Appalachian Trail spared from Atlantic Coast Pipeline

July 7, 2020 by  
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Duke Energy Corp. and Dominion Energy Inc. have canceled the controversial 600-mile-long Atlantic Coast Pipeline that the companies planned to build under the Appalachian Trail. The  energy  giants called off the $8 billion project “due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.” This news comes as a win for the environmentalists who have spent years fighting this disruption to the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline’s route was supposed to start in the gas fields of Harrison County,  West Virginia , then travel southeast through Virginia, ending in Robeson County, North Carolina. This route would have crossed both the Appalachian Trail and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review Anti-pipeline activists took their battle to the Supreme Court, striving to preserve nature and protect local  endangered species . In June, the court ruled in favor of the utility companies. So, the pipeline cancellation announcement came as both a surprise and cause for celebration. “Its effective defeat today is a huge victory for  Virginia’s  environment, for environmental justice, and a testament to the power of grassroots action, the hundreds of driven, determined, frontline advocates who never stopped fighting this misguided project,” Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. Greenpeace also weighed in. “Duke and Dominion had hoped to carve up beautiful mountains, ignore catastrophic climate change, and delay a just transition to renewable energy to build this pipeline, but, thanks to the courageous activists who stood up to them, they have failed,” the organization said. But not everybody was rejoicing. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued a statement of regret, insisting the pipeline would have been safely constructed and that the surrounding areas would have been protected. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce also lamented that the estimated 17,000 jobs the  pipeline  project would have created will not come to fruition. “Unfortunately, today’s announcement detrimentally impacts the Commonwealth’s access to affordable, reliable energy,” the chamber said in a statement. “It also demonstrates the significant regulatory burdens  businesses  must deal with in order to operate.” + Huffington Post Images via Fibonacci Blue

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Chefs could be the missing ingredient to circular food systems

June 22, 2020 by  
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Chefs could be the missing ingredient to circular food systems Lauren Phipps Mon, 06/22/2020 – 01:00 It’s often said that the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach. The same principle could apply to fixing the broken food system.  Food loss and waste, the carbon-intensive production and distribution of food, hunger and food deserts: These are just a few inefficient and unequal outcomes of today’s global food system. The principles of a circular economy offer a helpful framework to envision a more resilient and regenerative alternative — and chefs might be the missing ingredient to successfully realizing a new model.  “When you talk about biodiversity and conservation, there is no value,” said prominent Brazilian chef Alex Atala, who runs the world-renowned restaurant D.O.M. in São Paulo. “When you taste biodiversity, there’s a new meaning and new value.”  Atala was one of four chefs tuning in from around the world who spoke about cultivating a circular economy for food during the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Big Food Workshop last week. According to these culinary leaders, we have to start with the food itself: the ingredients; the preparation; and the flavor.  Biodiversity, conservation and a shift towards regenerative agriculture is just one piece of a holistic vision for a better food system. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation breaks down circular food systems into three, bite-sized pieces in the report ” Cities and Circular Economy for Food “: Food production that improves rather than degrades the environment; ingredients kept at their highest value and cycled through the biological system; and people that have access to healthy and nutritious food.  It’s not enough to ask people to put something on the plate because it’s the right thing to do. We want people to enjoy it. The report’s analysis suggests that a successful shift not only would benefit the climate and communities, it also would generate $2.7 trillion in annual benefits by 2050. And chefs will play a vital role in driving this transformation.  Chef Kim Wejendorp knows a thing or two about food waste — or in his case, the inventive use of every ounce of an ingredient. Head of R&D at Amass Restaurant in Copenhagen, known for its fine dining and zero-waste kitchen, Wejendorp believes “it’s a matter of deriving flavor from otherwise byproducts or what would be considered waste in commercial kitchens. It’s not enough to ask people to put something on the plate because it’s the right thing to do. We want people to enjoy it. We want people to come back to these ingredients as things with their own intrinsic value.”  Wejendorp recognizes the impact of each ingredient, and the responsibility of the chef — in commercial and home kitchens — to actively avoid waste where possible. “Anybody looking down at a cutting board that’s about to sweep whatever they’ve got leftover in the bin, stop and ask yourself, ‘Have you done enough with what you have there to pay respect to the amount of work and effort and resources it took to get those ingredients in front of you in the first place?’” South African chef and writer Mokgadi Itsweng champions indigenous foods in future food systems. “We’re suffering from malnutrition … social diseases like diabetes, all these things that our great-grandparents never suffered from. The reason being, they ate a lot of the indigenous ingredients.” An unintended impact of urbanization in South Africa is shifting relationships with food. “When people move to cities, indigenous food knowledge is destroyed,” Itsweng said. Itsweng described the indigenous foods that she grew up eating such as sorghum, millet and amaranth. “I’m bringing them back into people’s kitchens. … With climate change, COVID and food insecurity, we need those nutrient-dense foods back on our plates.”  To revive indigenous food systems and cultures, Itsweng has one simple piece of advice: “Speak to your grandmother.” The foods and cooking methods used for generations can inform today’s efforts to improve the food system, and elders are an unparalleled resource to help communities relearn how to eat sustainably.  A well-known figure in the U.S. farm-to-table movement, Dan Barber has long advocated to support local farms and farmers. Author of “The Third Plate” and chef and co-owner of restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Barber reflected on the shifting trajectory of food culture in the United States. “When I opened Blue Hill in very progressive New York City, I had to have foie gras, caviar, lobster — I had to have those ingredients on my menu. Fast-forward 20 years, those ingredients on my menu make me look old and outdated and anachronistic.” The plates have shifted. I love the Toni Cade Bambara quote, “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” When it comes to the art of flavor and sustenance, this responsibility is no different. The role of the chef is to make a regenerative, circular food system tempting and delicious. To drive systems change through the allure of a perfectly prepared carrot rather than the threat of a stick.  “We as chefs are the strongest voice in the food chain in this moment,” Atala concluded. “We have a power, a power to transform a forgotten, an unknown, an undervalued ingredient into a sexy ingredient. Let’s use this power. Let’s feed people with love and maybe food can be a way to express it.” Pull Quote It’s not enough to ask people to put something on the plate because it’s the right thing to do. We want people to enjoy it. Topics Circular Economy Food Systems Food Waste Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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New technology could harness energy from trees

