Art as Activism – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-01-11

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have a Q&A with artist-activist Angela Haseltine Pozzi. We also have a story about the transformation of the solar industry, bowhead whale populations are increasing, Columbia’s sustainable forestry industry, wind farms in the UK have broken records, and lifestyle changes you can make to help protect the world’s oceans.

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10 Questions with Angela Haseltine Pozzi – Washed Ashore Project

Washed Ashore is a non-profit community art project founded by artist and educator, Angela Haseltine Pozzi in 2010. The project is based in Bandon, Oregon, where Angela first recognized the amount of plastic washing up on the beaches she loved and decided to take action. Since 2010, Washed Ashore has processed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches to create monumental art that is awakening the hearts and minds of viewers to the global marine debris crisis.

The Questions:

  1. We understand you came to create Washed Ashore after a period of intense personal grief in your life. You describe going to the ocean to try to heal, and instead found a plethora of ocean debris. What was it like to experience that moment when the idea came to you to start this art and educational organization?

I have always loved the ocean. It has been the place where I spent all my summers as a child, where I happily explored the sand dunes, driftwood piles, tide pools, and shorelines.  I was and am still, intrigued with water patterns and driftwood forms, and as a youngster would spend hours rock hunting and identifying sea creatures with my artist parents.

As an adult, I lived away from the ocean, became a teacher, and often taught my students to appreciate the designs and beauty of nature. When my husband of 25 years died of brain cancer I tried to disappear into making the found object art I had exhibited, but also needed the healing power of the ocean to bring me back to life. When I first moved to the ocean after his death, I only wanted to see beauty, I did not want to acknowledge the plastics on the beach.  I stepped over bits of it in the dry sand in search of… [read more]


The Happy Eco News – Weekly Top 5:

1. 4 Huge Changes Transforming the Solar Industry in 2021

As the globe warms and the climate changes, people from all over the world are seeking alternative energy solutions to prevent both of those problems from getting worse.

The emissions from fossil fuels like gas and coal are a big contributor to the planet’s environmental problems, which is why energy that does not produce any harmful by-products is so desirable to so many. The consequences of oil are terrifying. According to Stanford University, around 5% of the total global footprint can be traced to 9,000 oil fields around the world. Fortunately, new alternative energy sources are helping address this concern. Solar Energy Can Offset the Carbon Footprint of Oil Production There are many different suggestions, but solar energy is always one of the most popular ones. The reason is that solar technology is relatively easy to implement for most people compared to other alternative energy sources like wind or water power. Almost anyone can install a solar panel onto their home or business to help reduce their energy consumption from the power grid. However, while solar energy is more practical, it does have some drawbacks, but those drawbacks are becoming smaller thanks to game-changers in the solar industry. [read more]

2. Bowhead Whale Population Recovers Despite Arctic Warming

In good news that has scientists excited, bowhead whale populations are nearing pre-commercial whaling numbers in U.S. waters.

According to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report card on the species, bowhead whales are the true Arctic baleen whale species and the only one that lives in the cold waters year-round. In the 1700s, they were targeted for their oil, blubber and baleen, or whalebone. Because they’re slow-moving and large, they made easy targets and were nearly hunted to extinction by the start of the 20th century.

According to NOAA, the cessation of whaling, improved management and the general inaccessibility of their habitats helped several populations rebound, including the U.S. one off the coast of Alaska.

Still, the Arctic is drastically changing due to the climate crisis, with immense loss of sea ice, soaring temperatures, and raging wildfires. This grim reality has caused many to conclude that “The Arctic is Dying.”

News from the Arctic has been almost uniformly bad, but the bowhead’s conservation success, especially for the U.S. population off of Alaska, stands out as a beacon of hope, The Guardian reported. The NOAA report card found that the whales’ recovery actually had accelerated despite Arctic warming. [read more]

 

3. Colombia’s sustainable forestry drive boosts biodiversity and business

Flor Angela Martinez is a mother, campesino, and entrepreneur. Based in the Colombian Amazon, her company has become renowned for its sustainable timber harvesting practices. But before she made the transition in 2014, Martinez used to cut and sell wood illegally.

“To work illegally is based on luck. There are days when it goes well, there are days when it doesn’t,” Martinez says. “When you are working illegally you are not worried where it comes from, where it goes, what compensation you have to pay, what taxes need to be paid, nothing.”

Martinez’s business is based in Tarapacá, a nearly pristine stretch of forest in the country’s southeastern tip. Here, her company cuts three to four trees per hectare in a 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) concession, serving as a model for how timber can be sustainably harvested from natural forests.

“I was just looking at the economic aspect,” Martinez says of her timber trafficking days before she incurred a huge loss for being caught with an illegal consignment. That forced her hand. “I like my work, I was going to do what I needed to do it legally.” [read more]

 

4. Windfarms in Great Britain break record for clean power generation

Blustery winter weather helped Great Britain’s windfarms set a record for clean power generation, which made up more than 40% of its electricity on Friday.

Wind turbines generated 17.3GW on Friday afternoon, according to figures from the electricity system operator, narrowly beating the previous record set in early January this year. High wind speeds across the country helped wind power’s share of the electricity mix remain above 40% through Saturday. Coal and gas plants made up less than a fifth of the electricity generated. Melanie Onn, the deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, said: “It’s great to see our onshore and offshore wind farms have smashed another record, generating more power on a cold December day than ever before, just when we need it most.”

The record follows the “greenest” year ever for the electricity system thanks to a surge in renewable energy and a sharp drop in energy demand caused by the shutdown of office blocks, restaurants, and schools during coronavirus restrictions. Solar power reached a record of 9.6GW in April, which helped spur the longest coal-free streak ever, of 1,629 consecutive hours, which ended in June. Wind power generation reached a record share of almost 60% of electricity use. [read more]

5. Lifestyle Changes to Save Our Oceans from a Catastrophic Fate

According to a report published in Current Biology, human activities are increasingly threatening our oceans.

The marine flora and fauna are suffering because of rising temperatures, increasing levels of carbon dioxide, and other consequences of climate change. The clock is ticking, and it’s high time to make changes for the sake of our planet’s future. In this post, we’re sharing some ways you can help save the oceans.

You can encourage your children to follow these tips as well. Take a look.

Make Sustainable Food Choices: Did you know farmed catfish produces nearly 20 times more greenhouse gasses than other seafood like mollusks and salmon? Make an effort to make sustainable seafood choices. Give options like mussels and scallops a try, which are delicious, affordable, and a lot better for the environment. We have previously talked about the benefits of choosing a more sustainable diet. A vegan diet can be a great start, but there are other diets that can work too. Say No To Single-Use Plastic: We all are guilty of using single-use plastic in our everyday life. From getting your morning coffee with a plastic straw to buying groceries in plastic bags, it’s time to… [read more]

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