We Earthlings: Let’s Restore the Forests To Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere

November 12, 2019 by  
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Paul Hawken’s important book Drawdown is a blueprint for reducing humanity’s … The post We Earthlings: Let’s Restore the Forests To Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Let’s Restore the Forests To Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere

This year’s ozone hole could be the smallest it has been in 30 years

September 17, 2019 by  
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For decades, scientists have closely observed the ozone layer , which protects Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This year, just in time for World Ozone Day, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) announced the state of the ozone hole — its size is the smallest it has been in the past 30 years. Ozone is created in our atmosphere when the sun’s high-energy UV rays rupture the stable covalent bonds of atmospheric oxygen (O2) molecules, transforming them into free radicals. Free radical oxygen atoms, being charged particles, readily react with other oxygen molecules to form ozone (O3). In nature, ozone molecules continually cycle so that they form and re-form at equilibrium. Related: The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060 However, the late 1970s saw scientific acknowledgment that pollutants from industrial and consumer emissions of chlorofluorocarbons ( CFCs ) prevent the normal balanced reformation of ozone, foreshadowing a weakened ozone layer. By 1985, the first recognized “ozone hole” — a patch of thin ozone layer in the upper atmosphere — was detected, alarming scientists and policy makers alike. Two years later, in August 1987, the Montreal Protocol , a landmark international agreement, banned production and use of ozone-depleting substances. A few weeks afterward, the United Nations designated September 16 as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer — more commonly known as World Ozone Day — to spread awareness for stewardship of our planet’s fragile ozone layer. Since then, scientists and researchers, like those at CAMS and the intergovernmental World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have meticulously tracked the ozone hole. Daily readings are documented thanks to a worldwide cooperative network of stations. Interestingly, the WMO projected that a recovery of the ozone layer to pre-1970s levels might be foreseeable around the year 2060. But this year’s findings could alter those projections. The 2019 hole is appearing to be the smallest size it has been in the past three decades, and its behavior has been intriguing. A polar vortex in early September affected the hole’s opening, then displaced the hole so that it was off-center and “far from the pole.” “This year, we have seen that the ozone hole has been particularly unusual,” said Antje Innes, senior scientist at CAMS. “Although it started growing relatively early, at the beginning of September, a sudden warming of the stratosphere disturbed the cold polar vortex that gives rise to the ozone hole.” The deputy lead at CAMS, Richard Engelen, shared that the small size of this year’s ozone hole is encouraging, but there is still a need for further study. “Right now, I think we should view this as an interesting anomaly,” Engelen said. “We need to find out more about what caused it.” + CAMS Via BBC Image via CAMS

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This year’s ozone hole could be the smallest it has been in 30 years

Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish

July 30, 2019 by  
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It’s no surprise that humanity is consuming more natural resources than the earth can replenish–– that is what experts mean when they say we are living unsustainably. But now, researchers can calculate the exact day of the year which we have surpassed the resources the earth can regenerate annually and this year that date was July 29. The Global Footprint Network has been calculating what they call, “Earth Overshoot Day” since 1986. Related: Scientific consensus reaches beyond 99% on human-caused climate change “Earth Overshoot Day falling on July 29 means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate,” explained the Global Footprint Network. “This is akin to using 1.75 Earths.” Their calculations are based on natural resources, including timber, fibers, food and carbon sequestration . Their data can also measure each country’s sustainability based on allotted resources per capita. Their findings show that some countries consume far more rapidly than others. For example, Qatar and Luxembourg were the first two countries to reach their nation’s Earth Overshoot Day. Iraq, Indonesia and Cuba were among the lowest, with their Overshoot Days not falling until December, when the year is almost over. “The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events,” said the Global Footprint Network. What can we do to change this course? Well, according to the Global Footprint Network, certain actions do have a significant impact on the Overshoot Day. For example, if the world cut meat consumption in half, our collective Overshoot Day would move 15 days. “We have only got one Earth— this is the ultimately defining context for human existence,” said the Global Footprint Network. “We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences.” Via EcoWatch Image via ThorstenF