June 17, 2020 by  
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A new technology that draws power from trees brings a new dimension to the sustainable energy conversation. New research shows that drawing energy from trees could help power future cities. By converting tree movements into energy, anemokinetics technology taps into the power available in nature. For a long time, the world has struggled to come up with sustainable energy sources. The high demand for energy compared to its limited sources has proved a tough puzzle to solve. Anemokinetics technology could be the answer to this ongoing clean energy issue. The concept of anemokinetics is based on the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, the energy we use is continuously available in nature in various forms. The problem is converting available energy from one form to another for specific purposes. According to a project published on  Behance , anemokinetics allows scientists to harness energy from trees via the oscillation of branches. The study first investigated tree branches’ range of movement. Research found that tree branch movements fluctuate depending on wind speed, tree height and tree type. Tree branch displacement occurs at a rate of between one and 25 cm every moment. Although further studies are still underway to determine the best way to tap this energy, scientists have already created a prototype electric circuit and conducted field testing. Research found that each branch movement cycle “generates a charge equal to 3.6 volts with a current of 0.1 amperes and a duration of 200 milliseconds.” These figures could spell a bright future for anemokinetics. The project also proposes using the generated energy for off-grid navigation. Although the study still needs investment and further research , the preliminary findings are promising. Anemokinetics technology has plenty of possible applications, including powering sensors to create an Internet of Forest. + Behance Images via Alexander Altenkov

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How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity

June 12, 2020 by  
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How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity Garry Cooper Fri, 06/12/2020 – 01:30 Throughout the pandemic response, a key issue has been a lack of communication and coordination to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to where they are most needed, with many areas of the country suffering from severe resource shortages as a result. The only truly successful solution has been, and will continue to be, to strategically adopt two core elements of a circular economy model: reuse and resource sharing. The key goals of the circular economy are ” designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems .” Unlike in our current linear economic model, which generally discards materials once used, the circular economy enables more value to be extracted from an item by eschewing the “take-make-waste” pattern. In a situation where supply is limited, the circular model gets far more use out of the same supply. While the need for a circular economy has been growing for decades, especially as the impacts of climate change have begun to loom larger, this pandemic has caused that need to increase dramatically. Taking on the circularity principles of reuse and resource sharing — and equally important, having a more coordinated approach around those efforts — is critical for directing supplies to the places where there is the greatest need in a timely and equitable fashion. My company, Rheaply, has pivoted our resource-sharing technology to aid in this approach. In partnership with the city of Chicago, we built Chicago PPE Market , a platform that provides small businesses and nonprofits access to a network of local manufacturers and suppliers of PPE at cost-controlled rates, helping them protect their staff and prevent further spread of the virus. Within the first week of the platform going live, we onboarded 1,555 small businesses, with over 165,000 listings and 2,100 transactions for items such as face coverings, protective shields and various sanitizers. Yet we are just one company contributing to the efforts to fight the pandemic. To truly fight the virus, we must all adopt a circularity approach, sharing physical resources and human capital. Even beyond the pandemic, this approach will allow us to more efficiently and cooperatively operate as a global community. The first step is to change the way we think about the resources we have. To do so, we must do the following: Establish a community-oriented mindset.  With healthcare professionals advising “social distancing,” we are all keeping physically distant from others, even as states begin to reopen. Mentally, however, distancing is a way of making people think more about others. You distance yourself to protect everyone, not just yourself. We have to think about fighting this virus as a team effort, not as something that just healthcare professionals can do.  We also have to think about that “team” more broadly. To combat the virus effectively, the team has to be made up of your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country — the global community. For most people, the most effective way to help the team is to practice social distancing in order to prevent the spread of disease. But for those with the power to do so, it is imperative to think about the broader team and allow for human capital and medical supplies to be allocated to places where the need is greatest now, while also planning for sufficient healthcare workers and PPE to fight the virus when it spikes in new areas. Think about the resources you have that might help others. There may be other ways to help that may surprise you.  Check your cabinets . Consider what resources you might have in your home or business. If you’re a dentist whose practice has been forced to temporarily close or whose practice has a surplus of supplies that could benefit healthcare providers, consider donating or selling those items to institutions in need. If you’re a graduate student working in a lab, think about the gloves, gowns and masks you’re not currently using and donate them. If you’re not in charge of the supplies at your organization, make the case to your superiors for donating supplies. Think about your skills . Not all resources are tangible. If you’re someone who is healthy, consider how your skills could be used as resources to benefit others. One example would be people who have put their sewing skills to work to make masks. Another would be individuals who use 3D printers to make PPE . Pivot your business . If you’re a manufacturer or other business owner, think about how your business could alter its offering to make a difference. If you have the resources and access to certain supply chains, you may be able to shift to manufacturing PPE. Businesses ranging from hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer to fashion brands have begun creating masks. You might be surprised to see how your business’s strengths could be directed toward fighting the virus.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Think about using, not owning, resources.  Question the way you think about items. Plenty of items don’t need to be owned, but instead just used for a period of time (properly decontaminated N95 masks or face shields) — you may have items that could be reused by those currently in greater need. Ask yourself, “What is the true value of idle resources that I’ve put aside?” If you’re not using an item, then it is of little value to you, whereas it may be of great value to someone else. For items that should not be reused (gloves), think about how much of these items you actually need. Ask yourself, “Do I need this many gloves right now?” In many cases, your need is probably less dire than the need of overwhelmed healthcare providers.   At the same time, we also should be thoughtful about how we treat and value the skills of our healthcare workers. Those who oversee healthcare providers can’t think of healthcare providers as belonging exclusively to certain institutions; instead, they have to think about them as having transferable skills that could provide a huge benefit to institutions and communities around the country and the world.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. If you lend a hand now, then others will be more willing to help you when you are in need. These times are tough, and it’s easy to start feeling helpless. But practicing and advocating for the principles of a circular economy are crucial ways to help. You have the power to make a difference. Let’s get started. Pull Quote If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Topics Circular Economy Corporate Strategy Climate Strategy Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Rows of N95 respiratory mask, used as personal protective equipment. Shutterstock Faizzamal Close Authorship

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Trump allows commercial fishing in Atlantic national monument

