A good RV camper offers the serenity of nature along with the basic comforts and conveniences of the modern world. To make your travels more eco-friendly, it's smart to invest in one of the best solar panels for RV use.
Gas generators are fairly common in the RV world, yet they tend to be quite noisy and can disrupt your outdoor idyll. A better option may be to embrace the clean, renewable energy of the sun, investing in solar panels to keep everything in your RV humming along.
5 Best Solar Panels for RV Use
To help you make an informed purchasing decision, we've evaluated many of the best solar panels for RV camping, rating them according to durability, performance, efficiency, cost and other factors. We've determined that these are the five best options when it comes to solar panels for an RV roof:
Best Solar Panels for RV Use
Renogy 400W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit
WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Kit
Best Basic Kit
Renogy 100W 12-Volt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Best Flexible Panel
Goal Zero Nomad 100-Watt Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel
Best Portable Panel
Renogy 100W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
Best Kit Under $200
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Here is a quick overview of each product.
Best Overall: Renogy 400W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit
The Renogy 400W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit is our choice for all-around best solar panels for RV use. The kit provides you with four 100-watt panels and comes with an efficiency rating of 21%. This is one of the most efficient solar panels for RVs; in fact, there are a lot of residential solar systems out there that don't provide as much power. And Renogy backs its solar panel kit with a 25-year warranty, generous consumer protection that speaks to the durability of these panels.
Something else to note is that the kit comes with all of the mounting hardware and cables you need to install the panels on your RV's roof, as well as easy app integration that allows you to control your solar energy panels from your phone or tablet.
- Industry-leading efficiency
- Great value, including a heavy-duty 25-year warranty
- Lots of options for easy, customizable solar panel installation
- It's a fairly large system, and smaller RVs won't have the roof space for four solar panels
Why Buy: Optimizing performance and value, Renogy's solar power kit is the one to beat, especially for mid-sized or large campers.
Best Basic Kit: WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Kit
If you're looking for something a bit more basic (and a bit less expensive), you might consider this WindyNation kit. It comes with a single 100W solar panel, plus everything you'll need for a quick and easy installation.
If you don't need a ton of electrical power, this single solar panel system should more than accommodate. A nice thing about this RV solar panel kit is that if you find the power output is lower than you need, you can always expand your solar setup with additional panels.
- Comes with all the solar cable and mounting equipment you need
- Easily expandable if you need a higher amount of power
- Great basic option for small campers or for solar novices
- Decent price point
- For some RV campers, this simply won't offer enough on-the-go power
- Inverter needs to be purchased separately
Why Buy: If you're looking for a modest solar power system for RV use, WindyNation is a great brand with a stalwart reputation. And if you like the system but need more wattage, it's pretty easy to add additional panels.
Best Flexible Panel: Renogy 100W 12-Volt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
What if you need a solar power system that can be installed on irregular surfaces, like the hood of an Airstream? Renogy's flexible solar panels are up to the task. This 100W panel is not only extremely durable and able to withstand high winds and heavy snow loads, but it's also backed by the same robust warranty and rock-solid reputation that make Renogy's other products so recommendable.
- Lightweight, flexible, portable and great for use on irregular surfaces
- Comes with a solid warranty
- Will not provide enough power for a full-sized RV
- Standalone panel does not come with cables, solar charge controller, adaptor kit, battery bank, inverter, or the adhesive you'll need for DIY solar panel installation
Why Buy: Not everyone needs flexibility in their RV solar paneling. But if you do, this Renogy product is one of the best solar panels for RV roofs that aren't standard.
Best Portable Kit: Goal Zero Nomad 100-Watt Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel
Some owners may not want to go to the trouble of installing solar panels on their RV, instead preferring to simply hook up a foldable solar panel for powering their air conditioner or small appliance chargers. The Goal Zero Nomad 100-Watt Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel is our choice for best portable solar panel kit.
We love it for its ruggedness and durability, lightweight nature, portability and incredible ease of use. You can also chain it with other solar panels, meaning it's a simple way to augment your existing RV solar system.
- Easy to transport
- Easy to chain with other solar panels
- Reasonable price point
- Built-in carrying case for easy portability
- Warranty information is unclear
Why Buy: If you want a solar panel you can take anywhere, unfolding whenever it's needed, then we can't recommend this product highly enough.
Best Kit Under $200: Renogy 100W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
In terms of sheer affordability, the Renogy 100W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit is one of the best solar power systems for RV use. For under $200, you get a Renogy 100-watt panel along with a charge controller, tray cables, adaptor kit and z-brackets for easy mounting. And while a single panel likely won't be enough to power your entire motorhome, this does boast Renogy's 21% efficiency level, which is nothing to scoff at.
- Especially low price point
- High efficiency rating
- Easy installation
- Likely not enough power for your entire full-size RV
Why Buy: If you're looking for an affordable entry into RV solar systems, this is a great place to begin.
How Do RV Solar Panels Work?
As you shop for the best solar panels for your RV, it may be helpful to know how solar panels actually work.
Generally speaking, a solar power system for an RV works like a residential solar system. The panels draw energy from the sun and an inverter turns it into an electrical current, which is then distributed throughout your RV's electrical system. A battery may be used to store any excess power that's generated by the solar cells so that you can still power your system on low-light days or at night.
Types of RV Solar Panels
There are three basic types of solar panels for RVs: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are both made from silicon. The difference is that monocrystalline panels are made with a single, unbroken silicon crystal, while polycrystalline panels are pieced together from silicon fragments. As such, monocrystalline panels tend to be a bit more efficient, but also quite a bit more expensive.
Thin-film panels can be made from a number of different materials. They're the least expensive option, and also the least efficient. One big plus is that they tend to be more lightweight, flexible and portable, which makes thin-film solar panels well-suited for RV use.
