Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts

December 16, 2021 by  
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This week’s quiz draws on the many amazing facts collected by Circular Ecology’s Inventory of… The post Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts

Nitrogen tracking tech may help cut greenhouse gas emissions

December 1, 2021 by  
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Scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center are working on a solution that may cut agricultural-based greenhouse gases significantly. The team is working on a nitrogen tracking technology that may help cut greenhouse emissions equivalent to the CO2 produced by 10 million cars annually. In their newly established Subterranean Influences on Nitrogen and Carbon (SINC) Center of Excellence, the experts will seek to address the pollution problems caused by nitrogen fertilizers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), growers apply approximately 22 million pounds of nitrogen fertilizers to crops in the U.S. each year. This nitrogen ends up polluting both the waters and the atmosphere. According to the researchers, when nitrogen fertilizers are used, they can be converted into nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2. Related: Can briefly raising emissions help us transition to solar? “Everybody knows about carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas,” said Rebecca Bart, Ph.D., associate member of the Danforth Center and director of the SINC Center. “Nitrous oxide is released from agriculture fields, and as a greenhouse gas, is nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Excess nitrogen applied to fields also pollutes the environment through runoff into waterways and oceans.” The SINC Center works to develop technology that will reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers by promoting microbes that utilize naturally occurring nitrogen. Although nitrogen freely exists in nature, it is available in forms that plants cannot use. Some plants , such as beans, form symbiotic relationships with bacteria that convert nitrogen in the atmosphere into usable forms.  Further, some microbes in the soil promote nitrogen recycling. The SINC approach seeks to start tracking nitrogen to determine ways that microbes interact with it. According to the scientists, this investment will help cut up to 12% of agricultural-based greenhouse emissions in the U.S., an amount equivalent to the emissions produced by 10 million cars. “The SINC team brings exceptional scientific expertise to bear on a great challenge of our time,” said Jim Carrington, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Danforth Center. “Committing to lower the impact of agriculture on climate change is something we simply must do.” The center will bring onboard experts from diverse fields and use advanced equipment to achieve its goals. The researchers will also benefit from extensive data sets that will be studied through advanced modeling systems. The study is being funded by Philip and Sima Needleman of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and has received a $250,000 grant from the Bank of America. + Danforth Center Lead image via Pixabay

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Nitrogen tracking tech may help cut greenhouse gas emissions

We need to talk about farming, agriculture and emissions

November 11, 2021 by  
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Many plant-based activists claim that leaders at  COP26  aren’t paying enough attention to methane emissions from agriculture. They say that a global change in diet toward veganism could help slow climate change. Animal agriculture contributes about 20% to human-caused climate change. The need for grazing land also drives  deforestation . But the two-week climate talks in Glasgow lumped talk about agriculture into a themed “Nature Day” last Saturday, along with land and ocean management. Related: COP26’s meaty menu sparks controversy over emissions “The scale and speed of the shift that is needed to halt and reverse the climate damage caused by livestock demands world leaders to take decisive action,” said Sean Mackenney of the Humane Society International, as reported by CBC. “COP26 has been framed as a Race to Zero. But in its refusal to set ambitious targets and strategies to meaningfully reduce the kinds of impacts of animal  agriculture , it is more like a gentle Sunday stroll,” he said. Activists brought their point to the skies, flying four huge inflatable animals outside the Glasgow talks despite strong winds. Their symbolic choices were a 40-foot cow representing  methane  emissions, a fish for microplastics, a chicken for health and COVID and a pig representing obesity. Farming , of course, is a complicated issue and ranges from giant operations to small family farms that produce about a third of the world’s food. Activists propose a range of solutions, from full veganism to a world of lab-grown meat to modifying farmland to create more wetlands and forests. There’s also the question of subsidies and whether farmers should be exempt from carbon taxes. “The scale and speed of the shift that is needed to halt and reverse the climate damage caused by livestock demands world leaders to take decisive action,” said Sean Mackenney of the Humane Society International, as reported by CBC. “COP26 has been framed as a Race to Zero. But in its refusal to set ambitious targets and strategies to meaningfully reduce the kinds of impacts of animal agriculture, it is more like a gentle Sunday stroll,” he said. Activists brought their point to the skies, flying four huge inflatable animals outside the Glasgow talks despite strong winds. Their symbolic choices were a 40-foot cow representing  methane  emissions, a fish for microplastics, a chicken for health and COVID and a pig representing obesity. Farming, of course, is a complicated issue and ranges from giant operations to small family farms that produce about a third of the world’s food . Activists propose a range of solutions, from full veganism to a world of lab-grown meat to modifying farmland to create more wetlands and forests. There’s also the question of subsidies and whether farmers should be exempt from carbon taxes. In terms of individual choices, cutting  meat  consumption is one of the most effective ways for people to reduce their carbon footprints. But people have a strong gut reaction to anyone trying to take away their meat — kind of like if you made them get vaccinated during a public health crisis or pried their guns out of their hands. A comment on the CBC website summed up people’s feelings about individual rights versus global survival: “My right to choose whatever diet I think to be best for myself and my own health is something I am willing to use whatever force may be required to defend.” If agricultural emissions are to be reduced, it’s likely going to take mandates from on high, rather than enough individuals deciding to do the right thing. Via CBC , The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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We need to talk about farming, agriculture and emissions

