Palau is pioneering a new model of sustainable tourism

September 4, 2020 by  
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In partnership with Sustainable Travel International and Slow Food , the Palau Bureau of Tourism has launched a new project aimed at mitigating its tourism-based carbon footprint. The project’s long-term goal is to establish the island country as the world’s first official carbon-neutral tourism destination. With a focus on specific approaches to sustainable tourism , such as promoting local food production and developing a transparent carbon management plan, the project is sure to serve as an inspiration to other countries. Palau is a Pacific Island nation that is world-renowned for its natural beauty and considered one of the top marine tourism destinations in the world. The archipelago is made up of about 200 natural limestone and lush volcanic islands surrounded by crystal-clear lagoons. Unsurprisingly, scuba diving and snorkeling are some of the most popular tourist activities in Palau, thanks to the pristine coral reefs and an abundance of sea creatures. Jellyfish Lake, part of the island chain’s famous Rock Islands and connected to the ocean through a series of tunnels, is home to millions of jellyfish that migrate across the lake every day. The therapeutic clay of the “Milky Way” lagoon is said to contain age-rejuvenating components that attract locals and tourists alike. Related: 7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist In 2019, there were over 89,000 international tourists who visited the islands. This is considerable, seeing as the small country only has a population of just under 22,000. With such massive visitor numbers compared to permanent residents, the tourism industry is the main source of economic income and employment on the islands by far. “If the current COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we must strengthen our nation’s resilience to external threats — the greatest of which is climate change ,” said Kevin Mesebeluu, director of the Palau Bureau of Tourism. “Palau is blessed with some of the world’s most pristine natural resources, inherited through culture and tradition, and placed in our trust for the future generation. We must work to actively protect them, while also investing in our people. Palau embraces sustainable tourism as the only path forward in the new era of travel, and we believe that our destination can and must be carbon neutral.” Palau’s precious marine resources, small size and dependence on tourism make it extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The dangers of rising sea temperatures threaten the country’s marine ecosystems, coastal communities and important tourism industry. As is the unfortunate case with many vulnerable travel destinations, the large-scale tourist industry — despite providing the main source of livelihood for its residents — is also responsible for a portion of its carbon emissions and threats to local heritage sites. The remote island nation has relied heavily on imported food from overseas as well as carbon-heavy airline travel and activities in the past, habits that the new sustainable travel project plans to address. Palau has since taken extensive measures to protect its environment and promote responsible tourism. Once such a measure, deemed the “Palau Pledge,” became the world’s first mandatory visitor eco-pledge. Upon entry, all tourists are required to sign a pledge promising to act in an environmentally conscious and overall sustainable manner during their travels in order to protect the islands for future generations to come. Tourists risk a fine if they’re found engaging in activities like collecting marine life souvenirs, feeding fish or sharks , touching or stepping on coral, littering and disrespecting local culture. The program also bans tour operators from using single-use plastics and implements the world’s strictest national reef-safe sunscreen standard . Initiatives that increase local food sourcing reduce the country’s carbon footprint and set the destination up for food security success in the event of natural or economic disasters. This section of the project is imperative to showcasing the islands’ culinary heritage and building up the local income opportunities of Palau fishers and farmers. Even better, the program will put a specific emphasis on sustainable agricultural products and female-owned businesses. “The rapid growth of an unsustainable tourist industry based on broken food systems has been a key driver of the climate crisis and ecosystem destruction,” said Paolo di Croce, general secretary of Slow Food International. “This project represents the antithesis, a solution that strives to strengthen and restore value to local food systems, reduce the cultural and environmental damage caused by food imports, and improve the livelihoods of food producers both in Palau and beyond.” Becoming carbon-conscious doesn’t end with reducing carbon emissions; the tourism industry as it is will always have unavoidable carbon emissions from things like transportation and outdoor activities. To compensate, Palau has implemented an online carbon management platform for its visitors. The program will allow tourists to calculate a personal carbon footprint associated with their trip and provide offsetting opportunities that are in line with the country’s marine conservation and environmental restoration goals. Sustainable Travel International estimates that the platform has the potential to raise over $1 million per year for carbon-reducing initiatives. “This project has enormous potential to transform the traditional tourism model and is a notable step toward lessening the industry’s climate impact,” said Paloma Zapata, CEO of Sustainable Travel International. “Destinations around the world face these same challenges of balancing tourism growth with environmental protection. Carbon neutrality is the future of tourism and the direction that all destinations must head as they recover from COVID-19. We commend Palau for their continued leadership, and hope this inspires other destinations to strengthen their own climate resilience strategies.” + Sustainable Travel International Images via Sustainable Travel International