Types of Batteries for RV Solar Systems
Battery banks are an important component of an RV solar power system. Most RVs will only need a 12V battery, but some owners may opt for higher voltage depending on what needs to be powered.
You'll also need to choose between lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. While lead-acid batteries are a common choice, they typically need to be replaced and maintained more frequently than lithium-ion ones. If you camp most of the year, springing for the more efficient, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries is probably a good idea.
How Much Do RV Solar Panels Cost?
The cost of an RV solar system can vary according to a number of different factors: Size, type of panels, number of panels and more. If you want the best RV solar panels, it may not be cheap. Although you can get a single, high-quality panel for under $200, a full, professionally installed system may total more than $2,000.
Keep in mind that the price point can also fluctuate depending on accessories you acquire, like extra panels, batteries, mounting equipment and more.
Choosing the Best Solar Panels for Your RV
Ultimately, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the best solar panels for your RV. Primary considerations include:
- System size: You'll need to think about the number of appliances and accessories that need to be powered, as well as the size of your RV and the total surface area that's available for solar paneling. Also, consider the number of nights you'll be staying at a designated campground with a power hookup versus off-grid boondocking.
- Installation process: Ease of installation is another important point: Will you be able to install your panels yourself, or will you require a professional? And will you need to buy additional parts or accessories before your solar panels can be used? Look out for features like pre-drilled holes that fit specific mounting brackets.
- Budget: The cost of solar panels is always a driver when seeking the best system for your setup. You may need to spend a little more if you plan on using your panels as the primary power source for a full-size RV, as a low-watt solar kit will likely not put out enough energy.
- Durability and warranty: Always seek high-quality materials and robust warranties when you buy solar panels, as these can provide you with some peace of mind about the longevity of your solar panels. A corrosion-resistant aluminum frame and a highly rated junction box are sure to hold up long-term, for example.
Final Thoughts: Is an RV Solar Power System Right for You?
After learning more about mobile solar systems, it's time to decide: Are solar panels worth it for your RV camper?
Solar can be a great option if you consistently camp at sites that have electric hook-ups and you wish to reduce your environmental footprint. They can be an even wiser investment if you frequently camp where you don't have access to the power grid. Make sure you do your due diligence, finding the best solar panels for your RV, your budget and your camping lifestyle.
Greenpeace Australia called Friday's World Heritage Committee vote "a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."
By Jake Johnson
An intense lobbying campaign by the pro-fossil fuel Australian government succeeded Friday in keeping the Great Barrier Reef off a list of World Heritage Sites considered "in danger," despite experts' warnings that the biodiverse ecosystem is increasingly imperiled by the global climate emergency.
The 21-nation World Heritage Committee — organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — voted down a push to categorize the Great Barrier Reef as endangered, an effort that the right-wing Australian government fervently opposed with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other oil-friendly countries.
Instead of designating the Reef as "in danger," the World Heritage Committee on Friday instructed the government of Australia to produce a progress report on the structure's condition by February 2022.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia, said in a statement that Friday's vote "is a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."
"Under the UNESCO treaty, the Australian government promised the world it would do its utmost to protect the Reef — instead it has done its utmost to hide the truth," said Ritter. "This is not an achievement — it is a day of shame for the Australian government."
Lesley Hughes, a spokesperson for Climate Council, an Australia-based advocacy organization, slammed the government lobbying blitz and said lawmakers "must stop censoring science."
"The science is clear: climate change is accelerating and is the single, greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. In the past five years it has been repeatedly and severely damaged by three marine heatwaves," said Hughes, a professor of biology at Macquarie University in Sydney. "Until we see credible climate action, and the phasing out of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, this situation will worsen, not improve. The Great Barrier Reef is in danger, and trying to hide the facts won't change a thing."
Relentless lobbying by the Fed Gov has once again seen UNESCO back away from placing the #GreatBarrierReef on its “… https://t.co/COPmAAlR0A— Climate Council (@Climate Council)1627040227.0
Home to hundreds of types of coral and more than 1,000 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef has been badly damaged in recent years by mass coral bleaching fueled by warming ocean temperatures — which is why scientists have been pushing Australia and the international community to formally recognize the system as endangered.
The World Heritage Committee's vote Friday came a month after UNESCO issued a report warning that the Great Barrier Reef's condition has "further deteriorated from poor to very poor" due to human-caused climate change. The U.N. body advised that the reef be listed among the world's "in danger" sites — a call endorsed by scientists around the world.
UNESCO's recommendation sparked furious backlash from the Australian government, which launched an aggressive lobbying push to prevent the listing.
As The Guardian reported, "More than a dozen ambassadors flew from Canberra to Cairns, Queensland, for a snorkeling trip on the reef," and "Australia's environment minister, Sussan Ley, was dispatched to Europe on an RAAF diplomatic jet to visit Budapest, Madrid, Sarajevo, Paris, Oman, and the Maldives."
"Australia — a major producer and exporter of coal and gas — initially won support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both members of the committee, to delay any decision on the danger listing until at least 2023," the outlet noted. "But after an interjection from Norway, the committee decided instead the reef's health would be considered again at next year's meeting."
Sarah Hanson-Young, an Australian senator with the Greens Party, warned following Friday's vote that "the decision to delay the 'in danger' listing for the Great Barrier Reef is ridiculous and will cost Australia in the long run."
"Everyone knows the climate crisis is threatening the Reef," she added. "Delay is denial, and a sop to fossil fuels."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Embracing solar power means reducing both your reliance on traditional utility companies and your environmental footprint, but the high upfront cost of solar panels can be a big deterrent for some homeowners.
If you're considering solar, you may have questions like: How much does it cost to install a solar energy system? What are some of the factors that can impact pricing? What else should home- and business owners know about going solar? In this article, we'll touch on each of these important topics, with the goal of helping you make a fully informed, financially responsible decision about solar energy.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Install?
