Beavers could be contributing to warming in the Arctic

July 6, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that beavers’ actions could be contributing to climate change. The study, which involved analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery, has shown that beavers are constructing dams and lakes in the Alaskan tundra. The actions of these beavers are transforming the Alaskan landscape in a way that is dangerous to the environment. When they form new bodies of water, they contribute to the thawing of frozen permafrost, which is a natural reservoir for methane and carbon dioxide. When lakes are formed, these greenhouse gases are likely to leak into the atmosphere. There has been a sharp increase in the number of beavers in the Alaskan tundra in the last two decades. According to the research, scientists have spotted increasing numbers of beavers over a very small area. These beavers carry dead trees and shrubs to create dams, resulting in new lakes that flood the permafrost soil and release methane. Related: Climate change could lead to dramatic decline in narwhals The sudden rise in the number of beavers in the Arctic region has lead to more of these dams. Ingmar Nitze, a researcher from the Alfred Wegener Institute and author of the study, said, “We’re seeing exponential growth there. The number of these structures doubles roughly every four years.” The study found that the number of dams in a 100-square-kilometer area around Kotzebue increased from two in 2002 to about 98 in 2019. This is a staggering 5000% increase in the number of dams. Nitze said that although the lakes can drain themselves and leave dry basins, the beavers are smart enough to block the outlets and refill the basins. CNN reported that the Arctic permafrost is melting at an alarming rate. These natural methane and carbon dioxide reservoirs are releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Several studies are now underway to determine the amount of carbon dioxide being released from such reservoirs. “There are a lot of people trying to quantify methane and CO2 emissions from lakes in the Arctic but not specifically yet from beaver lakes,” Nitze explained. The researchers now fear that similar beaver actions may be happening in other areas as well. Nitze warned that the same could be happening in the Canadian tundra and Siberia among other places in the world. + Environmental Research Letters Via CNN Image via Jan Erik Engan

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Beavers could be contributing to warming in the Arctic

Top 5 sustainable products from IKEA to add to your home

July 6, 2020 by  
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IKEA has become a household name because you can buy just about everything you need for your home there. Not only does this company make every piece of furniture you could want, IKEA actually makes many amazing sustainable products. IKEA’s commitment IKEA has taken big steps to encourage sustainability. There are many products available at IKEA that are made with renewable and/or recycled materials as part of IKEA’s commitment to creating a sustainable future. All IKEA products are designed to be repurposed, recycled, reused, repaired and resold in order to generate as little waste as possible. It also gives DIYers lots of opportunities to get creative. IKEA has been working toward completely phasing out all single-use plastic products and using 100% renewable energy for all IKEA operations and direct suppliers.  Popular sustainable products at IKEA IKEA is already using wood that comes from recycled sources and cotton that comes from more sustainable sources. Meanwhile, the use of natural fiber materials like cork and rattan has increased at IKEA. The company has also implemented the IWAY standard, which specifies requirements that suppliers must meet in order to maintain certain environmental and animal welfare conditions. IKEA has a huge catalog of sustainable items, but these are the top five that customers love. GUNRID air-purifying curtain Made with a mineral-based coating, this air purifying curtain actually improves the air quality of your home. When exposed to sunlight streaming through the windows, the curtain breaks down indoor air pollutants. The fabric itself is made from recycled PET bottles. Unlike so many other air purifiers, this one isn’t powered by electricity and doesn’t need you to turn it on. Any time the sun is shining on your curtains, they are working to make your home healthier. Related: IKEA’s new air-purifying curtain will decrease indoor pollutants SOARÉ placemat The vivid SOARÉ placemat is handwoven with water hyacinth. This plant grows in abundance along the Mekong River, where it must be regularly harvested in order to keep the waters passable. This placemat helps continue the tradition of hand-weaving that has existed in this region for decades and provides work for those who harvest, dry and weave the plant fibers together. Water hyacinth is extremely fast-growing and it is mainly harvested and woven by women, who earn a living by working with this plant. Often, several women gather together to weave the plants while they laugh and socialize. Each purchase of these handwoven mats supports economic opportunities for women. TÅNUM rug Made entirely out of leftover fabric, the TÅNUM rug is another handwoven offering from IKEA. It is made completely from fabric scraps and leftovers from IKEA’s bed linen productions. Weavers in organized weaving centers in Bangladesh create these beautiful rugs to grace the floors of homes around the world. This methodology helps reduce waste and gives you the chance to brag to all your friends that your rug is made completely from recycled materials. Each of these rugs is handcrafted using different fabric scraps. That means every TÅNUM rug you place in your home is completely unique. ISTAD resealable bag ISTAD resealable bags are made almost completely from plastic that comes from the sugar cane industry. This material is both renewable and recyclable . The bioplastic is expected to save around 75,000 barrels of oil every single year. That’s a big step toward reducing the damage that has been done to the planet. SOLVINDEN light The SOLVINDEN lantern is a bright, solar-powered LED light that does not require cords or plugs. It has its own solar panel that converts sunlight into electricity. Solar energy is completely clean and renewable. The lightweight, eye-catching light comes in multiple styles to fit every decor. Because it also catches the sun’s rays and converts them into energy, this is a highly popular sustainable product from IKEA. This lantern lasts 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs and consumes up to 85% less energy .  Living sustainably There are many small ways to do big things to help the environment. Purchasing sustainable items from companies that take strides to maintain environmentally friendly standards is a great way to do more to help the environment. Buying beautiful, sustainable products made by a company that takes its responsibility to the world seriously is a great way to put your money toward a brighter future. + IKEA Images via IKEA