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Palau is pioneering a new model of sustainable tourism

The future of organic coffee: Building a network of support for regenerative agriculture

July 30, 2020 by  
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The future of organic coffee: Building a network of support for regenerative agriculture Jean Orlowski Thu, 07/30/2020 – 02:00 Nearly a decade ago, as we took in the lush plant life, clean air and warm sunshine surrounding us during a vacation in Hawaii, my wife, Danielle, and I knew a life shift was happening. A connection to the land — this island — was built on that trip, leading us to relocate permanently to Captain Cook, Hawaii. It was there that we came across a six-acre Kona coffee farm that had fallen into neglect. Nurturing this farm back to life strengthened our relationship with the island, taught us the true meaning of sustainability and allowed us to become advocates for organic farming beyond our own acreage. Today Hala Tree Coffee Farm consists of nearly 100 acres, and we’ve built a network of like-minded coffee farmers looking to become fully organic. While organic processes may not change the taste of the coffee beans (the environment here takes the credit for that), the organic processes show respect to the land that produces them. We’re firm believers that authentic Kona coffee is organic and that shifting toward regenerative agriculture is vital. Globally, but especially on an island, just being “organic” is no longer enough.  Moving from ‘minimizing impact’ to regenerating  Our motivation to make a career out of farming stemmed from a love of the land. We wanted to work with this island, not take from it, and leave it even better than we found it. Learning the intricacies of Kona coffee farming from the ground up highlighted the need for organic practices early on. While sustainability is important no matter where you live, living on an island increases the urgency. Our soil, our trees and our water eventually connect to the ocean that surrounds Hawaii. While we want to care for the island itself, the consequences of not using organic practices can reach to the mainland United States and beyond, carried by the currents. Even small island farms leave a lasting effect — both positive and negative — on the environment globally. And because Hawaii must import large amounts of produce (resulting in 600,000 pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere for each flight from San Francisco to Hawaii), regenerative agriculture is imperative for our state. One major way to do that is to shift the way farming is done, especially for key crops such as coffee. Until recently, Hawaii was the only U.S. state that grows coffee beans (California has just started), and Kona coffee is coveted around the world. The mix of rain, quality soil, sunshine and elevation on the island creates the perfect environment for farming coffee beans. The conditions truly can’t be reproduced elsewhere, and that’s why the Kona coffee farming community is passionate about the environment and our island. At Hala Tree, we focus on two key areas: our soil and our trees.  We focus on topsoil regeneration by using perennial peanuts as ground cover to nourish the soil and anchor it. Our farm, as with most coffee farms in Hawaii, covers sloped areas prone to runoffs. Ground cover is vital to stabilizing our soil; we focus on the regenerative piece by choosing materials that give back to the soil. During pruning and clipping seasons on the farm, everything cut from the trees is spread on top of the current soil throughout the farm. We also use natural fertilizer made from fish bones throughout the farm. Wildlife is also a consideration with ground cover; we must ensure that we are not restricting movement or harming native animals. These species are key to the land’s ability to regenerate, and we must work with them, not around or against.  New trees are continuously planted on the farm to boost carbon sequestration. We have about 100,000 trees under our management, each being carefully maintained with organic practices.  Part of our initiative to move toward regenerative agriculture is helping other local farmers obtain organic certification. This initial process can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive for small farms; for example, the weed maintenance piece is a tall order in a wet, humid climate where plants grow at astounding speeds. By bringing more farms under our wing and helping them on the organic path, we aim to better equip the agriculture community to embrace regenerative farming.  What’s good for one is good for all  While smaller farms may have the most to gain from going organic, the upfront cost to earn that designation can be prohibitive. Materials, tools, processes and labor need to be accounted for, not to mention the cost of certification. Farms also must be fully organic for three years before a certification can be awarded, adding a time investment on top of cost. For a small farm with just a few acres, this may be impossible to achieve alone. In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands ) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support. In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support.   Our own expansion as a company is partially fueled by mentoring other farms. The territory here can be difficult to work with, given the grades of hills and the need for special equipment. We help smaller farms by sharing resources and, in some cases, we manage their acreage to support their journey toward organic certification. Our partners either pay a fee or share a part of their harvest with us in exchange, making organic farming attainable while ensuring that they still see profit. It’s a form of regenerative agriculture itself: We’re investing in the community that invested in us, keeping everything local. Other types of agriculture are starting to use this model, and more need to follow. The wine industry is similar to coffee in terms of cultivation, harvest and processing. Established vineyards with organic certification can lift up neighboring vineyards and share their resources. When more organic wine enters the market, consumers are more likely to try it, which benefits the newly established organic farms and boosts the industry as whole. While new technology can help this process, machines can’t fully replace people or mimic the value of a strong, supportive network. That’s why we all need to work together. We hope to see farms of all kinds on the mainland and beyond consider the model we’ve created in Hawaii. We need more minds behind innovation in this area to continue growing and making regenerative practices accessible. While living on an island initially may have raised our sense of urgency for going organic, it’s no less imperative for our farming community in other U.S. states and around the world to shift their practices. While sustainability discussions can feel overwhelming and difficult, we have an opportunity in the agriculture community to show fellowship, support and positivity — and perhaps improve products and profits along the way. Pull Quote In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hala Tree Coffee Farm owners Danielle and Jean Orlowski. Courtesy of Charla Photography Close Authorship