To begin with, let's take a look at the basic price range for solar panel installation. According to the most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight report, in the first quarter of 2021, the national average price of a residential solar system was $2.94 per watt, which would mean a 5 kWh system would cost $14,700 and a 10 kWh system would cost $29,400.
The exact price you'll pay for solar panels will depend on a number of factors, including your geographic location, the size of your home and more.
Now, you might rightly wonder: What exactly are you paying for? The solar panels themselves usually make up just about a quarter of the total cost. Remaining expenses include labor, maintenance and additional parts and components (such as inverters).
What Factors Determine Solar Pricing?
As mentioned, there are a few key things that can lead to variation in solar system installation costs. Analyzing these can help you determine whether solar panels are worth it for your home. Let's take a look at them in greater detail.
Your Electrical Needs
The solar panels themselves will be rated for a particular wattage, which reflects the amount of energy they can absorb for storage and ultimately for power generation. You will actually pay according to wattage, which means that the greater your household energy needs, the more you'll have to spend to get the correct number of solar panels.
So, how do you determine how much energy you need for your home? The best way to figure this out is through a consultation with a solar installer. (We recommend shopping smart by requesting free consultations with two or three top solar companies in your area.)
Your installer will evaluate your home energy needs based on total square footage, the number of people who live in your home, the number of appliances and power-draining devices that you have connected and more. It can then recommend the ideal solar panel system size to accommodate your energy usage.
Type of Panels and Other Components
Variation in manufacturing can also affect the cost of solar panels. There are three basic types of solar panels, two of which are commonly used residentially: monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Of these two, monocrystalline options tend to be more energy-efficient and thus may provide you with greater savings in the long run. They are also a bit pricier on the front end. With that said, homeowners with a smaller roof surface area may benefit from getting the most efficient solar panels, even if the initial cost is a bit steeper.
Other components you'll need to purchase include inverters, wiring, charge controllers, mounts and more. The quality of these materials can affect your total solar system cost. For example, if you spring for the best solar batteries, they may add a few thousand dollars to your investment.
Another factor that can have a big impact on solar pricing? Your geographic area. Solar installation tends to be most cost-effective in parts of the country that get a lot of sun exposure, and thus a lot of photovoltaic light. This basically means that solar panels can operate more efficiently, and in many cases means that fewer total panels are needed. Those who live in states like California, Florida and Arizona — or really any areas of the Sun Belt or Southwest — will likely get the most out of their home solar power systems.
Both state and federal governments have established incentive programs to encourage homeowners to buy solar panels. There is currently a 26% federal solar tax credit, called an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), available for homeowners who install residential solar panels between 2020 and 2022. It is scheduled to reduce to 22% in 2023 and may not be extended thereafter.
Local incentives vary by state, but most of the best solar panel installers will help you identify and apply for these programs so you don't miss out on savings.
There are plenty of other factors that can impact solar panel installation costs. Different vendors are going to offer different levels of customization, expertise and consumer protections (including guarantees and warranties). The bottom line? It is wise to shop around a bit, determine the average cost of solar panels in your area and evaluate the value of services offered by a few solar installation companies.
Solar Panel Price Vs. Return on Investment
Clearly, your upfront solar panel installation cost may be a little steep. Now, let's look at the flipside: How much money will you actually save? And will your energy savings be enough to offset the initial cost of your solar energy system?
It is not unreasonable to think that you can cut your monthly utility bills by as much as 75% or more by switching to solar energy. Of course, the specific dollar amount will depend on where you live, the size of your home and the number of people in your household.
One way to look at it: The average household energy bill is somewhere between $100 and $200 monthly. It would probably take about 15 years for your energy savings to cancel out the cost of solar panel installation. In other words, within a decade and a half or so, your solar system might pay for itself. Factor in savings from tax rebates and other incentives, and most solar systems pay for themselves in closer to seven or eight years.
Note that most solar energy companies offer free solar calculators, which help you arrive at a ballpark for monthly energy savings. While these calculators are imprecise, they can certainly give you a general sense of the financial benefits you will experience when you convert to solar energy.
Free Quote: See How Much You Can Save on Solar Panels
Fill out this 30-second form to get a quote from one of the best solar energy companies in your area. You could save up to $2,500 each year on your electric bills and receive tax rebates.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Solar Panels
As you continue to weigh the pros and cons of solar energy, it's natural to have a few questions. The best way to resolve these is really to set up a solar consultation with a local expert, but in the meantime, here are a few general answers to some of the most common solar inquiries.
How much will it cost to maintain my solar energy system?
In general, solar systems are designed to run smoothly for decades without requiring any maintenance or upkeep. As such, you should not really need to factor maintenance into the equation for the first 20 years or so after you install your system. (And most solar companies will offer you warranties and guarantees to give peace of mind on this front.)
How will solar energy impact my property values?
Many homeowners want to know how going solar will impact the value of their homes. Going solar increases property values. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has reported buyers are willing to pay an average premium of about $15,000 for a home with a solar panel system. With that said, you are only going to see your property values go up if you own your solar system outright, as opposed to leasing it.
How can I finance the cost of solar panels?
Different solar installers may offer different financing plans, allowing consumers some flexibility. With that said, there are three basic options for paying for your solar energy system:
- Purchase your solar energy system outright (that is, pay in cash).
- Take out a solar loan to purchase the system, then pay it back with interest.
- Lease your system; you will pay less month-to-month but won't actually own the system yourself.
Which is better, buying or leasing my solar system?
It all depends on your motivation for going solar. If you want to maximize long-term savings and increase the value of your home, then purchasing your solar system is usually best. However, if you just want a low-maintenance way to reduce monthly energy costs and practice environmental stewardship, then leasing might be a better option. Also note that leasing can be a good option for those who do not plan on being in their home for exceptionally long.
