbon emissions had been roughly flat from 2014-16, but will increase this year mainly due to a rise in China after a two-year decline, the scientists said.

    Their data, presented during negotiations among almost 200 nations in Germany about details of the 2015 Paris Agreement climate accord, are a setback to a global goal of curbing emissions to avert more downpours, heat waves, and rising sea levels.

    "The plateau of last year was not peak emissions after all," the Global Carbon Project, a group of 76 scientists in 15 countries, wrote of the findings. 

    Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry, the bulk of man-made greenhouse gases, were on track to gain 2% in 2017 from 2016 levels to a record high of about 37 billion tonnes, it said.

    "Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again ... This is very disappointing," said lead researcher Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in Britain.

    Glen Peters, another leader of the study at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, said China's emissions were set to rise 3.5%, driven by more coal demand amid stronger economic growth.

    China, the top greenhouse gas emitter ahead of the United States, accounts for almost 30% of world emissions.

    U.S. emissions were set to decline by 0.4% in 2017, a smaller fall than in recent years, also reflecting more burning of coal.

    Coal's gains were linked to a rise in the price of natural gas that made coal more attractive in power plants, Peters told Reuters, rather than the effects of U.S. President Donald Trump's pro-coal policies.

    Trump plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

    Worldwide "we are probably in the level-to-upwards direction for emissions in the next years rather than level or downwards," Peters said, because of stronger global gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

    Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think-tank who was not involved in the study, said carbon emissions per unit of GDP were falling.

    This year "might well prove a small blip on an otherwise flattening emissions curve," he said.

    (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Susan Fenton)

    SEE ALSO: These photos of pollution in Delhi reveal why authorities are calling the city a 'gas chamber'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Northern Alaskan lakes are leaking a greenhouse gas that's 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide

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    bi_graphics_winter is coming

    Forecasters at the National Weather Service have released their seasonal predictions, and it's looking likely that a La Nina weather pattern will sweep across the country, disrupting temperatures nationwide.

    Many Americans could get a balmier-than-usual winter, with mild temperatures across much of the South and the Northeast. But it may get chillier than folks are used to in a few areas, including the Pacific Northwest and parts of the upper Midwest. The forecast is also suggesting big snow totals in some spots.

    Take a look at how your region is expected to fare.

    Forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting "above normal" temperatures in the Southwest — in much of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana.

    The warm temperatures could even extend as far east as Florida.

    The Northeast also has a good chance of higher-than-usual temps.

    That's especially true in northern New York and the other states that border Canada in the Northeast (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine).

    Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island should also see a fairly mild season.

    Predictions suggest above-average temperatures in Alaska, especially above the Arctic Circle.

    The region known as the North Slope is especially likely to see a warm winter — which could spell another year of bad news for Arctic sea ice.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Two men inspect blocks of recycled aluminum

    America Recycles Day is on Wednesday, and the green holiday exists for good reason: Recycling helps keep rubbish off the roads, reduces the need for Earth-scarring metal-mining operations, and fuels industry jobs.

    The practice also keeps planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air. Every ton of recycled aluminum cans (about 64,000 of them), in fact, keeps 10 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, according to Popular Mechanics.

    Recycling is no panacea, though. An ever better idea is to curb carbon emissions, though President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

    That globally denounced decision came on the heels of the hottest year the world has seen since 1880 — when scientists started keeping global temperature logs — and the fifth annual heat record of the past dozen years. In 2016, planet Earth's temperature averaged 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.26 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial averages, which is dangerously close to the 1.5-degree-Celsius limit set by international policymakers

    "There's no stopping global warming," Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, previously told Business Insider. "Everything that's happened so far is baked into the system."

    That means that even if carbon emissions were to drop to zero tomorrow, we'd still be watching human-driven climate change play out for centuries. And we all know emissions aren't going to stop immediately. The key thing now, Schmidt said, is to slow climate change down enough to allow us to adapt as painlessly as possible.

    This is what the Earth could look like within 100 years if we succeed in curbing climate change.

    Sarah Kramer wrote a previous version of this post.

    DON'T MISS: 25 photos that prove we're all stowaways on a tiny, fragile spaceship

    SEE ALSO: A giant plume of hot rock may be melting some of Antarctic its ice sheets from the bottom-up

    "I think the 1.5-degree [2.7-degree F] target is out of reach as a long-term goal," Schmidt said. He estimated that we will blow past that by about 2030.

    But Schmidt is more optimistic about keeping temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees F, or 2 degrees C. That's the increase the UN hopes to avoid.

    Let's assume that we land somewhere between those two targets. At the end of this century, we'd be looking at a world that is on average about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above where we are now.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    thanksgiving parade 2016

    • Forecasters are predicting a colder-than-usual Thanksgiving week across the Eastern United States, with chilly temperatures extending as far east as Indiana and Tennessee. 
    • On the West Coast, things could be wetter-than-usual, but temperatures should be warm.
    • It will likely be a dry week for the entire eastern half of the US from the Eastern Seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. 

    The turkeys and pies in the oven won’t know the difference, but Americans are in for some weird Thanksgiving Day weather this year.

