Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

June 11, 2018 by  
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Pope Francis hasn’t been quiet about the urgency of combating climate change . Most recently, during a two-day conference in Vatican City, he took oil company executives to task and called for clean power as climate change continues to threaten people and the environment . The pope said, “Civilization requires energy , but energy use must not destroy civilization.” The conference gathered experts, investors and oil executives who support scientific opinion that human activity has caused climate change. The 50 participants included ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP  group chief executive Bob Dudley and Equinor (formerly Statoil) CEO Eldar Sætre. Pope Francis said it was worrying that searches for new fossil fuel reserves still continue, and said, “There is no time to lose.” Related: Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels Pope Francis said, “We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it. But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” The pope called for attendees to comprise the core of leaders “who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.” Pope Francis said our situation is dire, and even after the 2015 Paris Agreement , carbon dioxide emissions are still high. The New York Times quoted him as saying, “We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator. Let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.” Via The Guardian , Reuters  and The New York Times Images via Aleteia Image Department/Flickr , Depositphotos

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

42 people own same wealth as bottom 3.7 billion – new Oxfam report

January 22, 2018 by  
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82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent ” of the world’s people, according to Oxfam . In their recent report entitled Reward Work, Not Wealth , published just as world leaders are preparing to convene for the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, the non-profit organization reveals a worsening inequality crisis in which “the benefits of economic growth continue to concentrate in fewer hands.” The Oxfam report shows that 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history” – a new one every other day during a year. There are 2,043 dollar billionaires on Earth, and “nine out of 10 are men.” The billionaires’ wealth increased by $762 billion in 12 months – “enough to end extreme poverty seven times over.” Related: The wealthiest ten percent of the population generate half of the world’s emissions While 42 people “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” 61 people own the same wealth as the bottom 50 percent. And “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.” Economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in the report, “Sometimes the super-rich call out Oxfam and others for ‘stoking class warfare’ but the truth is that in many societies, including my own, the United States, many of the super-rich have in effect declared war on the poor. The urgent need is to rebalance the tables, defend the rights of the poor, and re-establish fair societies that meet the needs of all in line with globally agreed goals.” Oxfam called on policy makers to acknowledge how the world’s economic system is impacting poor people in the world, and make changes to promote greater equality. They listed such policies as ending the gender pay gap, and protecting women workers’ rights as steps toward that goal. They also said in their statement they estimate “a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school .” + Reward Work, Not Wealth + Oxfam Lead image via depositphotos , others via Hermes Rivera on Unsplash and Benny Jackson on Unsplash

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Geologists discover bacteria that turns small bits of gold into solid nuggets

January 22, 2018 by  
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Geologists in Queensland, Australia have discovered a unique type of bacteria that forges small bits of gold into solid nuggets. The discovery could allow mining companies to reprocess previously undesirable gold into market-ready products, and transform the ways in which gold-containing electronics are disposed. “In electronic waste, there’s a lot of gold,” University of Adelaide associate professor Frank Reith told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) . “We need a technique without impact to health or community or environment to [recover] the noble metals that are in everyone’s smart phone or computer.” Current techniques to do so are not nearly as sustainable as they need to be, but that could change if the bacteria proves an effective scalable tool. In 2016, electronic waste, which includes disposed phones , computers, and televisions, contained $84 billion worth of recoverable materials, including $29 billion worth of gold. Reith and his team are collaborating with New Zealand -based Mint to craft a solution to this problem that utilizes the special gold-molding bacteria. “We’re working with electronic waste as a feedstock, and are piloting a process that uses microbes as a method of purifying precious metals from the mix of other metals that old circuit boards contain,” Mint chief strategy officer Dr Ollie Crush told ABC . Related: This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers The bacteria works by filtering out other metals and piecing together gold nuggets, one grain at a time. The process of recycling gold could take between 17 and 58 years, which, in geological time, is no time at all. The process would need to be sped up considerably for it to be more widely applied throughout the world. However, the promise of capturing what otherwise would be lost wealth is enticing. “If you can make a recoverable resource from those parts, then you’re adding to the bottom line of any mine,” said Reith. Via ABC Images via Depositphotos and University of Adelaide

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Geologists discover bacteria that turns small bits of gold into solid nuggets