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Top 5 sustainable products from IKEA to add to your home

Eos Bioreactor uses AI and algae to combat climate change

July 3, 2020 by  
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A new artificial intelligence invention by Hypergiant Industries could prove to be the solution to the world’s carbon dioxide problem. The company is launching the second generation Eos Bioreactor, currently still a prototype, that can be used to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and give out oxygen. Besides its ability to reduce environmental pollution, the new AI-based bioreactor also improves health. The excessive presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has led to a steady rise in the average global temperatures over the years. A National Geographic report states that ocean levels will rise by up to 2.3 feet by 2050 due to melting glaciers. This is just one of many problems that are brought about by excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Terrestrial radiation, which is supposed to be absorbed by the ozone layer, is also retained in the atmosphere. This leads to the greenhouse effect, where the globe is overheated. Related: New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow The Eos Bioreactor seeks to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to address climate change. Traditionally, the world relies on forests to absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and produce more oxygen. However, deforestation in major forests across the world has greatly affected the effectiveness of this approach. For instance, deforestation of Amazon increased by 34% in 2019. Such challenges make it unrealistic for the world to continue relying solely on forests to combat climate change. Technology like the Eos Bioreactor could help address these issues. According to the manufacturer, the AI-based technology is more effective because each boosted algae bioreactor is 400 times faster in capturing carbon dioxide than trees in the same unit area. Simply put, a single 3-foot by 3-foot bioreactor can absorb the equivalence of the carbon dioxide captured by an acre of forested land. Besides absorbing carbon dioxide, the bioreactor also monitors airflow, bio-density, pH, type of light and harvest cycles. Because it can be used in a home or office setting, the Eos Bioreactor can completely monitor and purify the quality of the air you breath. Why use the Eos Bioreactor According to the CDC, climate change has an effect on human health . Climate change disrupts the quality of natural air, resulting in respiratory and cardiovascular complications. Extreme weather changes can lead to serious cardiovascular injuries and even death. The effects of climate change can also contribute to stress in food production and lead to malnutrition. According to Hypergiant Industries, Eos Bioreactor technology can help reduce such effects. How the Eos Bioreactor works Algae require high levels of carbon dioxide to thrive. The bioreactor provides the right environment to grow algae, which can consume most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, the system is much more complex than that. Besides exposing algae to the atmosphere for carbon dioxide absorption, the system uses artificial intelligence to control the lighting, airflow, temperature and other factors of the environment. Such factors facilitate the accelerated rate of carbon dioxide absorption and processing. The bioreactor works in 5 key processes: Air intake: The air intake absorbs open air in a room or can be connected to a building exhaust. Once absorbed, the air is bubbled into the bioreactor tank, where it combines with algae. Growing algae : For the algae to grow, it needs carbon dioxide and light. Once carbon dioxide has been pumped into the bioreactor tank, the algae have to be exposed to light. The algae and water are pumped through tubes to maximize exposure to light. They mix with carbon dioxide in the bioreactor tank for the process to commence. Biomass accretion : Once the algae and carbon dioxide are mixed, the algae consume carbon dioxide to produce biomass. The biomass is harvested to create fuel, oils and high-protein foods and fertilizer. Harvesting and separation: The Eos Bioreactor uses AI to control the harvesting process. The harvesting system allows the reactor to retain the maximum amount of algae to suck up carbon dioxide. Clean air exhaust: Once the system uses carbon dioxide to produce biomass, it also consumes all the impurities in the air. As a result, 60% to 90% of the carbon dioxide input is consumed. The resulting oxygen-rich, clean air is released to the environment. The shape and appearance of the bioreactor The Eos Bioreactor measures 3-feet-by-3-feet-by-7-feet and is designed to fit in small spaces, including offices and homes. The bioreactor has options for solar power connections, which will make it usable in remote regions. The power used in running the system is minimal, and the waste produced can be utilized for other purposes. About Hypergiant Industries Hypergiant Industries is a company that focuses on providing solutions to current humanitarian challenges. One of the biggest challenges that humans face today is climate change. The development of the AI-powered bioreactor is one of many projects spearheaded by the company. Hypergiant Industries is working on several environment-focused products and solutions for clients including governments and Fortune 500. + Hypergiant Industries Images via Hypergiant Industries

