Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

October 16, 2018 by  
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While the meat industry’s negative impacts on the environment have proved troublesome for some time, an assembly of scientists from various European research institutes have released a thorough analysis of the Earth’s food system that shows if farming practices and food trends continue unchecked, the planet’s capabilities of feeding the global population will be decimated within the coming decades, and global warming will not be able to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas emissions, land and water consumption, deforestation , biodiversity loss and aquatic dead zones are the central burdens of agriculture evaluated by experts. However, this year’s research study determined a new problem — food supply — to be the most concerning of all. With a booming population that is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, the environmental damages are enough that widespread food insecurity is knocking on our door. Related: Look out, meat industry – flexitarianism is on the rise “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann, lead researcher from the University of Oxford. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system.” The team examined precise data from every country to assemble the most comprehensive assessment of food production and global environment to date. Their diagnosis? Surviving within environmental limits requires a drastic reduction in meat consumption. “Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” explained Professor Johan Rockström from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.” While the problem requires multi-dimensional confrontation from technological , governmental and social standpoints, the experts are encouraging dietary changes on an individual level. The study recommends an astounding 90 percent reduction in meat consumption and a 60 percent cut in milk consumption for people in countries such as the U.S. and U.K., as well as the adoption of more sustainable farming practices, in order to keep temperature rise under control. “There is no magic bullet, but dietary and technological [farming] change are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste,” Springmann said. Calling it the “flexitarian” diet, the researchers recommended a surge in bean , pulse, nut and seed consumption to replace the standard meat intake. Taking the average world citizen, the diet stresses a 75 percent cut in beef, a 90 percent cut in pork and a 50 percent cut in egg consumption to halve livestock emissions and help the planet return to sustainable levels. “Ultimately, we live on a finite planet, with finite resources,” said University of Leeds professor Tim Benton on the study, in which he did not take part. “It is a fiction to imagine there is a technological solution allowing us to produce as much food as we might ever want, allowing us to overeat and throw food away.” + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Andrik Langfield and Deryn Macey

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Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

October 10, 2018 by  
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According to a Monday report on climate change from the United Nations, maintaining the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if more extreme weather events and species’ extinctions are to be avoided. The current ceiling on temperature increase is set at 2 degrees Celcius since the 2015 Paris Agreement , to which nearly 200 nations are committed. However, new UN research shows that this pledge is not enough to avoid possibly irreparable damage to our planet’s ecosystems. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) both weighed in on the report, saying that as of now, the world is not even on course to achieving the 2C benchmark, let alone a lower target. The UN is calling for rapid changes on the part of nations, businesses and individuals. The unprecedented changes to travel and lifestyle may be jarring but are the only way to avoid catastrophic damage to our planet in the near future. Related: Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold “There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment,” explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. The 1.5C target would slow coastal flooding and ocean rise by the end of the century, giving people in these areas time to adapt to changes. Many species would also be given a greater chance of survival. Under the 2C target, coral reefs are still projected to disappear. The lower target would allow anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs to possibly survive. “Even the scientists were surprised to see … how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC Vice-Chair Thelma Krug told Reuters . According the the IPCC, the human carbon footprint must fall by at least 45 percent by 2030 in order for the planet to maintain the 1.5C temperature rise and reach “net-zero” by mid-century. The report also stated that 70-85 percent of energy needs to be supplied by renewable sources by 2050 to stay at the 1.5C target — right now, renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent. Amjad Abdulla — board member for the IPCC and chief negotiator for small island states at risk of flooding — said, “The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it.” While the U.S. is on target to meet the previous goal, the UN is still stressing that more action is needed. Urging individuals to make changes to their lifestyles, even at the smallest of levels, the report believes that every small incentive will make the difference. For us, this means reducing meat consumption and dairy intake, choosing public transportation or switching to electric and hybrid vehicles and demanding companies to supply low-carbon products for purchase. + United Nations Via Reuters Image via  Natasha Kasim

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Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

How to reject ‘climate porn’ and reach ‘climate acceptance’

October 2, 2018 by  
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Five stages of grief apply when it comes to “the existential dread of climate change,” but it’s possible to move ahead.

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How to reject ‘climate porn’ and reach ‘climate acceptance’

Freezing fuel economy standards will slow innovation and make U.S. auto companies less competitive

October 2, 2018 by  
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As the car industry moves towards electric and autonomous vehicles, it’s more important than ever to have strong regulations.