    The National Weather Service is out with its predictions for how temperatures and precipitation will shake out across the country next week — and the news isn't great for anyone who likes dry weather or warm days.

    People on the East Coast will be in for a colder-than-usual Thanksgiving — with temperatures likely around 5 degrees below normal for that time of year — especially around Washington D.C. and into Maryland, Virginia and northern North Carolina.

    This map shows the likelihood that temperatures will dip below average next week; the darker the blue, the more likely that area is going to see chillier-than-average temperatures from Nov. 20-24:

    thanksgiving forecast 2017

    And though it may be cold across the Eastern Seaboard, rain and snow are unlikely.

    The forecast is looking dry and chilly across the entire eastern United States, all the way from the Atlantic coast through the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes, to the Rocky Mountains.

    This map shows the chances of below normal precipitation totals. Again, the darker the shading, the more likely the area is in for a dry week: 

    dry thanksgiving 2017

    It could still be a snowy holiday for some folks who are used to lots of powder. The National Weather Service in State College, Pennsylvania said on Twitter that "odds are trending at or above historical probabilities for white Turkey Day" in the so-called snow belt areas around the Great Lakes. 

    On the West Coast, however, predictions are reversed.

    Warmer-than-average November temperatures are expected from Monday the 20th to Friday the 24th for most of the western US, with the possibility of rain.

    The chances for "above normal precipitation" are especially pronounced in central and Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, but basically, the entire area west of the Rockies could be in for a wet, snowy week:

    rain thanksgiving 2017

    In Alaska, temperatures could be even more frigid than the typical November lows, which are usually in the teens.

    It's another reminder that winter is coming across the US. 

    SEE ALSO: This winter may bring extra snow to some parts of the US and mild temperatures to others — here's the forecast where you live

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The 10 airports that will most likely have the worst Thanksgiving travel delays

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    • Black people are nearly twice as likely as white people to develop type 2 diabetes.
    • A groundbreaking new study looks at the environmental factors that may be to blame.
    • Exposure to toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cause the disease, which disrupts the way the body turns glucose into usable energy.

    Health experts have known the statistics for years: black and Latino Americans are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as their white counterparts.

    But a clear explanation for this racial disparity has remained a mystery until now.

    A groundbreaking study published in Diabetes Care last month reveals that the higher prevalence of diabetes in minority populations around the US could have more to do with where people live than the color of their skin. 

    The report reexamined 50 years' worth of scientific studies on toxic chemicals known as endocrine-disruptors. The authors found that communities of color are disproportionately exposed to those chemicals, which leak from gas plants and are found in in ozone pollution from cars. 

    According to a report released last week by the Clean Air Task Force and NAACP, "more than 1 million African-Americans live within a half mile of existing natural gas facilities, and the number is growing every year." 

    The report also said ozone smog in many predominantly black neighborhoods is too high.

    "Many social and cultural factors have combined to contribute to the fact that these groups have traditionally lived in degraded areas where toxic exposures are more likely to occur," Daniel Ruiz, a graduate student at the University of Chicago and a co-author on the paper, said in a release. Ruiz tells Business Insider that he was surprised to find exposure to all kinds of toxic chemicals was higher in low-income neighborhoods and "black and brown communities," from sources like traffic and industrial pollution, to toxic chemicals in consumer products like plastics.

    The body's endocrine system is involved in some of its most important daily tasks, including processing glucose from food and turning it into fuel. But when that system doesn't function properly, blood sugar can spike, and the energy from food stays in the blood instead of being distributed to cells.

    Some people develop this issue in childhood — that's usually how type 1 diabetes works. Type 2 diabetes can develop for a variety of reasons, including diet and exercise choices, but increasingly, evidence suggests it can also be due to exposure to air pollution, pesticides, certain plastics, and chemicals used in natural gas production.

    Not only are black Americans 77% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than their white counterparts, but the disease is also more likely to be debilitating for them. The American Diabetes Association says black people with diabetes are 2.6 times more likely to have end-stage renal disease than white people with the disease. 

    The recent study is part of a growing pile of evidence that racial health disparities may not be about skin color at all.

    The study authors caution that more research is needed to know exactly how much pollution exposure contributes to diabetes in minority populations, but say this initial evidence should prove helpful to physicians and nurses.

    SEE ALSO: Pollution is killing more people than wars, obesity, smoking, and malnutrition

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Doctors are recommending a radical new approach to treat diabetes — and it could be a game-changer

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    san juan solar puerto rico

    • Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico's aging power grid ruined, which was run by the bankrupt power authority, PREPA.
    • PREPA's economic woes led to the power company becoming very opposed to renewable energy, instead opting to keep the broken system.
    • Elon Musk offered power grids to Puerto Rico in order to power its hospitals, but Puerto Rico needs much more than philanthropy.
    • The island needs a new power grid and more solar grids that can be paid for and operated safely.


    In addition to its many other devastating human consequences, Hurricane Maria left the island of Puerto Rico with its power grid in ruins. Power was knocked out throughout the island, with an estimated 80 percent of its transmission and distribution wires incapacitated. When hospitals and other critical users could not get backup power and water supplies ran low, an extended outage became a humanitarian crisis that has yet to be resolved.