3-hectare desert farm in Jordan can grow 286,600 pounds of veggies each year

September 7, 2017 by  
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Vegetables are sprouting in the desert at the Sahara Forest Project’s recently inaugurated launch station in Aqaba, Jordan . The project draws on the sun, saltwater , and carbon dioxide to grow food and generate clean energy and freshwater. The new three-hectare launch station will be able to grow around 286,600 pounds of vegetables a year, and produce over 2.5 gallons of water a day. The Sahara Forest Project is centered around the core technologies of saltwater-cooled greenhouses , concentrated solar power , and desert revegetation practices. They’ll pave the way for larger facilities at the Aqaba launch station, which already boasts thriving greenery. The station is around the size of four football fields, and includes two greenhouses with a total of 14,531 square feet of growing space. There’s also 34,445 square feet of outdoor planting space. Related: Sahara Desert Project to grow 10 hectares of food in Tunisian desert Photovoltaic panels will generate solar power at the station, and there are salt ponds to produce salt. Another benefit of the project is job creation; the Sahara Forest Project aims to fight poverty and promote development through green jobs . The Norwegian government and European Union are the two biggest donors to the project. Norway Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen said, “The Sahara Forest Project demonstrates that innovative application of technology has the potential to revolutionize our land systems in a way that benefits the climate , people, and businesses.” The Sahara Forest Project has completed a pilot in Qatar and are working on a facility in Tunisia that, as of last year, was set to open in 2018 . Ultimately, the organization aims to open a 20-hectare Jordan Center, so they consider the launch station as just the beginning. Sahara Forest Project Chief Executive Officer Joakim Hauge said in the near future, Jordan could be a hub of green growth systems. + Sahara Forest Project Via the Sahara Forest Project Images © Anders Nyboe/Sahara Forest Project

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3-hectare desert farm in Jordan can grow 286,600 pounds of veggies each year

Kenyan activists are using human poop to make affordable cooking fuel

August 15, 2017 by  
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Resources are scarce in Kenya, and nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line , but they do have poop. Activists with Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company are providing clean fuel for local residents in the form of small balls of human feces. The group takes in truckloads of sewage from septic systems and pit latrines and transforms the waste into safe, economical briquettes that burn cleaner and longer than coal. And don’t worry: they are odor-free. Ordinarily, human feces can pose various health problems if left untreated or if disposed of improperly. Sometimes, it can even lead to cholera outbreaks or other sanitation -related diseases. However, because it is the most abundant and widely available human resource, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company developed a method to turn it into an affordable, clean-burning fuel. To create the briquettes, the company slowly sun-dries the feces. Then, it treats it at a high temperature of 300 Celsius (572 Fahrenheit) in a kiln via a carbonizing process where sawdust is added to it. TreeHugger reports that the resulting product is then mixed with a small amount of molasses to act as a binder. It is then rolled into balls and dried. One kilo of the briquettes is said to cost just 50 cents USD — a very reasonable price for Kenyan citizens. John Irungu, the site manager at Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, describes carbonization as “a process whereby we increase the carbon content of your materials.” He added, “In this case we are using the drum kiln whereby the sludge is fed, the drum has some holes at the bottom, these holes allow the oxygen to come in, in a controlled manner, that oxygen will only support combustion but to a certain level so that it doesn’t burn completely into ash. In this way, you are able to eliminate all the volatile matters, all the harmful gasses, and it is at this point that you ensure that your sludge doesn’t smell it is safe for handling when you are carrying out the other processes which is milling and briquette production.” Related: First-ever dog poop composting program in NYC comes to Brooklyn park It took some time to overcome the stigma that surrounds the use of human feces, but the company succeeded by informing residents that they could obtain a cleaner-burning cooking fuel for a fraction of the cost. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Turning poop into fuel These Kenyan entrepreneurs built thousands of special toilets to turn poop into sustainable fuel. Posted by Al Jazeera English on Saturday, July 15, 2017 Every month, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company produces about two tons of the human waste briquettes. By the end of the year, the goal is to produce 10 tons per month. This will occur once additional de-watering and carbonization equipment is procured, as it will scale up and optimize the present production methods. The company is also invested in the construction of more than 6,000 toilets that can collect waste. Someday, the company will expand its offerings elsewhere in Kenya, Africa. + Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Via TreeHugger Images via  Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

May 15, 2017 by  
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Over 7.5 billion people now reside on planet Earth , according to the World Population Clock . But with more people could comes less access to resources like food and energy . A global population of 7.5 billion people has far-reaching repercussions – including increased greenhouse gas emissions , strained food supplies, and increased total consumption, according to Charity organization Population Matters . Population Matters says that population growth could keep some countries in poverty , and it intrudes on land needed by wildlife . Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie told edie.net , “We will see cutthroat competition for shrinking resources which will include not just fossil fuels but productive land and water, pushing prices up not just for consumers but for the businesses and industries which need them too. Huge potential markets like much of sub-Saharan Africa will be stuck in poverty and we’ll see political instability arising from population and migration pressures, including conflict over resources.” China has the most people in one country; 1.38 billion people live there. India is next with 1.34 billion, followed by the United States with 326 million. The United Nations thinks our global population will hit 10 billion people by the year 2056. Related: Scientists say the world is “one crop breeding cycle away from starvation” Currie warned that while businesses may see increased global population as the opportunity to gain more customers, too much growth won’t be good for our planet – or business. He said, “Growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet and fewer consumers is ultimately better for all of us. Business must start recognizing and adapting to that reality. With action now, we can limit population growth and eventually reach sustainable levels.” We’re currently using up the resources of 1.6 Earths , and we’ll need 3 Earths by 2050 unless we can alter our consumption patterns. + Population Matters Via edie Images via Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino on Flickr and McKay Savage on Flickr