June 9, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration announced on Friday that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses over 5,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, will open to commercial fishing. The announcement came after the president attended a round-table discussion with commercial fishers from Maine who were concerned about the economic tolls of COVID-19 in their industry. Ocean experts are cautioning that the decision will cause comprehensive harm to the environment in the long run, especially as the proclamation will allow fishing within the monument without changing its size or boundaries. Brad Sewell, senior director of Oceans for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that such a significant change to a monument must be done by Congress. Sewell cited that the Antiquities Act gives the president the power to protect specific natural areas, not the other way around. The 5,000-square-mile ocean monument is home to sea turtles, endangered whales, unique species of cold water coral reefs , four extinct underwater volcanoes and deep sea canyons teeming with marine life. Related: Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument has been open to sport fishing but closed to commercial fishing (with the exception of the red crab and lobster) since its creation in 2016 by President Obama. Any continuing fisheries were given a 7-year transition period to end their operations in the area by 2023. The Seamounts monument has been no stranger to controversy, even before Trump’s recent decision. A year after its designation, five commercial fishing groups sued the Obama administration because they felt the president had created the monument illegally. Now, Trump’s announcement raises the question of the limits of presidential powers regarding changing the rules of national monuments altogether. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala told National Geographic that these types of national monuments are established to preserve the country’s natural and historical sites. “We need pristine areas set aside so that we can see nature as it was before we overexploited it, and understand the true impact of fishing,” Sala said. “If commercial fishing were allowed in a monument, it would become just a name on a map, and no different than any other place in the ocean.” Via National Geographic Image via NOAA

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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

June 8, 2020 by  
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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Anna Zhang Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:00 The COVID-19 crisis has affected most aspects of daily life, including how we get our food. Because the COVID-19 response has restricted restaurants to pick-up and delivery orders in many areas, business for on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats has increased dramatically.  Uber Eats claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in new restaurant signups, and some local restaurants say the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent .  Even before the COVID era, food order and delivery apps were growing rapidly, and the sector was on track to more than double in value by 2025 — from $82 billion in 2018 to $200 billion by 2025. Projections showed that by 2023 about one-quarter of smartphone users , or 14 million Americans, will use these apps.  For the environmentally minded, the increased adoption of app-based food delivery services presents a unique opportunity to affect carbon emissions in the food supply chain. One of the leading climate change solutions is the widespread adoption of a plant-rich diet, particularly in countries with a more “Western” diet. Adopting these habits has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 66 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent, according to Project Drawdown. Compared to business as usual, choosing vegan options could reduce emissions by as much as 70 percent . Third-party food delivery apps offer a valuable opportunity to connect consumers to the knowledge they need to adopt a climate-friendly diet.  We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. While systematic change in food production at all levels is necessary to achieve goals for carbon emission reductions, influencing consumer behavior to shift towards low-carbon food options has the power to simultaneously encourage food producers up the supply chain to reduce the carbon impact of their offerings, while also empowering consumers to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. A recent study in Science magazine noted that “dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.” However, a major roadblock is the lack of transparency surrounding the carbon impacts of food.  Many consumers recognize that animal products have some negative impact on the planet, yet most don’t truly know the extent to which meat consumption can drastically increase carbon emissions.  