UK residents enjoying record low emissions

May 28, 2020 by  
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By now, almost everybody has heard about record low CO2 emissions brought on by  coronavirus  lockdowns. But new data shows not only that the U.K.’s emissions are the lowest they’ve been since the 1920s, but there’s reason to hope they might not shoot back up to pre-pandemic rates as soon as life returns to quasi-normal. A recent paper published in the scientific journal  Nature Climate Change examined six sectors known for their climate change contributions: electricity  and heat; surface transport; industry; home use; aviation; and public buildings and commerce. They found that surface transport was notably down, partially accounting for why the U.K. cut emissions by 31% during lockdown, compared to a global average of 17%.  “A lot of emissions in the UK come from surface transport – around 30% on average of the country’s total  emissions ,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the paper’s lead author. “It makes up a bigger contribution to total emissions than the average worldwide.” Since the U.K. reached full lockdown, Quéré said, people were forced to stay home and not to drive to work. Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, reminds us that our problems are far from over. “A 31% emissions drop in April is dramatic, but in the long run it won’t mean anything unless some reductions are made permanent,” Childs told HuffPost UK. “This lockdown moment is a chance to reset our carbon-guzzling economy and rebuild in a way that leaves pollution in the past, to stop climate-wrecking emissions spiking right back up to where they were before, or even higher.” Fortunately, British drivers appreciate the cleaner air and plan to permanently alter their driving style, according to a survey. In the Automobile Association’s poll of 20,000 motorists, half plan to walk more post- pandemic , and 40% aim to drive less. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they planned to work from home more, 25% intend to fly less and 20% to cycle more. The U.K. government plans to spend £250 million on improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. “We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air,” said Edmund King, Automobile Association president. “ Walking  and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air.” + Nature Climate Change Via HuffPost and BBC

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Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery

May 5, 2020 by  
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Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery Katherine Davisson Tue, 05/05/2020 – 04:23 The economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing governments around the world to come up with policies for stimulating the global economy. Many are considering a tried-and-true method to boost economies in the short term and provide wide societal benefits in the long term: infrastructure investment. Countries around the globe are set to launch the biggest round of infrastructure investment since the post-2008 financial crisis stimulus measures. It’s easy to see why: Demand is enormous. The world is on-trend to face a  $15 trillion gap between the infrastructure investment needed and the amount provided by 2040 . On the supply side, when 1 percent of GDP is invested in infrastructure,  economic output increases by about 0.4 percent in the same year and by 1.5 percent four years later . Building in a new world Before the shovels hit the dirt, it’s worth understanding how the world of 2020 is different from the world of 2008. The infrastructure sector, long a laggard in embracing innovation, has worked hard to close the technological gap with other industries, and disruptors have transformed the way we design, build and manage infrastructure systems. Attitudes toward the importance of addressing the climate crisis also have changed. For example, since 2008, the percentage of U.S. adults who say dealing with global climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress  has risen 14 points . The ongoing coronavirus crisis has amplified the growing calls for resilient and adaptable infrastructure that effectively can operate during moments of crisis. Given this big opportunity, it is imperative that when the nations of the world look to embark on infrastructure investment programs, they strive to provide infrastructure that is sustainable, technologically advanced and resilient. It is the financially, environmentally and socially responsible thing to do for the world. The economic benefits Economically, the case for technologically advanced, resilient and sustainable infrastructure is clear. Low and middle-income countries alone could see  a net benefit of $4.2 trillion  from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. Low and middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2 trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. Integrating new technologies during the design, construction and operational phase of an infrastructure asset can significantly lower the cost while improving the functionality. Artificial intelligence (AI), advanced data analytics, fintech, cloud computing, 5G, new materials, renewable energy technology and 3D printing are just a few innovations changing the global infrastructure landscape. When used, they can decrease project cost, compress construction time, reduce community disruption, minimize environmental harm and increase safety. The benefits of using technology to plan, build and operate sustainable infrastructure systems have won over many decisionmakers, including in the United Kingdom, which is planning to implement a  national digital twin program  to connect all aspects of its infrastructure system onto one secure network. Digital twins are computer models that combine AI, data analytics and machine learning to produce a digital version of a physical object. They help optimize the planning and operation of infrastructure by providing valuable insights in near-real-time. The U.K. expects the program to produce $8.70 billion in value a year from cost savings and efficiency gains from more sustainable management of the country’s infrastructure. The environmental benefits Dividends for the environment are also apparent. In energy infrastructure, long a major source of global carbon emissions, renewable technologies have made enormous strides. Wind and solar power are the  most cost-effective modes of power generation  across more than two-thirds of the world, including in the United States, China, Brazil and India. But building infrastructure that encourages environmental stewardship isn’t merely limited to the green energy space. Infrastructure’s burgeoning technological revolution ensures that all aspects of infrastructure have the ability to contribute to ecological preservation. The fast-growing Port of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast found itself in dire need of a solution for accommodating ever-growing container ships. In past years, the operators likely would have simply dredged the seafloor, an expensive and environmentally damaging exercise. They instead chose to  use cloud-computing technology  that assesses currents, tidal levels, wind patterns and other data to provide forecasts that allow the port to guide larger ships into the harbor depending on environmental conditions. In use since 2017, this program has allowed the port to increase capacity without dredging, allowing for even larger ships to access the port, all while improving operational safety, planning ability, sustainability and future-readiness. The societal benefits Not to be forgotten are the benefits for our societies of building advanced, sustainable and resilient infrastructure. We must create social infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, that use the latest innovations and techniques that can withstand the evolving challenges of our times, from natural disasters to pandemics. For example,  Nantucket Cottage Hospital , a small island hospital off the U.S. East Coast, is using the latest in technological and sustainability advances to create a medical facility that is adaptable to a variety of potential challenges in the coming years. This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. By focusing on environmental contingency planning, proper material use, emergency access to utility services and space adaptability, the hospital is protected against natural disasters and more long-term changes in environment and patients surges — crucial on an island whose population swells from 11,000 to 50,000 in the summertime. Similarly, the developers of the  Michael Tippet School  in the London borough of Lambeth set sustainable innovation and resilience as guiding principles. The project managers chose  laminated timber-an increasingly popular building component  as a primary construction material. Laminated timber is not only environmentally friendly compared to more carbon-intensive options such as concrete and steel, but it also can be assembled quickly and onsite, saving time and money. The result was an airy, adaptable space that easily could adjust to the changing requirements of this special needs school. The backbone of the economy This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. Existing innovations need to be more widely embraced, and new innovations need more nurturing — both areas where better cooperation with governments could yield positive results. Community engagement also needs to be increased. Working with local stakeholders to deliver updates and providing opportunities to receive community feedback at all stages of an infrastructure project greatly will increase the chances of success. Projects also should focus on adaptability and replicability. Finding and disseminating successful models can eliminate trial and error periods that cost time and money. It is often said the infrastructure is the backbone of the economy. We must ensure that that backbone is prepared to carry the weight of the future. Committing to using this opportunity to build advanced and resilient and sustainable will do just that. This article originally was published by the World Economic Forum. Pull Quote Low and middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2 trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. Contributors Joseph Losavio Topics Infrastructure COVID-19 Article Source World Economic Forum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The fast-growing Port of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast is using cloud-computing technology  that assesses currents, tidal levels, wind patterns and other data to help guide larger ships into the harbor depending on environmental conditions.

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Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery

UK carbon emissions decline 29% in past decade

March 5, 2020 by  
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A recent analysis by Carbon Brief has revealed that the United Kingdom’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2.9% last year, bringing the total reduction to 29% since 2010. The data indicates that declines in coal use was the main factor that led to last year’s carbon emissions decrease, as both oil and natural gas usage levels remained unchanged. When viewed over the course of the past decade, U.K. carbon emissions from coal dropped by as much as 80%, while natural gas was by 20% and oil by only 6%. Carbon Brief was quick to point out two encouraging pieces of news from its study. First, “U.K. carbon emissions in 2019 fell to levels last seen in 1888.” The U.K. has also seen a faster decline in emissions compared to any other major economy. Related: Renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels in the UK Decarbonization and the move to expand renewable energy capacity have been important goals for the U.K., especially given that nations across the globe have been striving to limit rising temperatures under the Paris Agreement . According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), “Through the 2008 Climate Change Act, the U.K. was the first country to introduce long-term, legally binding national legislation to tackle climate change. The Act provides the U.K. with a legal framework including a 2050 target for emissions reductions, five-yearly ‘carbon budgets’ (limits on emissions over a set time period which act as stepping stones toward the 2050 target), and the development of a climate change adaptation plan.” The CCC explained that the U.K. is making some progress toward meeting its carbon budgets but is not yet up to par with its legally binding carbon targets. It has met its first three carbon budgets, “but is not on track to meet the fourth, which covers the period 2023-27.” Carbon Brief elaborated that U.K. carbon emissions need to fall by another 31% in the next decade to meet its carbon budget, but based on current policies, only a 10% cut is projected. While there has been a transition in the U.K. toward decarbonization, there is still urgency to focus on renewable energy while further reducing reliance on coal, oil and natural gas. + Carbon Brief + The Committee on Climate Change Image via Paisley Scotland

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UK carbon emissions decline 29% in past decade

Reintroducing the Eurasian Lynx to Scotland

February 27, 2020 by  
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The Eurasian lynx is so-called because it has been found in  forests  that stretch from Europe to central Asia, thus distinguishing it as the widest-ranging cat on our planet. Despite this, the species disappeared from Great Britain during the Middle Ages due to habitat loss and excessive hunting, according to the  Journal of Quaternary Science .  Now British scientists, spearheaded by the conservation group  Lynx UK Trust , are pushing to have the Eurasian lynx reintroduced into the British Isles, especially in the Scottish wilds.  Jo Pike, Chief Executive of the  Scottish Wildlife Trust , shared, “Returning the lynx to our landscape as a top predator could help restore the health of Scotland’s natural  ecosystems .” A quartet of lynx species exist worldwide: the bobcat ( Lynx rufus ), the Canada lynx ( Lynx canadensis ), the Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus ) and the Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx ). Largest of them all is the Eurasian lynx. With acute hearing and eyesight, Eurasian lynx are highly skilled hunters. They dine on wild ungulates, or hoofed animals, like deer . They also supplement their diet by preying on foxes, rabbits, hares, small forest animals and even birds. Interestingly, the Eurasian lynx is Europe’s third-biggest predator by size, just behind the brown bear and the grey wolf. As an apex predator, Eurasian lynx are valued by  conservationists  and ecologists for significantly influencing the distribution of other organisms in an ecosystem. In this way, Eurasian lynx can effectively help in the control of deer populations, culling the old and the weak. Eurasian lynx were eradicated from the British Isles due to hunting. Populations of roe deer, their preferred prey, were vastly diminished by the 19th century, hence destabilizing lynx livelihood. Lynx fur was also in high demand during previous centuries. This fur trade, understandably, had catastrophic consequences on lynx populations in the Britain of old. Across continental Europe and into central Asia, where the Eurasian lynx still exists, there are many threats to their survival in the wild. For example, the  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List  cites human activity (agriculture, mining and quarrying, roads and railroads, logging and  deforestation , hunting and trapping) as adversely affecting Eurasian lynx populations through increasing urban sprawl, habitat loss and human-induced climate change. These are followed closely by disease and competition from  invasive species . In the United Kingdom today, legislation frowns upon the commercial hunting and trading of lynx fur in the British Isles, so these felines are now better protected. Besides, with contemporary Scotland as the home to the majority of British forests, the Eurasian lynx is likely to thrive there in the available  habitat . Even more favorable, Scotland has an abundance of roe deer and other types of ungulates that are in drastic need of natural culling, which is how the Eurasian lynx can play a vital role in the natural ecological processes. The  Woodland Trust  has documented that roe deer had almost been eradicated from Britain due to overhunting, up until the 19th century. But roe deer have since made a strong  recovery  in population numbers after their reintroduction into Britain. Now, their population density has since become exceedingly high, from a lack of natural predators and the absence of large carnivores in the UK. No surprise, then, that these roe deer have become a pest, overgrazing and thus unhinging the regeneration of the  woodlands . The habitat damage these roe deer bring requires that a large carnivore — their natural predator, the Eurasian lynx — be brought in for ecosystem equilibrium. Of course, there is opposition to lynx reintroduction, particularly from farmers who worry about their livestock. Scientists and stakeholders allay these concerns via reminders that the primary prey are roe deer, whose populations are bountiful in the Scottish countryside. These elevated numbers of roe deer would keep the lynx too occupied (and full) to meddle with farm animals. As for the uneasiness on whether these predatory felines would harm humans, the counterargument, once more, is that these cats prefer rural areas and tend to avoid encounters with humans, instead opting, by nature, to focus on the roe deer. There are some Brits who are apprehensive about the Eurasian lynx becoming a competitor to the Scottish wildcat, Scotland’s only native cat, for it, too, is a denizen of the woodlands. Scottish biologists have been striving to alleviate these qualms, pointing out that both the Eurasian lynx and Scottish wildcat can coexist peacefully, mainly because their prey selection is different. As Lynx UK Trust explained, the lynx reintroduction program is in the early stages, directed towards selecting reintroduction sites via careful evaluation and modeling approaches, as outlined in  Biological Conservation  journal. The reintroduction will be “soft releases” of the Eurasian lynx, meticulously monitored during trial runs before the program goes full-tilt. This transitional period will help scientists and conservationists work closely with local landowners, farmers and citizens of Scotland through education programs to help make the reintroduction initiative sustainably successful. Overall, the Eurasian lynx reintroduction plan holds great promise. Only time will tell what their long-term impact shall be on the Scottish and overall British landscape. Images via Flickr