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

April 19, 2017 by  
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When most people think of IKEA , they most likely think of affordable furniture and trendy home accessories. But many people are unaware of the company’s lofty social goals. In addition to their efforts to promote sustainability , it turns out IKEA is also working on a plan to alleviate poverty for Syrian refugees and other disadvantaged people around the globe. IKEA recently announced it’s building new production centers in Jordan this summer, as part of a plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world. The facilities will be open and running by August, and will provide jobs to refugees producing rugs, cushions, bedspreads, and other handmade woven items. These particular facilities are the result of a partnership with the Jordan River Foundation , a non-governmental organization founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania. To start out, these particular plants will only employ 100 people, rising to 400 within two years. About half will be local workers and the other half will be Syrian refugees . Related: IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program The new production centers are just one of many projects the furniture giant is working to establish around the world. Already, they’ve launched programs to help Indian women and Sweden’s immigrant population, which employ about 2,000 people collectively. The ultimate goal is to eventually employ about 200,000 people around the world through these initiatives. Rather than lead the projects themselves, IKEA is teaming up with local social entrepreneurs – organizations that help use business solutions to alleviate poverty, rather than simply distributing aid. Not only does this help provide jobs for people who desperately need them, it also helps organizations that would normally be too small to meet IKEA’s supplier guidelines to get their work into stores around the globe. Related: IKEA is launching a whole range of “no waste” products made from recycled materials This isn’t the first time IKEA has used its clout for social good. The company also recently established the IKEA Foundation to help children in poor communities, and unveiled an award-winning flat-pack refugee shelter design . So the next time you buy a new bookshelf or visit just to sample the Swedish fare at the restaurant, you can feel good knowing your purchase is helping others around the world. Via Dezeen Images via YouTube/Screenshot

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IKEA unveils plan to lift 200,000 people out of poverty

Pope opens free laundromat for Rome’s poor

April 11, 2017 by  
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Homeless people in Rome will now have a place to wash their clothes and blankets, thanks to Pope Francis . The pope recently opened a free laundromat, the Lavanderia di Papa Francesco, or Pope Francis Laundry, with the goal of restoring “dignity to many people who are our brothers and sisters.” The Pope Francis Laundry, in a former hospital near the Vatican in Rome’s city center, is stocked with six donated washing machines and dryers from the Whirlpool Corporation . Poor and homeless people have access to detergent, fabric softener, and irons provided there as well. The Community of Sant’Egidio , a Christian organization fighting poverty , will operate the free laundromat. Showers, medical facilities, and a barbershop are also planned for the site. Related: Pope Francis urges Americans to fight climate change in his first address to the country According to the Vatican, the free laundromat is for “the poorest people, particularly the homeless, who will be able to wash, dry, and iron their clothes and blankets.” This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has stepped out to help the poor. Outcasts or those on the edges of society have been a large focus of his papacy so far. He opened a shower and barber facility near St. Peter’s Basilica two years ago. That same year to mark his 78th birthday he passed out hundreds of sleeping bags to Rome’s homeless. Last September at the canonization celebration for Mother Teresa, he invited 1,500 homeless people to travel to Rome and occupy seats of honor, and eat a free pizza lunch. He’s also housed refugee families in the Vatican. Last week three Syrian families moved in, replacing some families who have recently moved out to live on their own. Last year on Maundy Thursday, following Christian tradition, Pope Francis washed people’s feet, and the people whose feet he chose to wash were those of refugees and Muslims. This year for Maundy Thursday this week he will wash the feet of inmates at a prison south of Rome. Via The Guardian Images via Office Of Papal Charities/EPA , Community of Sant’Egidio Facebook , and Wikimedia Commons

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Pope opens free laundromat for Rome’s poor

Ontario is rolling out a basic income test for citizens living under the poverty line

November 16, 2016 by  
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Earlier this year Canadian officials in Ontario indicated plans to test a basic income project. Now they are moving forward with a 2017 start date. Ontario citizens living under the poverty line will receive a certain amount of money each month with no strings attached. Conservative strategist Hugh Segal thinks the project could help Canada determine whether a basic income will reduce pressures on healthcare spending and encourage people to work. The government tasked Segal with exploring the idea, and he released a lengthy discussion paper around the end of the summer. He noted the pilot project is meant to provide evidence on how the program might improve lives. For example, as opposed to traditional welfare programs, the money could responsibly help people working low-paying jobs and might strengthen motivation to work. Segal argued in his paper that current eligibility programs are seriously demeaning, and can only go so far in alleviating poverty. “Our present social assistance system imposes limits on economic progress, often keeping welfare recipients from entering the economic mainstream,” he wrote in his paper. Related: Canada is planning to give people free money, just for being citizens In an interview with The Guardian, Segal said basic income could “give people a floor beneath which they’re not allowed to fall.” Under the pilot project, citizens 18 to 65 under the poverty line will receive $1,320 every month, and disabled people will receive $1,820. People will receive basic income whether they are employed or not. According to Big Think, the basic income idea has bipartisan appeal because it could totally shake up the welfare system and provide people with opportunities. Segal said for Ontario to get a true sense of whether or not the project is working, the basic income experiment should run for a minimum of three years. Via Big Think and The Guardian Images via jsnsndr on Flickr and Dennis Jarvis on Flickr

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