UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

September 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations’ United in Science Report 2020 , global temperatures could exceed the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement in the next decade. Global temperatures have been on a steady rise since the 1800s due to the effects of industrialization. According to the report, global temperatures have already risen by 2°F (1.1°C) since the late 1800s. Of greater concern is the fact that the last five years have been hotter than previous years. Although the high temperatures experienced in the last five years could be temporary, there is a cause for alarm if global warming continues at the current rate. According to the UN, the world has about a 25% chance of experiencing a year of temperatures hot enough to push global temperatures past the 1.5°C limit in the next five years. The report, released by the UN World Meteorological Organization, reinstates the importance of the Paris Agreement . In 2015, world leaders set two warming limits, with 1.5°C being the most stringent. The limits were set to mark temperature changes where human survival will be more difficult. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year The report has come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing record-setting temperatures and destruction. A Labor Day weekend heatwave led to several wildfires in California and burned a record amount of land across the state. Death Valley also hit 130°F last month, marking the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Fires are also burning in the Amazon and the Arctic. “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods, and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations, and economies around the world,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his foreward. The United in Science report highlighted more disruptions that are likely to occur in the coming years as a result of burning fossil fuels . The world should expect increased polar ice melting and rising sea levels. The only hope is for countries to drastically cut down the use of fossil fuels. Guterres said, “The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions , with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.” + United in Science 2020 Via Huffington Post Image via Emilian Robert Vicol

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UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

Global investment managers say no to carbon

September 11, 2020 by  
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A European group of global investment managers and pension funds has devised an ambitious plan to cut their portfolios down to net-zero carbon . The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change includes more than 1,200 members in 16 countries. Together, they control over $40 trillion in assets. The group distributes its recommended measures to asset managers to help them reach the European Union’s goal to be climate -neutral by 2050. Its policies are based on a framework developed with more than 70 funds around the world. Related: Critics question Amazon’s sustainability amidst Bezos Earth Fund launch As investors focus more on sustainability, especially since the Paris Climate Agreement, they’ve begun to pressure their asset managers to cut the carbon in their portfolios. “Countries, cities and companies around the globe are committing to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions and investors need to show similar leadership,” Stephanie Pfeifer, IIGCC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. IIGCC’s agenda is lengthy. A few points include analyzing the latest policy developments for members, developing policy positions, collaborating with like-minded global and European bodies, and facilitating workshops and roundtables with peers. Decarbonizing the world’s economy is an overwhelming task. Before a slight pandemic-related blip downward, global coal demand was at an all-time high. With a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050, it will take a lot of money, education and commitment to meet the ever-increasing appetite for electricity with renewable sources. Oil use currently averages more than 90 million barrels per day, and 70% of this is used for transportation. To reach net-zero carbon goals, these diesel- and gasoline-chugging vehicles will need to be switched out for electric vehicles charged with renewable energy sources. On the plus side, the world spends more than $5 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies, which would go a long way in funding renewable energy instead. We might also see a big drop in healthcare costs if people were no longer exposed to the detrimental effects of burning coal for fuel. + Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change Via Forbes Image via Pixabay

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Mealworms can serve as protein source, research says

September 10, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed has revealed that yellow mealworms can serve as an alternative protein source for animals and, possibly, humans. The study comes at a time when global food demands keep rising. Spontaneous population growth in developing countries has led to a shortage of protein sources, prompting researchers to look for alternative options. The new research, conducted by Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), proposes yellow mealworms as a food source. Christine Picard, associate professor of biology and the director of the Forensic Investigative Sciences Program at IUPUI School of Science, led the research. The study focused on analyzing the genome of a mealworm species known as tenebrio molitor. “Human populations are continuing to increase, and the stress on protein production is increasing at an unsustainable rate, not even considering climate change ,” Picard said. Findings explain that the yellow mealworm can offer several agricultural benefits. Fish and domestic birds can use the worms as an alternative source of protein. The worms can also help produce organic fertilizer, with their nutrient-rich waste. The mealworm genome research employed a 10X Chromium linked-read technology. Researchers now say that this information is available for use by those seeking to utilize DNA to optimize mealworms for mass production. According to Picard, IUPUI’s research has dealt with the challenging part, opening doors for interested stakeholders. “ Insect genomes are challenging, and the longer sequence of DNA you can generate, the better genome you can assemble. Mealworms, being insects, are a part of the natural diet of many organisms,” Picard said. Since fish enjoy mealworms as food , the researchers propose adopting these worms for fish farming. Researchers also say that pet food industries can use the worms as a supplemental protein source. In the future, mealworms could also serve as food for humans. “Fish enjoy mealworms, for example. They could also be really useful in the pet food industry as an alternative protein source, chickens like insects — and maybe one day humans, too, because it’s an alternative source of protein,” Picard said. To facilitate the yellow mealworm’s commercialization, the IUPUI team continues researching the worm’s biological processes. + Journal of Insects as Food and Feed Via Newswise Image via Pixabay