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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream

July 30, 2020 by  
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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream Jesse Klein Thu, 07/30/2020 – 00:30 Even whiskey is going electric. Distilleries have long been difficult operations to electrify due to the large heat loads it requires to turn grain into one of humanity’s oldest vices, alcohol. But Diageo’s new 72,000-square-foot distillery is designed to be completely carbon-neutral. According to Diageo, it should avoid more than  117,000 metric tons of annual carbon emissions by switching to renewable electricities compared to operating using a traditional natural gas facility.  “This is an opportunity to build a new distillery from the ground up,” said Andrew Jarrick, North American environmental sustainability manager at Diageo. “It’s not every day you get that opportunity.”  The Kentucky facility primarily will produce Bulleit Whiskey (Diageo also makes Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Bailey’s, Captain Morgan and others) and will be one of the largest carbon-neutral distilleries in North America, according to the company. The facility is under construction, with completion slated by mid-2021. Eventually, it will produce 10 million proof gallons of whiskey and employ about 30 full-time brewers.  The distilling process has three large heat requirements: first to cook the grain into mash; then as steam to capture the ethanol in a distillation column; and finally for drying the leftover grain for alternative uses.  Moving away from fossil fuels for this heat production was the first step and the first big obstacle for Diageo.  “The distillery industry is built on very traditional ways of thinking and relies very heavily on time-tested methodologies,” Jarrick said. “We want to produce the same liquid every time. The biggest challenge was to maintain that process integrity, but also move on from traditional fossil fuels.” Instead of traditional equipment, the facility will use 22-foot tall high voltage jet electrode boilers from Precision Boilers . Aside from not using fossil fuels and emitting less greenhouse gases than usual, electric boilers require less maintenance. Gabriel Dauphin, vice president of sales and marketing at Precision Boilers, told GreenBiz via email that the boilers use conductive and resistive properties to carry an electric current and generate steam.  Unlike fossil fuel boilers, which have a certain minimum energy output before turning off, the electric boilers can be turned down to any level before shutting down completely and they can get to the desired heat level almost immediately, Dauphin wrote. This makes the boilers much more precise and nearly 100 percent efficient, with the bonus of zero emissions, he said. Once they decided to make the leap to electric boilers, Jarrick and his team opted to electrify as much as possible in the operation. The lighting in the facility will use LEDs, all the vehicles on the property will be electric and the atmospheric heat systems Diageo will include for  the comfort of workers are likely to use electricity rather than a fossil fuel source. The company is also installing occupancy sensors, lower ceilings and exterior solar panels to help increase energy efficiency. Diageo wouldn’t comment on the exact financial costs or long-term savings associated with the carbon-neutral facility.   Diageo plans to get 100 percent of its electricity needs for the site from renewable sources through partnerships with East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Inter-County Energy . These companies will provide a mix of solar and wind energy to power the distillery. Continuing on its carbon-neutral promise, the facility plans to be zero waste to landfill by giving the dry leftover grain to organizations that can use it for animal feed.  While electric boilers were key for getting this project to carbon-neutral, Jarrick doesn’t know if Diageo is a true convert and will go electric across all its operations. But to deliver on Diageo’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions and sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, it must make additional changes.  Topics Energy & Climate Decarbonization Building Electrification Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The facility will use 22-foot tall high voltage jet electrode boilers from Precision Boilers.

