US and China make big climate pledges at UN General Assembly

September 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Two of the world’s largest economies — and by far the largest carbon contributors — have committed to stop financing the climate crisis. On Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York , the U.S. and China pledged to cut off financing for activities that fuel the climate crisis. These commitments are good news, especially as leaders struggle to build momentum for COP26 in November. According to President Xi Jinping, China will no longer build coal-fired plants overseas. When this policy is implemented, China could cut off up to $50 billion in foreign investment. Consequently, this could mean the end of coal power exploration, given that China is currently the largest investor in coal-powered plants internationally. China has up to 47 coal plants planned in 20 countries; these plans may be canceled as financing is cut off. Related: Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations While speaking to members of the press, Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University, elaborated on China’s climate promises. “It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” said Lewis. “This is the announcement many have been waiting for.” As for the United States, President Joe Biden pledged to increase funding to underdeveloped countries to fight climate change . “In April, I announced the United States will double our public international financing to help developing nations tackle the climate crisis, and today, I’m proud to announce that we’ll work with the Congress to double that number again, including for adaptation efforts,” Biden said during his U.N. General Assembly address on Tuesday. While the news of the U.S. increasing its support for underdeveloped countries is welcomed, the action needed by developed countries to fight the climate crisis is still below expectations. For instance, the U.S.’s current climate pledges amount to $11.4 billion annually, despite statements from the independent Overseas Development Institute estimating that the country would need to contribute $43.4 billion to reach its “fair share.” Via EcoWatch Lead image via Patrick Gruban

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US and China make big climate pledges at UN General Assembly

Officials worry COP26 climate conference is at "high risk of failure"

September 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The highly anticipated U.N. climate conference COP26 is at “high risk of failure,” according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Planned to take place this November in Glasgow , COP26 intends to bring together global leaders to address the climate crisis. However, mistrust and lack of commitment may hinder meaningful progress. While addressing the press in New York on Wednesday, Guterres spoke on his concerns. “I believe that we are at risk of not having a success in COP26,” Guterres said. “There is still a level of mistrust, between north and south, developed and developing countries, that needs to be overcome.” Related: Related: Failing to curb emissions puts Earth on “catastrophic pathway” Guterres says that the world must seriously think about the next step towards salvaging the climate . In a bid to bring more people on board, Guterres has been meeting with global leaders in preparation for COP26. “We are on the verge of the abyss and when you are on the verge of the abyss, you need to be very careful about what the next step is. And the next step is COP26 in Glasgow,” Guterres said. Developed countries have been called out for their lack of commitment to climate promises. Although most have pledged to address the issue, actions have been slow. Developing countries, which often experience the worst of climate change’s effects despite contributing to it the least, want wealthier nations to uphold their commitments. “We need the developed countries to do more, namely in relation to the support to developing countries. And we need some emerging economies to go an extra mile and be more ambitious in the reduction of air emissions ,” Guterres said. Scientists have warned that the world is doing little to mitigate climate change. Recent studies have shown that global warming might drive temperatures above 1.5 degrees Celsius in about two decades unless serious action is taken to deal with the emission problem. Via Reuters Lead image via Dean Calma / IAEA

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Officials worry COP26 climate conference is at "high risk of failure"

Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

September 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

Activists in  New York  are trying to shame rich countries into keeping an expensive promise to the Global South. A new version of a digital “climate clock” displayed in Union Square shows a climate-action timeline along with an amount rich countries still owe. These richer countries promised to invest $100 billion annually in a global  green energy  fund to help developing nations. According to one photo taken of the digital clock, those countries are wondering about the whereabouts of the other roughly $90.5 billion promised this year. Related: NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming The climate clock forms part of the backdrop in which the United Nations General Assembly began its meeting in New York on Monday. The U.N. recently labeled the sorry state of our climate as a “code red for humanity.” According to the clock, we have about seven years and 300 days to slash emissions before facing the worst climate  emergency . “The new IPCC report sent a clear, unequivocal message: we are in a  climate  emergency, and without drastic corrective action on track for climate catastrophe,” said Laura Berry, Climate Clock research and advocacy director, in a statement, as reported by Common Dreams. The original climate clock was unveiled last September. Organizers of the display aren’t impressed by the progress made since then. They’re especially irate that the U.S. has failed to honor its  financial  obligations. “ Africa  needs countries like the U.S.—that are the greatest contributors to the problem—to also contribute the most to helping solve it,” said Climate Clock global ambassador Jerome Ringo. “The United States is only 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must contribute our fair share to the Green Climate Fund.” A lot of individuals and organizations are pessimistic about whether the richer countries will step up. Oxfam International estimated that “wealthy nations are expected to fall up to $75 billion short of fulfilling their longstanding pledge to mobilize $100 billion each year from 2020 to 2025 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change and reduce their  emissions .” Via Common Dreams Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