    This shameful outcome should have been avoided with strong, swift federal leadership. Yet more than five weeks after the storm, only about 40 percent of the grid has been rebuilt, and service remains unreliable even where power is restored.

    As the recovery process inches its way forward, the questions many are asking go like this: Why are we rebuilding the grid to be the same as it was before the storm? Can’t we use this as an opportunity to create a more modern, resilient, renewable power system? Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for an upgrade?

    The answer to these questions, from my perspective having worked with and researched the power industry for four decades, has little to do with technologies and everything to do with some nearly insurmountable financial and governance challenges. There is a path forward, but it will not be easy.

    The power system before Maria

    Prior to Maria, Puerto Rico had one of the largest public power authorities in the U.S., known as PREPA, serving a population of 3.4 million people from 31 power plants, 293 substations and 32,000 miles of wire. Almost half its generation was from old, very expensive oil-fired plants, resulting in prices about 22 cents per kilowatt hour, among the highest in the U.S. The island has several solar photovoltaic farms but gets about 46 percent of its power from oil and only about 3 percent from solar.

    At the center of all this is PREPA and its outsized role in Puerto Rico. With US$9 billion of debt, PREPA has been part of the contentious refinancing process that ultimately required congressional action. PREPA is also the largest employer on the island, with strong connections to the island’s leadership, so proposals perceived to adversely impact PREPA can be difficult to enact. Recently the island has established a new energy commission called PREC with oversight over PREPA’s plans, spending and rates.

    The PREC’s efforts at reform underscore the enormous challenges the utility faces. In September 2016 the PREC issued an order directing PREPA to convert some of its oil plants to gas, renegotiate some high-priced renewables contracts and purchase more renewable energy.

    In April 2017 PREPA issued a new financial plan with starkly grim prospects: a $4 billion maintenance backlog, the loss of fully one-quarter of its sales in the next 10 years, and continued red ink as far as the eye can see.  Meanwhile, renewable power developers who have tried to build plants on the island have encountered great difficulties, as chronicled in this blog post.

    Then, just before Maria, PREPA declared bankruptcy. Maria therefore destroyed the grid of a system that was already bankrupt, having trouble maintaining its service and paying its bills, resistant to renewable interconnections, and politically difficult to reform.

    puerto rico solar

    Proposals for rebuilding with micro-grids

    The challenge, then, is to 1) restore energy access as quickly as possible; 2) begin to build a long-term resilient and operable grid; and 3) reform a broken regulatory system. In the wake of the storm, clean energy experts and businesses saw this as the perfect opportunity to start over.

    “Puerto Rico will lead the way for the new generation of clean energy infrastructure,” one solar CEO asserted, “and the world will follow.” Elon Musk also famously tweeted an offer to solve the island’s energy problems with Tesla solar systems and batteries.

    With an array of solar panels and batteries, a group of buildings, such as a hospital, or a neighborhood can power itself and operate independently in the case of an outage with the central grid – called “islanding” in industry parlance.

    Provided they can be paid for and operated safely, quickly setting up these solar microgrid systems is an excellent measure that is both stopgap and long-term contributor. These systems can be set up in a matter of days, providing enough power to help neighborhoods with critical power needs, such as cellphone charging, powering cash machines and providing electricity service for health care and first responders.

    However, these systems cost tens of thousands of dollars, and there is currently no substantial way to pay for them other than the kindness of strangers. Three-and-a-half million people would need perhaps 350,000 of these systems – at a price tag in the billions – to provide only a fraction of most families’ power needs.

    Even if costs were not a consideration, these distributed systems aren’t a substitute for the grid. Many people think that microgrids don’t need poles and wires, but if they serve more than one building they use pretty much the same grid as we use today.

    Once the grid is rebuilt, the new grid-independent systems should then become part of a series of new community microgrids, or networks of multiple solar panel installations backed up by storage. These interconnected systems would be able to “island” together to keep the whole community running at partial if not complete levels of service. With the necessary planning and approvals, new community power organizations could be set up – perhaps separate from PREPA – to finance the conversion of local grids to a more resilient form.

    So there is a path from the current grid to one that is far cleaner and more resilient, but it’s not simple or quick. It would require melding complete and rapid restoration of power with a major infusion of capital.

    Changing the base of generation from PREPA’s aging, inefficient fleet to clean sources is an essential part of this path. However, even at an extremely fast pace, it takes months to plan the economics, financing and engineering of this transition. More commonly, it takes years and careful economic and financial planning to raise the billions of dollars of capital needed and then spend it wisely.

    A sustainable, resilient path forward

    Puerto Rico’s citizens have endured great hardship and tragedy. We as a society certainly owe it to them to do whatever we can to lessen the damage from the next hurricane and speed power restoration. However, the path to a sustainable and resilient grid for the island is not as simple as air-dropping solar panels and other equipment onto the island and assuming all will be well. The suggestion that restoring power by replanting the current poles and wires will foreclose a more distributed solution isn’t correct, nor is it the most equitable way to restore power to everyone as quickly as possible.