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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream

Scientists discover algae species that may affect coral reefs

July 17, 2020 by  
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A new species of alga found in Hawaii is emerging as a potential threat to coral reefs. Researchers from the University of Hawaii conducted a study establishing that the red algae have been growing on the island for several years now. First spotted in 2016, the species has spread rapidly throughout the island. Published in the journal  PLOS ONE , the study revealed that a thick layer of red algae has been spreading in Hawaii . A group of scientists first spotted the species during a mission to monitor ocean life in 2016. At the time, only small patches of red algae existed on the island. When the scientists returned to the same spot four years later, they found that the algae had grown into a thick layer. According to the researchers, mat-like layers of algae cover vast groups of corals in the island’s Pearl and Hermes Atoll. This development proves especially concerning given how coral reefs usually thrive in such remote areas. The presence of this new species could threaten coral reefs on the island. Coral reefs need sunlight and space to survive, both of which are hampered by the layers of algae. According to Dr. Alison Sherwood, the study’s lead researcher, this algae issue is unprecedented. “Something like this has never been seen in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands before. This is extremely alarming to see an alga like this come in and take over so quickly and have these impacts,” Sherwood said. The scientists who discovered the red alga named it Chondria Tumulosa. Considered a “nuisance species,” Chondria Tumulosa’s rate of spread could endanger marine life . Although the algae’s exact cause is unknown, researchers list unusual water chemistry and the absence of natural algae consumers as potential factors. Researchers are now working to determine Chondria Tumulosa’s characteristics and its possible effects on marine life. + PLOS ONE Via NY Times Image via Ed Bierman

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Scientists discover algae species that may affect coral reefs