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Freezing fuel economy standards will slow innovation and make U.S. auto companies less competitive

How autonomous vehicles will influence the future of travel

October 2, 2018 by  
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New technological trends are disrupting transportation. Here are all the ways that user behavior is going to change.

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How autonomous vehicles will influence the future of travel

Can we fight food waste with plastic packaging?

October 2, 2018 by  
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The impacts of losing food across the value chain are massive. Could improving packaging — even if it’s plastic — be the answer?

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Can we fight food waste with plastic packaging?

In Las Vegas, ride-hailing is eating away at taxis, but the effect on public transit is unclear

October 2, 2018 by  
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New mobility trends don’t necessarily stay in Vegas.

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In Las Vegas, ride-hailing is eating away at taxis, but the effect on public transit is unclear

Even fish can eat Nuatan, the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis

October 1, 2018 by  
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A potential solution to the world’s plastic pollution crisis has recently been unveiled at the London Design Festival. Crafting Plastics Studio, established by design duo Vlasta Kubušová and Miroslav Král, created the all-natural alternative, which is made from corn starch, sugar and cooking oil. According to the team, who researches and constructs cutting-edge materials for their avant-garde designs, Nuatan has the possibility to “replace all the packaging we know,” because it is so safe that even fish can eat it. At a glance, Nuatan may seem elementary in its composition, however, Kubušová and Král spent six years conceiving the bioplastic with material scientists at the Slovak University of Technology. This is time well spent, considering that the composition is enduring, rapidly degradable and safe to ingest. More durable than previous bioplastic samples, the material can last up to 15 years and withstands temperatures over 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). Related: This edible, plastic-free packaging is grown from kombucha starter “For the first time, a fully bio-based, biodegradable material can be considered as a competitor in terms of properties and processability,” the designers explained. Nuatan’s applications are limitless, because the poly-blend is not restricted to blow-forming like traditional plastics are. Crafting Plastics Studio designed the material to succeed in any production chain. “We’re using it for 3D printing , injection molding and other plastic manufacturing technologies,” the team said. Approval of a food-safety certificate would mean that Nuatan could realistically replace all packaging , because the material is biodegradable. Industrial composters would have no trouble breaking down the substance. The possible solution to replacing single-use plastics such as plastic bags, plates, straws, water bottles, cutlery and others is found in the patented combination of naturally derived Polyacid Acid (PLA) from corn starch with Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is corn starch that has been processed by microorganisms. Because Nuatan’s composition is not formulated from carbon-based raw materials, “it degrades inside the human body or animals,” Kubušová explained. This biocompatible feature, along with Nuatan’s durability, means that it can be used in nearly everything except heavy-duty situations, such as vehicle construction. At a lower energy and resource consumption value than traditional petroleum-based plastics, Nuatan ticks all the boxes regarding environmental sustainability and climate change relief. Faced with a high cost of production, there is still some time before the new bioplastic will see widespread use. But increased demand could help drive the cost of materials down to affordable levels. “We are hoping to find collaborators who want to include it in the right products, and not combine it with other materials, so it’s a mono-material,” Kubušová said. Faithful to their ethical and capable inception, the team made a very valid point — “If we can find the right collaborators, it can change things a lot.” For a lot of people, a lot of animals and a lot of places on Earth… + Crafting Plastics Via Dezeen Images via Adam Šakový, Andrej Andrej and Lucia Scerankova / Crafting Plastics

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Even fish can eat Nuatan, the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis