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Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

February 27, 2020 by  
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Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but its size — less than five millimeters in length — makes the threat almost invisible to the naked eye. That’s why Cambridge-based research and development lab  Draper  has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency and design firm Sprout Studios  to create the Draper Drone, a concept for an autonomous underwater vehicle that implements Draper’s portable microplastics sensor. Engineered to rapidly count, measure the size of and determine the material makeup of microplastics in real-time, the Draper Drone could help create a global microplastics database for analyzing pollution trends, identifying sources and informing possible solutions to the problem. Microplastics  are created in one of two main ways: the breakdown of larger plastic debris, or from industries that make small plastic particles such as microfibers in clothing and microbeads. These tiny particles, which readily absorb toxins such as DDT and flame retardants, are often ingested by marine life and can potentially have negative effects on human health through the food chain. To provide an easier and more cost-effective way of analyzing microplastic risks and trends, Draper teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency to create an affordable portable  sensor  to measure microplastics in real-time. The team is also developing the Plastic Particle Pollution Index, a standardized microplastics identification system for logging environmental samples. The prototype sensor has been tested in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the technology is expected to be available via open-sourcing.  Related: Microplastics accelerate cell death at 3 times the normal rate, study says Taking the sensor technology a step further, Draper asked Sprout to help design the Draper Drone, an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with the microplastics sensor that could independently scan the top nine meters of the water for microplastics. The conceptual battery-powered drone would be paired with a self-docking,  wind-powered  charging buoy. The project was recently recognized in the 2019 TIME Best Invention List. + Draper Images via Sprout Studios

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Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