Indeed, according to a recent study by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communications, about half of surveyed Americans (51 percent) would be willing to eat a more plant-based, low-carbon diet if they had more information about how their food choices affected the environment. Through a six-week climate innovation program at Yale , we envisioned two ways that on-demand food delivery apps could empower their users to make more climate-friendly food choices. We based our idea off a successful project at Yale demonstrating the effectiveness of environmental impact ratings on consumers — in this case, students at Yale’s dining halls. Rate the Plate is an initiative designed by current Yale students through which dining halls display posters containing the calculated range estimates for the amount of carbon emissions from each available entree. After running both a small-scale pilot and then expanding to all Yale residential colleges, the organizers had students complete a survey to analyze the effectiveness of the posters and ratings. The results show that 62 percent of students had a positive response when asked if they reconsidered their food choices after seeing the ratings.  Additionally, when asked if they would like to continue seeing the environmental impact posters in the dining halls, more than 86 percent of students said yes.  The results of this project inspired us to consider other ways to empower consumers to make climate-friendly food choices. We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices.  First, food order and delivery companies can create short monthly quizzes for users to test their knowledge about the carbon impacts of various food options. An interactive, visually appealing quiz can inform consumers about how their own food choices can affect the planet as a whole. Positive messaging alongside discounts or other incentives can encourage users to take the quizzes and act on the information they learn.  For example, online consignment retailer ThredUp already runs an online quiz that consumers can take to determine their environmental impacts in the apparel sector. Additionally, companies could implement carbon labeling within their order menu interface. There are various existing methods to estimate and label the carbon emissions associated with food dishes, but a simple number or range of carbon equivalents would allow consumers to compare meal options within the app.  Using color coding or symbols such as trees to indicate high- and low-carbon footprint items also would be a non-obtrusive way to represent the information. The methodology could be explained in one of the quizzes released each month so consumers feel that they have both easy-to-read and accurate data. Order and delivery apps could include discounts for consumers opting into low-carbon food selections. What’s in it for companies such as DoorDash and Snackpass?  Companies would be able to analyze the data on these strategies to fulfill internal corporate sustainability metrics on reducing GHG emissions, and such information could be advertised to demonstrate the company’s drive and success in sustainability compared to competing apps.  There is growing demand for sustainable business practices and purchasing options, especially among younger consumers . Being known as a climate-friendly option in the food-delivery ecosystem likely will be a selling point for many companies. If food delivery apps implemented these various features, tracking the environmental impact would be relatively straightforward because it relies on digital technology and data collection. By looking at the number of people taking the carbon-impact quiz every month, companies could get a sense of the reach of these efforts among their customers. Eventually, they also could use the consumer order data to look for significant shifts in the carbon impacts of dishes people order.  What’s the role for restaurants?  While the relationships between restaurants and food delivery apps sometimes can be contentious , restaurants could benefit from advertising themselves as a climate-friendly option.  Restaurants would provide information about the ingredients lists of their dishes, allowing food delivery apps to calculate carbon impacts. As previously mentioned, discounts are offered to consumers who take the food carbon quizzes, which can help restaurants draw in new customers as well as highlight some of their vegan and vegetarian options. Ideally, there would be a shift towards vegetable-based options and away from meat-heavy dishes after the carbon ratings and quizzes are implemented, which would demonstrate a positive impact on consumer decisions in terms of carbon emissions. This data from before and after the intervention also could be used to create a baseline to calculate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided due to lower demand for meat-heavy dishes.  As food-delivery apps continue to gain popularity over the next decade, integrating information about the climate impact of food options has the potential to address the large impact the food-supply chain has on carbon emissions. This information gives consumers power in their food choices and allows food-delivery apps to demonstrate climate-friendly values. Pull Quote We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. Contributors Tracy Zhou Luke Browne Abbey Warner Topics Food Systems Innovation Technology E-commerce Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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This moment: An open letter to the GreenBiz community