The City One is a compact, community-focused electric car

September 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

If less is more, then The City One is more car than you’ve ever seen before! This car is small, efficient, eye-catching, tough, and yeah — it’s electric . The entire design of this vehicle is sleek inside and out. There is no waste, no excess, just clean design. The style is rather minimalist , in keeping with modern design trends that celebrate simple lines and uncluttered design. AMC, the company behind this vehicle, has a different vision for its electric cars. It specifically designed The City One with community needs in mind. As ACM states on its website, “Our mission is to provide universal access to affordable electric vehicles in cities across the world. Thereby, we want to address the issue of climate change and overall improvement of quality of life.” According to information compiled by ACM, 85% of people have access to a household socket. The City One can be charged simply by plugging it into one of these household sockets. You can also charge it using a fast charger. At home, the vehicle charges in about 8 hours. With the power charger, it will recharge in 5 hours. This vehicle is powered with low-voltage 48 V batteries, four in total. The roof rack is designed to hold extra batteries . There’s a storage area in the back that’s surprisingly large, considering the size of the vehicle itself. It can seat four people with the rear seats unfolded.  These utilitarian electric cars could also be useful fleet vehicles for governments. At a time when the U.S. is planning to  replace the entire federal fleet with electric vehicles , designs like The City One are more relevant than ever. These cars can be used for transporting people, packages, foodstuffs. They can also be used by emergency responders, police officers and other officials. + ACM Images courtesy of ACM

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The City One is a compact, community-focused electric car

Air Company wins first place in NASA’s CO2 Conversion Challenge

September 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A technology, engineering and design-based company in  New York  has secured first place in NASA’s CO2 Conversion Challenge with a project that converts CO2 into sugars to create new resources on  Mars . The competition was meant to demonstrate the most efficient means of CO2 conversion that would allow future inhabitants of the planet to manufacture products using Mars’ atmospheric carbon dioxide and water as resources. “We are thrilled to have received this incredible recognition from NASA,” said Gregory Constantine, CEO and co-founder of Air Company, “The possibilities and applications for our technology are vast and we are thrilled to be able to continue to use innovation to push boundaries. From consumer goods that actively help mitigate climate change to sustaining people during space travel, our ambition is to help further humanity both on Earth and beyond.” The company was also named by TIME for having one of the 100 Best  Inventions  of 2020 and Fast Company for the Best World Changing Idea North America. Related: Yara invests in green ammonia for renewable energy According to the company, the main key to success came from designing a highly efficient and reliable non-biological process (patent pending) with the ability to operate without human interference. The  carbon dioxide  system can be constructed as miniaturized units sized to fit inside a Mars Exploration Rover or deployed at massive scales for more widespread operation. The process is made up of three phases. First, the system creates CO2 and  hydrogen  using water electrolysis, which is then passed over a catalyst to produce alcohols and water. Then, the alcohols are converted into aldehydes before the resulting mixture is transformed into sugars using a novel catalyst designed by Air Company for the system. Best of all, the entire process of turning air into sugar generates exactly zero waste since all the byproducts are internally recyclable. + Air Company Images courtesy of Air Company

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Air Company wins first place in NASA’s CO2 Conversion Challenge

Coral reef capacity has declined by 50% since the 1950s

September 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A recent study published by  One Earth  has revealed the troubled state of coral reefs globally and their impact on the ecosystem. The researchers established that the coral reefs’ capacity to offer ecological services relied upon by humans has declined by 50% since the 1950s. The study, conducted by the University of British Columbia, found that coral reefs offer key ecological services such as food provision and protection from storms and floods. It was determined that human activities such as overfishing, climate change and habitat destruction were responsible for the declining state of the corals. The study offers the first comprehensive look at how these human activities affect coral reefs’ ability to provide essential benefits and services to humans. Related: NOAA report shows climate change is killing Florida’s coral reefs Lead author Dr. Tyler Eddy, a research associate at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF), said that coral reefs must be protected. “It’s a call to action – we’ve been hearing this time and time again from fisheries and biodiversity research,” Eddy said. “We know coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots. And preserving biodiversity not only protects nature, but supports the humans that use these species for cultural, subsistence and livelihood means.” Researchers analyzed decades of coral reefs trends using data from various surveys and studies. According to senior author Dr. William Cheung, professor and director of IOF, “This study speaks to the importance of how we manage coral reefs not only at regional scales, but also at the global scale, and the livelihoods of communities that rely on them.” Researchers also noted significant drops in fish catches. The study found that fish catches peaked in 2002 and steadily declined over the years. The catch per unit effort is now 60% lower than in 1950. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Coral reef capacity has declined by 50% since the 1950s

What causes zombie plants?