IceWind demos new residential wind turbine in Texas

June 29, 2020 by  
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Residential micro wind turbines may one day become a popular way for people to produce their own power at home. Over the Fourth of July weekend, folks in Port Aransas Beach, Texas will be able to see a new Icelandic turbine in action during a special demo. The Icelandic renewable wind power company IceWind has invented this new home energy product. Home builder Daryl Losaw, IceWind’s San Marco, Texas-based investor, is excited to demo the tiny turbine to Texans. “We have a great story and showing off the turbines is the best way to tell it,” Losaw said in a press release. Unlike the horizontal axis wind turbines one sees at wind farms, IceWind’s new residential model sports vertical axes. Related: Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art IceWind has turned a decommissioned coal power plant in Reykjavik into its headquarters. The company is now in the final stages of development. “The concept is simple: We’re taking time tested technologies and bringing them into the modern era,” said IceWind CEO Saethor Asgeirsson. “Using super-strong materials such as aerospace-grade aluminum, carbon fiber, and high-grade stainless steel, our turbines are built to withstand anything.” This includes Iceland’s furious winds, which regularly surpass 50 mph during the island country’s dark and chilly wintertime. “It’s actually quite funny,” Asgeirsson said. “We are the only people in Iceland who get excited when there is crazy wind in the weather forecast. While everyone else is hunkering down at home, we’re huddled around a computer, excitedly watching our data feed.” IceWind has two product lines currently in development. In addition to the micro turbine for homes, the company is also working on a model to mount on telecom towers that will work in extreme arctic conditions. They’re already selling turbines in Iceland and plan to expand into the European and North American markets later this year. “I am looking forward to showing potential customers a rugged, bird-safe, micropower generation method, that represents independence from fossil fuels over this appropriate weekend,” said Losaw of the Port Aransas demo. “Hopefully, it will inspire beachgoers to look at energy in a new way.” + IceWind Images via IceWind

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IceWind demos new residential wind turbine in Texas

Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

June 29, 2020 by  
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Green design start-up Ottan Studio is committed to producing upcycled decor  out of food and green waste. By collecting materials such as fruit peels, expired grains, vegetable residues, tree leaves and grass, the company can create colorful and trendy furniture with absolutely  zero waste . The process works by first collecting  waste  from places such as local retailer companies, food producers and greenhouses before cleaning, drying and grinding the materials. These materials are then added to green resins and injected into molds to create a range of products. Ottan Studio can turn the pulp from five glasses worth of carrot juice, or the peels from four glasses worth of orange juice, into an entire lampshade. Related: Granby Workshop unveils ceramic dinnerware collection made from 100% waste According to the company, the designers want to stray away from the idea of wood being an absolute sustainable material, as the industry’s consumption habits on a global level are continuing to damage and  destroy forests . If more sustainable consumption and production models aren’t changed, Ottan Studio’s website explains, all of the world’s forests could be wiped out in as little as 100 years. Going even further, the studio pledges to plant one tree for every product sold. By using materials that would otherwise be wasted, such as peels, leaves and cut grass, the company is proving that you don’t need to cut down trees to create stylish products that are perfect for the  minimalist  home. To make its products even more unique, Ottan doesn’t use any additional dyes or colorants, so the original and natural colors of the  upcycled  waste materials are reflected in the final result. Materials such as purple onion, red pepper and pomegranate retain their pinkish-hue, products made using lemon peels and lentils stay yellow and the leaves collected from tree pruning produce a soft green color. Since the products are handmade, no two items are identical and everything is one-of-a-kind.  + Ottan Studio Images via Ottan Studio

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Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate

May 16, 2020 by  
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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate Barbara Freese Sat, 05/16/2020 – 14:20 Excerpted from ” Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible, from the Slave Trade to Climate Change ” by Barbara Freese, published by the University of California Press. © 2020 by the Regents of the University of California. The above is an affiliate link and we may get a small commission if you purchase from the site. The Hubris of Denial: Risk, Doubt, and the Burden of Proof There are many reasons why the risks of climate change would not fully register in the human mind. In addition to the denial-provoking gravity of the threat, climate change is not the type of risk our minds evolved to detect. It is gradual, and it derives largely from the familiar and widespread practice of burning fossil fuels. It is something we all contribute to and cannot just blame on enemy evildoers. And it manifests as natural phenomena like heat waves, droughts, fires, storms and floods; we need experts, assessing global data and long-term trends, to tell us if what is happening is truly unusual. As such, climate change just does not provoke the sense of threat we would get from a stalking tiger, a hostile attacker or an eerie and unrecognizably novel situation. All these factors surely make it easier for climate deniers to internally deny the risk and to convince others to do the same. But what exactly are they still denying? The Heartland Institute has for years hosted conferences where climate deniers talk to each other and the media (events known to critics as “denial-paloozas”). At one such event in 2014, speaker Christopher Monckton surveyed the room and declared that everyone there agreed that humanity’s “emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have contributed to the measured global warming since 1950.” His point was to make it clear that “we are not climate change deniers.” Monckton also predicted additional CO2-emission-driven warming in the decades ahead, though less than the consensus predictions. (He undermined his bid to appear reasonable, though, when he went on to berate the media for ignoring facts that “go against the climate Communist party line.”) What continues to define these people as “deniers” in my book is their unshaken belief that climate change is simply no big deal and there is no reason to go out of our way to prevent more of it. “There is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and no point in attempting to do so,” as one recent Heartland document succinctly put it. One reason people might be confused about how much climate deniers actually accept about the science is the vitriolic rhetoric of so many of them. Only two years before this conference, Heartland had issued its press release saying that manmade global warming was a “fringe” view (held by mass murderers, etc.) and that still believing in it was “more than a little nutty.” After this conference, in 2016, Heartland’s science director gave a speech titled “Man-Caused Global Warming: The Greatest Scam in World History” (rather than one called, say, “Man-Caused Global Warming: We Agree We’re Causing It But Predict Less Warming Than Others Do.”) [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:0] Charles Koch is among the deniers who accept that our CO2 emissions are causing global warming, but he is confident the climate is “changing in a mild and manageable way.” It is worth noting here that evidence from psychological studies suggests that the experience of power promotes “illusory control” — that is, a belief among power holders that they can control outcomes that are actually beyond their influence. Contrast Charles Koch’s view with that of one of the pioneers of climate science, Columbia’s Dr. Wallace Broecker. He is winner of the President’s National Medal of Science for, among other things, shedding light on the abrupt climate changes of earth’s distant past. The “paleoclimate,” he says, shows that the “Earth tends to over-respond. . . . The Earth system has amplifiers and feedbacks that mushroom small impacts into large responses.” He does not view climate change as mild and manageable. On the contrary, he says, “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.” It is worth pausing here to appreciate the breathtaking hubris of this now-dominant strain of climate denial. These deniers accept that humanity’s pollution has disrupted a fundamental, complex and awesomely powerful planetary system with a history of violent shifts, yet they express complete confidence that the global changes we are inadvertently unleashing will be harmless, even beneficial. It is a bit like a pregnant woman who, after learning that a drug she is consuming causes sometimes devastating chromosomal changes, especially as it accumulates in the body, continues to consume it in ever greater quantities, somehow confident her baby will only benefit from the resulting genetic mutations. Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Sometimes this spin is explicit, like when the Global Climate Coalition argued in 1996 that “the scientific community has not yet met the ‘burden of proof ’ that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to cause serious climatic impacts.” More often, it is implicitly built into the conversation, as it was in so many other public debates, like those over leaded gas, ozone and tobacco. And because there is no discussion of who should initially bear the burden of proof, there is also no discussion of whether to revisit the question and shift that burden once the evidence reaches a certain point. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. The tobacco industry responded to this incentive (“doubt is our product”) as do climate deniers. A recent analysis of decades of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications by Harvard science historians Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes found that while 80 percent or more of the company’s internal documents and peer-reviewed papers acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused, only 12 percent of its paid “advertorials” aimed at the general news-reading public did so. Instead, 81 percent of these ads raised doubts. [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:1] Oil and gas executives were recently reminded of the value of raising scientific doubt by Rick (“win ugly or lose pretty”) Berman, who explained in his secretly taped 2014 presentation that “people get overwhelmed by the science and [think] ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ But, if you got enough on your side you get people into a position of paralysis about the issue. . . . You get in people’s mind a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically insures the status quo. . . . I’ll take a tie any day if I’m trying to preserve the status quo.” Imagine how different the climate debate would be if — after decades of analysis and mountains of data pointing to extreme danger — we now finally shifted the burden of proof and started demanding that climate deniers prove the safety of continued pollution. Where is the proof that we can safely raise atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen on earth for millions of years, since long before humans existed, when the earth was much warmer and seas far higher? What is your alternative explanation for the melting ice, shifting ecosystems, growing extremes and other evidence of warming? Show us the sophisticated computer models that accurately simulate the climate system, that factor in ongoing pollution, and that still show a stable future climate with no significant risk of catastrophic changes. Demonstrate precisely how we can be confident that pushing CO2 levels higher will not trigger the feedback systems that in Earth’s past have repeatedly amplified small changes into extreme planetary transformations. Those urging us to heedlessly continue down our current polluting path would need to show evidence of virtually complete scientific consensus, including assurances from all the major scientific academies and relevant scientific societies throughout the world, that pushing CO2 concentrations ever higher was safe. (We would not, however, insist on agreement from all scientists, even those who were the most financially and ideologically invested in the opposite conclusion, because that would be ridiculous.) And wherever there was a gap in our knowledge — about exactly how our complex climate and life on earth would react to these unprecedented changes — that uncertainty would not make us feel safer. We would understand that it increases risk because what we don’t know can hurt us. Pull Quote Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. Topics Risk & Resilience Books Risk Disaster Recovery Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Anya Douglas Close Authorship

