Will COP26 be postponed?

September 16, 2021 by  
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Most studies coming out on  climate change  emphasize the need for immediate action. But now, almost 1,600 nonprofits want to postpone the COP26 climate summit until next year. The reason? Unequal access to the COVID-19 vaccine, which could prevent delegates from less developed countries from participating. More than 200 countries are part of the annual U.N. climate talk, officially known as Conference of the Parties. The group’s first meeting was in 1994. COP26 is scheduled to meet in Glasgow this November. If it’s not postponed, this will be its 26th meeting, since  COVID-19  prevented the event last year. Related: Call for climate action issued by Christian leaders Last week, the Climate Action Network announced its worries that lack of vaccines coupled with quarantine restrictions would exclude many delegates, journalists and activists from participating in COP26. “There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the  UN  climate talks, between rich and poor nations, and this is now compounded by the health crisis,” Tasneem Essop, Climate Action Network executive director, said in a statement. Climate Action Network includes 1,500 plus groups from more than 130 countries. “Looking at the current timeline for COP26, it is difficult to imagine there can be fair participation from the Global South under safe conditions and it should therefore be postponed.” Others say we can’t afford to wait. John Kerry, the  U.S.  envoy for climate, called COP26 “pivotal” in addressing climate change and emphasized that time is running out. “After our absence for four years, my friends, we approach this challenge with humility,” he said, as reported by Reuters. “But let me be clear, we approach it with ambition.” In June,  U.K.  officials promised to supply vaccines to all registered COP26 participants who couldn’t otherwise access one. In August, the U.K. created a so-called “red list” of countries whose delegates would be required to quarantine in a hotel room for at least five days once arriving in-country. But as of September, delegates in Kenya, Pakistan, Nicaragua and other countries were still waiting to hear about the promised vaccine. And some people have started to suspect that the U.K. would prefer not to have the poorer countries attend COP26. One of the issues delegates will hash out is a technical provision about setting up financial markets that would trade carbon credits . Some people claim that the richer countries are trying once again to keep their financial advantage. Via Reuters , Yahoo Lead image via John Englart

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Will COP26 be postponed?

Call for climate action issued by Christian leaders

September 13, 2021 by  
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Christian leaders have petitioned officials worldwide to take action to address the climate crisis. In an unprecedented move, heads of several Christian denominations released a joint statement to encourage climate action ahead of key environmental conferences. The heads of the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Eastern Orthodox Church issued a  joint statement  last week, calling on global leaders to address two key issues: social inequality and climate change. The statement, seemingly directed toward the upcoming COP26 U.N. climate summit, sums up the current climate crisis . The statement urges leaders to take action to avoid a much worse scenario in the future. Related: Leaked report details what must be done to stop climate change “Today, we are paying the price,” the statement said. “All of us—whoever and wherever we are—can play a part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation …. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”  The statement points out that those most affected by the climate crisis are the poor, saying, “the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.” In contrast, the people most responsible for environmental damage are the wealthy. In November, Pope Francis will attend the COP26 U.N. Summit in Scotland. He has appealed to Christians to pray for world leaders to make courageous choices at the meeting. Church support could play a key role in climate negotiations. There are also plans to host major world religious leaders and scientists at the Vatican to forge a “common stand” on climate issues. Still, the community has its skeletons in the closet. Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Commission, a co-signer of the statement, has been criticized for his contribution to carbon emissions . Welby, a former oil executive, hasn’t divested his Church of England from fossil fuel companies. He claims the church may hold more sway in changing the industry as an investor. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pixabay

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Meet one vertical farm venture helping the industry grow past greens