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Mealworms can serve as protein source, research says

Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year

September 10, 2020 by  
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Over 2 million acres of land have burned in California this year alone, according to the U.S Forest Service. Unfortunately, fires are still breaking out and more destruction is expected. The state is bracing for the worst as summer comes to an end. Normally, the period preceding fall is the most dangerous in terms of fire outbreaks, and California has already witnessed more acres burned so far this year than ever recorded in a similar period. Currently, two of the state’s largest fires in history are still underway in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are deployed to handle these fires and others around the state. During the Labor Day weekend, a three-day heatwave aggravated the situation. Triple-digit temperatures and dry winds are making it hard for firefighters to control the flames. Related: Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires The continued increase in temperatures and forest fires is affecting services for the residents of the state. Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest utility company in the state, said it might cut power to 158,000 customers this week. According to the company, this move would be taken to reduce the risk of its powerlines and other equipment starting more wildfires . According to Randy Moore, regional forester for the U.S Forest Service in the Pacific Southwest Region, the state will close all eight national forests in southern California to prevent further damage. He said that the closures will be re-evaluated each day, based on the available risks. The service is monitoring daily temperatures and other weather aspects that are likely to lead to fire outbreaks. This decision consequently means that all campgrounds within national forests remain closed. “The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously,” Moore said. “Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire.” Via Huffington Post Image via Steve Nelson / Bureau of Land Management

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Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year

Study shows denim microfibers are polluting our waters

September 9, 2020 by  
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A new study shows that jeans are releasing up to 56,000 denim microfibers per wash into lakes and oceans. The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters found that denim microfibers have infiltrated waters all the way from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean. The study was conducted to show the extent of human-caused pollution . “It’s not an indictment of jeans — I want to be really clear that we’re not coming down on jeans,” said Miriam Diamond, environmental scientist at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the study. Related: Wear jeans on your eyes with these funky sunglasses made of upcycled denim Scientists and environmentalists have known for some time that microplastics from synthetic clothing find their way into the oceans. One study estimates that about two trucks’ worth of microplastics drain into waters around Europe via wastewater from washing machines every day. Scientists have found microfibers in the stomachs of marine creatures, although the impact of these tiny plastic particles is still unknown. Much of the world is wearing denim at any given moment. To determine the effect of this popular garment, scientists carried out research on lake and ocean waters. The research looked at samples of water collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, suburban lakes around Toronto and the Great Lakes. According to the American Chemical Society, the samples tested revealed that the lakes near Toronto had the lowest percentage of denim microfibers at 12%. The Arctic waters had 20% denim microfiber pollution, while the Great Lakes had 23%. The researchers also found that new jeans release more microfibers — up to 56,000 denim microfibers — per wash than used jeans. “They’re called ‘natural’ textile fibers,” Sam Athey, coauthor of the study, explained. “I’m doing air quotes around ‘natural’ because they contain these chemical additives. They also pick up chemicals from the environment, when you’re wearing your clothes, when they’re in the closet.” The impact of denim microfibers on the environment requires more research, but the study authors recommend buying used jeans, installing a filter on your washer and washing denim less frequently to cut back on the amount of microfibers released into waterways. + Environmental Science and Technology Letters Via EcoWatch Image via Stux

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Study shows denim microfibers are polluting our waters