Scotland bans plastic-stemmed cotton swabs in bid to combat plastic pollution

October 17, 2019 by  
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Following backlash concerning plastic waste buildup in beaches and oceans, Scotland is now the first country in the United Kingdom to officially ban the manufacture, supply and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, commonly known by the brand name of Q-tips. Environmentalists and conservationists are hailing the change as wonderful news for wildlife and ecosystems. Before the new ban came into effect, several cosmetic giants already made the switch to manufacturing more biodegradable alternatives, like paper-stemmed versions. For instance, pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson made the switch two years ago. Related: The reusable LastSwab might just be the last ear swab you ever buy Speaking about the new legislation, Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham shared that she is “proud the Scottish government has become the first U.K. administration to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter that blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea.” The Marine Conservation Society has indicated that plastic-stemmed cotton swabs have been pervasively littering coastal regions and damaging marine ecology, often disconcertingly found in the intestines of seabird, mammal, fish and turtle populations. In the U.K. alone, estimated consumption of the plastic-stemmed cotton buds is in excess of 1.8 million. Besides that, the journal Science Advances has cited that humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since the early 1950s. Sadly, plastic’s durability wreaks environmental havoc, and current recycling systems are not able to keep up with plastic pollution. Even the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , in partnership with the World Economic Forum, has reported that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, if plastic production rates continue. It is hoped that the new ban will promote more useful regulation to protect the environment while simultaneously affecting consumer behaviors so that the public is better informed about best practices where single-use plastic is concerned. Emma Burlow, Head of Circular Economy at Resource Futures, said that the ban is not only positive for the environment but also for both the economy and job creation. “Banning a product stimulates innovation and that leads to opportunity,” Burlow said. This new ban plays a huge role in the current struggle against ocean pollution, opening up further environmental action and reforms to the U.K.’s resource and waste management system. By 2020, the U.K. is also expected to ban single-use plastic drink straws and single-use plastic stirrers to curtail plastic waste. Via TreeHugger Image via Hans

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Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

October 17, 2019 by  
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When Wendy Morgan accepted a friend’s invitation to go see Elda Behm’s garden in the 1990s, she had no idea she would become entangled in a project for the next 25 years. “Elda popped her head around the garage and that was the beginning of it,” Morgan says with a laugh. “She was a saleswoman.” The Port of Seattle was planning its third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport . Behm’s home and garden were in the way, so the port slated them for demolition, but Behm wasn’t giving up her garden without a fight. By the end of the decade, her charisma and love of her plants would entice Morgan and 200 other volunteers to move Behm’s entire garden. As Morgan and her dog Snooks show my tour group around the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden , we see the rich community partnership that has grown up around the original effort to recycle a garden into a new space. Five local flower societies have started gardens within Highline, and many individuals pay $40 per year for a community garden plot. Some people include the garden in their daily dog walk, and hundreds turn out for the annual summer time ice cream social. The garden’s beginnings Elda Gothke Behm was born in 1913 and raised on a farm near Wenatchee, Washington. She became a certified landscape designer in 1953 and moved to Burien, near SeaTac, in 1954. “Elda never met a plant she didn’t like,” Morgan reminisces as we wander through the Elda Behm Paradise Garden section of Highline. Plants flourished under her care — enough so that the Burien City Council and the City of SeaTac (yes, there’s a city as well as an airport with that name) agreed to develop 11 acres in North SeaTac Park into a public garden, starting with relocating Behm’s plants to save them from runway three. The Highline Botanical Garden Foundation was incorporated to oversee the garden. Volunteers worked with the Port of Seattle and the City of SeaTac from late 1999 into the spring of 2000 to move plants, trees and shrubs from Behm’s home into a holding area while gardeners prepared the soil. Behm favored native species, especially rhododendrons. The port supplied cranes and trucks to hoist conifers and other trees into their new home. The garden is planted on former residential land that the port had claimed in the 1950s, demolishing houses for a buffer zone around runway two. Morgan, who promotes interactive tours by asking questions and urging visitors to guess the answers, wants to know what we think they found when they started digging. “Water heaters!” she tells us triumphantly after we guess wrong a few times. Buried appliances had been left behind, which had to be cleared out. But some trees and shrubs had survived from the long ago houses, so those are incorporated in the garden today. Behm didn’t quietly slide into the background once her garden was moved. “She stayed on the board even in her nineties,” Morgan recalls. “She never gave up leadership.” Morgan remembers lots of arguments Behm had with the board over features she wanted added to the garden. Her last project was a shade garden featuring ferns, hostas, hellebores and her special favorite black trilliums. Behm died in 2008 at the age of 94. The Japanese garden While the thought of transplanting one entire garden is astonishing enough, in 2005 Highline relocated a second garden. The Seike family came from Japan , settling in Des Moines, Washington around 1920. The three sons all studied horticulture and helped run the family-owned Des Moines Nursery. They were forced into an internment camp during World War Two. Unlike most Japanese families, the Seikes were lucky in that a German-American family tended their plants during their internment and returned their property intact after the war. However, a much greater wartime loss befell them: their second son, Toll, died while fighting in France. Later, in conjunction with the 1962 Seattle World Fair, they hired a gardener to come from Hiroshima and build an authentic Japanese garden in Toll’s honor. Fast forward to 2004. Again, the Port of Seattle wanted more property. This time, the Seike family nursery was on the chopping block. The city of SeaTac found funding to move the miniature mountain and waterfall garden to Highline. Now generations who were born long after World War Two can sit by the pond and contemplate this family’s suffering and perseverance. The garden today Highline covers 11 acres today, with half developed and half still just dreams in gardeners’ heads. In addition to grants, donations and bequests, Highline raises money at its annual plant sales. Volunteer coordinator and gardener Jolly Eitelberg propagates the plants in the garden’s greenhouse. The garden is an extremely peaceful place, despite being so close to planes landing and taking off. Many out of town visitors with long layovers find their way to Highline, Morgan says, as it’s one of the closest attractions to the airport. But the airport has one unexpected effect on the garden — Highline can’t put koi in its ponds, because koi attract herons , which could get sucked into jet engines. Morgan is especially proud of the victory garden, modeled after those who tended to the home front during World War Two, when fresh vegetables supplemented ration cards. Highline donates green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables grow in the victory garden to the Tukwila Food Bank. Morgan is a big believer in sharing food. She even takes our group into her plot in the community garden and offers us parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes. “Where do you think we get most of our volunteers?” she asks, a twinkle in her eye. “Most of our volunteers run red lights. And then when the judge says that will be 500 dollars they say they don’t have that kind of money.” They choose working in the garden as their community service so they can get outside, she says. Some like it so much they stay. After 25 years, the garden still inspires Morgan, who loves to share its message with visitors. To her, Highline is a triumph over what looked like insurmountable odds for Behm’s beautiful garden. She repeats herself several times over the course of our tour, driving her point home: “If you have something in your life that you think should be preserved or kept somehow, you can. If you gather people around you and keep pushing.” Images via Inhabitat