June 2, 2020 by  
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This moment: An open letter to the GreenBiz community Joel Makower Tue, 06/02/2020 – 02:11 In the wee hours of Nov. 9, 2016, shortly after Donald Trump was declared the 45th president of the United States, I sat down and penned a note to the GreenBiz community. A lot of us were shocked, confused, depressed and angry that this vulgar man, who saw climate change as a hoax and “beautiful clean coal” as our savior, would be setting the national agenda at such a critical time. It was “a stunning and devastating indictment of decency, fairness and inclusion,” I wrote that morning. And: It will be critically important, for both our individual sanity and our collective future, that we stay the course, double down, make every program, project, partnership and product count. That was then. The past few days, in the wake of the national upheaval over the death of yet another black man at the hands of yet another white police officer, have been similarly filled with angst and anger within the sustainability community. “What do we do?” we’ve asked one another. Should we simply stay the course, doubling down on our work on climate and the clean economy, which is growing more urgent by the day? Or do we stop, take stock and rethink what we do? Today, I’m not sure that staying the course is, in and of itself, what’s needed. It may be time for a radical rethink: Given all that’s changing, what does the world need of us now? Whether you come from privilege or poverty, whether your education comes from the best schools or the streets, whatever your politics or identity, this is a brutally tough moment. The coronavirus and economic crash already had laid bare the inequity and disparity among the classes and races: those who have a job and those who don’t; those who are able to earn a living at home versus those who must risk going to an employer’s workplace during a pandemic; those who are able to afford food, shelter and healthcare, even amid economic upheaval, and those who can’t; those who feel comfortable walking or driving or just being outside their home, and those who fear that any moment could lead to their becoming the next George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice or Sandra Bland. Now, all of those inequities and disparities have been cast into the open. To the extent they existed in the shadows — festering societal problems to which those with power and privilege largely threw up their hands — they are now center stage. To the extent these problems could be ignored — that one could live life without having to reckon with race, poverty and inequality — they have been thrust onto our individual and collective doorsteps. To the extent they were topics relegated to hushed, private conversations — well, those conversations are full-throated, 24/7 and inescapable. To the extent these problems could be ignored — that one could live life without having to reckon with race, poverty and inequality — they have been thrust onto our individual and collective doorsteps. The calamities of 2020 — the physical, economic, social and psychological crises we’d already been confronting these past few months — have contributed to this raw moment, the culmination of centuries of systemic oppression and institutionalized racism. Words of comfort, of healing and hope, aren’t cutting it, and they shouldn’t. For those of us working in sustainability, it raises some fundamental questions. Among them: What led you to this work in the first place? Was it to protect the unprotected? To ensure the well-being of future generations? To engender community resilience? To create solutions to big, seemingly intractable problems? Or maybe, simply, “to make the world a better place”? If so, then this is the moment to live up to those lofty goals — fully and, most likely, uncomfortably. That means having difficult conversations with family, colleagues, friends and peers. It means recognizing — really, truly recognizing, not just mouthing the words — that nothing is sustainable if people are in pain. It matters little how much renewable energy is generated, how many circular supply chains are created, how much organic or regenerative food is produced if our fellow citizens are being exploited, discriminated against, threatened and worse. This is what ‘sustainability’ should be about — the security and well-being of all species. This is what “sustainability” should be about — the security and well-being of all species, including humans — and it no doubt will provoke nodding heads among many of you. But nodding heads aren’t enough. They never were and certainly aren’t now. This is a moment for the private sector to step up. Not just in helping to calm and heal, although that will be a critical task in the coming days and weeks, but also to lobby for justice: economic justice, racial justice, criminal justice, climate justice. And to deeply understand what these terms even mean, and how they relate to creating the societal value that is the beating heart of business.  This is a seminal moment that is testing all of us — those in sustainability, certainly, along with most everyone else. And as we work on or support societal solutions — and countless ideas are likely to come out of this, from every conceivable source — it’s important to ask some simple but profound questions: Who’s setting the rules? Who’s calling the shots? Who’s being heard? Who’s left out? Who’s benefiting from the status quo and from the proposed solutions? Does it empower the marginalized or merely placate the restless? These are the kinds of questions that have been woefully absent in the past. And we are living with the result. If we are to change the course, not simply aim to get back to some elusive “normal,” these questions will need to be asked and answered. Failure to do that will lead us right back to where we are. I’d like to end on a positive, hopeful note, much as I tried to do back in November 2016. But hope and positivity are in short supply right now. So I’ll just say this: Don’t underestimate your power in this moment. You may not feel powerful, particularly in light of the deafening voices screaming in the streets and on our screens. But there is power in us all: to care for those around us, to contribute time and resources at the community and national levels, to take the time to truly comprehend the issues before us and to understand that silence is complicity. Pull Quote To the extent these problems could be ignored — that one could live life without having to reckon with race, poverty and inequality — they have been thrust onto our individual and collective doorsteps. This is what ‘sustainability’ should be about — the security and well-being of all species. Topics Policy & Politics Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals

May 27, 2020 by  
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Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals Elizabeth R. Nesbitt Wed, 05/27/2020 – 14:36 Emerging carbon capture utilization (CCU) technologies potentially allow chemical companies and other manufacturers such as steel companies to convert waste carbon from industrial emissions — in the form of carbon monoxide (CO) and/or carbon dioxide (CO2) — into sustainable, value-added biofuels and chemicals. Using CCU technologies to consume waste feedstocks reportedly can cut production costs; monetize industrial emissions; allow companies to meet CO2 emissions goals; and foster continued development of a circular economy. Moreover, using waste carbon to make chemicals also can reduce manufacturers’ reliance on fossil fuels such as crude petroleum and natural gas, an important factor, particularly for the European Union and China, given the volatility in sourcing and pricing of fossil fuels. Factors driving adoption Technology providers such as LanzaTech (United States) and Avantium (Netherlands), among others, have developed novel CCU processes. The new processes, which reflect scientific advancements in industrial biotechnology and electrolysis, range from fermentation (using proprietary microorganisms) to electrocatalysis and are at varying stages of development (research scale to full commercialization). The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon, and production and energy costs (including the availability and costs of renewable energy; companies predict that increased supplies of low-cost renewable energy will be needed). Government policies also play an important role in the evolving expansion of CCU projects. The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon… Stakeholders and business models Large multinational chemical companies and steel companies are participating in CCU projects (a list showing examples of such projects is provided in the working paper ). Industry sources note that the new production capacity is generally in the form of modular “bolt-on” units that can be added to existing production facilities — such as steel plants, chemical plants, and refineries — that are major sources of CO/CO2 emissions. LanzaTech, one of the first companies to start commercial production of bioethanol using waste emissions, notes that steel mills worldwide produce about 30 billion gallons of waste gas per year and says its process can be used on about 65 percent of global steel mills, potentially producing 30 billion gallons of ethanol annually. The business models used along the value chain vary. Industry sources note that whereas the technology providers likely will license their technologies, the industrial emitters (such as steel companies) likely will use licensing and establish joint ventures (JVs) with the consuming/marketing entities. Many CCU projects underway to date are in China and Europe. Industry sources cite several reasons for this geographical concentration, including the magnitude of available waste emissions; industrial efforts to reduce emissions to meet national targets; funding; and government policies. One source, speaking of the European chemical industry, notes that CCU would allow the industry to both reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and enhance its competitiveness. Another source states that European leadership in development and deployment of clean-energy technologies translates to a global competitive advantage. But the speed of U.S. adoption of such technology may be tempered by several factors, including the relative cost of fossil fuels in the United States. The outlook Using waste carbon from industrial emissions as a feedstock for chemical manufacture appears to be a viable complement to industrial emitters’ ongoing abatement efforts. Many things are in flux: technologies are still being developed and scaled up; government policies are being implemented; business models are being established; funding is still being sought; the costs of installing the new technologies; and the supply and pricing of fossil fuels remain volatile. But steel companies, refineries and chemical companies are increasingly starting to use waste carbon emissions as feedstocks for chemicals and there are significant supplies of waste carbon from global industrial emissions worldwide for companies to use. These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. On a sectoral basis, some sources estimate that the market potential for chemical production from waste carbon in industrial emissions, or even reduction of waste emissions in general, could be valued in the billions of dollars. Moreover, given estimates of potential reductions in production costs of about 20 to 50 percent (largely resulting from the feedstocks), chemical producers appear to be able to derive a competitive advantage regarding the pricing of many end products and, to the extent that they are partners in JVs with industrial emitters, they also may be able to increase market share and/or market coverage. Use of waste carbon feedstocks is also likely to allow companies to respond to carbon pricing programs and renewable energy mandates. Steel companies that can gain revenues from byproduct sales derived from their industrial emissions and offset emissions taxes and/or reduce other obligations under new mandates may be able to avoid reducing production in an increasingly competitive and oversupplied global market for steel with thin profit margins. Steel industries that adopt these sustainable technologies might be able to better survive oversupply conditions, carbon pricing programs, and renewable energy mandates than those that do not. These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. To the extent that these technologies become widely adopted, they could result in substantial increases in supply of such chemicals globally, with potential disruptive impacts on trade and prices. Disclaimer: Office of Industries working papers are the result of the ongoing professional research of USITC staff and solely represent the opinions and professional research of individual authors. This article does not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. International Trade Commission or any of its individual commissioners. Pull Quote The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon… These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. Topics Carbon Removal Chemicals & Toxics Carbon Capture Chemical Recycling Technology Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock tonton Close Authorship

