More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

September 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat Jim Giles Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:30 Editor’s note: Last week’s Foodstuff discussion on the impact of regenerative grazing on emissions from meat production prompted a flurry of comments from the GreenBiz community. This essay advances the dialogue. Let’s get back to the beef brouhaha I wrote about last week. I’d argued that regenerative grazing could cut emissions from beef production , helping reduce the outsized contribution cattle make to food’s carbon footprint. This suggestion produced more responses than anything I’ve written in the roughly six months since the Food Weekly newsletter launched. The future of meat is a critical issue, so I thought I’d summarize some of the reaction. First up, a shocking revelation: There’s no truth in advertising. I’d written about a new beef company called Wholesome Meats, which claims to sell the “only beef that heals the planet.” Hundreds of ranchers actually already are using regenerative methods, pointed out Peter Byck of Arizona State University, who is leading a major study into the impact of these methods. This week, in fact, some of the biggest names in food announced a major regenerative initiative: Walmart, McDonald’s, Cargill and the World Wildlife Fund said they will invest $6 million in scaling up sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres of grassland across the Northern Great Plains . Two members of that team also are moving to cut emissions from conventional beef production. We tend to blame cows’ methane-filled burps for these gases, but around a quarter of livestock emissions come from fertilizer used to grow animal feed . When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Farmers growing corn and other grains can cut those emissions by planting cover crops and using more diverse crop rotations — two techniques that McDonald’s and Cargill will roll out on 100,000 acres in Nebraska as part of an $8.5 million project. These and other emissions-reduction projects are part of Cargill’s goal to cut emissions from every pound of beef in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds great, right? You can imagine a future in which some beef, probably priced at a premium, comes with a carbon-negative label. Perhaps most beef isn’t so climate-friendly, but thanks to regenerative agriculture and other emissions-lowering methods, the burgers and steaks we love — on average, Americans eat the equivalent of more than four quarter-pounders every week — no longer account for such an egregious share of emissions. Well, yes and no. That future is plausible and would be a more sustainable one, but pursuing it may rule out a game-changing alternative. In the United States, around two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion acres of land used for agriculture is devoted to animal grazing . Two-thirds. That’s an extraordinary amount of land. And that doesn’t include the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed those animals. When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. The alternative here is to eat less meat and then, on the land that frees up, restore native ecosystems, such as forests, which draw down carbon. This week, Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, pointed me to a recent paper in Nature Sustainability that quantified the impact of such a shift . The potential is staggering: Switching to a low-meat, low-dairy diet and restoring land could remove more than 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. That’s around a decade of global fossil-fuel emissions. In some regions, regenerative grazing techniques, which mimic an ancient symbiosis between animals and land, might be part of that restorative process. So maybe the trade-off isn’t as stark as it seems. But demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon, where the trade-off is indeed clear: We’re destroying the lungs of the planet to sustain our beef habit. Once you factor in land use, eating less animal protein and restoring ecosystems looks to be an essential part of the challenge of feeding a growing global population while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of our food systems. That doesn’t mean everyone goes vegan, but it does mean we should cut back on meat and dairy. Pull Quote When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