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Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish

The pros and cons of electromobility

July 17, 2019 by  
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To those of us who concentrate on sustainability and green options for travel, electromobility appears to be a godsend — but the increasingly popular electromobility lifestyle still holds good and bad traits. Thankfully, as the market continues to grow, electric vehicles such as e-bikes and scooters only continue to improve since they were first introduced, and electric cars continue to get more and more sophisticated and efficient each year. While there are obvious benefits to using or even owning one of these trendy vehicles, the electromobility industry still has some kinks to work out. Here are the pros and cons to consider before embracing electromobility. Pro: less utilization of fossil fuels Though the extraction of different kinds of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) present different levels and types of impact on the environment, they all have one thing in common: emitting harmful pollutants and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned. These pollutants can include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that contribute to acid rain, smog and soot. While the burning of fossil fuels poses serious issues, it doesn’t stop there. The only ways to extract these fossil fuels from the Earth is by mining or drilling, and both have the potential to generate significant air and water pollution , inflict serious health issues to workers or the local community and alter ecosystems. Offshore drilling poses risks of oil spills that can absolutely devastate ocean life. As the transportation sector as a whole relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels, it is responsible for a majority of the hidden environmental costs that the fossil fuel industry implements on the Earth. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy , “In general, EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles … EVs typically produce fewer life cycle emissions [emissions from vehicles over the course of its life from production to disposal] than conventional vehicles, because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel.” Con: batteries Replacing harmful fossil fuels with electric vehicle batteries comes at a cost. Producing these large lithium batteries requires natural resources from lithium and nickel mines, which can emit pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into the air and pose health risks to workers. Most batteries, especially in smaller EVs like scooters and e-bikes, have a limited lifespan. After disposal, batteries can end up in landfills to release toxins into the environment or in the ocean to harm sea life. Related: We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? Pro: improved air quality The potential to dramatically improve air quality is arguably the biggest draw for electromobility from an environmental perspective. The lack of exhaust systems in electric vehicles means less carbon dioxide emissions and less greenhouse gas buildup in our atmosphere. According to the U.N. , air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths around the world and, “Transport contributes approximately one quarter of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, which is set to reach one-third, growing faster than any other sector.” The majority of car growth in the world is expected to take place in developing countries, most of which don’t have any type of vehicle emissions standards or programs incentivizing low-emission transportation. U.N. Environment is working to sponsor 50 countries and cities around the world to introduce electric cars and electric methods of public transportation. Con: energy use Even though electric vehicles don’t emit as much carbon dioxide, the batteries still need to be recharged regularly. As the demand for electric modes of transportation grows, so does the need for energy — and not all energy comes from renewable sources. For this reason, many owners of electric cars opt to install solar panels onto their homes to charge the vehicles from inside their garages at a much lower cost both financially and to the environment. Pro: decreased expenses Just the knowledge alone that their vehicle is better for the environment is enough for some consumers when it comes to purchasing an electric car, scooter or bike, but the reasons to make the investment into electromobility go far beyond peace of mind. A 2018 study from the University of Michigan revealed that in no U.S. state is it cheaper to use gasoline than electricity. Operating an EV in the United States, according to the study, was $485 per year, while the cost for operating a gas-powered car was $1,117. That means on average, gasoline-powered vehicles cost twice as much as electric ones. Because EVs don’t require oil either, oil changes aren’t necessary, meaning maintenance time and cost is significantly reduced as well. If all that still doesn’t convince you, some EV owners are eligible for a tax break as high as $7,500 depending on the individual tax situation and type of vehicle. The EPA website can help you estimate just how much money you could save by making the switch. Images via Airwheel , Trinity eRoller , RJA1988 and Markus Roider

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Teeny, tiny creatures play a big role in climate change

July 11, 2019 by  
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Tiny bacteria, protozoa and fungi in agricultural systems contribute methane into the atmosphere — and they’re spreading.