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Eos Bioreactor uses AI and algae to combat climate change

Higher CO2 levels make plants less nutritious and hurt insect populations

March 18, 2020 by  
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The ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are squeezing out other nutrients that plant feeders — such as insects and people — need to thrive.

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Higher CO2 levels make plants less nutritious and hurt insect populations

Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon

March 5, 2020 by  
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Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, tropical rainforests could become a source of carbon in the atmosphere as soon as the next decade. Long appreciated as “carbon sinks,” those days will soon be over, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. “We’ve found that one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun,” Simon Lewis, study author and plant ecologist at University of Leeds, told The Guardian . “This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models.” Researchers spent 30 years tracking 300,000 trees in African and Amazonian rainforests. Their work took them to remote sites, and even required a week in a dugout canoe traveling deep into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team tagged individual trees with aluminum nails, charting their height and diameter every few years and calculating the carbon stored in both the surviving trees and those that died. The Amazonian forests — which face higher temperatures and worse droughts — were weakening first, but the African forests weren’t far behind. The researchers based their projections that the forests will soon turn into carbon sources on a statistical model, their own observations and trends in emissions, rainfall and temperatures to predict how forests will store carbon in the near future. Carbon uptake by tropical forests peaked in the 1990s. Back then, the forests absorbed about 17% of the carbon dioxide humans generated. But droughts, deforestation and high temperatures have adversely effected these carbon sinks. By last decade, forests could only take about 6% of global emissions off our hands. “Humans have been lucky so far, as tropical forests are mopping up lots of our pollution , but they can’t keep doing that indefinitely,” Lewis said. “We need to curb fossil fuel emissions before the global carbon cycle starts working against us. The time for action is now.” + Nature Via The Guardian and Phys.org Image via Etienne Delorieux

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Upcoming vegan festivals around the US in 2020