How can I be sure my roof will accommodate a solar system?
If your roof faces south, has ample space and has little to no shade cover, it should work just fine. Even roofs that are not optimal can still be utilized with a few tweaks and adjustments. Your solar energy consultant will advise you on whether your home is a good fit for solar energy.
How long will my solar energy system last?
Solar systems are designed to be exceptionally durable. With just the most basic upkeep, most solar energy systems should continue to work and produce power for anywhere from 25 to 35 years.
Make the Best Choice About Solar Energy
Solar energy is not right for every homeowner, nor for every home. With that said, many homeowners will find that the initial cost of solar panels is more than offset by the long-term, recurring energy savings. Make sure you factor in cost, energy needs, tax incentives, home value and more as you seek to make a fully informed decision about whether to embrace solar power.
A California couple's gender reveal party went wrong when they set off a pyrotechnic device that ignited the 2020 lethal El Dorado fire, which killed a firefighter and set blaze to more than 22,000 acres of land. They've been charged with 30 crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, local authorities announced on Tuesday.
The fire, which was allegedly started on Sept. 5, 2020, surged across 2 counties, destroying five homes,15 buildings, injuring 13 people, and took the life of a firefighter, Charlie Morton, according to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
"Obviously, he wouldn't have been out there if this [fire] hadn't started in the first place," San Bernadino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said of Morton at a news conference on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. "He's fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That's the only reason he's there."
Morton was one of more than 1,350 firefighters who tried to quench the flames, according to The Washington Post. The fire blazed for 23 days and took the efforts of at least six fire departments to stop it.
A photograph of fallen Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Charles Morton, a firefighter who was killed battling the El Dorado wildfire, is displayed at a memorial service for Morton on Sept. 25, 2020 in San Bernardino, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images
In addition to one count each of involuntary manslaughter, Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez are also facing three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily harm, and four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures and 22 other misdemeanor counts, according to The New York Times.
"You're obviously dealing with lost lives, you're dealing with injured lives, and you're dealing with people's residences that were burned and their land that was burned," Anderson said at the news conference according to CNN. "That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion but damage, both financially and psychologically."
The southern California couple pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released without having to post bail, according to The New York Times.
This is not the only disaster connected to gender-reveal parties, where parents announce the sex of their unborn child. This type of event has led to a fatal plane crash, partygoers' deaths, other wildfires and brushfires, and a massive explosion in New Hampshire, according to the Washington Post.
Additionally, around half of Western wildfires in the U.S. are started by people, from things like downed power lines, cigarettes, and untended campfires, while the other half of fires are caused by lightning, according to The New York Times.
The Jimenzes could face several years in prison if they're convicted, Anderson said, according to The New York Times.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
The research, published in Microbiome on Tuesday, was based on two ice samples from the Tibetan Plateau in China that are nearly 15,000 years old. It offers an example of how scientists can study glaciers to better understand the history and future of global change.
"Glacier ice archives information, including microbiology, that helps reveal paleoclimate histories and predict future climate change," the study authors wrote.
Glaciers are useful knowledge banks because they accumulate ice year after year, with each layer preserving the atmospheric conditions at the time of its formation. These particular ice cores came from the Guliya ice cap, 22,000 feet above sea level.
"These glaciers were formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice," study lead author and Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center researcher Zhi-Ping Zhong told Ohio State News. "The glaciers in western China are not well-studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect past environments. And viruses are a part of those environments."
The viruses they found were largely unknown to science. Four of them had been previously catalogued and were viruses known to infect bacteria. In general, they concluded that the viruses in the ice had originated with soil and plants and not humans or animals. And about half of them shared a unique characteristic: They survived precisely because of the frigid conditions in which they were found.
"These are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments," study co-author and Ohio State microbiology professor Matthew Sullivan told Ohio State News. "These viruses have signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments – just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions."
The study of glacier-trapped viruses is an emerging field: Only two previous studies have also found viruses in ancient glacier ice. However, the climate crisis has made this a topic of increasing concern.
"We know very little about viruses and microbes in these extreme environments, and what is actually there," senior study author and Ohio State earth sciences professor Lonnie Thompson told Ohio State News. "The documentation and understanding of that is extremely important: How do bacteria and viruses respond to climate change? What happens when we go from an ice age to a warm period like we're in now?"
Climate change also raises the concern that the melting of ice could unleash frozen microbes on human hosts. This is especially the case with the Arctic permafrost. A boy in the Arctic circle, for example, died from anthrax poisoning, potentially after coming in contact with a reindeer carcass that had thawed after 75 years."As a consequence of permafrost melting, the vectors of deadly infections of the 18th and 19th Centuries may come back," Boris Revich and Marina Podolnaya wrote in a 2011 study, as EcoWatch reported in 2017, "especially near the cemeteries where the victims of these infections were buried."
Would you like to live to 100? It's a far-fetched plan for many of us; hitting centenarian status happens for less than 2 out of every 10,000 people in the United States. And experts agree that when it comes to years, quantity doesn't matter if you don't have quality.
"The question is if you live to be 100 years old, what sort of 100-year-old are you going to be? Are you going to be bedridden and unable to take care of yourself? Or are you going to be reasonably independent and alert?" said Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., who studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio. "To me, that's what the best health practices can really have an impact on."
So, how do you live for more than 100 years in a healthy happy way? People in five distinct regions of the globe seem to have an answer. They're called the Blue Zones: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. And while their strategies are different and unique, they have one thing in common: lifestyle. They don't reach that age because they're following some diet or exercising religiously. They get there because the way they live optimizes the length of time the body and mind can exist on this plane.