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Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

McDonald’s new paper straws: thick, soggy, hard to recycle

August 7, 2019 by  
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Looks like the shakes at some McDonald’s restaurants aren’t the only things that are thick. Word is the fast food chain’s paper straws introduced a year ago to keep in tune with “protecting the environment” are hard to recycle , because they are too thick and become soggy in drinks. The new paper straws were introduced in 2018 after a trial basis to 1,361 McDonald’s franchises located throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Related: McDonald’s creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations. The problem with these straws was first reported by the U.K.’s The Sun newspaper, which published an internal McDonald’s memorandum stating the fast food chain’s paper straws “are not yet recyclable and should be disposed of in general waste until further notice.” “While the materials are recyclable, their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers, who also help us recycle our paper cups,” a McDonald’s spokesman told the U.K.’s Press Association news agency. Although the original plastic straws could be recycled more easily, the European Union along with the British government has opted to move to banning plastic straws by 2020 and wants chains like McDonald’s to halt using such products. “The government’s ambitious plans, combined with strong customer opinion, has helped to accelerate the move away from plastic , and I’m proud that we’ve been able to play our part in helping to achieve this societal change,” Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s U.K. and Ireland, said in a press release at the time. Not surprisingly, the new paper straws haven’t been much of a hit from the get-go, according to other reports. For example, many social media users have been busy commenting that the paper straws get too soggy in drinks. Additionally, a formal petition asking McDonald’s to return to its former plastic straws has garnered more than 50,000 signatures. Via CNN Image via Meghan Rodgers

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McDonald’s new paper straws: thick, soggy, hard to recycle

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