July 20, 2021 by  
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Meet one vertical farm venture helping the industry grow past greens Jesse Klein Tue, 07/20/2021 – 00:35 Vertical farming needs to get beyond the leafy green business — the ability to grow crops such as kale, microgreens and lettuce in urban or indoor settings won’t transform the entire agriculture system. The industry needs to cultivate a much wider array of produce to mark more than a niche impact. Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), a Scotland-based vertical farm manufacturer, has started inching into this territory alongside its capabilities in helping organizations with traditional leafy green vertical farming. Its system can grow potatoes, strawberries, broccoli and celery seedlings that can be used by farmers to propagate crops on traditional farmland. While this is just a small step into the next era of vertical farming, the practice is helping farmers cut down growing times and reduce waste, according to IGS.  For example, according to IGS, the market for soft fruits such as berries in the U.K. is equivalent to $636 million per annum, but 100 percent of seedlings have to be imported into the country and 35 percent are thrown away before planting due to pests, disease and quality, costing the sector $16.4 million per annum. Growing seedlings locally using vertical farms could help defray those costs and improve the sustainability of local food systems. “[The] vertical farm gives producers a greater level of control over the first stages of the plant’s life,” Freddie Reed, product manager at IGS, wrote in an email. “Typically these early stages would take place in a glasshouse, however conditions are much less controllable than in a vertical farm where growers have complete control over every environmental aspect. In a glasshouse, conditions are influenced by external weather conditions so it may be too hot or cold, speeding up or slowing up growth accordingly. This means that when growers come to plant out their crop, they are often not at an ideal stage and might be either too big or too small.” Each tray is about 62 square feet, and the company has grown as many as 50 different crops in a single tower.      Courtesy of Intelligent Growth Solutions Close Authorship IGS licenses its technology to growers and farmers. It builds the farm towers and offers maintenance and innovation support while it is in operation. The company has eight farms deployed in Scotland, Australia and France and recently announced one for Abu Dhabi for customers including Eden Towers , Vertegrow and Madar Farms . But IGS is at an inflection point in scaling, according to CEO David Farquhar. The company expects to have 70 farms in production or live in 2022 with a large focus on the Middle East, where about 20 entities have reached out to inquiry about licensing the IGS farm technology, he said.  “Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, [United Arab Emirates], Oman, Saudi [Arabia], Jordan as well,” Farquhar said. “They have huge areas of desert. So the simple fact is that if they want to do this efficiently, they need to do it close to the centers of population. It’s important that we help them to find the right sites.”  We can grow chilies in about a month. Basil normally takes about a month to grow; we do it in about 16 days. IGS doesn’t sell the produce itself; it’s a technology company and turnkey service for growers offering 24/7 maintenance support, data analytics and crop recipes. Farquhar wants farmers to focus on what they do best; farming, while his team focuses on what they do best — engineering and designing the best vertical farm. According to Farquhar, his company has put millions of dollars into research and development aimed at a completely automated farming tower with smart LED lighting, precise ventilation controls and trays that create microclimates to grow things rarely seen in a vertical farm portfolio.  “We found that IGS was more of an industrial scale developer in terms of the height of the towers and the level of automation,” said Christian Prokscha, CEO of Eden Towers, a vertical farming company based in Australia and one of the company’s customers. “We were looking for large-scale industrial stuff. IGS’s crop model was a lot more advanced than a lot of the other competitors we looked at.” [ Read more about food & agriculture . ] Eden Towers has five farms, in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and Jakarta. The IGS system is in its Australia farms, where it grows kale, arugula, lettuce and bok choy. The company sends the produce to independent grocers who market under the grocer name, not Eden.  IGS’s farms are between 19.6 and 42.6 feet in height, with a footprint of 450 square feet. Each tray is about 62 square feet, and the company has grown as many as 50 crops in a single tower.  The dynamic lighting, automated ventilation and temperature controls are IGS’s secret to its crop variety expansion. Each tower has 100,000 LED lights that provide more than just “dumb sunlight” — in Farquhar’s words. The specific wavelengths and colors are calibrated for specific crops to increase efficiency and growth speed. The ventilation is also meticulously controlled for humidity and airspeed, and a second ventilation system absorbs the oxygen and water that the plants breathe out to keep the climate consistent. With each of these factors, the temperature between the trays in the tower can be up to 42 degrees Fahrenheit different.  The farms are between six and 13 meters in height, with a footprint of 450 square feet. Courtesy of Intelligent Growth Solutions. Close Authorship “Broccoli normally takes six weeks,” Farquhar said. “Our system will do it in 11 days. Seed potatoes that normally take 18 months, our system will do it in 75 days — 2.5 months compared to traditional farming. We can grow chilies in about a month. Basil normally takes about a month to grow; we do it in about 16 days. These are huge gains.” Farquhar is very passionate about addressing food deserts with his innovations. An island off the coast of his home country of Scotland generates a lot of renewable wind and tidal power but can’t grow enough fresh produce. That makes it a perfect place for energy-intensive vertical farms, he said.  “[The produce] comes in on a passenger ferry once a week,” Farquhar said. “And it’s probably already a week old, because of the journey it’s had to make. It’s not the freshest. If we can give [the island] a vertical farm, they’re able to grow for themselves 12 months of the year.” Energy concerns are ripe in the vertical farm world. A recent study from The World Wildlife Fund showed that certain conventional agriculture practices have a lower climate change impact than controlled-environment agriculture such as vertical farms because of the high energy inputs needed. For vertical farms to be sustainable, they need to be as energy-efficient as possible and get most of their energy from renewable sources.   IGS has succeeded on the energy reduction part, probably because it has the added incentive of reduced costs. According to Farquhar, the precise automated controls have dramatically reduced its energy usage. And the way the LEDs use power is very efficient, he said.  According to Reed, the extra low-voltage, three-phase power dramatically reduces energy consumption of the LEDs. They are dynamically controlled, delivering only the light the plants need when they need it. This process reduces power requirements by up to 50 percent compared to greenhouse growing. “When we did the assessment [of IGS] and looked at the [lighting and growing technology], the way that [IGS] converts the input power to the LED power was quite efficient. And that brought down the cost quite significantly of actually growing the crops,” Prokscha said.  Many places IGSs plans to build its vertical farms don’t have access to renewable energy grids.  “I think that’s a whole industry challenge and not just an IGS challenge,” he said.  [Want more great analysis on sustainable food systems? Sign up for  Food Weekly , our free email newsletter.] Pull Quote We can grow chilies in about a month. Basil normally takes about a month to grow; we do it in about 16 days. Topics Food & Agriculture Farmers Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Intelligent Growth Solutions’ ligh controls can grow produce in half the time as traditional ag. Courtesy of Intelligent Growth Solutions Close Authorship