According to Blue Zone researcher Dan Buettner, people in the Blue Zones make nine lifestyle choices that help them live a long, healthy life. These evidence-based common denominators are called the Power Nine.
1. Move in normal life.
While we spend a lot of time and money worrying about gym memberships, body fitness routines and strenuous activity that we need to make space for in our busy lives, people living in the Blue Zones don't work out, they move naturally, without thinking about it. Their lifestyles push them to move throughout the day, whether that's hiking mountains while herding goats, or tending the gardens that provide their vegetables. Figure out ways to move more throughout the day in your own environment, rather than scheduling time to do an hour of fitness after 12 hours of sitting.
2. Create purpose in your life.
In Blue Zones, people know why they wake up in the morning. They feel content in their lives, they know where they are going and why, and they are not in a hurry to get there. They don't have to prove themselves to anyone. Feeling the purpose in your life can add up to seven years of life expectancy.
3. Less stress.
Stress leads to chronic inflammation, and that inflammation is associated with every single age-related illness. There is nowhere in the world where people don't experience overload and stress, but the difference is that people in the Blue Zones know how to decompress before burnout. Some take naps throughout the day, some pray, some just take a few minutes to remember where they came from.
4. Follow the 80 percent rule.
Give up those late-night snacks, and eat dinner early. People in Blue Zones eat their smallest meal of the day in the early evening, and eat nothing else for the rest of the day. They stop eating when they feel about 80 percent full. The gap between not feeling hungry and feeling full helps with weight consistency and keeps the body healthy.
5. Eat more plants – especially beans.
To get enough protein, many of us eat a lot of meat, but Blue Zone people eat meat only about five times a month. Research shows that eating red meat can lead to premature death. You can keep a mostly plant-based diet, however, by including more beans in your meals: fava, lentils, black beans and soy beans are particularly nutritious. You should eat about a half cup of beans a day to keep up your longevity.
6. Drink some wine.
Wait, is this a trick? Nope! People in all Blue Zones except one drink alcohol regularly … in moderation, of course. Turns out, moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers, but, again, this must be done with purpose. Those with the longest lives drink one or two glasses of wine a day, with friends and with food. Not drinking all week and then bingeing on the weekend doesn't count.
7. Keep the faith.
Unfortunate news for all you atheists out there: according to research, people who attend some kind of religious service once a week live four to 14 years longer than those who don't. The type of faith doesn't matter. Experts think this could have to do with a feeling of belonging to a community larger than yourself.
8. Family first.
In our society, so much emphasis is put on our own selves, our ambitions, our fulfillment, but centenarians keep their communities close to them. They make life decisions based on generations of family. They keep their aging parents and grandparents close by or even in their homes, which has been shown to lower mortality rates for the entire family. They invest in their children, and tend to have one life partner, which research shows can add up to three years of life.
9. Don't forget your chosen family.
Blood is thicker than water, but true friendship can save your life, literally. Those who live to more than 100 create social environments of support and commitment with a small group of people around them. These tightknit social networks impact the behaviors that elongate your life.
While you may not live in Japan, or Greece, or even California, you can live like you do by making these small daily changes. And remember, enjoying life is the best way to make it as long as possible.
Darlena Cunha is a freelance writer and a professor at the University of Florida, with degrees in communications and ecology.
In June, the first missions of a successful joint operation between specialized environmental prosecutors of the government of Peru and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society encountered and apprehended multiple illegal fishing vessels in Peruvian waters.
Aboard Sea Shepherd's ship Ocean Warrior, officials and advocates worked together to support the Peruvian government's efforts to monitor its sovereign waters. Officials gained access to a civilian offshore patrol vessel to assist with their observations of at-risk and migratory species and their monitoring of threats to biodiversity. Sea Shepherd Legal also provided prosecution and policy guidance in the aftermath of any interactions and suggestions for the application of domestic and international law. This tag-team approach ensured that potential gaps in policies would be identified and addressed, Sea Shepherd told EcoWatch in an emailed statement.
The coalition intercepted three small-scale Peruvian trawlers that potentially were participating in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU). Peruvial prosecutors detected the first, Don Santos, fishing within Peru's 5 nautical mine inshore exclusion zone off the coast of Tumbes using radar from the bridge of the Ocean Warrior. They then requested the coast guard board the vessel, at which time officials realized the trawler's satellite monitoring system, which allows for vessel movement to be monitored by law enforcement, had not been operational since 2018 and that the crew may have discarded their catch overboard prior to boarding in an attempt to destroy evidence.
Don Santos, fishing in unauthorized, protected areas, having non-functioning satellite monitoring systems, was destroying catch evidence before being boarded and/or fishing without a valid license. Peruvial prosecutors detected the illegal activities via radar from the bridge of the Ocean Warrior and then requested the coast guard board the vessel.
Sea Shepherd Legal helped to fine Dos Santos, and the ship is now prohibited from fishing until its three fines are paid.
The mission also discovered two other Peruvian trawlers fishing without satellite monitoring systems. One did not have a valid fishing license for the Tumbes area. Prosecutors requested coast guard officials to board the two vessels and they subsequently directed them back to port for detention.
Globally, IUU fishing threatens the biodiversity and stability of oceanic ecosystems. Illegal fishing can cause the total collapse of a fishery or seriously endanger fish populations. Actions like removing satellite monitoring and fishing illegally within protected areas frustrate official efforts to safeguard oceanic resources for the future.
The coalition discovered the small trawler Mi Pastor fishing without functioning monitoring satellite equipment and without a valid fishing permit. Sea Shepherd
Peru's rich waters are home to an abundance of marine life, including more than 30 species of whales and dolphins, over 60 species of sharks, and the largest anchovy population in the world, a Sea Shepherd representative told EcoWatch. Additionally, a number of the shark species found in Peruvian waters are at risk of extinction. IUU fishing efforts likely result in bycatch and/or illegal take, which can have detrimental effects upon fragile marine populations.