March 5, 2020 by  
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As plant-based eating has crept into the mainstream in recent years, vegan festivals have proliferated. In addition to the long-established fests, like those in Boston and Portland , Oregon, vegan fests have sprung up in surprising places, from West Virginia to Houston. This is by no means an exhaustive list of vegan events but a sampling of some of the top 2020 U.S. vegan festivals, large and small. Vegan Street Fair Los Angeles, March 21-22 The Vegan Street Fair in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles takes over a boulevard and fills it with vegan food and product vendors. Sample everything from plant-based “mozzarella” sticks, burgers, fried “chicken”, macaroni and “cheese” bites and more. The event is free, and you can purchase small samples or full meals from vendors. If you live in the area, the street fair is a larger extension of the weekly Vegan Exchange event in the same neighborhood. Related: Best US cities for vegans and vegetarians Savannah Veg Fest, Sunday, March 22 Savannah is simultaneously historic and progressive, with lots of good vegan food . On March 22, locals will celebrate all things vegan in beautiful Forsyth Park at the Savannah Veg Fest . Organizers are asking folks to RSVP for an accurate head count, as they’re aiming for a zero-waste event. Whole food advocate Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, is the keynote speaker. Inland Empire Vegan Festival, March 28 The Inland Empire is a vast swath of southern California between Los Angeles and Nevada. While California is known as a land full of vegans, the Inland Empire is less so. Edward Yniguez and Kawani Brown, in partnership with their nonprofit Plant Based For All, are behind several popular vegan events in southern California, including the annual Long Beach Vegan Fest. Last year, they put on the first Inland Empire Vegan Festival . “We didn’t know what to expect,” Yniguez told Inhabitat. “It was just a huge response. That’s why we’re doing it again.” Expect dynamic live performances from musicians like Mia Sera and Rebecca Jane, and a music fest-feel that might make you want to stay all day. Yniguez recommended the perfectly spiced vegan carne asada from Cena Vegan, which will be at the fest. “The seasoning, how they do it, that’s the killer right there.” VIP tickets get you early access to the event, a swag bag and a shady, seated area by the stage. Puerto Rico Vegan Fest, March 29 Started in 2016, the largest vegan festival in Puerto Rico features 25 food kiosks from around the island, cooking demos, an art exhibition, vendors selling cruelty-free crafts and special activities for kids. An exercise pavilion features talks about vegan athletes, a boot camp class with Malcolm Cuadra and Cris “Chally” Maldonado and the Booty Vegan Workout led by trainer and herbal nutritionist Pearl Alessandra. Santa Cruz VegFest, April 11 Santa Cruz, California always makes the lists of top vegan cities. So you can expect it to throw an especially good vegan festival. More than 5,000 people attended in 2019. This year, more than 100 exhibitors will be showing off cruelty-free beauty products, educating people on animal-related nonprofits and offering samples of vegan foods at the Santa Cruz VegFest . Experts will lecture on plant-based kids, food justice and vegan nutrition. Internet sensation Brian Manowitz, better known as the Vegan Black Metal Chef, is sure to draw legions of fans. Alabama Vegan Fest in Birmingham, April 26 Desare Flournoy, owner of Elegance on any Budget, founded this festival last year and was thrilled to have more than 2,000 people attend. Flournoy told Inhabitat that this year’s fest will include several local bands, spoken word performers and belly dancers. She’s also introducing a series of speakers, with topics like managing fibromyalgia naturally and understanding veganism. The Alabama Vegan Fest aims to welcome omnivores and the vegan-curious, not just die-hard vegans. Orcas Veg Fest, May 16 If you find yourself in Washington State’s San Juan Islands in mid-May, support the fledgling Orcas Veg Fest , debuting in 2020. In addition to the food samples and educational booths, the Orcas Winery will facilitate a special wine and beer garden. Plant-Based World Conference & Expo 2020, New York, June 5-6 This one is for the pros. Now in its second year, the Plant-Based World Conference & Expo bills itself as “The only professional 100% plant-based focused event for food service, retail, and healthcare professionals, distributors, investors, manufacturers, and the savvy consumer community.” Want to find out what’s next in revolutionary plant-based products? Looking to invest in the next big vegan thing? Looking for new suppliers for your wellness business? Network on the exhibition floor and attend sessions like “Data-Driven Plant-Based Merchandising: How to Turn Retail Insights Into Results” and “Why Big Food is Betting Big on Plants.” Vegan SoulFest in Baltimore, Aug 22 Baltimore’s seventh annual Vegan SoulFest invites the local community to bring their lawn chairs and spend a summer day in Clifton Park soaking up soul and hip-hop music, watching cooking demos, trying yoga or a workout with Khnum “Stic” Ibomu (now a wellness trainer) of the legendary rap group Dead Prez and, of course, eating lots of good vegan food. Co-founders Naijha Wright and Brenda Sanders are deeply involved in the local vegan scene. Wright co-owns vegan soul food restaurant Land of Kush , and Sanders heads a public health organization and co-directs an animal advocacy group. Portland VegFest, October 24-25 Now in its 16th year, Portland hosts one of the country’s biggest vegan festivals. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, but expect tons of food samples and a full day of lectures and cooking demos from this two-day fest. If you’re especially interested in health, a plant-based nutrition conference takes place on the Friday before Portland VegFest . Boston Veg Food Fest, October 24-25 Another biggie, the two-day Boston Veg Food Fest is turning 25 this year! There will be plenty of exhibits and speakers, not yet announced, not to mention an abundance of vegan foods to try. Expect to be greeted by a huge inflatable cow. The event, parking and food samples are all free. Seed Food and Wine Miami, November 5-8 For a more upscale veg experience, Seed bills itself as, “the premiere plant based food and wine festival in the country.” Activities span a week and include celebrity chef dinners, yoga, spirit tastings and endless vegan food and wine samples from more than 150 restaurants and brands. Via Veg Events Images via Inhabitat, Inland Empire Vegan Festival, Santa Cruz VegFest, Mary Margaret Smith Photography / Alabama Vegan Fest, Orcas Veg Fest, Plant-Based World Conference & Expo, Vegan SoulFest, Boston Veg Food Fest and Shutterstock