September 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

Parasitic bacteria can teach us a lot, according to scientists who have just discovered a manipulation mechanism used by the bacteria to slow down plant aging. Their insights might lead to new ways to protect food crops from  disease . Some  plants  fall so far under the sway of parasites that they’re termed “zombies.” Instead of reproducing and living normal plant lives, they are reduced to being a host and habitat for parasitic pathogens. Researchers published their findings in Cell ,  detailing a manipulation molecule that phytoplasma bacteria produces. This protein molecule can hijack plant development, breaking down key growth regulators and triggering bizarre deviations in growth. For example, if you’ve ever seen the tight configuration of excess branches in trees called “witches’ brooms,” that’s an example of phytoplasma bacteria reprogramming its host plant. Related: The best plants for pollinators “Phytoplasmas are a spectacular example of how the reach of genes can extend beyond the organisms to impact surrounding environments,” said Saskia Hogenhout, one of the study’s authors, as reported by Newswise. “Our findings cast new light on a molecular mechanism behind this extended phenotype in a way that could help solve a major problem for  food  production. We highlight a promising strategy for engineering plants to achieve a level of durable resistance of crops to phytoplasmas.” The study found that SAP05, a bacterial  protein , disrupts a plant’s natural mechanism of breaking down proteins inside plant cells. With these proteins out of the picture, SAP05 can zombify the plant, forcing it to favor the bacteria over its healthy self. It triggers the growth of vegetative tissues and shoots and pauses the plant’s aging process. The researchers identified two amino acids in the plant which interact with SAP05. If they switch these amino acids with two found in insect protein instead, they can halt the abnormal growth. The study’s finding suggests that if  scientists  fiddle with these two amino acids in food crops, perhaps by using gene-editing techniques, they could overcome the zombifying effects of some parasitic bacteria. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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What causes zombie plants?

OFS furniture is eco-driven from tree to delivery

September 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Based out of Huntingburg, IN, with multiple showrooms around the country, furniture manufacturer OFS sets the bar high for sustainable production, protecting the environment and setting an example for other companies.  Not only has OFS earned WELL Platinum certification for its home office, but it takes its environmentally-conscious stance so seriously that it named its sustainability program. Called Common Grounds, in honor of the idea that finding common ground is the basis for meaningful change, the program focuses on greening every step of the business cycle. Related:  Heirloom Design provides furniture that may never see a landfill The process began in the 1950s with the foresight of OFS’ leaders at the time, Phyllis and Bob Menke. Upon noticing the effects of poor forest management in southern Indiana, they established the Indiana Nature Conservancy. This allowed them to acquire land damaged by over-foresting practices. Replanting and maintenance of the forest led to the current 7,100 acres held and monitored by OFS and the Menke family. The land is part of the American Tree Farm program and is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.  Jarod Brames, Director of Sustainability for OFS says, “By prioritizing sustainability initiatives, we’re investing in our future. Our company’s leadership has always taken responsibility for the planet, dating all the way back to our inception — well before many others started this focus. It’s something we continue to take very seriously.” OFS is also partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization dedicated to global reforestation. Through this association, OFS plants 60,000 trees annually, enough to counterbalance the company’s annual emissions over the lifespan of the  trees . The trees are planted in areas that are actively managed, which helps ensure increased survival rates and lost-tree replacements in a responsible way. The company also places an earth-friendly focus on packaging, using biodegradable foam that keeps furniture safe during shipping, yet reduces to 5% of its size once the unpacking is complete. To keep factory  waste  low, all excess wood chips are saved and stored to use for heat during the winter months. To further control the sustainable aspects of production and delivery, the OFS trucking company called Styline Logistics delivers all OFS furniture products. The company reports, “It has been part of the EPA’s Smartway program for over 17 years and utilizes bio-diesel in its operations.”  While OFS puts a notable emphasis on green production, it also provides a healthy work environment for employees with a central cafe that serves healthy  food  and a gathering space to build relationships.  Building on the belief that green products are the best option for consumers and the planet, OFS continues to meet the increasingly higher expectations within the industry. They achieve this by producing furniture with low emissions and relying on certified  natural materials  such as wood with FSC CoC certification, and BIFMA-level certified products, which is an industry-standard.  “At OFS, we’ve accomplished a lot when it comes to sustainability, but we also realize there’s so much more to do. Climate change is presenting some urgent challenges, and the pandemic has reinforced the importance of human health and well-being, especially in the built environment. As we look to the future, we’re aligning our efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, beginning with Human Health and Well-Being, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Life on Land. These are areas where we can use our experience and unique position as a family-owned company to make the largest impact for our customers, colleagues and communities,” Brames says. For transparency in regards to chemicals in its products, OFS provides Health Product Declarations for the top dozen products in its lineup. However, it admits they are early in the game and promises to continue on its quest to remove harmful chemicals as it becomes aware of them. In addition to chemical content, the team emphasizes long-lasting product design. It works towards ergonomic and durable furniture options that will be around for a long time.  Brames explains, “Our products are crafted to last. The quality materials we use allow our furniture to withstand years and years of use, while still looking and performing at its best. This keeps products out of landfills and reduces the amount of  wood  and other materials used.”  In addition to the WELL-certified buildings, multiple showrooms have earned LEED certification. An event center on-site, called Cool Springs, includes 600-acres dedicated to educating visitors about forest management, the importance of biodiversity and the lifecycle of OFS products, from forest to furniture.  “The act of planting a tree is powerful and symbolic. Trees grow slowly, so we like to think of it as a long-term investment in our future. We invite everyone who tours our Cool Springs retreat and hardwood forest to plant a tree and take part in helping our planet,” Brames finished. + OFS  Images via OFS