September 25, 2020 by  
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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action? Sarah Golden Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:00 It’s Climate Week: the time of year that climate leaders and professionals usually descend upon New York City in a cloud of transportation emissions to talk climate ambitions and targets.  Like everything else this year, Climate Week wasn’t the usual. Sessions and panels were virtual. There were no breakfast buffets. People presumably drank alone instead of mingling at happy hours. From an emissions standpoint, Climate Week 2020 may go in the books as the greenest of all time.  But some things stayed the same: Corporations seized the opportunity to announce climate commitments.  Corporate commitments roundup Climate Week has become a favorite for heads of states and companies alike to make bold climate commitments.  This week, dozens of corporations re-upped goals, reflecting that the private sector is internalizing what’s at stake — physically, reputationally and economically — if climate change is left unchecked. Some of the most notable (some announced in the run-up to Climate Week) include:   Morgan Stanley became the first major U.S. bank to commit to net-zero emissions generated from its financing activities by 2050.  AT&T pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035, a step up from its previous goal to reduce Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent and Scope 2 emissions by 60 percent. This comes following AT&T’s leadership in wind corporate procurements .   Walmart pledged to become carbon-neutral across its global operations by 2040 — without relying on offsets. In a separate announcement, Walmart joined forces with Schneider Electric to “educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy” and accelerate deployment with the aim of removing a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain (aka Scope 3 emissions).  Google committed to becoming powered by clean energy — in real time — by 2030.  General Electric announced it will exit the market for new coal-fired power plants and instead prioritize renewable energy investments — a smart move for the climate and its return on investment .  Amazon got more companies to sign on to its Climate Pledge , including Best Buy, McKinstry, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. Signatories agree to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Intel Corporation , PepsiCo , ASICS (Japan-based apparel company), Sanofi (healthcare company in France), SKF (Swedish manufacturer) and VELUX Group (Danish manufacturer) all signed on to RE100 , a commitment to procure the equivalent of the company’s annual electricity consumptions from renewable sources.  Talk is cheap  I love seeing these commitments rolling in. I love that major companies want to communicate they are on the right side of climate action. I love that consumers care about the climate enough to make it worth consumer brands’ time and effort.  But these commitments are the beginning of something, not the end. And these companies need to be held accountable for reaching their goals in meaningful ways — and to continue to uplevel their commitments to meet the scale of the climate challenge.  Already, climate hawks are pushing corporations for more details.  Following the Morgan Stanley announcement, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy director Patrick McCully, wrote in a statement, “We look forward to Morgan Stanley quickly putting meat on this barebones commitment by using the Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions, and in particular by setting an interim target to halve its emissions by 2030.” Walmart is working hard to let the world know about its new carbon-neutrality commitment (including taking over all ads in my Podcast feed). Yet, as Bloomberg pointed out, this commitment applies to the retail giant’s direct and indicted emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which make up about 5 percent of the company’s total emissions. Whatever happened to last year’s Climate Week’s corporate commitments?  Last year on the eve of Climate Week 2019, employees from big tech companies planned a walkout , demanding their employers take climate seriously across operations. Among the complaints were the companies’ duplicit policies; while companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon were procuring massive amounts of renewables , they also were working with fossil fuel companies to extract oil more efficiently. Employees rightfully pointed out that one does not cancel out the other.  Take Amazon, for example. Last year, the retail giant’s employees formed a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, demanding its corporate overlord do more on climate. The result: Amazon’s Climate Pledge ( announced during Climate Week 2019) and the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, a.k.a. the richest person on earth, pledged $10 billion of personal wealth to fight climate change.  According to E&E News , Bezos said he would begin issuing grants this summer. “[Tuesday] is the first day of fall, and the Bezos Earth Fund” — as he dubbed the venture — “has yet to announce a single grant.” In the cycle of activism and corporate climate commitments — company profits off climate destruction; employee/customers are mad; company makes a pledge; company doesn’t deliver on pledge — the ball is back in the activists’ court. Making commitments is not the same thing as taking action. In fact, Microsoft just announced another deal with Shell that will expand the oil giant’s use of the software company’s artificial intelligence technology to make extraction more efficient.  In the words of climate journalist Emily Atkins , “The West Coast is now in flames, the Gulf Coast is now waterlogged, and Bezos is now the richest man in the world. And in some people’s eyes, he’s a climate hero, because he promised to spend $10 billion solving climate change. And this, my friends, is exactly why rich people and corporations make voluntary climate pledges. It makes them seem benevolent and wonderful. And there’s no consequence if they never follow through.” Where is everyone else?  We have a terrible habit of scrutinizing companies that have made climate commitments more than those that have done squat.  I’ve spoken to many corporate sustainability professionals that say they don’t publicize their climate commitments. Why? Because yahoos such as me write critical columns about how they’re greenwashing or failing to do enough. Or environmental campaigns target them for hypocrisy.  I’m not saying we should stop holding companies accountable for their commitments. But we certainly shouldn’t give companies doing nothing a free pass. Right now, companies are punished more for speaking out than staying quiet.  In the aftermath of this Climate Week, consider asking the last company you patronized, “What is your organization doing to ensure a safe climate future?” It’s time to make staying quiet more dangerous than taking action.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Topics Energy & Climate Corporate Strategy Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Procurement Featured Column Power Points 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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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