Flying is even worse for the climate than previously known

November 5, 2021 by  
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A few years ago, flyskam, or flight shame, made headlines. Then the pandemic tamped down air travel. Now the  greenhouse gas -emitting horrors of airplanes are back in the news, as a new study shows that aviation contributes more to global warming than was previously known. According to a study published in  Environmental Research Letters , aviation has contributed about 4% to known human-induced climate warming to date, even though it was responsible for only 2.4% of global CO2 emissions. Why the gap? Because of the mix of climate pollutants that aviation generates. And as far as keeping to the  Paris agreement  goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, aviation could gobble up 1/6 of that jump in temperature. Related: Turning food waste into aviation fuel could greatly reduce emissions “Any growth in  aviation  emissions has a disproportionate impact, causing lots of warming,” Professor Myles Allen, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But any decline also has a disproportionate impact in the other direction. So the good news is that we don’t actually need to all stop flying immediately to stop aviation from causing further global warming – but we do clearly need a fundamental change in direction now, and radical innovation in the future.” Researchers responsible for the newly published study are based at the University of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation. They developed a way to quantify how aviation emissions have historically contributed to temperature and examined both the CO2 and non-CO2 impacts. The researchers examined how CO2 combines with emissions of water vapors, particles and nitrogen oxides to alter the atmosphere’s chemical balance. This can affect cloudiness, thereby increasing aviation’s net warming. The study predicted how aviation could contribute to future  global warming , depending on how people address the climate crisis. “Our results show that aviation’s contribution to warming so far is approximately 4% and is increasing,” said Milan Klöwer, lead author of the study. “ COVID  reduced the amount people fly, but there is little chance for the aviation industry to meet any climate target if it aims for a return to normal.” Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Flying is even worse for the climate than previously known

Earth911 Podcast: Newday Impact’s Doug Heske on Investing to Lower GHG Emissions

November 5, 2021 by  
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Earth911 talks about the challenge of making ethical and environmentally responsible investment decisions with Newday… The post Earth911 Podcast: Newday Impact’s Doug Heske on Investing to Lower GHG Emissions appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Newday Impact’s Doug Heske on Investing to Lower GHG Emissions