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OFS furniture is eco-driven from tree to delivery

The world is failing to limit global warming

September 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A newly released assessment by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) shows that nearly every nation has failed to meet a major climate goal. The goal in question is to keep global warming from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as per the Paris Agreement. The report, released on Wednesday, showed only one country’s actions to be compatible with meeting this goal. According to the new CAT rating system, “Only one country – a developing country – The Gambia scored an overall 1.5 degree compatibility.” While every other country varies in how close it is to meeting this climate target, most had their actions deemed “highly or critically insufficient” by the report. CAT’s analysis reviewed policies in 36 countries, plus the European Union. Related: G7 leaders commit to curb climate change, but fall short on coal “Almost all developed countries need to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition,” the assessment explained. Behind The Gambia, there are only seven nations deemed “almost sufficient” by the report. These countries include Costa Rica , Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria and the U.K. On the opposite end of the rating system, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand were all found to be “critically insufficient” in their attempts toward achieving 1.5 degree Celsius goal compatibility. While these findings are troubling for many environmentalists, German climate activist Luisa Neubauer emphasizes that “this study shouldn’t be a moment of pity.” Instead, Neubauer says, “the adequate answer to this study would be drastic climate action.” The CAT assessment details several areas of improvement needed to meet climate goals. Suggested improvements include scaling up renewable energy developments and canceling coal and pipeline construction projects. But change must come quickly. As the assessment points out, “The most important target date is 2030, by which time global emissions must be cut by 50%, and governments are nowhere near this. We estimate that with current actions global emissions will be at roughly today’s level in 2030, we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit.” + Climate Action Tracker Via EcoWatch Images via Pixabay and Climate Action Tracker

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The world is failing to limit global warming

An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

September 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

This is East 17th Street, a collection of homes that range in size and style. It’s got beautiful construction, lovely walkways and landscaping. But what truly makes this Austin, Texas project unique is that these are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in America. Yes, you read that correctly. These homes were all made with a 3D printer. The homes range in size from 900 to 2,000 square feet in two and four-bedroom designs. All the houses have covered front porches, covered parking and a modern interior design . The rooms are big and open, the master bedrooms have vaulted ceilings, and the windows are large to let in plenty of light. Wood cabinets, woven rugs and little touches of greenery add pops of color to the neutral palette of the homes. A highly modern and uncluttered design creates a free-flowing, elegant look inside and out. Related: Khawarizm Studio showcases unique 3D printed vase and lamp Designed by Logan Architecture, the collection includes four houses total. Each home is solid, sturdy, safe and move-in ready. Their 3D-printed construction is proof that the future is now. The 3D printing for each home is thanks to Texas construction company ICON, which used its Vulcan building system. Through this process, 3D printing robotics layer cement onto striated surfaces. According to ICON, this system creates a tough, highly weather-resistant design. The 3D printing technology “provides safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand fire , flood, wind, and other natural disasters better than conventionally built homes and that can be built in a matter of weeks,” the company said in a statement. Printing the homes took five to seven days and was complete in March 2021. According to ICON, the East 17th Street Residences “are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in the US and ready for move-in.” + ICON Via Dezeen Images via ICON

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

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