IUU fishing also threatens the economic well-being of many coastal communities, the long-term food security of the planet and the human rights of those forced to catch this seafood. The United Nations has linked IUU fishing to a variety of other fisheries and human rights abuses.
Prior to the arrests, three different local boats were observed by the Ocean Warrior fishing illegally within a 2 nautical mile inshore exclusion zone off the coast of Lobos de Tierra and using spearfish guns to poach octopus. Photographic evidence obtained by the Sea Shepherd ship drone is being used by environmental prosecutors to build criminal cases.
"Illegal fishing is only possible because the oceans are often out of sight and out of mind for law enforcement authorities," said Peter Hammarstedt, director of campaigns for Sea Shepherd. "This is why Sea Shepherd is proud to support the leadership of FEMA in this government initiative to get eyes on the water by bringing prosecutors to the scene of the crime where Peru's unique marine wildlife is at the greatest risk."
The success of this unique government-civilian partnership may provide the blueprint for future enforcement efforts at sea as more governments accept help.
"Ocean Warrior provides Peruvian environmental prosecutors with a platform to obtain data on the extent of illegal fishing activity in the waters of Peru, extending the long arm of the law to the sea [and] highlighting why it is imperative for FEMA to have its specialized prosecutors working at sea," said Flor de María Vega Zapata, national coordinating superior prosecutor for FEMA. It also showed what is possible through innovative collaboration with civil society, like Sea Shepherd, the official said.
Illegal Fishing Vessels Intercepted as Peruvian Prosecutors Sail on Sea Shepherd Ship youtu.be
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In 2001, the IPCC's Third Assessment warned the greatest increases in heat stress were expected in "mid- to high-latitude (temperate) cities, especially in populations with non-adapted architecture and limited air conditioning." The scientists wrote at the time, "A number of U.S. cities would experience, on average, several hundred extra deaths each summer."
This year's June heat wave killed nearly 800 people in the usually-temperate region where few live in homes with air conditioning. That heat wave would have been "virtually impossible" without human-caused climate change.
For a deeper dive:
- Record-Breaking Heat Is a Clear Sign of Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
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San Diego-based sustainable seafood creator BlueNalu has been selected to compete in the semifinal round of the next XPRIZE Foundation Challenge – Feed the Next Billion. The food tech company's success is a good indicator of the opportunities in fish.
The concept of sustainable seafood – whether it exists, what it means and if it will help our ocean – is white-hot right now. And it's no wonder: seafood is a multibillion-dollar industry, and the United Nations has placed its hope in feeding the world on aquaculture and finding ways to sustainably source ocean resources. In fact, the global seafood market is slated to reach $133.9 billion by 2026, PR Newswire reported.
The XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion (FTNB) competition hopes to drive innovations that will do just that. The multi-year, $15M contest aims to inspire companies to produce chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives that replicate or outperform conventional chicken and fish in access, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, nutrition and health, as well as taste and texture, Business Wire reported. The goal is to "reinvent how humanity will feed future generations" by addressing the need for alternative proteins at scale, the report and the XPRIZE website noted.
"Over the past several years, as our global population continues to grow and the demand for meat products increases, it has become clear that our current global food chain cannot keep up," said Caroline Kolta, XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion Program Lead, reported Business Wire. "We know we need more nutritious, environmentally-friendly and sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based products, and that wide-scale adoption will require additional innovation continuously being brought to market. I am thrilled about the international cohort of Semifinalists selected to embark on this journey of innovation and exploration to shape a future of food, starting with chicken and fish."
After stringent evaluation, BlueNalu was named as one of 28 semifinalist teams out of about 270 global applicants. Collectively, the semifinalists will share a portion of a total of $500,000 awarded this round to support the development of their product. Over the next year, semifinalists will also work closely within the XPRIZE ecosystem to develop the first iteration of their products.
"We're thrilled that the XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion competition was created as it not only recognizes that our food supply chain needs innovative change but also it continues to validate that this new way to produce seafood is close to reality," BlueNalu President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse told EcoWatch.
Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu's President and CEO, in front of their headquarters and pilot food production facility in San Diego, California. BlueNalu
BlueNalu has made a name for itself in the cell-cultured industry, specifically in the seafood space. All of BlueNalu's cell-cultured seafood products are healthy for humans, humane for sea life and sustainable for our planet, Cooperhouse said. The company specifically targets species that are overfished, primarily imported and difficult to farm-raise. In doing so, they aim to reduce fishery pressure, displace the need for imports, create jobs, enhance food security, and redefine local seafood in each region they go to market, he added.
But what exactly is cell-cultured fish?
Well, for starters, it's actual fish. It looks like, cooks like and tastes like fish because it is fish. BlueNalu produces its seafood in a new way, directly from the cells of target fish species, Cooperhouse explained. They grow cells of muscle, fat and connective tissue in large, stainless-steel tanks, "similar to a brewery." These different cell types are then formed into fillets, cubes for poke and other dishes and products that consumers enjoy.
"Our cell-cultured seafood will provide the same taste, texture, nutritional, and culinary attributes of conventional seafood products, but without any mercury, microplastics, pathogens, parasites or other harmful contaminants that might otherwise be found," he added.
BlueNalu's whole-muscle, cell-cultured yellowtail prepared in a poke bowl. BlueNalu
BlueNalu's goal is to provide a third option to complement wild-caught and farm-raised seafood, to alleviate the stressors on wild fisheries and allow them to replenish, Cooperhouse said.
"Demand for seafood is at an all-time high and anticipated to increase significantly in the years ahead, yet our global supply chain is increasingly vulnerable, and there is already a very challenging and fundamental gap in our ability to feed the planet with high-quality protein that will continue to widen during the coming decades," Cooperhouse said. BlueNalu hopes to fill in that impending gap in the seafood supply chain, he added.