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Meet one vertical farm venture helping the industry grow past greens

New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

August 17, 2017 by  
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We know food waste is an issue, but often it’s all too easy to forget about that bag of lettuce in the back of your refrigerator until it rots. It turns out 40 percent of the salad British families buy each year ends up in the trash – but a new refrigerator camera could help slash that waste. The Smarter FridgeCam helps people monitor expiration dates and even suggests recipes – for far less than the price of a smart refrigerator. London-based company Smarter says their FridgeCam can turn any refrigerator into a smart one for £99.99, or $129.50. The wireless FridgeCam allows users to monitor what’s in their fridge from anywhere using an app . But the product doesn’t just snap a fridge selfie. It also tracks expiration dates, notifies users when it’s time to buy more of a product, and offers recipes to help them use up food . Related: Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future Smart refrigerators can cost thousands of dollars, but according to Smarter, the FridgeCam could save users as much as £400, or around $518, every year – meaning the device pays for itself in around three months. The company says their product will work with any refrigerator on the market right now, and their app works for iOS and Android. Smarter founder Christian Lane told The Guardian, “The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialed this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way.” The FridgeCam is currently available for pre-order here . It’s slated for a September launch, and Smarter says free shipping is available for the United Kingdom and United States. + Smarter FridgeCam Via The Guardian Images via Smarter Facebook

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New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