This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

October 1, 2018 by  
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Air pollution is a major problem around the world, but one company is helping people stay safe no matter where they live. Bioscarf has created a stylish accessory that doubles as a safety mask for people living in places with high concentrations of pollution. These handy scarves help fight against air pollutants, allergens and viral infections, like the cold and flu. Bioscarf offers its product in a handful of colors, including white, black, green and a camouflage print. Each scarf is made from high-quality polyester and carries the company’s logo. They are roughly 7 feet long and just under a foot wide, making them ideal for burying your face into when cold winds breeze by you. While these scarves are fashionable , they also protect against allergens and viral infections. This includes the cold and influenza, both of which are common infections that become a problem every year in larger urban areas. Related: Scientists find air pollution leads to significant decline in cognition The scarves work by filtering out more than 94 percent of contaminants in the air , keeping you just as healthy as a traditional safety mask. According to the company, testing showed that the Bioscarf filtered nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates with a size 0.1 or larger, including pneumonia, step throat, influenza, tuberculosis, animal dander, pollen and cigarette smoke. Co-founder Hazel Solle was inspired to create the scarf after a vacation to China with her family. Her husband, Carlton, got sick overseas, and a doctor told them it was likely because of the air pollution. The doctor recommended they wear masks, inspiring the couple to think of a better solution. Hazel also recalled growing up in Costa Rica and making tiny scarves out of leftover materials for her dolls. The idea hit her that scarves could double as fashion pieces and air pollution masks. In addition to its scarf lineup, the company also has a special program where it donates a scarf to charity for each one it sells — a great incentive for consumers who want to help those in need. “Experts say that over 2 billion kids around the world are breathing toxic air and nobody is talking about it,” Hazel said.“It’s time to not only raise awareness about this issue, but to more importantly give many of the people at risk who don’t have the means to protect themselves something to help them combat air pollution on a daily basis.” + Bioscarf

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This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

September 27, 2018 by  
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Three men who participated in protests against Cuadrilla at a Lancashire fracking site are being jailed in the U.K. The demonstrators participated in a July 2017 push back that lasted approximately four days. Simon Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, received 16-month sentences, while Rich Loizou, 31, will be serving a 15-month sentence. These rulings follow the 12-month sentence doled out to Julian Brock, 47, who pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing and earned an 18-month suspension to his imprisonment. The men are said to be the first environmental protesters in the U.K. to face jail time in 86 years. Blevins, Roberts and Loizou stepped down voluntarily from the protest for various reasons including work and fatigue. Despite this, Judge Robert Latham of the Preston Crown Court prescribed the Frack Free Four sentences from one to two years after they were convicted of being a public nuisance by a jury in August. The judge insisted that the demonstration “caused costs and disruption” to the U.K. shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources and added, “their other victims were the many members of public who were nothing to do with Cuadrilla,” according to the BBC . Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” The four men blocked the entry of a convoy headed into the Lancashire site by climbing on top of the truck, which was transporting drilling equipment. The protest lasted just under 100 hours and was aided by supporters who supplied the quartet with food, water and blankets. I’m speechless that four comrades have been sent to jail for an anti-fracking protest at Preston New Road in July 2017. They stood on top of the fracking trucks for 3 days waving flags and banners. This is wholly disproportionate. #FrackFreeFour pic.twitter.com/UwBo9YKsAw — Robbie Gillett (@RobbieGillett) September 26, 2018 “As the world’s leading scientists are about to issue their latest warning on the existential threat fossil fuels pose to our living world, these Lancashire protesters deserve our gratitude, not a prison term,” Executive Director of Greenpeace U.K. John Sauven said in an online statement . Still, the judge maintained that the four “provide a risk of re-offending.” He added, “Each of them remains motivated by unswerving confidence that they are right. Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions.” A report by The Guardian  determined that the men are probably the first environmental activists in 86 years to be reprimanded with jail time. In 1932, a mass trespass in Derbyshire saw five men imprisoned over a “right to roam” protest on private land. Still, the group is not dissuaded from its mission. “Some may view us as victims, but we refuse to be victimized by this,” Blevins said in a statement to Climate Home News . “The real victims will be future generations suffering preventable disasters caused by climate change . Our friends and fellow campaigners outside will continue to fight for a ban on fracking and for a just transition to a renewable and democratically owned energy system.” The Cuadrilla company, which has just been accorded a license to open a second well at the New Preston Road site in Lancashire, has been met with a high volume of protesters. More than 300 people have been arrested by police at the fracking pad since January 2017. While fracking is banned or suspended in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the U.K. government has administered Cuadrilla the drilling permits needed for its operations in England. Despite the company’s payments to Lancaster residents in the area and the jailing of the Frack Free Four, it seems that the high-profile dissent over the Preston New Road fracking site is still gaining momentum. + Frack Free Four Via BBC , The Guardian ,  EcoWatch , Climate Home News , Greenpeace Images via  Zbynek Burival and Shutterstock

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For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

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