12-Year-Old Lilly Platt takes on Plastic Pollution / Urban Forestry Growth- Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-04-12
Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have blog post by Lilly Platt who addresses the impacts plastic pollution has on climate change. We also have stories about using the “Miyawaki” technique for urban forestry, transparent wood as an alternative to glass, coffee husks being used as building materials, a school district switching to solar power, and a new floating wind-plus-wave project.
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Plastic Pollution and Climate Change
Guest Post By: Lilly Platt
Plastic Pollution is a huge problem for today’s oceans and water systems.
It’s one of the most common materials in our economy and amongst the biggest polluters on Earth. It’s found everywhere in the form of plastic bottles, bags, food packaging, clothing, and car parts, etc.
Plastic is durable and lasts forever. However, what doesn’t get attention is how plastic pollution affects climate change.
Nearly all plastic is made from materials like ethylene and propylene which are made from fossil fuels (mostly oil and gas). The process of extracting and transporting those fuels and then manufacturing plastic creates billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.
Plastic is one of the most persistent pollutants on Earth. It’s made to last, and it does, often for 400 years or more. And at every step in its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product – even long after it has been thrown away – plastic creates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the warming of our world.
At least 95% of the world’s growing production of plastics – about 100 million tonnes annually – is discarded after a single use, which leaves a huge amount to be disposed of. Less than 12% is recycled, which leaves a staggering amount to be disposed of in landfills or incinerated. At these levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C.
Additionally, the boom in fracking has made oil prices drop, and cheap oil makes for a rise in plastic productions worldwide. The world’s excessive plastic use threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement… [read more].
The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5
Prime Minister Imran Khan planting a sapling during the inauguration of Miyawaki Urban Forest in Jilani Park. -APP PM Imran Khan says 50 sites identified in Lahore for urban forestry Trees grow 10 times faster and 30 times denser using Miyawaki technique PM says Miyawaki technique is best way to fight pollution ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday shared that he has launched urban forestry based on the Miyawaki technique used in Japan. “I have launched urban forestry on the lines of Miyawaki technique in Japan where the trees grow 10 times faster and 30 times denser and is the best way to fight pollution,” said PM Imran in a tweet. He also shared an image from last year and this year to show the effectiveness of the technique. It wasn’t clear where the image was taken. The premier shared that 50 sites have been identified in Lahore for the campaign. The PM said that the “first experiment” was in Liberty roundabout last year. The PM tweeted a day after he launched a countrywide spring tree plantation drive in the Miyawaki Urban Forest at Jilani Park in Lahore. What is the Miyawaki technique? The technique mentioned by PM… [read more].
Wood is an ancient material humans have been using for millions of years, for the construction of housing, ships and as a source of fuel for burning. It’s also a renewable source, and one way to capture excess carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere. Today, the main component of wood – cellulose – is produced annually at 20 times the volume of steel. One thing you wouldn’t use wood for is making windows. Instead we rely on glass and plastic, which are transparent and, when toughened, can give structural support. But buildings lose a lot of heat through glass, and while light can bring some heat through the material, it’s not a good insulator. This is why we need double glazing. Wood, on the other hand, is highly insulating but it’s not transparent. Usually. In recent years, materials scientists have been experimenting with making wood transparent. Making wood see-through, and retaining its high mechanical properties, would provide a good alternative to glass from a sustainable and renewable source. Previous methods of doing this were highly energy intensive and used harmful chemicals, but a new study has shown a way to make wood transparent without using huge amounts of energy… [read more].
Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of coffee , and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged . According to research by the national statistic center DANE , 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve. Woodpecker , a startup in Bogota, Colombia, uses coffee husks to manufacture lightweight, prefabricated buildings for home and classroom use. They combine the coffee husk with recycled plastic to create a more durable and environmentally-conscious material for building. This not only reduces waste from coffee farms that would inevitably end up in the landfills but helps to execute a swift, simple construction that anyone can do. The DIY structure of the Woodpecker buildings was integral to their mission of providing low-income housing for Colombia’s impoverished areas. The idea for these pre-fabricated tiny homes began with entrepreneur Alejandro Franco, now CEO of Woodpecker. He said in an interview with Fast Company , “We saw that there was a huge necessity for a lightweight construction system for… [read more].
4. Arkansas school district goes solar, boosts teacher pay
(Photo: Courtesy of Entegrity) In Batesville, Arkansas, teachers are getting raises – thanks, in part, to solar power. Megan Renihan is communications coordinator for the Batesville School District. She says that four years ago, teacher salaries were below average for the state, and lower than other districts in the county. “In order to attract and retain our staff, we wanted to increase the pay,” she says. So the district started looking for ways to cut costs. At the time, it was spending more than half a million dollars a year on utilities. To reduce its energy costs, the district installed thousands of LED lights, replaced windows and HVAC units, sealed leaks, and improved building insulation. And it installed almost 1,500 solar panels that now generate about half of the district’s electricity. “We were the first school district in the state of Arkansas to invest in solar panels,” Renihan says. Together, the solar power and energy efficiency improvements are saving the district more than $300,000 a year. Along with other cost-cutting measures and state funding, those savings have helped raise teacher pay across the district. “And that money is going to continue to go back into our teachers’ salaries. That’s… [read more].
Photo: CorPower wave energy device with floating wind turbine in background courtesy of Simply Blue Energy. Floating wind turbine technology is just starting to get off the ground, and now suddenly wave energy is coming around to turbo-boost the industry. If all goes according to plan, a new floating wind-plus-wave project off the coast of Ireland will demonstrate how nations with a coastline can accelerate the clean energy transition and meet their 2050 net zero carbon goals just in time to thwart catastrophic climate change. You listening, USA? The Rise Of The Floating Wind Turbine Floating wind turbines aim at harvesting wind power from offshore sites that are too deep for fixed-platform structures. Attach a tether to something that floats, and you could put a wind turbine just about anywhere. That greatly expands the opportunities for coastal nations like the US, which is already on track to festoon the relatively shallow waters of the Atlantic coast with offshore wind farms but has yet to dip a toe into the deeper waters of the Pacific (the Gulf of Mexico is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, more on that later). Just a few years ago, floating turbine technology seemed to… [read more].
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