Germany’s environmental ministry nixes meat, fish at official functions

February 24, 2017 by  
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The German equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency is saying yes to sauerkraut, no to bratwurst—officially, at least. Barbara Hendricks, minister for the environment, announced last week that the Umweltbundesamt , Germany’s federal environmental arm, will serve neither meat nor fish at state events. She cited as a reason the inordinate environmental burden they pose on the environment, especially in the case of livestock farming, which studies show generate more greenhouse-gas emissions than transportation. This isn’t a novel stance for the ministry. In 2009, the Umweltbundesamt counseled Germans to return to the prewar tradition of eating meat only on special occasions, if not for their health, then for the sake of the planet. “We must rethink our high meat consumption,” said then–environment minister Andreas Troge. “I recommend people return to the Sunday roast and to an orientation of their eating habits around those of Mediterranean countries.” A nation that offers hundreds of varieties of sausage may not be so easily swayed, however. Germans consume a lot of meat—about 60 kilograms (132 pounds) per capita per year, according to some estimates . Unsurprisingly, Henrick’s pronouncement has already drawn criticism, with one political rival accusing the minister of “nanny-statism” and forcing vegetarianism on people. “I’m not having this Veggie Day through the back door,” said Christian Schmidt, minister of food and agriculture. “I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology. Instead of paternalism and ideology. Meat and fish are also part of a balanced diet.” A member of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union party, Schmidt previously called for a ban on giving meat substitutes names like “vegetarian schnitzel” and “vegetarian sausage” because they are “completely misleading and unsettle consumers.” Infographic: The true environmental cost of eating meat He also censured German schools for eliminating pork from the menu out of consideration for Muslim students. “We should not restrict the choice for the majority of society for reasons of ease or cost,” he said. Meanwhile, Hendricks’s detractors have dismissed her a hypocrite, since meat and fish will still be offered in the staff cafeteria. “The ban only applies to a handful of guests, not to 1,200 employees,” said Gitta Conneman, a senior minister from the Christian Democratic Union. “This is pure ideology, a ‘people’s education’ for the diet.” But, at least for now, the environment ministry isn’t budging. “We’re not telling anyone what they should eat,” it said in a statement. “But we want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish.” Via ThinkProgress Photos by Marco Verch and Oliver Hallmann

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Duke University researchers use light to convert carbon dioxide to fuel

February 24, 2017 by  
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What if the carbon dioxide building up in our atmosphere could be put to good use as fuel ? For years chemists have chased a catalyst that could aid the reaction converting carbon dioxide to methane , a building block for many fuels – and now Duke University scientists have found just such a catalyst in tiny rhodium nanoparticles . Duke University researchers converted carbon dioxide into methane with the help of rhodium nanoparticles, which harness ultraviolet light’s energy to catalyze carbon dioxide’s conversion into methane. Rhodium is one of Earth’s rarest elements, but according to Duke University it plays a key role in our daily lives by speeding up reactions in industrial processes like making detergent or drugs. Rhodium also helps break down toxic pollutants in our cars’ catalytic converters. Related: Scientists create a new kind of matter called time crystals The fact that the scientists employed light to power the reaction is important. When graduate student Xiao Zhang tried heating up the nanoparticles to 300 degrees Celsius, the reaction did produce methane but also produced an equal amount of poisonous carbon monoxide . But when he instead used a high-powered ultraviolet LED lamp, the reaction yielded almost entirely methane. Jie Liu, chemistry professor and paper co-author, said in a statement, “The fact that you can use light to influence a specific reaction pathway is very exciting. This discovery will really advance the understanding of catalysis.” The scientists now hope to find a way to employ natural sunlight in the reaction, which Duke University says would be “a potential boon to alternative energy .” The journal Nature Communications published the research of seven scientists from Duke University’s chemistry and physics departments online this week. Via Duke University Images via Chad Scales/Duke University and Xiao Zhang/Duke University

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Malia Obama attends Dakota Access Pipeline protest

January 31, 2017 by  
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Her father may have left the Oval Office, but 18-year-old Malia Obama’s work has just begun. The former First Daughter attended a Dakota Access Pipeline protest at the Sundance Film Festival to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. She joined protesters the same day President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to start moving forward with the contested oil pipeline . Malia is planning to attend Harvard University this fall after a gap year, and reportedly obtained an internship with producer Harvey Weinstein recently. But she took the time to join an event expressing support for the Standing Rock Sioux, as it appears the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline won’t be ending anytime soon. Related: Trump signs executive actions to reinstate Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline In his last press conference, President Barack Obama said he didn’t think his daughters would pursue careers in politics , but did indicate they might be involved in social issues. He said, “I think that they have, in part through osmosis, in part through dinnertime conversations, appreciated the fact that this is a big, complicated country, and democracy is messy and it doesn’t always work exactly the way you might want…But if you’re engaged and you’re involved, then there are a lot more good people than bad in this country, and there’s a core decency to this country, and that they got to be a part of lifting that up. And I expect they will be. And in that sense, they are representative of this generation that makes me really optimistic.” Author Joshua Kendall, who’s written about presidents parenting, told The Christian Science Monitor First Children have spoken out on issues in the past, and Malia “is firmly in that tradition.” President Jimmy Carter’s daughter Amy participated in marches and was once arrested at an anti-Central Intelligence Agency demonstration. President Gerald Ford’s son Michael said Richard Nixon should confess his role in Watergate before his father pardoned Nixon. Via Grist and The Christian Science Monitor Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Malia Obama attends Dakota Access Pipeline protest