    This isn’t to say that the installation of fully independent solar systems and microgrids should be discouraged in any way. With the important provision that the hardware is maintained properly, the more solar and storage we can get onto the island sooner the better.

    At this point, Puerto Rico’s grid is being rebuilt essentially as it was before.

    But even as the grid is rebuilt as quickly as possible, the planning and engineering should begin on how to migrate the grid to smaller sections that self-island. This must include all the main aspects of power system development and operation, including financing, ownership, operation and maintenance of the systems.

    The only logical way for Puerto Rico – and every other storm-prone electric system – to become a series of resilient and clean microgrids is to first get the entire grid functioning and then to create sections that can separate themselves and operate independently when trouble hits.

    SEE ALSO: Tesla is sending hundreds of Powerwall batteries to Puerto Rico — here's how the rechargeable battery works

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This animation shows how terrifyingly powerful nuclear weapons have become

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    Abengoa Solar Power Farm

    The explosive growth of renewable energy has shaken up the energy industry over the last decade.

    As the costs of solar and wind continue to fall and bottlenecks like storage capacity are diminished, the International Energy Agency predicts that renewable energy will comprise 40% of global power generation by 2040. In the next five years, the share of electricity generated by renewables worldwide is set to grow faster than any other source. 

    Last week, Thomson Reuters released its inaugural Energy 100 list, which evaluates companies in the sector (both traditional and renewable) based on eight criteria, including innovation, environmental impact, social responsibility, and risk management. The top companies go "beyond the balance sheet," according to the report — in addition to their solid financials, they have created advanced sustainability programs, developed groundbreaking technologies, and benefited their surrounding communities.

    Thomson Reuters created a sub-list of the top 25 renewable energy companies, which are generally smaller and younger than the energy giants on the main list. Eight of them are based in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

    Here are the top 13 renewable energy companies in the world:

    SEE ALSO: Investors who 'couldn't care less' about clean energy are giving money to this solar finance firm

    1) Canadian Solar Inc is one of the three biggest solar companies in the world by revenue.

    Based in Toronto, Canadian Solar has developed a high-efficiency solar panel that the company says is more reliable than competing technology and works in a wider range of temperatures.

    Canadian Solar has reduced its amount of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt of electricity generated by 42% since 2012, according to the company's most recent Corporate Sustainability Report.

    Canadian Solar also has an ongoing initiative to replace kerosene lamps in sub-Saharan Africa with solar-powered lights and has donated solar panels to Virunga National Park in Rwanda — a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to endangered mountain gorillas — to phase out the use of diesel in the park. 

    2) CropEnergies AG is the leading European manufacturer of sustainably-produced biofuels.

    CropEnergies, based in Mannheim, Germany, makes fuels out of renewable crops. Such biofuels, like CropEnergies' bioethanol, emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline or diesel. 

    CropEnergies had a knockout 2017, increasing revenue by 31%, according to company documents. 

    3) First Solar Inc is an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels.

    First Solar has installations across the globe. The company's thin-film panels have approximately half the carbon footprint of traditional solar panel installations.

    First Solar says its technology emits 89-98% less greenhouse gas compared to traditional methods of electricity generation. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    NASA Goddard Hurricane Visualizaion

    • A stunning new visualization made by NASA Goddard shows how smoke, sea salt, and dust moved through the atmosphere during the 2017 hurricane season.
    • The supercomputer-created simulation shows how atmospheric particles interact with storms and other weather systems.
    • It's a mesmerizing new picture of how the atmosphere works.

    The 2017 hurricane season was extremely active, with devastating storms like Harvey, Irma, and Maria that plowed through the Caribbean and Gulf Coast.

    But these storms didn't just bring water and wind. They churned up huge quantities of sea salt, blew smoke from wildfires around the globe, and pulled in dust from the Sahara, which was washed into the oceans with the rain.

    NASA satellites were tracking those tiny salt, smoke, and dust particles as they blew around the world throughout the hurricane season.

    Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center were able to use supercomputers to turn that data into a stunning visualization that shows how winds moved particles through Earth's atmosphere.

    The bright blue salt whipped up by powerful cyclones is quite the sight. Also, watch how the smoke from wildfires in the Western US and Canada flies all the way across the Atlantic:

    Getting a better understanding of how all these particles interact on a global scale will help us better understand how they affect weather.

    SEE ALSO: Stunning new photos show the faces of animals on the verge of extinction

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How El Niño and La Niña affect weather

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    • A 20-foot long sinkhole opened up on 82nd Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side early Monday morning.
    • The street was repaved a year ago, and it appears a water main was responsible for the collapse. 


    New Yorkers had a scare early Monday morning after a water main failure caused a 20-foot-long sinkhole to open up on Manhattan's Upper West Side. 

    The sinkhole appeared around 8:30 a.m. on West 82nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Ave., after residents reported a water main break, according to a local CBS affiliate.  


    The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York Fire Department, and Con Edison all responded to the scene. The DEP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

    The street has been used as a staging ground to inflate balloons for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in past years. It was repaved a year ago, and some of the water main pipes were recently replaced, CBS reported.