BlueNalu's entry into the global competition will be a cell-cultured bluefin tuna fillet, which is also the initial product they anticipate launching in commerce at a large scale. The company decided to compete with this "prized fish of the sea" because the species has been severely overfished and is known to contain high amounts of mercury, yet still remains in high demand, Cooperhouse said.
The semi-final round of judging will take place in Fall 2022, and the top ten teams will then compete in the final round of judging in late 2023. The grand prize team will create at least twenty-five cuts of structured chicken breast or fish fillet analogs of 115 grams, or four ounces, that replicate the sensory properties, versatility, and nutritional profile of conventional chicken or fish, Business Wire reported. They will take home a $7 million prize.
The interest in and financing of cell-based foods like BlueNalu's tuna point to widespread popular concern over the health of the oceans. There has been a shift in consumer behavior to desire products that are healthy for humans and the planet, Cooperhouse said. National governments are also increasingly concerned about food security and are providing support to the new cell-cultured foods sector as a possible solution, he added. Overall, people want to find ways to enjoy resources from the sea without worry or guilt. Competitions like XPPRIZE help to drive innovation and create that reality.
BlueNalu's whole-muscle, cell-cultured yellowtail prepared in acidified form in a kimchi recipe. BlueNalu
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A deadly coral disease took over Florida's reef tract in 2014 and now is rapidly spreading around the Caribbean; the infection may be a result of ballast water from ships, according to new research.
The infection, called stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) has the potential to be the most deadly coral disease because of how rapidly it spreads and its high death rate for more than 30 susceptible coral species, according to The Guardian.
The disease reached the Bahamas in 2019 and has since been spreading rapidly in the area, according to The Guardian.
"The disease is spread along about 75km of reef tract, about 46 miles – so for Grand Bahama that is a large structure of reef," Krista Sherman, senior scientist for the Perry Institute and co-author of the new peer-reviewed study, said to The Guardian. "We're talking about mostly covering the entire southern coastline of the island."
There are concerns that the coral infection could affect spiny lobsters, the country's main fishery export, Adrian LaRoda, president of the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance said to The Guardian. Spiny lobsters bring in $90 million a year, and the industry employs around 9,000 people.
"Any negative impact on our reefs would definitely drastically affect our spiny lobsters because the mature animals migrate [from the reefs] to the fish aggregating devices [a technique for catching fish]," LaRoda said to The Guardian.
In May, despite scientists' hope of the disease not reaching the area, it reached the Dry Tortugas, a remote, protected area that doesn't get much ship traffic. A new study supports the idea that the ballast water of ships moves the disease around, according to The Guardian.
Researchers at the Perry Institute for Marine Science found that SCTLD was more ramped near Bahamas' main commercial ports, linking the spread of the infection to ships, according to The Guardian.
In the 1980s, the zebra mussel traveled on ships from eastern Europe and landed in the Great Lakes. The mussel is pesky and fast growing — clogging pipes, littering beaches and suffocating native shellfish, according to WUSF News. The event was blamed on the dumping of ballast waters, and brought about stricter regulations.
By 2024, ships will have to have treatment systems onboard to clean the ballast water in tandem with the 2004 treaty rendered by the International Maritime Organization, Rob Brumbaugh, a senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy said to WUSF News.
The International Maritime Organization also implemented the Ballast Water Management Convention in 2017 after deadly pathogens were spread from ships. The convention requires ships to discard their ballast water at least 200 nautical miles from the shore and 200 meters (around 656 feet) deep before docking to avoid bringing in toxic pathogens, according to The Guardian.
The most effective treatment for reducing the mortality of SCTLD is applying an antibiotic amoxicillin on to the corals, although it's not a permanent treatment, according to The Guardian.
A diver applies antibiotics to an elliptical star coral with stony coral tissue loss disease in the Tortugas. Rachel Johns / Dry Tortugas National Park
Judith Lang, scientific director at the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment project said there is a need to deal with the possible human impact related to the event instead of simply administering a treatment, according to The Guardian.
"Given a chance, nature can heal naturally," Lang said.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
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Do the children in your life love using their imaginations and learning about the natural world?
"The OceanX collaboration will cultivate a sense of wonder for the ocean by engaging children in a fun and amazing experience through the mysterious playground of the deep blue," Crayola Attractions and Retail executive vice president and general manager Vicky Lozano said in a press release announcing the teamup.
The innovative partnership has two components launching this month, one that involves adventuring out into the world and one that can be explored from the comfort of home.
1. Crayola Experience Attraction Takeover
In a first-of-its-kind "takeover event" for Crayola, OceanX is designing the fun at Crayola Experience, the company's branded attraction. Visitors during the takeover will be able to participate in ocean-themed fun like taking an "underwater" photo in a Crayola OceanX sub, sculpting an ocean creature and placing it on a 3D mapping table, watching sea creatures through "portholes" showing OceanX footage and building a coral reef from recycled marker caps.
"Just as Crayola Experience brings Crayola to life, this collaboration with OceanX will bring the wonders of the ocean to life for tens of thousands of children," Lozano said.
The tour launched July 3 at Crayola Experience Orlando in the Florida Mall, where it will continue through July 25. It will then move to four other U.S. locations through the summer of 2022. You can find details here.
2. Crayola Experience Home Adventures
For those who can't make it to a Crayola Experience location, the ocean adventure will come to you.
The teamup is launching an Ocean Edition of the Crayola Experience Home Adventure. The kit provides three hours of video content that guides children through nine activities, including a drawing tutorial with Crayola designer April Weiss.
