All about the solution.
This week the top 5 is all about solutions. Apple, the consumer electronics mega-giant continues the trend of applying its creative problem solving expertise to the problem of climate change. From a $300M clean energy fund in China, to a mangrove restoration project in Columbia, the company has shown its willingness to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to the environment.
Now the company is designing and funding a program in Kenya to help restore critical habitat for threatened elephant populations in the Chyulu Hills grasslands areas. The area has suffered from overgrazing by local herders for food animals and is in a perpetual cycle of damage, never having enough time to regrow. Planting is expensive and unless the local Maasai people understand that the science behind the problem, any new plantings would simply become food for the grazing herds.
The plan that Apple developed includes the local people in the plan and addresses their needs in concert with the needs of wildlife. Simple things like rotating grazing areas to allow them to recover provides the people and animals with the healthy grassland that is required. The program focusses on restoration of existing areas rather than large scale replanting. Not only is this far less expensive, it also ensures biodiversity is maintained as opposed to monocrops (large tracts of land growing one single variety of crop or plant).
The result will be a rich, healthy and sustainable ecosystem that provides food for the Maasai people but also allows for the wild animals that call the area home too. Best of all, the program will be a demonstration project that shows how to implement responsible agriculture and stewardship – a model that can be rolled out to countries all across Africa. The potential area for recovery is so large that it will sequester carbon on a very large scale. Estimates are that there are 900 million hectares of land that have been damaged and could be rehabilitated using this model. This would result in the removal of 3.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s approximately equivalent to the annual emissions from the entire E.U.
I’m in no rush to replace my aging but still usable devices, but I know which company will supply my next phone and computer purchases when I’m ready.
In other top happy eco news stories, scientists at Stanford and a university in China have developed a way to turn sea water into hydrogen and oxygen. This has always been possible with fresh water but the idea of using sea water leaves the fresh to be used for human consumption or for crops. A company called Hypergiant Industries has developed a personal sized appliance that uses algae to sequester carbon. The idea is that each person would be able to live a carbon neutral life and do it for themselves. Another article talks about 5 steps to zero waste in the bathroom – a very easy way to make big waste reduction changes and a desk sized turbine project that can provide enough power to run a small town.