    Sinkholes generally form when rainwater or runoff seeps into a crack in the pavement and trickles down into sediment below the ground. As the water seeps in, it slowly hollows out the sediment until the pavement above collapses.

    In this case, an underground pipe cracked and cause the pavement to suddenly buckle. 

    Sinkholes have made headlines in New York City before. In 2015, a large, car-size sinkhole opened at a busy intersection in Brooklyn. 

    Check out some videos and images reporters from 1010 Wins and NY1 captured at the scene:

    SEE ALSO: A sinkhole swallowed part of a Florida house that survived Hurricane Irma — and it's not as rare as you'd think

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    tectonic plates iceland hiking

    • Geologists predict the Earth could see about twice as many earthquakes next year.
    • That's because the world is turning a little slower than usual, and it's prompting the equator to shrink slightly.
    • A "skinny" equator makes the edges of tectonic plates squeeze together, so earthquakes happen faster.

    You probably didn't notice, but the Earth is taking things a little slow right now.

    Since 2011, our planet has been rotating at a pace a few thousandths of a second slower than usual.

    Our planetary spin cycle changes constantly — ocean currents and atmospheric changes have an impact, as do the mantle and molten core under them. But the current pattern has a team of geologists worried about earthquakes.

    Professors Roger Bilham and Rebecca Bendick warn that the Earth's slowing could lead to more than twice as many 7-plus-magnitude quakes in 2018.

    Bilham, who studies earthquakes at the University of Colorado, told Business Insider that when the Earth’s pace lags for years at a time, its middle contracts. That shrinks the equator, but it’s hard for the tectonic plates that form Earth's outer shell to adjust accordingly.

    Instead of falling in line with the slimmer waistline, the edges of those plates get squeezed together.

    This all takes time for us to feel on the ground. But after five years without many high-intensity quakes, we're approaching the moment when the effects of this squeeze could be felt around the globe, Bilham said. He estimates the planet could see, on average, 20 high-magnitude earthquakes for each of the next four years. (By comparison, just seven earthquakes have registered above a 7.0 so far this year.)A man looks at a damaged building following an earthquake in the town of Darbandikhan, near the city of Sulaimaniyah, in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Iraq.

    This lagging-Earth phenomenon isn't prompting any quakes that weren't already in motion. Instead, Bilham said the slower spin adds more stress and pressure to some of the earthquakes that were already in the pipeline. That pushes the disasters to happen more quickly, especially in earthquake-prone zones around the globe. The effect may be felt the most in the tropics, near the equator.

    Bendick, who studies geologic hazards at the University of Montana, co-authored a report with Bilham hinting at this phenomenon earlier this year, though their latest findings are still under review.

    She said it's important to remember that the Earth’s rotation changes all the time, for all kinds of reasons — large storms, winter snow buildup, and ocean patterns can all have an impact. But Bendick pointed out that the last 117 years of earthquake records suggest quakes are especially sensitive to a special kind of ten-year rotational slowdown like the one we seem to be experiencing now. 

    This is likely due to “interactions of the lithosphere, mantle, and core,” Bendick told Business Insider in an email. 

    The researchers hope that city planners and politicians in earthquake-prone zones will heed their latest warning and work quickly to retrofit buildings or update emergency plans. They also advise people to talk to loved ones about what their plan would be if a disaster strikes.

    "There is no good reason for people not to take simple steps to be better prepared," Bendick said.

    SEE ALSO: Much of the US could see a warmer-than-average winter season — here's the forecast for your region

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    NOW WATCH: Middle America has become an epicenter for earthquakes — and scientists now know why

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    canada oil tar sands alberta reuters RTR46ZSC

    Nebraska regulators on Monday approved Keystone XL, a 1,180-mile-long (1,900-kilometer) extension of the existing Keystone Pipeline operated by TransCanada Corp.

    But the 3-2 vote in favor of expanding the pipeline followed a leak of 210,000 gallons of oil just days before. That oil gushed from a section of Keystone in South Dakota before TransCanada cut off the flow.

    Plans for Keystone XL call for the pipeline to begin in Alberta's oil sands, sometimes called tar sands, and end at holding tanks in Patoka, Illinois, as well as points in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.

    Former President Barack Obama canceled the Keystone XL pipeline in November 2015 with an executive order that said it would neither help lower gas prices nor create that many jobs. He also cited the pipeline's long-term contribution to climate change — possibly more than 22 billion metric tons of carbon pollution, according to Scientific American.

    "If we're going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we're going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground,"Obama said.

    But President Donald Trump overturned Obama's cancellation with a new presidential permit.

    The XL segment already is partially built, and may ultimately cost entrepreneurs more than $10 billion. Upon completion, it would move larger volumes of oil in less time by shortening the route and burying larger-diameter pipes.

    Proponents of the pipeline say it will lessen dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs. But environmental groups and many Americans — especially Native Americans — remain furious about the project. Beyond the risk of spills like the one this week, the project's steep environmental costs also include the potential industrialization of 54,000 square miles of Alberta wilderness.