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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate

Kengo Kuma, K2LD win bid to design Founders Memorial in Singapore

April 10, 2020 by  
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Kengo Kuma & Associates and K2LD Architects have won an international competition for the Founders’ Memorial in Singapore, a national landmark that will honor not only Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, but the multi-racial team of which he was a part of in developing the island country as well. Proposed for the 32-hectare Bay East Garden that forms part of Singapore’s famous Gardens by the Bay, the Founders’ Memorial will complement its surroundings and the nation’s “garden city” reputation with its lush, nature-focused design. The approximately 13,700-square-meter development is slated to break ground in 2022 and is expected to be completed by 2027. Unanimously selected from five shortlisted designs, Kengo Kuma & Associates and K2LD Architects’ submission was praised by the jury for its creativity, distinctive place-making characteristics, feasibility and sustainability both in terms of financial longevity and maintenance. The site-specific design is inspired by the idea of a meandering path that traces the legacy of Singapore’s founding leaders to connect the past with the future. Related: Tropical greenery surrounds a sustainable, solar-powered home in Singapore Set close to the water, the national landmark will be a “living memorial” comprising undulating green slopes that rise up to become green roofs for various buildings, such as the museum and visitor center. Multiple pathways will be carved out of the architecture and landscape to represent Singapore’s multiculturalism. At the heart of the memorial is the “Founders’ Path,” the central spine that joins together the various elements and traverses the garden-like environment. “Our design concept for the Founders’ Memorial originates from the idea of a path — a journey tracing the legacy of Singapore’s founding leaders,” architect Kengo Kuma explained. “It simultaneously honors the past and inspires the present and future. The design aims to be a ‘living memorial’, to be owned by each new generation of Singaporeans. There will be ample spaces for the celebration of milestone events, all set against the changing skyline of Singapore.” + Kengo Kuma & Associates + K2LD Architects Images via Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Kengo Kuma, K2LD win bid to design Founders Memorial in Singapore