"The Crayola Experience Home Adventure Ocean Edition brings the wonder of the sea into homes through digital experience and hands-on creativity," Crayola explained in a press release. "Guided by Crayola crayon characters, the whole family will learn fascinating marine life facts as they journey through the ocean and create colorful crafts inspired by the amazing sea creatures they meet along the way."
The kit is available for preorder here.
From Australia's Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean, the climate crisis is already having a profound and deadly impact on the world's coral reefs. But how will this affect each of the different ecosystems and communities that rely on coral's unique ability to construct habitats and protect coastlines?
A research team based at the University of São Paulo in Brazil has helped answer that question for the tropical Atlantic by assessing how the range of three key species of corals will shift depending on how many more greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere.
"Our most striking result was that all three species that we selected and that are important reef-builders of the Atlantic will face changes in its distribution, regardless of the scenario," study lead author and Ph.D. candidate Silas Principe told EcoWatch in an email. "That is, even if we are able to reduce the emissions and climate change, we will still see changes in the coral reefs of the Atlantic."
The research, published in Frontiers in Marine Science Monday, focused on three species of stony corals that are important for the construction of Atlantic tropical reefs: Mussismilia hispida, Montastraea cavernosa and the Siderastrea complex. These species act as "ecosystem engineers," a Frontiers press release explained, playing a similar role in the marine environment to the role beavers and their dams play on land.
"Even when not playing a major role as a builder, all these species contribute to increase the complexity — the 3D structure — of the reefs, which creates spaces and resources for other species," Principe said.
That means that, if these species leave a particular area, their absence will have a profound impact on the entire reef. This, in turn, could impact human communities that rely on reefs for "ecosystem services" such as coastal protection, tourism and food.
To find out how the three species' ranges might shift as global temperatures warm, the researchers first looked up the species' current distribution in databases like the Global Biodiversity Facility and the Ocean Biodiversity Information System. They then connected this distribution to the species' ideal conditions, such as sea surface temperature. Using models, they were then able to predict what the corals' range would be by 2100 based on low, moderate and high predictions for greenhouse gas emissions.
They found that the range of all three species would change under all potential emissions scenarios and all species would lose habitat by 2100 under the worst case scenario. M. Hispida was especially at risk, as it was projected to lose habitat in every emissions scenario. The study authors prepared a website that allows users to see in detail how each coral's range will change under which emissions scenario.
The study also predicted that some Atlantic regions would be more impacted than others. In particular, Brazilian reefs are vulnerable because they are constructed of fewer species.
"Here, the loss of the endemic Mussismilia hispida and of the Montastraea cavernosa could cause major changes in the coral reefs," Principe said.
This would especially be a problem for the traditional communities of Brazil's Abrolhos region, who rely on the fisheries of the reefs for food.
Other areas projected to lose important species were parts of the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, study coauthor and Principe's supervisor Dr. Tito Lotufo told EcoWatch in an email.
Climate change could also open up new potential habitats for the coral species as conditions change, especially in the Eastern Atlantic, including the coast of Africa. However, Principe noted that there are several uncertainties surrounding range expansion.
For one thing, there is no guarantee that a species will be able to establish itself in a new area, even if the conditions seem right. Further, if a species does migrate, there is no guarantee that it will thrive in its new home.
There is also no guarantee that the new corals would actually benefit their new environments.
"Some places in the world are already facing something called 'tropicalization,' with tropical species invading temperate marine ecosystems and producing major changes," Principe said.
Changes in the number of coral species predicted for the lowest-emission (RCP 2.6; left panel) and highest-emission scenario (RCP 8.5; right panel). Yellow shaded areas highlight the regions where the loss of species is predicted, blue areas where the number of species may increase.Silas C. Principe, André L. Acosta, João E. Andrade, Tito M. C. Lotufo
Facing the Future
That said, the study does provide some insights that could help with coral conservation. It identified some areas in which the corals' range was projected to remain constant. These would make ideal coral havens.
"Policy makers should have a more careful look into these places where no changes are predicted and that may constitute safe-areas for coral reefs, demanding conservation actions," Principe advised.
The team plans to continue their research by conducting similar range studies for other important reef species, such as algae and fish, to have a fuller understanding of how climate change will impact coral reefs in the tropical Atlantic.
For now, however, they emphasized that their research, and the plight of coral generally, is an urgent argument in favor of climate action and adaptation.
"For many years now we have already witnessed important changes in most coral reefs around the world, with massive bleaching and clear changes in the reefs' seascapes," Lotufo said. "Hence, they are not only threatened, but already strongly impacted by climate changes, especially global warming resulting from human CO2 emissions... We need now not only to urgently reduce these emissions, but also plan ahead and put together a strategy to cope with the projected consequences."
New York City's air quality was the worst in the world on Tuesday, posing a danger to everyone, not just groups considered more vulnerable than the general population. Even thinned by its 2,500 mile journey across the continent, smoke was so thick George Pope, a professor of earth and environmental studies at Montclair State University, couldn't see Manhattan from his New Jersey office.
"You can pretty much always see the skyline, at least a silhouette, if it's a hazy day," he told The Guardian. "This is, like, this is unprecedented." Nearly 80 large wildfires have burned more than 1.3 million acres across 13 states so far this year.
As reported by The Associated Press:
"These fires are going to be burning all summer," said University of Washington wildfire smoke expert Dan Jaffe. "In terms of bad air quality, everywhere in the country is to going to be worse than average this year."
Growing scientific research points to potential long-term health damage from breathing in microscopic particles of smoke. Authorities have scrambled to better protect people from the harmful effects but face challenges in communicating risk to vulnerable communities and people who live very far away from burning forests.
For a deeper dive:
Air quality: The Guardian, AP, Axios, Today Show, The Hill; Fires: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Hill; Health risks: AP explainer; Photos: Buzzfeed; Climate Signals background: 2021 Western wildfire season
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