    "The scale and severity of what's happening in Alberta will make your spine tingle," Robert Johnson, a former Business Insider correspondent, wrote after flying over the Canadian oil sands in May 2012.

    Keep scrolling to see an updated version of Johnson's photo essay, which shows the effects of Canadian oil mining — a process in which oil-laden sand is dug from the ground, the fuel separated out, and the land converted back into use for wild plants and animals. Today that process makes up about 50% of the Keystone XL pipeline's oil, while less-visible "in situ" pumping generates the rest.

    This story was originally published on March 24, 2017. It has been updated with new information.

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    To get a look at the oil sand mines, we rented this Cessna 172, which the pilot was allowed to bring down to 1,000 feet. Through the open window we could see what really goes on in one of the most controversial places on the planet.

    The Alberta oil sands are spread across more than 54,000 square miles, but we're taking a look at just a small part of it. The red line is an approximate outline of the entire deposit — the green is where we were flying.

    Thousands flock here to make real money in the oil sands, where creating synthetic crude begins in the strip mine. This is how the oil sands have been harvested since 1967.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    beach heat wave climate change

    • The irreparable harm humans are causing the planet may be causing irreparable harm on our health.
    • Heat waves, now more frequent due to climate change, cause many premature deaths.
    • Allergy season is three weeks longer than it was a little more than two decades ago.
    • Warmer temperatures are causing more Lyme Disease outbreaks.


    new report released this week by the Lancet medical journal details "unequivocal and potentially irreversible" growing threats to public health from climate change. The report finds that the delayed action on climate change worldwide has jeopardized human life and livelihoods over the past 25 years, with harms "far worse than previously understood."

    A related briefing produced by the American Public Health Association for U.S. policymakers, highlighted worrisome trends that are affecting Americans' health right now.

    Exposure to dangerous heat is increasing

    The briefing notes that between 2000 and 2016, Americans, on average, saw temperatures rise by around 1 degree C. Today, an additional 14.5 million Americans suffer through heat waves each year. The 1995 Chicago heat wave offers a case study in the impact of severe heat on human health. When temperatures exceed 100 degrees F, deaths spike. In that heat wave, more than 500 people died in a single day.

    chicago heat

    Allergy season is becoming longer

    Rising temperatures are extending the number of days in which ragweed pollen is prevalent, especially in the northern states. Americans faced significantly longer exposure to ragweed pollen in 2016 compared to 1990. In parts of the country, allergy season is three weeks longer than it was a little more than two decades ago. Allergies and asthma are a growing challenge for health professionals.

    allergy season

    Disease-carrying insects are covering more ground

    Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the United States. Warmer temperatures, milder winters and changes in seasonal patterns are causing ticks to arrive sooner and linger for longer. They are also reaching larger swaths of the United States, and it's taking a toll on Americans' health. The number of reported Lyme disease cases tripled between 1995 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    lyme disease

    While many people see climate change as a distant threat, its impacts are being felt today. The Lancet report finds that human-caused climate change "threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health." But it also notes that cutting pollution by shifting to clean sources of energy, like wind and solar, could be "the great health opportunity of the 21st century."

    SEE ALSO: How climate change makes crime and insecurity worse in one of the world's most violent regions

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    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a dog

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    • An environmental start-up in Indonesia is trying to tackle the country's plastic problem.
    • Evoware has made a form of 'edible glass' that is made from seaweed.
    • The glasses can come in different flavours such as peppermint and green tea.
    • Indonesia produces 10 million tonnes of seaweed every year. 


    Jakarta food and beverages retailer Ong Tek Tjan sells ice cream in cups his customers can eat afterwards, instead of throwing away - they are made from seaweed and taste like jelly, in flavours from peppermint to green tea.

    Indonesian start-up Evoware, which makes the cups, as well as other containers, from farmed seaweed free of chemicals, is relying on its biodegradable alternative to plastic packaging to reduce contamination of the environment.

    "I too support this environment-friendly cause," said vendor Ong, who uses Evoware's Ello Jello container to serve ice cream, though he feels consumers may take time to adapt to the product that is pricier than current options.

    Indonesia, which has some of the world's filthiest rivers and once-pristine beaches littered with plastic waste, has joined a United Nations-led clean-up drive after being rated the second-biggest plastic marine polluter, behind China.

    Evoware co-founder David Christian said the idea of seaweed-based edible packaging was spurred by his desire to fight an explosion in plastic waste over the last few years in his home city of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital of 10 million people.

    "I saw how much plastic waste is produced here, which takes hundreds or thousands of years to degrade and contaminates everything," Christian added.

    From the first product it developed, the seaweed-based jelly cup, Evoware is expanding into other types of packaging, such as dissolvable sachets for coffee or seasonings.

    Indonesia produces 10 million tonnes of seaweed each year and targets 19 million tonnes by 2020, said Christian.

    But Evoware's products, now made by hand, still have some way to go before they can compete with plastic on price.

    The edible seaweed Ello Jello cone can be up to five times more expensive than ordinary crepe cones, according to Ong. And it uses wrappings of plastic and paper to preserve its texture.