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Atmospheric carbon dioxide at highest level in 3 million years

February 27, 2020 by  
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Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now at the highest level they’ve been since the Pilocene Era, 3 million years ago, when giant camels roamed arid land above the Arctic Circle. According to a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) report, in 2018, the global average carbon dioxide amount reached a record high of 407.4 parts per million (ppm). NOAA points a finger directly at humans, noting that the atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased about 100 times faster annually over the past 60 years than from previous natural increases. “Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy,” the report said. “Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few hundred years.” Related: Pacific Ocean’s elevated acidity is dissolving Dungeness crabs’ shells Globally, atmospheric carbon dioxide increased about 0.6 ppm per year in the 1960s. In the last 10 years, this figure has been about 2.3 ppm per year, the study said. Carbon dioxide absorbs and radiates heat more than other major atmospheric components, such as oxygen or nitrogen. The NOAA report likens greenhouse gases to bricks in a fireplace that continue to release heat after the fire goes out. This warming effect is necessary to keep Earth’s temperature above freezing — up to a point. But once the level gets out of balance, these greenhouse gas “bricks” trap too much heat and make the Earth’s average temperature continue to rise. Carbon dioxide also dissolves into the oceans , where it reacts with water molecules to produce carbonic acid and lower pH levels. Since the Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century, the ocean’s pH has dropped significantly, interfering with marine animals’ ability to fortify their shells and skeletons by extracting calcium from the water. “For millions of years, we haven’t had an atmosphere with a chemical composition as it is right now,” Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, told NBC News . “We’ve done in a little more than 50 years what the Earth naturally took 10,000 years to do.” + NOAA Via EcoWatch and NBC News Image via Marcin Jozwiak

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Atmospheric carbon dioxide at highest level in 3 million years

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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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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