Birds are dying mid-air possibly due to climate crisis effects

September 17, 2020 by  
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The deaths of thousands of birds in the southwestern U.S. have sparked concern from scientists. This phenomenon has been described as a national tragedy by ornithologists, who suggest that it could be related to the climate crisis. The species of birds affected include flycatchers, warblers and swallows. Bird carcasses have been spotted in numerous places, including New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska. According to Martha Desmond, a biology professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU), many of the cases show signs of starvation. The carcasses have little remaining fat reserves, and many of the birds appear to have nose-dived into the ground mid-flight. Related: Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration “I collected over a dozen in just a two-mile stretch in front of my house,” Desmond said. “To see this and to be picking up these carcasses and realizing how widespread this is, is personally devastating. To see this many individuals and species dying is a national tragedy.” Many of the birds belonged to a group of long-distance migrants that fly from Alaska and Canada to Central and South America. These birds travel long journeys and have to make several landings for food before they proceed. However, the recent fires across the western states might have made it difficult for the birds to follow their regular route. If the birds moved farther inland to the Chihuahuan desert, they likely struggled to find food and water, leading to starvation. At the same time, the southwestern states have experienced drier conditions than usual, which might have reduced the number of insects on which the birds could feed. Scientists have also discussed the possibility that the wildfires and their accompanying smoke may have harmed the birds’ lungs. “It could be a combination of things. It could be something that’s still completely unknown to us,” said Allison Salas, graduate student at NMSU. “The fact that we’re finding hundreds of these birds dying, just kind of falling out of the sky is extremely alarming. … The volume of carcasses that we have found has literally given me chills.” Via The Guardian Image via Florian Hahn

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Carbon Neutral Universities in the United States

September 16, 2020 by  
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Fewer than 10 colleges and universities have achieved carbon neutrality … The post Carbon Neutral Universities in the United States appeared first on Earth 911.

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Carbon Neutral Universities in the United States

Maven Moment: Kitchen Gloves

September 16, 2020 by  
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Mom always kept a pair of brightly colored kitchen gloves … The post Maven Moment: Kitchen Gloves appeared first on Earth 911.

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Habits & Hooks: Changing Consumer Behavior

September 14, 2020 by  
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Habits & Hooks: Changing Consumer Behavior How can companies shift consumer behaviors to advance circular outcomes? What do recycling, reusable packaging and rentals all have in common? They rely on consumer behavior to succeed. From renting a dress to successfully using a blue bin, the consumer plays an active role in returning materials and ensuring circular outcomes. But when a consumer is unfamiliar or unwilling to participate, circular initiatives and business models can fail. How can you encourage your consumers to change their behavior and ensure circular success? Learn from practitioners and researchers who are studying and provoking consumer behavior change. Speakers Lindsey Boyle, Founder, Circular Citizen Brian Reilly, CEO, Muuse Dr. Karen Winterich, Professor of Marketing, Frank and Mary Smeal Research Fellow, Pennsylvania State University Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 14:21 Featured Off

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Fighting Food Waste: Lessons from COVID

September 14, 2020 by  
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Fighting Food Waste: Lessons from COVID   What emerging strategies have been employed to tackle food waste during the pandemic, and how can we scale these strategies in the future? When the coronavirus pandemic first disrupted food supply chains earlier this year, huge amounts of animals and produce raised for human consumption were lost. But the food system sprang into action — adapting operations, overcoming barriers and scaling promising innovations to reduce the amount of waste. In this discussion, industry experts who have been leading efforts to tackle food waste during the pandemic share what they have learned. Hear innovative thinking about scaling food-waste technologies, building more resilient donation systems and developing new supply chains that connect farmers with food recovery channels. Speakers Jackie Suggitt, Stakeholder Engagement Director, ReFED Zeb McLaurin, Director of Sustainability, Goodr Aidan Reilly, Student, Brown Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 14:13 Featured Off