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Teeny, tiny creatures play a big role in climate change

Anti-pollution skincare products: Everything you need to know

April 1, 2019 by  
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Anti-pollution skincare products are the latest trend in the skincare industry. As people battle an increasingly toxic atmosphere, these products promise to combat harmful particles associated with pollution in major cities. These products work by cleansing the skin from nanoparticles that are absorbed from the air or by creating a protective barrier that acts as a shield against pollutants. But just how effective are anti-pollution skincare products? The need for pollution protection The call for beauty products that are anti-pollution has significantly increased as city dwellers around the world continue to battle poor air quality . The micro-particles present in pollution have been proven to age skin at a rate similar to the sun, leading many people to look for ways to protect their body. Online searches for skincare products that are anti-pollution have gone up some 73 percent this year alone. This shows how much people are concerned about the aging effects of pollution and how it harms skin. Related: Add this all-in-one natural skincare to your bathroom counter “We’re seeing an increasing global demand for skincare which counters pollution-related skin concerns including dull skin, inflammation, sensitized skin, blemishes, clogged pores and accelerated ageing,” Dr. Anna Persaud, the head of This Works makeup company, explained. Pollution causes skin issues Studies have shown that certain pollutants in the atmosphere can lead to skin-related problems. The University of British Columbia lead a study that connected nitrogen dioxide to dark spots on the skin. Nitrogen dioxide is a result of car exhaust and emissions from power plants. While people are more aware of the harmful effects of pollution, cities continue to battle poor air quality. In fact, the World Health Organization released a study in 2016 that showed how air pollution had increased eight percent over the previous five years. In densely populated cities around the world – such as Delhi and Beijing – the public is often warned about hazardous levels of air pollution. Indoor pollution is also a growing issue Air quality indoors is also something people need to be concerned about when it comes to skincare. Indoor pollution comes from a variety of sources, from cooking and heating to cleaning products that off-gas into the environment, all of which can damage the health of your skin. With people battling pollution at every turn, there is little wonder that the anti-pollution skincare industry has grown so much over the past decade. How does anti-pollution skincare work? Products that are marketed as anti-pollution help shield the skin from harmful dust particles, very similar to how sunscreens work. Other skincare products remove pollutants from the skin after you have been exposed. The most popular of these types of products are beauty masks, which cleanse the skin at a deeper level than traditional masks. Peach and Lilly , for example, offer a series of anti-pollution masks and other products that are aimed at reducing the effects of microparticles. While these products can remove harmful nanoparticles, there are no scientific studies to back up their effectiveness. The lack of data is largely due to the fact that anti-pollution skincare has not been around long. Another factor is that the products are only used once a day, and after the masks are removed the skin is once again open for exposure. Tips for choosing the best anti-pollution skincare products While masks can remove pollutants in the short-term, leave-on products are the best way to combat microparticles in the atmosphere. These types of products will protect you for longer durations of time and prevent your skin from coming into contact with harmful particles in the first place. You can also look for products that contain high levels of probiotics. These chemicals can help build up the skin’s natural defenses and form a barrier against pollution-related skin issues. That is not to say that anti-pollution masks are not beneficial, but they do leave the skin open to future attacks. The science behind anti-pollution skincare A lot of the anti-pollution skincare products feature vitamin C as the main ingredient. Vitamin C can lighten skin tone – which helps combat those dark spots linked to pollution – and decreases discoloration. Another common ingredient in these types of products are antioxidants, many of which are actually backed by science. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of studies that prove barrier products are effective at keeping particles from invading your skin. That does not mean they do not work, but more studies need to be done to prove just how effective they are in creating a pollution barrier. Given the popularity of these types of products , it won’t be long before additional research is completed. Fighting pollution While products that protect the skin are great, the bigger issue is fighting pollution at its source. Many cities are initiating eco-friendly policies to help curb emissions, but more work needs to be done if we are serious about combating the effects pollution has on our health. Unfortunately, companies that manufacture anti-pollution skincare products have little motivation to fight pollution at a large scale, as doing so would ultimately hurt their bottom line. Via The Guardian , Racked Images via Rawpixel , Moose Photos , Stux ,  AdinaVoicu ,  joiseyshowaa