Bond Pet Foods develops slaughter-free chicken for sustainable pet food

September 3, 2020 by  
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It’s an ethical conundrum vegetarian pet owners frequently face — isn’t it hypocritical to eschew meat consumption yourself while still supporting animal slaughter by purchasing pet food? Those days of having to choose Fluffy over a nameless abattoir victim may be coming to an end as Bond Pet Foods improves a new lab-grown chicken protein technology. The Boulder, Colorado-based biotech company has figured out how to crack the genetic code of a chicken and replicate it in a lab. In this case, Inga, a farm-dwelling heritage hen from Lindsborg, Kansas, was the blood donor. Food chemists combine the genetic code in a fermentation tank with food-grade yeast, and voilà, they’ve created something identical to animal meat. The fermentation process is similar to one commonly used to make enzymes for cheese. Related: 7 ways to be an eco-friendly pet owner “A new wave of responsible food production is emerging, working with the best that nature and science has to offer, and our team is leading this wave in Pet,” said Rich Kelleman, co-founder and CEO of Bond Pet Foods. “Our team’s continued developments are laying the foundation to bring high-value meat protein and nutrition to dogs and cats, while removing farm animals from the equation.” Don’t race to your local pet food store just yet. Bond aims to have the slaughter-free pet food on shelves by 2023 with support from seed investors. In the meantime, an early test of a dog treat made from the cultured chicken protein was a success with canine consumers. “Our initial tests with dog volunteers have been very promising, and its nutritionals, palatability and digestibility will only improve on our path to commercialization,” said Pernilla Audibert, co-founder and CTO of Bond Pet Foods. “The science team at Bond is also working on production of other cultured meat proteins made through a similar fermentation process. The successful chicken prototype is a demonstration of our technology’s potential to create a complete portfolio of animal proteins for pet consumption, and beyond.” + Bond Pet Foods Via VegNews Image via Bond Pet Foods

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The open source movement takes on climate data

September 3, 2020 by  
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The open source movement takes on climate data Heather Clancy Thu, 09/03/2020 – 00:15 As GreenBiz co-founder and Executive Editor Joel Makower wrote earlier this week, many companies are moving to disclose ” climate risk ,” although far fewer are moving to actually minimize it. And as those tasked with preparing those reports can attest, the process of gathering the data for them is frustrating and complex, especially as the level of detail desired and required by investors becomes deeper. That pain point was the inspiration for a new climate data project launched this week that will be spearheaded by the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit host organization for thousands of the most influential open source software and data initiatives in the world such as GitHub. The foundation is central to the evolution of the Linux software that runs in the back offices of most major financial services firms.  There are four powerful founding members for the new group, the LF Climate Finance Foundation (LFCF): Insurance and asset management company Allianz, cloud software giants Amazon and Microsoft, and data intelligence powerhouse S&P Global. The foundation’s “planning team” includes World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ceres and the Sustainability Account Standards Board (SASB). The group’s intention is to collaborate on an open source project called the OS-Climate platform, which will include economic and physical risk scenarios that investors, regulators, companies, financial analysts and others can use for their analysis.  The idea is to create a “public service utility” where certain types of climate data can be accessed easily, then combined with other, more proprietary information that someone might be using for risk analysis, according to Truman Semans, CEO of OS-Climate, who was instrumental in getting the effort off the ground. “There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate,” he told me.  There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate. Why does this matter? It helps to understand the history of open source software, which was once a thing that many powerful software companies, notably Microsoft, abhorred because they were worried about the financial hit on their intellectual property. Flash forward to today and the open source software movement, “staffed” by literally millions of software developers, is credited with accelerating the creation of common system-level elements so that companies can focus their own resources on solving problems directly related to their business. In short, this budding effort could make the right data available more quickly, so that businesses — particularly financial institutions — can make better informed decisions. Or, as Microsoft’s chief intellectual property counsel, Jennifer Yokoyama, observed in the announcement press release: “Addressing climate issues in a meaningful way requires people and organizations to have access to data to better understand the impact of their actions. Opening up and sharing our contribution of significant and relevant sustainability data through the LF Climate Finance Foundation will help advance the financial modeling and understanding of climate change impact — an important step in affecting political change. We’re excited to collaborate with the other founding members and hope additional organizations will join.” An investor might use the platform, for example, to run projections focus on portfolios or specific investment opportunities. Governments might consult the resource while evaluating resilient infrastructure projects and policies. The main buckets of historical and forward-looking information that the LFCF group hopes to make available include research and development spending, policy response scenarios, or historical data about fires, floods and droughts. One example of a tool that data hounds will find there is a Finance Tool related to the Science-Based Targets Initiative. There also will be industry-specific data, likely starting with the energy, transport and industrial sectors, Semans said. Early beta versions of various pieces of the platform will be available this fall, with certain elements of the data commons available first, followed by modeling and analytics resources. Just because the data is “open” doesn’t mean it’s entirely free. Companies need to be a member of the foundation to participate in the governance process (although there will be seats on the board for non-fee paying members from academia, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations). Talk to your CIO about the power of open source, and consider this your call to action. Pull Quote There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate. 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New green technology could harvest body heat as energy

