Teen Scientists & Snowy Owls in NYC – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-02-15

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have writer Debbie Banks with a guest blog post about #Maskuary, an initiative from Tired Earth to reduce the number of disposable medical masks now littering the environment. We also have stories that feature the return of the Snowy Owl to New York’s Central Park, how a teen scientist has come up with a low-tech way to recycle water, why Joe Biden should invest in saving the Amazon rainforest, the latest on how UK coal and gas is being outpaced by electricity renewables, and a hydroponic smart garden that purifies the air.

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A new challenge COVID-19: Stay safe and protect the environment

By Debbie Banks

COVID-19 is a massive global economic and health calamity causing social and economic disruption at an unprecedented scale.

In the era of COVID-19, we all have to take extra precautions to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. This includes social distancing, proper sanitization of surfaces, and the necessary use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. Plastic pollution was a problem long before this pandemic, but the increase in medical waste compounds it. Most masks are made from durable plastic materials, and they can remain in the environment for a few decades up to hundreds of years. Even an uninfected mask is a source of microplastic, which subsequently enters the human body due to improper disposal.

The pandemic has meant orders for disposable masks and PPE has skyrocketed. An estimated 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves are used and disposed of globally, each month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Global sales of disposable face masks alone are set to skyrocket from an estimated USD 800 million in 2019 to USD 166 billion in 2020, according to business consulting firm Grand View Research… [read more]

 

Top 5 Happy Eco News

1. Teen Scientist Finds a Low-Tech Way to Recycle Water

Environment Meet Shreya Ramachandran: This high school senior founded a nonprofit based in California that teaches people how to recycle water in their homes. She’s also shown that the water left after cleaning with soap nuts can be reused to irrigate crops. Shreya Ramachandran, 17, remembers witnessing California’s water crisis firsthand on a visit to Tulare County in 2014, when she was still a preteen. Tulare spans a large swath of farmland in California’s Central Valley, and at that time, locals were facing dire water shortages amid an ongoing drought made worse by climate change. “I was talking to some of the people in the area whose wells completely ran dry, and they were left without water because they weren’t connected to the central water grid. They were trucking water in for even basic needs,” she said. “I was really affected by their stories, and I wanted to do something to help.” The experience spurred Ramachandran, who lives in Fremont, California, to find ways to reuse water from sinks, showers and laundry machines — what’s known as gray water — to help people better cope with intense drought. She has won numerous awards for her research, was named a … [read more]

2. How Joe Biden can best put $20B to work saving the Amazon

A bipartisan group of former U.S. officials have joined forces to propose a set of policy recommendations to help the Biden Administration deliver on its campaign pledge to put $20 billion toward the protection of the Amazon rainforest. The group, which calls itself the Climate Principals, today delivered its Amazon Protection Plan to the administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The Amazon Protection Plan has four main pillars: mobilizing funding for conservation from private and public sources, building forest-friendly policies into trade agreements, requiring companies disclose and manage deforestation risk in their supply chains and portfolio investments, and strengthening international diplomacy around forest conservation. A bipartisan group of former U.S. officials have joined forces to propose a set of policy recommendations to help the Biden Administration deliver on its campaign pledge to put $20 billion toward the protection of the Amazon rainforest. The group, which calls itself the Climate Principals, today delivered its Amazon Protection Plan to the administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The Climate Principals include Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona and U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton; Frank Loy, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs under Bill … [read more]

3. Snowy Owl Spotted in New York’s Central Park for First Time in 130 Years

A snowy owl was spotted in New York City’s Central Park Wednesday morning for the first time in 130 years, The New York Times reported . The unusual spotting prompted a tweet from the birder account Manhattan Bird Alert , “A SNOWY OWL, a mega-rarity for Central Park,” it read, The New York Times reported. Sending crowds of birders and onlookers out to the park’s North Meadow fields, the tweet drew criticism from commenters for attracting unwanted attention to the owl. Once in a lifetime appearance of the Snowy Owl in NYC Central Park, North Meadow yesterday (1/27/21). A video clip of the owl being harassed by the very loud crows and not moving an inch. #birdcp #SnowyOwl pic.twitter.com/OPaVGMQva9 — Vee Nabong (@VenusNabs) January 29, 2021 Snowy owls, found in the high Arctic tundra, are known to venture south during the winter, often looking for prey, according to the Audubon Society . Although the owls are abundant in North America, generally avoiding the threat of human disturbance, they are at risk for climate change. If the planet continues to warm, their … [read more]

4. UK electricity from renewables outpaces gas and coal power

The UK’s renewable electricity outpaced its fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020 and could remain the largest source of electricity in the future, according to an independent climate thinktank. The thinktank behind the report, Ember, revealed that renewable energy generated by wind, sunlight, water and wood made up 42% of the UK’s electricity last year compared with 41% generated from gas and coal plants together. Although renewable energy has overtaken fossil fuels during the summer months before, 2020 was the first time that renewables were the main source of the UK’s electricity over a year. Renewable energy also outperformed fossil fuels across the EU for the first time, according to the report, following a collapse in the use of coal last year. Ember said the UK’s growing stable of windfarms was one of the main reasons for the country’s renewable record. Almost a quarter of the UK’s electricity was generated by wind turbines last year, double the share of wind power in 2015 and up from a fifth of the UK’s electricity in 2019. By contrast, electricity from gas-fired power plants fell to a five-year low of 37% of the UK’s electricity, while coal power plants … [read more]

5. Respira, the hydroponic smart garden that purifies the air

Toronto-based New Earth Solutions is offering a sustainable and compact method for natural air purification. Respira , a hydroponic smart garden, helps improve the air quality of indoor spaces, something that society has found an additional need for since spending more time inside the home. The self-sustaining garden can be mounted on the wall or set up in a planter to complement multiple styles. Respira is completely user-friendly — no green thumb required. Installed in about 10 minutes, the garden essentially takes care of itself via a patented biofiltration process with a self-watering, self-feeding and self-lighting system built-into the design. An automated controller accessible through a touchscreen and phone app manages and monitors things like water temperature, water level, water flow, air temperatures, humidity and TVOC levels for air quality . As for foliage, buyers can currently choose from three different kits: a “tropical” assortment with hearty and low light rainforest plants , a “vibrant” assortment with bright and colorful plants, and a “pothos” assortment with a combination of Devils Ivy, Golden Pothos, Marble Queen and Jade Pothos. System dimensions are just 39 inches in height and 19 inches in width, while the body, made from bamboo and sustainably … [read more]

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