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World's First Smart Microhabitat Grows Just About Anything

Food
World's First Smart Microhabitat Grows Just About Anything

Growing plants indoors can sometimes be a challenge for amateur gardeners, but with the Biopod, the world's first smart microhabitat, you can grow your own herbs, vegetables—and even a rainforest—in your own home.

Biopod's app-controlled terrarium allows you to monitor everything from lighting to watering with your smartphone. Photo credit: Biopod

What makes this tank so great for growing plants indoors? Basically, the environment inside the BioPod can be customized to meet the ideal conditions for whatever you happen to be growing.

The tank comes with an app for both IOS and Android phones that allows you to regulate temperature, lighting, humidity, ventilation and even artificial rainfall via Wi-Fi.

This low-maintenance tank is also ideal for those of you who have pet fish or reptiles. While it does not help feed your pets, the BioPod does have a built-in high definition camera so you can check on whatever is happening inside while you are away from home.

The tank is the brainchild of Canadian biologist and BioPod founder Jared Wolfe. Wolfe's original intention with the BioPod was to duplicate rainforest habitats in order to help save endangered frogs.

There are currently three versions of the tank in development. The Biopod One is ideal for herb or vegetable gardens or small animals. The larger Biopod Terra does the same thing but holds more or larger plants and pets.

Finally, the largest tank, the Biopod Aqua, works like a complete ecosystem that can hold plants and fish. The Aqua can also handle aquaponics, which is a hybrid farming method that combines fish (and their waste) and plants (which filter fish waste) to grow food for you to eat.

"Unlike current vivariums and aquariums, Biopod's technology allows for a natural free flowing system that replicates how a real environment operates," the company boasts on its website. "This system allows plants and animals to thrive while keeping the maintenance of a Biopod low."

The built-in bells and whistles on the Biopod can replicate the climate of a tropical rainforest. Photo credit: Biopod

The company is in the final stages of development and has 17 days to go on an already successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, raising $170,104 (much more than its original $22,783 goal).

The makers of the Biopod also want the tank to be an educational tool for students to learn about nature and ecosystems.

"Teachers and students can see different aspects of their environment including soil conditions, gas levels and moisture—all in real time," the company says.

If all goes as planned, Kickstarter backers should get their tanks by December. Check out BioPod's Kickstarter video below to learn more about the product.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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