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Anti-pollution skincare products: Everything you need to know

This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui

April 1, 2019 by  
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DIY home building is always an ambitious aspiration, but when it comes to building your own tiny home, it can be an entirely different beast. But that didn’t stop Maui natives Zeena and Shane Fontanilla from taking on the task to unbelievable results. The Fontanilla tiny home is 360 square feet of an incredible blend of beautiful design mixed with some impressive off-grid features such as solar power and a water catchment system that allows the family to use all of the rainwater that falls on the property to meet their water needs. After getting engaged, the couple decided to forgo buying a large family home that would lead to decades of debt, instead opting to built their own tiny home that would allow them to lead the life that they had dreamed of. They kicked off the project around 2014, doing most of the work themselves along with a little help from family, friends … and the television. Zeena told Design*Sponge , “Binge-watching Tiny House Nation on HGTV helped us hone in our ideal design.” Related: Serene off-grid tiny home sits tucked away in a Hawaiian rainforest The first step of the DIY home build for Zeena and Shane was designing their dream layout. The next step was finding a trailer that would suit their desired floor plan, which is where they hit their first obstacle. After searching Craiglist and other sites, they couldn’t locate a trailer that would fit what they had in mind. Instead of changing their plans, they decided to build a customized trailer. From there, they cut their own timber to create the frame of the home. The couple took about two years of working nights and weekends to build the off-grid tiny home of their dreams. Located on an expansive lot of idyllic farmland, the final result is 360 square feet of customized living space, complete with a spacious living room and double sleeping lofts. The interior is light-filled with high ceilings. Plenty of windows, all-white walls and dark timber accents, such as exposed ceiling beams, make the home bright and modern. In addition to its beautiful aesthetic, the tiny home operates completely off the grid. A solar array generates enough power for the family’s electricity needs. Additionally, a custom-made, 3,000-gallon water catchment system allows the family to use the water that falls on the property to fulfill the family’s water usage. To reduce energy use, the home is also equipped with energy-efficient appliances and a waterless composting toilet. You can keep up with the Fontanilla family’s tiny home living adventures on their Instagram page . + The Reveal Via Design*Sponge Photography by Stephanie Betsill via Zeena Fontanilla

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This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui

Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

March 25, 2019 by  
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New study conducted by Harvard, MIT and Princeton claims that releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to cool the climate could be safe, only if gas injections are limited to only cooling temperatures by half of what is needed to stop global warming. About two weeks later, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a United Nations proposal to commission further research on the emerging technology— called geoengineering — a move that both supporters and opponents of the technology see as blatant protection of the fossil fuel industry at the potential peril of the world. What is geoengineering? Geoengineering is a term used for a collection of technologies to artificially alter the earth’s climate. Other climate engineering technologies include ocean fertilization , carbon dioxide removal , marine cloud brightening , cirrus cloud thinning  and ground-based albedo modification. These strategies are incredibly controversial both because of the unprecedented and unknown risks at a global scale, but also for ethical reasons of how humans should intervene in the earth’s climate. The concept of injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere mimics the gases naturally released by volcanoes. The gases block the sun’s rays and cool the earth’s climate. Millions of tons of cooling aerosols would need to be released to limit temperatures to the recommended 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Related: Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-sigma’ What are the risks? Most geoengineering technologies have not been deployed in large scale experiments and therefore the risks can only be predicted with computer modeling. Previous studies concluded that injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere might alter rain and storm patterns and decrease water availability. There are also concerns that geoengineering would disproportionately impact certain regions, such as increasing cyclones in Asia and drought in Africa. What does the new study reveal? The Harvard-led study used computer simulation to reach a radical new conclusion: that blocking only half of the temperature increase would not have the risks typically associated with sulfur dioxide injection. In fact, their university-funded study – revealed that only 0.4 percent of the earth might experience worsened climate impacts. Alan Robock, a geophysics professor at Rutgers University,  warned The Guardian that Harvard’s study only looked at a few of the potential consequences. Robock’s own study lists 27 reasons against geoengineering, including its annual price tag of billions of dollars, the disruption of stratospheric chemistry, ice formation and increased UV exposure, as well as ethical questions of whether people have the right to see blue sky. US and Saudi Arabia block proposal to continue research In a controversial move at the United Nations, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Brazil rejected a Swiss proposal to commission further research on geoengineering. The proposal called for the assemblage of an expert committee to oversee geoengineering research and governance. Given the technology’s potential benefits and global-scale risks, most countries agreed the U.N. should oversee research as well as establish rules for future deployment. “I think governance is an incredibly vital component of geoengineering,” Shuchi Talati of the Union of Concerned Scientists told E&E News . “Even if you’re opposed to geoengineering, you need a governance mechanism to be able to enforce that.” The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are two of the world’s largest oil producing countries. They rejected the proposal over language stating that geoengineering should not be explored as an alternative to mitigation – in other words, they opposed the idea that reducing carbon emissions should still be the priority. The U.S. also leads the way in geoengineering research and resisted any oversight on its ability to independently implement its discoveries instead of curbing its carbon emissions . Currently, no international law explicitly prohibits countries from deploying large-scale sulfur dioxide injections, despite profound global-scale impacts. Controversy, ethics and impasse Many environmentalists argue geoengineering does not address the causes of global warming – carbon emissions – and that once the injected gases dissipate, they will have to be re-injected every year. Many also argue that even investment in research sends a message that countries may not need to keep to their Paris Agreement commitments of curtailing emissions since a back-up fix may be approved. Current predictions show that even if countries keep their ambition commitments, the earth will reach a disastrous 3 degrees warmer. “It seems to me inconsistent to say, on the one hand, that global warming is the biggest problem that humanity faces, and then go on to say, on the other hand, but we shouldn’t even do research on [solar radiation management] because it may pose risks,” Daniel Bodansky, an expert in international climate agreements from Arizona State University  told E&E News . “Either climate change is the biggest problem we face or it’s not. And if it is, then it’s all hands on deck.” Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

Introducing … VERGE Carbon

February 19, 2019 by  
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A new conference will focus on a broad range of practices and technologies that aim to draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and repatriate them back into the soil, into new materials, into forests and farms, or to bury and sequester them — and the commercial viability of doing so.

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Introducing … VERGE Carbon

Fake trees could help in the fight against climate change

February 6, 2019 by  
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One of the best ways to fight climate change is to invest in trees and plants. Branches and leaves help trap carbon dioxide, effectively reducing overall pollution in the atmosphere. The only hurdle is that trees take up a lot of land and resources to cultivate, which is why scientists are turning to an alternative source in the fight against carbon emissions. Scientists in Germany just published a new study about how artificial plant life can also cut down on carbon pollution . The team created an artificial system that absorbs carbon dioxide and turns it into a product that is rich in carbon, like alcohol. The system then releases oxygen into the air and captures any excess carbon byproducts for later use. Related: How to teach children about climate change The artificial system is actually more effective than what plants and trees do naturally. In fact, some experts believe this new technology is about 1,000 times better than its natural counterpart. This is significant, because there is not enough room on the planet for trees and plants to absorb the amount of carbon we are currently emitting into the atmosphere. Although artificial trees might be the answer to help curb carbon emissions, there is one catch to the system. According to The Guardian , the cost of installing artificial trees is beyond the reach of most communities. Starting a small forest of artificial trees costs close to a quarter of a million dollars, and that is just to get the ball rolling. Scientists hope to decrease that price point in the near future, but that will only happen once technology progresses and investors get more interested in funding research. If scientists can lower the cost of artificial trees, then it might be our best option for capturing  carbon emissions. But this technology is competing against other methods of removing carbon from the air, so only time will tell if artificial systems are the answer to the growing problem of climate change. Via The Guardian  and  Popular Science Image via Pixabay

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Fake trees could help in the fight against climate change

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