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Surfing citizen scientists collect important ocean data

September 14, 2020 by  
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A new U.S. nonprofit called Smartfin is enlisting surfers to collect data on warming oceans . Smartfin distributes special surfboard fins, which track location, motion, temperature and other data while surfers ride the waves. “Most people who really call themselves surfers are out there, you know, almost every single day of the week and often for three, four hours at a time,” Smartfin’s senior research engineer Phil Bresnahan told Chemistry World . You could hardly imagine a group that is already more geared toward collecting ocean data than dedicated surfers. Related: High-tech wetsuit protects divers and surfers from toxic elements in the oceans Scientists have determined that since the 1970s, more than 90% of excess heat produced by greenhouses gas emissions has wound up in the oceans. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has posited that the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since 1993, and that surface acidification is increasing. Researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography began collaborating with local surfers in 2017 to collect more data about the effects of the greenhouse gases . San Diego is just the pilot project. Smartfin plans to deploy its data collection devices at surf spots worldwide. The genius of Smartfin is its symbiotic relationship between scientists and surfers. Every surfboard needs a fin for stability, and every researcher needs data. But ordinary sensors used for collecting ocean data don’t work well in choppy coastal waters. Once researchers figured out how to install a sensor inside a fin, they soon created a fleet of surfer citizen scientists. “This is enormously beneficial for researchers,” Bresnahan said. The researchers are still tweaking the fins and hope to add optical sensors and pH detectors soon. Smartfin project participants like David Walden of San Diego are happy to help. “If doing what I love and being where I love to be can contribute toward scientific research with the ultimate goal of ocean conservation , then I’m stoked to be doing it,” Walden said. “The Smartfin Project is a joy that gives my surfing meaning. Rad!” + Smartfin Via World Economic Forum Image via Pexels

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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

Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge winners want to bring a forest to NYC

September 9, 2020 by  
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The Van Alen Institute and the New York City Council have announced the winners of Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge . The international design competition intended to spark public dialogue about the Brooklyn Bridge, which has become one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks since its opening in 1883. However, the bridge’s iconic status has also led to major pedestrian and cyclist traffic jams on the promenade as commuters and tourists jostle for space. Participants in the competition were asked to rethink the walkway by redesigning for greater accessibility, sustainability and safety for both New Yorkers and visitors alike. The Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge competition had two finalists categories: a Professionals category for participants 22 years of age and older and a Young Adults category for those 21 years of age and younger. An interdisciplinary jury with a wide-ranging set of perspectives evaluated proposals based on team composition, accessibility, safety, environmental benefit, security, respect for the bridge’s landmark status, feasibility and potential for sparking delight and wonder for users. The competition garnered over 200 submissions from 37 countries; each winner was chosen by a combination of public vote and scores from the competition’s jury. Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments Pilot Projects Design Collective along with Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society and Grimshaw Silman were crowned the winners of the Professional category with their ‘ Brooklyn Bridge Forest ’ proposal, a design that reimagines the bridge as “an icon of climate action and social equity.” To make the bridge safer and to accommodate higher flows of traffic, the multidisciplinary team proposes expanding the historic walkway with planks sustainably sourced from a forest community partner in Guatemala. A separated and dedicated bike lane would be installed as well to avoid cyclist-pedestrian conflicts on the bridge. “Microforests” would bookend the bridge to provide additional green space while boosting biodiversity.  The winning proposal in the Young Adult category was created by Shannon Hui, Hwans Kim and Yujim Kim. Titled ‘Do Look Down,’ the design envisions a glass surface floor above the bridge’s girders to create a new pedestrian space activated by seasonal programming and art installations. Kinetic paving would power an LED and projection system that depicts the city’s cultures, histories and identities. + Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge Images via Van Alen Institute

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