COP26’s meaty menu sparks controversy over emissions

November 4, 2021 by  
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The meals served at the ongoing COP26 conference seem to conflict with the event’s agenda. For the world’s biggest climate change conference, you would expect a climate-friendly menu. On the contrary, about 60% of the foods served are either meat or dairy-based. Although the conference organizers know the carbon footprint of dairy and meat products, they still included them on the menu. At the conference, delegates are presented with a broad menu, including sandwiches, pastries, pasta, pizza and salads, among others. The carbon footprint of all the foods at the conference is available online via the website  A Recipe For Change . A message posted on the website reads, “According to the WWF, we need to get [the carbon footprint of food] down below 0.5 kg CO2e [per meal] to reach the goals defined in the Paris Agreement.”  Related: Will promises from world leaders at COP26 actually happen? A look at the menu shows that over half the dishes contain meat or dairy, which are among the foods with the highest carbon footprint. According to Swedish start-up Klimato, the brand displaying carbon footprints of each meal, it aims to help delegates choose foods with the lowest carbon impact. Emissions from livestock farming contribute about 14.5% of the total human-caused emissions globally. These carbon emissions can only be cut down if we stop consuming meat and dairy products. Among the foods served at the conference, those with the lowest carbon footprint included plant-based meals. For instance, a vegetable pasta meal only generates 0.3kg of carbon per serving. Other meals were far higher in carbon ratings. Even some vegetarian foods, such as the buffalo mozzarella pizza, ranked among the highest, with the dish contributing 2.1kg of carbon per serving. According to Joel Scott-Halkes, spokesperson for the campaign group Animal Rebellion, the inclusion of high emission foods on the menu indicates the U.K.’s failure to understand the main causes of the climate crisis . “The utterly reckless inclusion of meat , seafood and dairy on the COP26 catering menu is a damning indictment of the UK government’s utter failure to grasp the root cause of the climate crisis,” said Scott-Halkes “It’s like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference. As long as such illogical decisions are being made, the climate emergency will never be resolved.” Via Big Issue Lead image via iStock

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COP26’s meaty menu sparks controversy over emissions

These three apps can help you become a more conscious eater

October 21, 2021 by  
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Many apps claim the can and want to change the world. These three are focusing on the emissions coming from your kitchen.

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These three apps can help you become a more conscious eater

A private car ban could be coming to Berlin

October 7, 2021 by  
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A citizen-led initiative to ban private car use in central Berlin is gathering momentum. If the campaign succeeds, the region would be the world’s largest car-free zone. A group known as Berlin Autofrei started the initiative and now has a petition with over 50,000 signatures to kickstart the referendum. Although only a few people in Berlin use private cars , these cars occupy 17 square kilometers of parking space and are responsible for heavy traffic within the city. Related: Morgenfarm proposes vertical farms to replace Berlin’s Autobahn If implemented, the private car ban would exempt people who depend on their cars due to physical impairments. Emergency service providers would also be allowed to use vehicles in the car-free zone. The rest of the public will be allowed to have 12 rented car journeys a year. According to the group behind the initiative, banning private cars would help Germany meet its emissions targets much faster than relying on electric cars. As Nik Kaestner, one of the campaign leaders, said, “We would need about half of cars to go electric next year in order to meet the federal government’s own targets for transportation emissions. That clearly isn’t going to happen – currently only 1.3% of vehicles in Germany are electric. So the only solution is to reduce the amount of driving that’s happening, not just to change how we drive.” Further, Kaestner says Berlin residents would be happy traveling without a car. “The federal environmental ministry did a study recently and 91% of people said they would be happier without a car. Moreover, only a third of individual Berliners actually have a car,” said Kaestner. Manuel Wiemann, a spokesperson for the initiative, elaborated on the issues with cars. Apart from carbon emissions , cars also shed tires and “occupy far too much common space and unnecessarily endanger human lives, whether electric or diesel.” According to a report commissioned by the regional parliament in Berlin, 58% of city traffic is dedicated to private cars, even though private vehicles only account for a third of the vehicles on the streets. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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A private car ban could be coming to Berlin

The world is failing to limit global warming

September 16, 2021 by  
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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  
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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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