September 2, 2020 by  
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Scientists have created thermocells, energy-efficient devices, that can harvest excess heat and convert it into renewable energy . They hope to create portable batteries that could be applied to many types of surfaces to harvest excess heat — including clothing to utilize heat from the human body as energy. The group of 11 scientists who worked on this project published their study in the journal Renewable Energy . They are affiliated with The National University of Science and Technology in Moscow [NUST MISIS]. Related: MIT moves toward greener, more sustainable artificial intelligence Thermoelectricity is the type of electricity that is generated by temperature differences, called temperature gradients. These are found everywhere, including around the human body. While this is an area of green energy with untapped potential, previously developed thermocells have a low output power. But the scientists may have solved this problem. “We have shown the possibility of using a nickel oxide electrode based on hollow nickel microspheres in a thermocell,” said Igor Burmistrov, one of the study’s authors. “A record for aqueous electrolytes hypothetical Seebeck coefficient has been reached. In addition, we have found a nonlinear change in current-voltage characteristics, which is not typical for thermocells , which ensures an increase in the device’s efficiency.” The new thermocell appears to potentially be a safe and cost-effective way to generate renewable energy. The scientists are exploring the possibility of one day using this technology to create a supercapacitator that would stay charged for a long period of time. Even non-chemists who have a hard time grasping the exact process of how the thermocell works will immediately begin to ponder its applications. What if our body heat could power air conditioners? Could we charge our phones with body heat while we go for a run? The possibilities for a greener future are endless. + NUST MISIS Via CleanTechnica Image via Melk Hagelslag

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New green technology could harvest body heat as energy

Arctic wildfires are emitting 35% more carbon compared to 2019

September 2, 2020 by  
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Wildfires are releasing more carbon emissions in the first eight months of 2020 than they did in all of 2019. According to a recent report by the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service , carbon emissions in the Arctic have surpassed last year’s emissions by 35%. The latest data shows that about 245 megatonnes of CO2 have been released in 2020 so far. This is a far higher figure than the entirety of last year, when 181 megatonnes of CO2 were released as a result of wildfires. The data further shows that the peak month for wildfires in 2020 was July, with over 600 wildfires reported in late July as compared to 400 wildfires in the same time frame last year. More devastating is the fact that similar periods from 2003 through 2018 experienced an average of 100 wildfires. Related: Arctic wildfires rage through Siberia The surge in wildfires is associated with climate change . In July alone, a heatwave saw temperatures rise to 30°C (86°F) in some parts of Siberia. However, there are no major differences between the temperatures experienced this year and last year. According to the researchers, the main difference has been the number of fires that occurred over this period. “In some respects [the data] has been similar to 2019 in terms of the dry and warm conditions in the Siberian Arctic,” said Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at Copernicus. “This year, the difference was a large cluster of fires that burned through July for many days leading to higher estimated emissions.” Arctic wildfires have grown into a serious concern in recent years. In June, the Aerial Forest Protection Service of Russia reported that in Siberia’s forests, over 3.4 million acres of land had burned. Unfortunately, most of these fires occurred in areas that cannot be accessed by firefighters. In 2019, the Arctic wildfires caused a huge cloud of smoke that could cover the entire EU landmass. These fires are also destroying well-known carbon sinks , peat bogs. As peat bogs burn, they release megatonnes of stored carbon into the atmosphere. + Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Arctic wildfires are emitting 35% more carbon compared to 2019

Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane

August 31, 2020 by  
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Skincare products often get a bad rap for negatively impacting the environment. From plastic packaging to chemical ingredients, they may help skin but put a heavy burden on the planet. Until now. Haeckels has developed a zero-waste option that solves both the waste issue and those under-eye bags. Called Bio Restore Membrane, this under-eye mask is created using a base of jellied algae called agar, which is then combined with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, cucumber and witch hazel. These ingredients are specially selected to be all-natural while working to plump, soothe and hydrate the delicate under-eye area. Once the ingredients are blended, the science really kicks in as the mixture sits for three weeks, growing like yeast-fueled dough. Then the liquid concoction is dehydrated and laser-cut, creating a one-month supply of 18 masks. The company states that frequent use produces the most consistent results and suggests applying the water-activated under-eye masks a few times each week and before events. Related: The Haeckels Victorian-style bathing machine has a sauna inside The Bio Restore Membrane is made to order, and customers can track their beauty masks throughout the process, receiving information when the membrane is created and weekly updates regarding its growth. Environmentally speaking, this process confronts several issues within the skincare industry, including waste . Because many products end up in the landfill due to overproduction, the made-to-order platform eliminates excess product on the shelf. In addition, both the product and the packaging are zero-waste. The membrane will biodegrade after use and disposal. The same is true for the compostable glassine sack in which the masks are shipped. Plus, the company is committed to carbon-neutral shipping. This isn’t the first time Haeckels has shown its innovative capabilities. The wellness brand recently won a Wallpaper* Design Award for its mycelium and seed-paper packaging. + Haeckels Via Wallpaper* Images via Haeckels

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Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane

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