The Aral sea used to be one of the fourth largest inland water bodies in the world based on surface area. It began shrinking in the 1960s due to the construction of dams that diverted two major rivers that fed it. Read more from Al Jazeera. 


Abandoned ships in Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea.

Steve Lansing, a senior fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is helping preserve the centuries-old water-temple system in Bali that distributes water from a volcanic lake to over two hundred farming villages. Lansing and landscape architect Julia Watson are working with the people of Bali to craft a plan to enable tourists to explore the area and preserve it. Watson says the idea is to protect “the most resilient system and the most bio-diverse agro ecosystem known to man.”

Harvard’s New Ecological Urbanism App Offers A Glimpse Of Our Urban Future

Do you have a passion for design, urbanism, and the Ivies? Perfect: us too! So, of course, we were thrilled when the Harvard Graduate School of Design released the new Ecological Urbanism app last month. The interactive app, available at the iTunes store, adapts content from the GSD book of the same name, which explores how designers can unite urbanism with environmentalism. Combining data from around the world, the app “reveals and locates current practices, emerging trends, and opportunities for new initiatives” in regard to the future of cities.”

Images: courtesy of iTunes Preview

(via massurbanArchitizer)

“The argument would be that if you’ve got a reef with a thousand species, it is a lot more resilient, and a lot more capable of maintaining itself than a reef with a hundred species. I don’t think that is true.”

David Bellwood, a marine biologist and an internationally recognized expert in coral reef fishes and systems, combines skills in such disparate fields as ecology, palaeontology, biomechanics and molecular systems to understand the nature of reefs. 

The growing woes of coral reefs

Image: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

The Hanging Garden: Detecting moisture levels with sensors and LED lights

The hanging garden, a collaboration between Clorofilas and Aer Studio, uses basic technological components to enable plants to communicate by placing sensors in their soil to detect moisture levels. The design studios, respectively based in Manchester and Barcelona, linked the sensors to LED lights that illuminate when moisture levels get too low and the plants need watering. The heart of the project, the open-source Arduino platform, takes the information received by the sensors and relays it to the corresponding LED light. This communication apparatus between plant and human life removes a variable of uncertainty when it comes to providing a plant with the right amount of water at the appropriate time.

Potentially Earth-Like Planet Has Right Temperature for Life

For the first time, astronomers have found a planet smack in the middle of the habitable zone of its sunlike star, where temperatures are good for life. “If this planet has a surface, it would have a very nice temperature of some 70° Fahrenheit [21°C],” says William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center here, who is the principal investigator of NASA’s Kepler space telescope. “[It’s] another milestone on the journey of discovering Earth’s twin,” adds Ames director Simon “Pete” Worden.

OneTree(s) project — an exhibition and public art installation composed of 1,000 genetically identical trees. The clones were first exhibited as young seedlings at San Fransisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, then paired up and planted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in Spring 2003. From the project’s website:

Because the trees are genetically identical, in the subsequent years they will render the social and environmental differences to which they are exposed. The tree(s) slow and consistent growth will record the experiences and contingencies that each public site provides. They will become a networked instrument that maps the micro climates of the Bay Area, connected not through the Internet, but through their biological material.

Eight years later, the trees are still growing — and continue to be a legible environmental indicator.

More of Natalie Jeremijenko’s assorted prescriptions.

In honor of Earth Day, check out David de Rothschild's incredible story from PopTech 2010 about how he and his team built the Plastiki, a boat constructed from 12,000 plastic bottles. De Rothschild and his crew sailed halfway around the world to bring greater public awareness to the devastating impact of oceanic plastic pollutants and the need to reuse discarded plastics.