    "I hope in future the packaging could be better and not use plastic," said one customer, Vince Lantang Helda.

    Produced by Jasper Pickering.

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    Bali  volcano eruption

    • Bali's Denpasar Airport closed on Monday following a several volcanic eruptions by Mount Agung on the weekend.
    • Flight cancellations affected 59,000 passengers on 445 flights.
    • As many as 100,000 locals were living in the expanded danger zone.
    • The weekend's volcanic eruptions created plumes as high as 3.7 miles, or 6,000 meters.
    • A representative for Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said "things could get back to normal within a few weeks."

    An ash cloud forced the main airport on the Indonesian island of Bali to close on Monday.

    International flights at Denpasar Airport were canceled following a volcanic eruption by Mount Agung on Saturday evening and a further three eruptions on Sunday.

    Fifty-nine thousand passengers on 445 canceled flights — including 196 international flights — have been affected, the airport said in a statement.

    Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency said that Denpasar Airport was closed for 24 hours and that authorities would consider reopening it Tuesday morning after evaluating the situation.

    Ash has been confirmed on the ground at Denpasar Airport, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

    The weekend's volcanic eruptions sent ash 13,000 feet, or 4,000 meters, into the atmosphere and created plumes as high as 3.7 miles, or 6,000 meters, Reuters reported.

    volcano bali indonesia

    Indonesian authorities have raised the alert for Bali's volcano to its highest level, ordering people within 10 kilometers to evacuate over fears of an "imminent" risk of a larger eruption.

    A representative for Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management said the volcano warning status was raised from "standby" to "beware" at 6 a.m. local time on Monday after the volcano began having magmatic eruptions rather than steam-based eruptions, according to Associated Press.

    The Australian airline Jetstar had canceled nine flights following Saturday's eruption but resumed most of its flights Sunday after its senior pilots assessed that flights were safe.

    Tens of thousands have been left stranded

    Thousands of travelers have been left without flights, and people have begun arriving at local evacuation centers.

    The Indonesian government said on Twitter that it would offer free accommodation to stranded passengers who booked hotels through the International Hotel and Restaurant Association while the Bali airport remains closed.

    The National Disaster Mitigation Agency also said that as many as 100,000 locals in 22 affected villages needed to leave the expanded danger zone around the volcano but that less than half that number have left, Associated Press reported.

    A representative for Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said that if current winds continued to push smoke away from affected areas, "things could get back to normal within a few weeks."

    Mount Agung's alert status was raised to the highest possible level in September following increased tremors from the volcano, whose most recent major eruption killed about 1,100 people in 1963. A major eruption is not expected at this time.

    Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire, a place characterized by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Indonesia has more than 120 active volcanoes.

    If you think your flight may be affected, check Virgin Australia's advisory here and Jetstar's advisory here.

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    GettyImages insect

    • Bugs don't just do a disappearing act in the winter: some can tolerate extremely harsh, cold conditions.
    • One of their most common winter survival strategies, called diapause, allows mosquitoes and black ants to slow down their metabolism when it gets cold – temporarily freezing their development.
    • Some caterpillars burrow under leaves and become frozen icicles, thawing out in the spring. 
    • Those who aren't winter warriors hunker down and rely on their fellow bugs (or humans) for seasonal warmth, or fly to warmer spots.

    It's not like bugs can just turn on the heater, zip up a fluffy parka, or tuck in to a warm cup of cocoa to stay warm in the winter.

    The truth is that bugs have many different ways to make it through the winter alive.

    Some simply fly to warmer spots. Others burrow into logs, hiding away in insulated nooks with hundreds of their friends to wait for warmer days.

    But one of the most common ways that bugs have figured out how to last through the harsh winter cold turns out to also be one of the insect world's most awesome secrets: bug hibernation.

    How do bugs hibernate?

    Bugs hibernate in a couple of different ways — including one that is straight out of science fiction. “Diapause” is the name for the way insects like mosquitoes and black ants slow down their metabolism when they sense that days are getting shorter, food is getting scarcer, and temperatures are dropping. The move freezes their development (and their bodies too) as they wait for warmer days to arrive again. That's when they'll thaw out and buzz away.

    Professor Brent Sinclair, who directs the Insect Low Temperature Biology Lab at the University of Western Ontario, told Business Insider that bugs in this state of suspended animation "don’t do anything." He said the processes at work in the insects when they move into diapause are a lot like the insulin signaling that humans do to regulate sugar levels, but it's still not clear what prompts the bugs to shut their metabolism down in the fall, and how they know to re-start it again each spring. 

    Monarch butterflies fly at the El Rosario butterfly sanctuary on a mountain in the Mexican state of Michoacan in this November 27, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files

    "They don’t develop. They just sit under the bark of trees where they’ve been feeding all summer,” Sinclair said.

    Quiescence” is a similar bug-freeze move that often happens right after diapause. In this phase, the bugs are a bit more active than in diapause, because they can still respond to stimuli in the environment as they await their next meal in the spring.

    Different species of mosquitoes exercise both diapause and quiescence — they go dormant either as eggs, larvae, or adults, and wait for the next biting season to come back around.

    Diapause is like a literal "chill pill" for bugs.

