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Environment, Science
Warnings of a “mini ice age” have circulated the media. The news came after researcher Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in England, looked further into variations in solar radiations predicting a significant drop of 60% in solar activity between 2030 and 2040. It was first noticed by scientists about 170 years ago that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. Cycles do vary, but researches have yet to create a model that fully explains these fluctuations. “The waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that out predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova in a statement. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030 to 2040, the two waves will become out of sync – causing a significant reduction in solar activity. “When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is a full phase separation, we have conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago,” explains Zharkova. The Maunder minimum was a period in the 1600’s and early 1700’s of the “Little Ice Age” – a period that coincided with Europe and North America experiencing cooler than average temperatures. Professor at the University of British Columbia Dr. John Innes, doesn’t think we should be jumping to any conclusions, “the direct link between the minimum in sunspot activity and the temperature cooling is not quite so definite.” Innes explains in an email statement that there may have been other factors at work during the Maunder minimum, such as increased volcanic activity, which would have generated ash that reduced the amount of energy reaching the Earth’s surface. “They are virtually all based on models, and models are often wrong …  the idea is interesting, and worth looking at more carefully,” says Innes.

Environment, Science, Innovation
You can now grow your own organic vegetables, herbs and even rainforest in your own home. BioPod is the world’s first Smart Microhabitat – just tap the environment you wish to have on the BioPod App and it will produce the conditions necessary to create it. The tank comes with an IOS and Android app – through your phone you can regulate lighting, humidity, temperature and rainfall. The BioPod also comes with a high definition camera allowing users to check in on what’s happening while they’re away. Currently, three versions of the tank are in development: The Biopod One is suitable for vegetables, herbs and small animals; the BioPod Terra is the same, but of a larger size; and finally, the BioPod Aqua, which works like an ecosystem designed for plants and fish – it uses fish and fish waste in combination with plants to grown food. The BioPod was created by Canadian biologist and BioPod Founder Jared Wolfe, with the purpose of mimicking a rainforest environment to help save endangered frogs from extinction. The company states their vision on their website: “to bring a community of plant and animals lovers together in order to solve some of earth’s conservation and sustainability issues.”

Sustainability, Environment
India’s Cochin International Airport has become the first in the world to be powered solely on solar energy. Creating the “absolutely power neutral” airport will be 40,000 solar panels laid across 45 acres – producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day to be used for all its operational functions. The green initiative will avoid carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years, having an impact equivalent of planning three million trees. “When we had realized that the power bill is on the higher side, we contemplated possibilities. Then the idea of tapping the green power came in,” says V.J. Kurian, Managing Director of Cochin International Airport in a press release. The airport started using solar panels back in 2013 when it installed them on the Arrival Terminal block. The project expanded and eventually plans were agreed for the giant solar patch to be created. “We consume around 48,000 unit (KWh) a day,” Kurian explains. “So if we can produce the same, that too by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development that we always follow, that would transcend a message to the world. Now this has become the world’s first airport fully operates on solar power.”