Quirky Pinocchio-themed museum looks like it came out of Geppetto’s workshop

November 23, 2016 by  
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This unusual complex occupies a irregularly-shaped piece of land located on the outskirts of north eastern Seoul. The client, an avid collector of Pinocchio dolls and artifacts from around the world, and owner of a private kindergarden , commissioned Moon Hoon to design a museum and galleries where her Pinocchio collections and related collections and designs could be enjoyed and experienced by kids and adults alike. Three buildings house different programs, and are organized around a nice grassed inner courtyard dominated by a sky-train, a pond, and large Pinocchio statue. Related: Enchanting fairytale museum will pay homage to Hans Christian Andersen The first building is inspired by the whale scene in the story. The curvilinear layout of the building references the whale and the wave, leaving very narrow crawl space between large and small stepped seats to enhance a sense of adventure. The open, concave crater-like space becomes an extension of the interior when the weather permits. The second building is where large character dolls and accompanying tables and seats are exhibited. A curved, high ceiling auditorium functions as a venue for different shows and performances. The third building features a water fountain that provides active sound and movements to the still environment. The balcony in the second floor can be opened on both sides to provide views of the neighboring forest. + Moon Hoon Via Archdaily

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Quirky Pinocchio-themed museum looks like it came out of Geppetto’s workshop

$20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize aims to turn CO2 emissions into useful products

July 28, 2016 by  
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A new contest launched in September 2015 aims to fund projects that convert carbon dioxide waste into useful technologies and products. This year, 47 entrants from seven countries around the world are competing for the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize to develop their product. The competitors include university students, startups, and unlikely contenders such as a father and son team and a high school group. The products they’ve managed to create from CO2 thus far range from concrete and carbon nanotubes to biodegradable plastic and fish food. The contest is being overseen by an advisory board of experts in chemical and biological engineering, energy and sustainability, and public policy . The competition involves three rounds that will take place over the course of four and a half years – in the first round, each submitted project will be judged for its technical and business viability. The competing technologies will be tested in one of two tracks, at either a coal power plant or natural gas facility to demonstrate their capabilities. Related: X Prize Announced to Save Oceans from Deadly Acidification and Rising CO2 Levels In October 2016, up to 15 semifinalists in each track will be announced, and teams can begin to demonstrate their technologies in a testing environment. In the second round, each team will have a chance to demonstrate their project in action in a controlled environment. Up to 5 teams from each track will be selected to split a $2.5 million milestone prize and move up to Round 3. The final round will pose the ultimate test to entrants, involving a demonstration of the technology under real-world conditions. There will be one grand prize winner in each track, awarded a $7.5 million grand prize each. The contest is one of the many initiatives of the XPrize Foundation , a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the world’s largest challenges through this type of large-scale competition. Other active competitions include projects to develop artificial intelligence, fully explore the world’s oceans, help improve adult literacy rates, create open source education software, develop a sci-fi style “tricorder” that can monitor and diagnose illness, and create low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. + NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize Images via  Phil Richards  and  Bjørn Christian Finbråten

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New California science center regulates solar gain with an arc of perforated screens

July 15, 2016 by  
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The energy-efficient building includes various sustainable features, including a stormwater retention system, a light-colored “cool roof”, and custom perforated stainless steel screens that reduce solar heat gain while allowing natural light to filter in. Related: Eastern Michigan University’s New Science Center Reaches for LEED Silver As a valuable addition to the campus, the facility aims to accommodate the university’s rapidly growing interdisciplinary science program that unifies Christian values with state-of-the-art technology. University President Bob Brower said the 36,000-square-foot facility “will enable the science program to reach new heights and support the continued success of our PLNU science faculty and students.” + Carrier Johnson + CULTURE + Point Loma Nazarene University Photos by Marcus Emerson , courtesy Point Loma Nazarene University

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New California science center regulates solar gain with an arc of perforated screens

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