    Some use the ground as a blanket, others sink to the muddy bottoms of ponds

    There are other ways to outlast the cold without leaving town. Insects that live in the water wait out chilly days at the bottoms of ponds, Sinclair said, while other bugs burrow into the soil, using the ground like a warm blanket to shield them from the ice above.

    Periodical Cicadas (Magicicada) do this dirt trick in the extreme: They're famous for their 13 and 17 year stints underground, after which they emerge for only a few weeks in the summer — just long enough to lay eggs. Those neweggswon't winter aboveground either. After six to 10 weeks they hatch and drop to the ground, where they burrow in to begin their own 13 or 17 year underground residency. 

    Ants burrow too. They can move deep into their underground nests and close up the exit with soil and leaves, making a shelter designed to keep out the cold. 

    Other bugs huddle together to keep cozy. Honeybees cluster in a big ball and divide up their warming chores; Bees at the core of the group move their wings to keep everyone warm, while outer bees act like insulation, staying very still.

    Ladybugs daintily burrow into cracks in trees, or crawl into warm pockets like other small beetles, huddling together to stay warm. In general, they try to come in from the cold, and sometimes find their way into houses or barns for winter shelter.snow fleas insects

    A few freaks of nature can stand the cold

    As a general rule, most bugs won't be active at temperatures that dip below 40 degrees Farenheit. 

    "Insects and other invertebrates just don't have the same metabolic requirements as we do," said professor Marlene Zuk, a behavioral ecologist who studies crickets at the University of Minnesota. She said while some bugs exhibit superpower-style climate defenses, it's important to remember that most of them don't love the cold. 

    But some treat the coming of winter as a time for a kind of tune-up, and scrap the water in their body for their own special brands of buganti-freeze that help them withstand the seasonal chill. These “cryoprotectant” chemicals are used by mourning cloak butterflies and emerald ash borers, too.

    Woolly bear caterpillars just tough it out all winter — their entire body freezes and comes back to life when it's warm again.

    "Ice forms inside their bodies — you tap them and they’re solid," Sinclair explains. "It's an amazing trick." They can survive at temperatures well below anything found on Earth. 

    Most insects must employ at least one of these strategies to make it until the spring thaw, but not everybody shies away from the snow.

    Snow fleas, for example, party on the powder all winter long. They're just one more example of how bugs, like people, get through winter in all kinds of weird and unimaginable ways.

    Lauren Friedman wrote a previous version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: Some people have a strong urge to snack in the winter — but you probably won’t gain as much weight as you think

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    Deep fried fish

    • Scientists are discovering how the sticky air lingering above deep fryers could fuel more clouds.
    • Over a city like London, fatty acid molecules make up about 10% of the fine particulates in the air.
    • That could drive some of the cloud formation over the city, prompting cooler temperatures.

    Thanksgiving revelers who deep fried their turkeys may have had a measurable effect on more than just their scales.

    According to a team of European researchers, the use of deep fryers could be making cities cloudier. 

    Research released Thanksgiving day in the journal Nature Communications details how fatty acids that get released into the air when food is fried coat the surface of particles in the atmosphere, making them better ingredients for cloud cover.

    Triglycerides and fatty acids released into the atmosphere from frying form complex, 3-D crystalline molecular structures. The sticky presence of those fatty acids makes the particles they coat last longer and travel farther, absorbing more moisture in the air along the way. That fuels cloud formation because tiny water droplets in the air can only become clouds if they connect with aerosols that form the inner core of cloud droplets. 

    The effect of fatty vapors in the air can be seen as similar to soap molecules in a sink. As fatty acids in soap help clean dishes, they also make dish water cloudier and absorb more moisture from the air. Deep-fryer fat particles in the atmosphere could function the same way.

    And the longer such particles stick around, the better their chances of connecting with water vapor and making clouds. The researchers estimate that circulating molecules (like dust or salt) that get coated in deep-fryer oil could extend their stay in the atmosphere by somewhere between two and 24 hours.

    In a city of fried-food eaters, those fatty emissions add up. In London, for example, nearly 10% of daily fine particulate matter in the air comes from fatty acids associated with cooking. 

    The molecules given off by deep fat frying is likely to have more of an effect on clouds than previously thought,” lead researcher Adam Squires, Associate Professor of Biophysics and Materials at the University of Bath, told Business Insider via Twitter.

    But Squires said more research is needed to know how much fatty acids really affect urban cloud cover, since the team's research was done in a laboratory.

    Furthermore, although low-level cloud cover can lead to cooler temperatures on the ground, Squires cautioned that his finding should not be seen as a reason to eat our way out of climate change.

    "I'm no climate scientist (ahem) but 'help with global warming' definitely a stretch from what we said" Squires wrote on Twitter, pointing out that the fuel required to operate deep fryers has an impact on global emissions. 

    So don't start eating more fried food thinking that it'll curb global warming. Donuts and fries may be delicious, but they're no geo-engineering formula.

    SEE ALSO: 15 healthy eating habits that work, according to science

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    NOW WATCH: This is what happens when deep frying turkeys goes wrong

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