$2 Trillion for Climate Action and Carbon Neutral Air Travel- Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-04-26

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have a not-so-happy blog post by Happy Eco News founder Grant Brown in which he makes a case for a reimagining of Earth Day as a day of mourning.

We also have stories about how the United States will tackle climate change, how coffee waste can help with reforestation, climate activists in Eugene, Oregon, using sea kelp as a biofuel source, and the United Nations airline’s plan to go carbon neutral.

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The Greenwashing of Earth Day – A Not-so-Happy Post

By: Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

It has been a long time since I contributed to Happy Eco News with a blog post. Several months in fact. In that time, we have had a wonderful mix of artists, scientists, and regular people contribute to this growing body of positivity. This week, I wanted to contribute a meaningful and thoughtful article about or relating to Earth Day.

But I can’t do it.

This week, it’s actually a somewhat angry rant, and I apologize. Please click here if you are triggered by strong language.

I have conflicting and mixed emotions about the idea of an Earth Day post because while Happy Eco News is solely focussed on environmental good news, Earth Day has now been co-opted by everything from major banks to oil companies. It is ironic that in 2021 I wonder if I want the Happy Eco News brand to be associated with the one day of the year when peace and the health of the planet are to be celebrated.

Earth Day 1970, University of Michigan – Image courtesy West Coast Environmental Law.

One day? Why is it just one day? Maybe it’s because when planning the first one back in 1969, during the height of social awakening and the Vietnam war, the people needed a rallying cry. They needed to know that there would be one day per year that would celebrate peace and the health of the earth. They must have felt that permanent peace and real health of the planet was simply too much to consider as an “every” day thing. Then, on April 22, 1970, when the first Earth Day happened, 20 million people joined in the streets. According to Wikipedia, the first Earth Day remains the largest single-day protest in human history.

But now the companies have jumped on. It seems the epitome of greenwashing; on the one hand, these companies support investment in industries and businesses that destroy the very things we require for all life on earth, yet on the other hand, make unaccountable proclamations of how XXX bank supports Earth Day and the values it embodies.

In the week leading up to Earth Day, I received dozens of emails from companies and organizations proudly stating their shared commitment to the health of the planet. I wish it were true. [read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. Nine Ways Biden’s $2 Trillion Plan Will Tackle Climate Change

President Joe Biden speaks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 31, 2021. Biden will unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh. Credit: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images In his “American Jobs Plan,” President Joe Biden aims to achieve unprecedented investment in action to address climate change by wrapping it in the kind of federal spending package that has allure for members of Congress of both parties. The $2 trillion proposal holds out the promise of federal dollars for every Congressional district that has roads, bridges, water pipes, housing, transit systems, leaking oil wells or other infrastructure in need of upgrade and repair—in other words, most of the country. The only catch is that the money is meant for transformation, not restoration. “This is no time to build back to the way things were,” said the preamble to the White House summary of the plan. “This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy.” We deliver climate news to your inbox like nobody else. Every day or once a week, our original stories and digest of the web’s top headlines deliver the full story, for free. It remains to be seen whether in the current political climate, Biden… [read more].

  1. Coffee waste can supercharge the growth of new forests

What happens when you dump 30 trucks full of coffee waste on land set aside for reforestation? Well, the forest recovers a heck of a lot faster, according to a study based in Costa Rica. Researchers spread coffee pulp, a waste product of coffee production, across old agricultural land measuring 35 x 40m. The plot recovered four times faster than a control area. Talk about a caffeine boost. “The results were dramatic,” said Dr Rebecca Cole from the University of Hawai’i, lead author of the study. “The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses.” Working with collaborators from the Swiss research university ETH-Zurich, Cole’s team spread a layer of coffee pulp half a metre thick across the entire area. This eliminated the invasive grass species, allowing native trees to recolonise quickly, their seeds spread by wind and animal dispersal. After two years area treated with coffee pulp had 80 per cent canopy cover compared to 20 per cent in the control area. The trees in the coffee pulp area were also four times taller and there were… [read more].

  1. Has Eugene, Oregon, found a ‘superpower’ for climate action?

Organizer Dylan Plummer addresses the crowd during a March protest outside the offices of Northwest Natural, the Eugene, Oregon, gas utility. Activists are pressing the city council to integrate climate action into Eugene’s operating agreement with the utility. Robert Scherle This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Tyee Williams has been on the frontlines of climate change as a wildland firefighter. He helped battle the Pine Gulch Fire, one of three record-setting fires in Colorado last summer and fall — all scorching examples of how the climate crisis is intensifying wildfires in the Western U.S. Back home in Eugene, Oregon, Williams is on another vanguard of the climate fight: a push for the city to cut fossil fuel consumption. That work includes pressing the Eugene City Council to revamp its operating agreement with the local gas utility, Northwest Natural, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In testimony before the city council in February, Williams shared his experience, which included digging a fire line to protect natural gas infrastructure. “On one side I could see the glow of the wildfire, and on the other hillside I could see… [read more].

4. Move Over, Corn and Soybeans: Giant Sea Kelp Could Be the Next Biofuel Source

Giant kelp can grow over a foot per day under ideal conditions. paule858 / Getty Images By Diane Kim, Ignacio Navarrete and Jessica Dutton Giant kelp, the world’s largest species of marine algae, is an attractive source for making biofuels. In a recent study, we tested a novel strategy for growing kelp that could make it possible to produce it continuously on a large scale. The key idea is moving kelp stocks daily up to near-surface waters for sunlight and down to darker waters for nutrients. Unlike today’s energy crops, such as corn and soybeans, growing kelp doesn’t require land, fresh water or fertilizer. And giant kelp can grow over a foot per day under ideal conditions. Kelp typically grows in shallow zones near the coast and thrives only where sunlight and nutrients are both plentiful. There’s the challenge: The ocean’s sunlit layer extends down about 665 feet (200 meters) or less below the surface, but this zone often doesn’t contain enough nutrients to support kelp growth. Much of the open ocean surface is nutrient-poor year-round. In coastal areas, upwelling – deep water rising to the surface, bringing nutrients – is seasonal. Deeper waters, on the… [read more].

  1. United Airlines: ‘No choice’ but to go carbon neutral

In 2019 there were 4.5 billion airline passengers worldwide, up from 2.1 billion in 2005 Flying is one of the most carbon-intensive ways to get around. Around 2-3% of global carbon emissions come from aviation, which means that if the sector were a country, it would be the sixth-largest source of CO2 in the world. Besides these emissions from burning jet fuel, planes streaking across the sky also release gases and water vapor into the atmosphere that contribute further to global warming. The aviation industry has committed to halving its net CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. But the technology that could allow people to keep boarding planes without further damaging the planet doesn’t exist yet. So making this green future a reality is going to require a huge transformation. On top of that, demand for air travel has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s and is expected to rebound after the pandemic. The US carrier United Airlines, which received a multibillion-dollar bailout earlier in the pandemic, wants to go carbon neutral by 2050. DW’s environment podcast “On the Green Fence” spoke to Lauren Riley, the company’s managing director of global environmental affairs… [read more].

 

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