Waste Not, Want Not and the Iberian Lynx Bounds Back – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-04-05
Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have a blog post by Keroles Riad– the leader of the “Waste Not, Want Not” initiative at Concordia University in Montreal. We also have stories on conservation actions for the Iberian lynx, bladeless wind turbines for your home, Australia’s goals for net-zero emissions, investments for Brazilian ecosystem restoration, and how microwaves can recycle plastic.
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Guest Blog By: Keroles B. Riad
I was born (a very long time ago) with a genetic condition that has required me to spend a day at the hospital every three weeks. It also meant that I grew up constantly being told what it is I can and cannot do. So I have developed a bit of a stubborn streak with a determination to prove people wrong of whatever it is they think limits me. That idea of “disproportionate power” – outsized influence – is very energizing to me.
In 2016, I started the “Waste Not, Want Not” (WNWN) initiative at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) with the goal of helping the community compost and reduce their waste. Demonstrating that a small team of students can have an institutional impact has been what is getting me out of bed every morning. Indeed, ever since WNWN started, the 50,000-member Concordia community doubled its annual composting, and each Concordian reduced their annual overall waste by 16%. That is the equivalent of two months’ worth of garbage per person that simply disappeared every year.
The biggest misconceptions that we have encountered over the past five years are that people do not care, and that change takes time. Neither is true. As evident by the pandemic, change – even radical change – is possible in a very short amount of time. Indeed, the biggest waste reduction we have observed at Concordia took place in the first year of WNWN… [read more]
The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5
By 2002, the Iberian lynx was extinct in its native Portugal and down to fewer than 100 animals in Spain, well on track to becoming the first cat species to go extinct since the saber-toothed tiger 12,000 years ago. But a battery of conservation measures targeting the wide range of threats to the species has seen it bounce back from the brink, with a wild population today of around 1,000. Reintroduction of captive-bred lynx has been complemented by rewilding of historical lynx ranges, along with boosting of prey species and the creation of wildlife corridors and highway tunnels to reduce deaths from road collisions. The species is one of a handful highlighted in a study showing how targeted conservation solutions can save species from going extinct, although threats still remain, including climate change. It’s midday in summer, the mercury climbing above 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit), and nature guide Nuno Roxo is leading us on a hike in Guadiana Valley National Park in Portugal. The high grass and herbs, battered by the strong sun, have not seen any rain for several months. We continue down a narrow trail, used by wildlife such as boars and deer. Rabbits bolt off into… [read more]
‘Skybrators’ generate clean energy without environmental impact of large windfarms, say green pioneers The giant windfarms that line hills and coastlines are not the only way to harness the power of the wind, say green energy pioneers who plan to reinvent wind power by foregoing the need for turbine towers, blades – and even wind. “We are not against traditional windfarms,” says David Yáñez, the inventor of Vortex Bladeless. His six-person startup, based just outside Madrid, has pioneered a turbine design that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades considered synonymous with wind power . The design recently won the approval of Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, which named Vortex on a list of the 10 most exciting startups in the energy sector. Equinor will also offer the startup development support through its tech accelerator programme. The bladeless turbines stand at 3 metres high, a curve-topped cylinder fixed vertically with an elastic rod. To the untrained eye it appears to waggle back and forth, not unlike a car dashboard toy. In reality, it is designed to oscillate within the wind range and generate electricity from the vibration. It has already raised eyebrows on the forum site… [read more]
Australia could wipe out 80% of its greenhouse gas emissions – all of those from fossil fuel energy – in two decades by doubling the pace at which solar and wind power is being rolled out, academic analysis suggests. The paper by Australian National University engineering researchers found that at the current rate Australia would not reach net zero emissions until well after 2050, the date by which Scott Morrison says he would “preferably” like to get there . Australia installed about seven gigawatts of renewable energy in 2020, continuing a trend in which new clean energy generation roughly equivalent to that produced by a large coal-fired plant is added each year. Andrew Blakers, a professor of engineering, found doubling that annual rate to 14GW could put the country within striking distance of net zero emissions within a couple of decades at limited cost. Outcry at Australia’s coal plant closures misses the point: change is coming Adam Morton Read more Under this calculation, the country would have a near 100% clean electricity grid – backed by stronger long-distance transmission, battery and pumped hydro storage and demand management programs – as well as heating and transport systems that ran on… [read more]
The tech sector’s fascination with tree restoration as a climate solution apparently isn’t unique to U.S. companies. Latin America’s largest e-commerce marketplace — Mercado Libre, a company with roughly twice the market capitalization of eBay at $78 billion — is putting part of the proceeds from its $400 million sustainability bond toward two forest restoration projects in the remnants of the Atlantic Forest, which once covered 15 percent of Brazil. Those projects are both managed under Mercado Libre’s Renera America program, which aims to restore key ecosystems throughout the region as part of its climate action strategy, using technology from climate-tech startup Pachama to monitor and verify the progress of this work. The first two initiatives, which will receive $8 million in the first phase, aim to restore nearly 7,500 acres and more than 1 million trees. Why would an e-commerce company get involved on the ground with a reforestation effort of this scale? Why not just buy offsets from somewhere else? From an established forest carbon marketplace? “We like to do things that are tangible,” Pedro Arnt, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Mercado Libre, told me when we chatted about the project last week… [read more]
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