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Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals

Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

March 18, 2020 by  
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I’ve been vegetarian since childhood and have met people with many different takes on a healthy plant-based diet. The raw foodists I’ve encountered have blown me away with the innovation it takes to come up with a menu beyond salad while limiting cooking temperatures to no more than 118 degrees. The raw food philosophy is that heat breaks down food’s nutritional value, while low temperatures allow food to retain enzymes and vitamins, leading to the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease and generally thrive. So when Theresa Keane, co-owner of Pixie Retreat , invited me to tour her Portland, Oregon raw food kitchen, I was intrigued. Her team produces a full vegan, organic , gluten-free and mostly raw menu on a commercial scale. Not only do they supply Pixie Retreat’s three Portland retail locations, they’ve also started wholesaling to local stores. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at a commercial raw food kitchen. The early years Pixie Retreat was built on a dream and a lot of hard work, trial and error. Keane co-founded the business with Willow O’Brien in 2008. At the time, they wanted to make and sell healthful and delicious food , but were new to the dining business. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Keane said. “We never worked in kitchens, Willow and I. She didn’t even know how to make food. She made tea and stuff like that.” They started out sharing a commissary kitchen with other vegan businesses. That’s where they met Anna Clark, who later became their third business partner. Clark, a pastry chef, was the only one with formal culinary training. After 9 months in the commissary kitchen, they rented a house and ran Pixie Retreat out of it, working late into the night while filling wholesale orders. Keane described a time when an engineer acquaintance stopped by. Their setup left him shocked. “We had eight refrigerators, freezers, 20 dehydrators,” Keane said. “He said it’s amazing you don’t burn this house down. Every night, the power would trip off. We couldn’t even turn the heat on because it would trip the power.” A spotless, modern raw food kitchen They’ve come a long way. Now headquartered in Southeast Portland’s industrial district, the Pixie Retreat RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery is both a retail outlet and the site of their commercial kitchen. The small front part has a seating area and a case of premade wraps and goodies. “We’re grab-and-go style, because that’s how people are living,” Keane said. “We’re not a sit down-like service restaurant . We’re into flavor, satisfaction and integrity of our ingredients. Plating is not my forte.” Customers can also custom-order kale- or millet-based bowls and coconut cream puddings with toppings. The millet is one of several cooked ingredients available. A big white curtain hangs behind the counter, obscuring the kitchen. “That’s more for health department reasons,” Keane said, indicating the curtain. “And to protect the magic back there.” We step through the curtain and find three workers preparing food in an extremely well-organized kitchen. It’s Thursday, one of the big assembly days for delivering to the two other Pixie Retreat outlets. Tacked up on the door of the walk-in dehydrator are long to-do lists for each day of the week. Keane introduced me to her staff and to each machine, many of which were specially made or adapted to the needs of a mostly raw food kitchen. The walk-in dehydration room is the most exciting and unusual. Keane opened the door, releasing a smoky smell. Inside are trays and trays of eggplant bacon strips, which stay in there for 72 hours. Pixie Retreat bought the dehydrator from a former kale chip entrepreneur who devised tools to streamline raw food making. Keane estimated the walk-in dehydrator is 75% more efficient than the company’s former multiple-dehydrator setup. Pixie Retreat has a Robot Coupe Blixer, which is an industrial-strength food processor. “This tool is a game changer,” Keane said. “I mean, it’s expensive like a car, but it paid for itself in labor. I love this tool so much.” The company uses it to blend ingredients for pizza dough, macadamia nut cheese and raw onion bread. Pixie Retreat makes raw chocolate in its chocolate machine, melting it down at a temperature of 108. The chocolate winds up in treats like chocolate salted “karmals”, “almond butta cups” and dehydrated, oat-based chocolate chip cookies. Other interesting tools include an Italian fruit press repurposed for squeezing excess moisture out of sauerkraut and a specially made enormous cookie-cutter to cut onion bread into uniform squares while minimizing waste . Raw and vegan at home The Pixie Retreat kitchen is cool but daunting. What about the average person who wants to add more raw food into their diet without shelling out for a Blixer? “Make nut milk ,” Keane said. “That’s where I would start.” You’ll need a nut milk bag, available online or in some grocery stores’ produce departments. She recommended starting with hazelnuts or almonds. For flavor and sweetness, add sea salt, vanilla and a Medjool date. Put it all in your blender. “Kick it up on high. Blend it. Then you put it in the nut milk bag and you squeeze it out.” Dry out the pulp and use it as a nut flour for baked goods. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative After you master nut milk, try making nut cheese. Keane recommended blending buttery macadamia nuts with water, Italian seasoning, lemon juice and sea salt for a plant-based ricotta. Going national Pixie Retreat scaled back from wholesale for a while to focus on retail locations. But it has just relaunched, selling chocolate “karmal”, salted “karmal” and raspberry “l’il puddin” at New Seasons stores in Portland. Made with organic young coconut meat and Irish moss, these raw desserts are packed with nutrients . Soon, Pixie Retreat plans to introduce nationwide cold shipping of the “l’il puddin’”. Currently, customers across the U.S. can order sweet or savory Pixie snack boxes . But Pixie Retreat’s goals go far beyond Portland or even the U.S. When I asked Keane about the company vision, she immediately said, “Global. That’s the dream. We want to be the fast food of the future.” + Pixie Retreat Images via Josh Chang and Marielle Dezurick / Pixie Retreat and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

Electric Vehicles and Power Outages

March 2, 2020 by  
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Last year’s planned power outages to prevent wildfires in Northern … The post Electric Vehicles and Power Outages appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Electric Vehicles and Power Outages

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