Los Angeles air quality improves amid pandemic

April 10, 2020 by  
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There is one positive impact of the tragic coronavirus pandemic — Los Angeles is experiencing its longest stretch of good air quality since 1995. On April 7, Swiss air quality technology company IQAir cited LA as one of the cities with the cleanest air in the world. While the notoriously smoggy city is on lockdown, highway traffic has dropped 80% throughout the entire state of California, which probably accounts for much of the improvement. “With less cars on the road and less emissions coming from those tailpipes, it’s not surprising to see improvements in the air quality overall,” Yifang Zhu, professor of environmental health science at UCLA, told CNN. Zhu and her team of scientists measured a 20% overall improvement in southern California’s air quality between March 16 and April 6. They also recorded a 40% drop in PM 2.5 levels. This microscopic air pollutant is linked to both respiratory and cardiovascular problems, especially in the very young and very old. A recently released Harvard study linked PM 2.5 exposure to an increased likelihood of dying from COVID-19 . Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions All over the world, scientists are noting that cleaner air is a side effect of the pandemic . Satellite images have revealed much lower concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over industrial areas of Europe and Asia in the past six weeks. The drops in nitrogen dioxide levels over Wuhan — a city of 11 million — and the factory-filled Po Valley of northern Italy are especially striking. “It’s quite unprecedented,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Service, told the Guardian. “In the past, we have seen big variations for a day or so because of weather. But no signal on emissions that has lasted so long.” Alas, when lockdowns lift and Angelenos return to the highways, the pollution will likely return. Zhu hopes that this glimpse of clear, blue skies will inspire people to work for better air quality post-pandemic. “From the society level, I think we need to think really hard about how to bring about a more sustainable world, where technologies and policies come together to bring us cleaner energy ,” she said. “So that the air that we’re breathing will stay as clean as what we’re breathing today.” Via CNN and The Guardian Image by Joseph Ngabo

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Los Angeles air quality improves amid pandemic

This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

March 16, 2020 by  
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Living an off-grid lifestyle is a dream for many, but it’s also incredibly tough to achieve. Still, there are a select few who manage to do it with such style that it makes the transition from running the endless rat race to sustainable living look relatively easy. Ambitious couple Arina and Zen Moriya have done just that by creating an off-grid oasis within the jungles of Pahoa, Hawaii . The Root Down Farm is a self-built homestead that enables the couple to embrace a close connection with nature. The sustainable permaculture farm and off-grid home are located in a community called Puna. After visiting in 2008, the couple immediately fell in love with the community’s progressive, laid-back style and history of  sustainable living. The region’s mild weather, along with the lush jungle vegetation, led them to purchase a 3-acre lot to begin a new way of life. Related: Serene off-grid tiny home sits tucked away in a Hawaiian rainforest The resulting Root Down Farm includes three structures: the main house, which is 1,272-square-feet, a 384-square-foot cottage and a sweet, 360-square-foot bungalow that the couple rents out on Airbnb. All of the structures are surrounded by an expansive permaculture farm that provides vegetables and fruits for the couple and their friends. Inside each building, the furnishings were chosen to reflect the couple’s minimalist design style . Nearly everything was handmade by Zen or found secondhand. The couple did most of the construction work themselves over the span of 2.5 years, along with help of a professional contractor and a few very good friends. The climate was an essential element in their building strategy, enabling them to rely on a few passive features. “Because we don’t have harsh winter, we were able to build structures with no windows (only screens to keep bugs out) and build with single wall with no insulation,” Zen told Inhabitat. Perhaps the only downside to building in a remote area on a tropical island is the fact that they weren’t able to find many repurposed materials to use for the structures. Instead, they turned to nature. “Reclaimed building materials are not easy to find on this island. There is only one or two vendors who salvage old building materials on this island but they charge premium,” Zen explained. “We did try to use as much natural material as possible, such as ohia tree for the main post in the house, guava trees for railing and fence.” Root Down Farm operates completely off of the grid thanks to solar power generation . There is no access to electricity, water or sewers in the area, so the couple built their own self-sufficient systems. They use multiple wells for their water needs and all of the structures are equipped with composting toilets. The permaculture gardens that surround the properties were a crucial component of the project. Arina and Zen now enjoy an abundance of organic food year-round, including coconuts, avocados, banana, papayas, root vegetables, tomatoes and more, all of which they also share with friends. + Root Down Farm Via Apartment Therapy Images by Zen Moriya

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This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

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