Post-Pandemic Travel Tips and Engineered Coral Reefs-Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-06-28

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have a blog post by Happy Eco News’ Content Manager, Jamie D’Souza who tells us about the relationship between climate change and tourism and how to make our travels more sustainable. We also have stories about Australia’s first renewable hydrogen valley, an engineered coral reef, China’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a new stable lithium-metal battery design, and the progress of Target 11 global biodiversity goals.

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Post-Pandemic Travel: What does it mean for the environment?

Guest post by: Jamie D’Souza, Happy Eco News’ Content Manager

I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a tough year and a bit for all of us. I know this confinement has everyone planning elaborate vacations that they’ll take the second the governments say it’s safe. I’m writing this post from Patioville (a.k.a. my backyard) in Montreal, and although it’s been fun exploring the city, I too, am itching for an adventure. 

For many countries in the world, tourism plays an important role for their economy. In 2019, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that over 10% of jobs and global GDP came from the tourism industry. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry has been hit hard due to global travel restrictions. In 2020, the number of international arrivals dropped by 72% with a significant drop in global economic activities as a result.  

Prior to the pandemic, the tourism industry was expanding rapidly due to an increase in the affordability and accessibility of travel. It was estimated that international tourism increased 65% from 2005 -2016. Although the economic impact from travel is great, tourism tends to have the opposite affect on the environment…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. Australia’s first fully renewable ‘hydrogen valley’ slated for NSW coal heartland

Australia’s first “hydrogen valley” would be created in New South Wales and run entirely on renewable energy under a $2bn proposal supported by local and global energy companies. Led by renewables advisory business Energy Estate, the consortium says it plans to produce green hydrogen with wind and solar energy and use it as a feedstock for mining, transport and industrial users in the upper Hunter Valley, spruiking it as a potential replacement for the region’s coal industry. If successful, a second stage would pipe hydrogen to Newcastle, where it could be used to help run a clean energy industrial precinct. Vincent Dwyer, a principal at Energy Estate, said it could provide zero-emissions feedstock for chemical manufacturing and allow the development of green ammonia for export. Companies said to be looking at getting involved in the Hunter hydrogen network include AGL Energy, pipeline operator APA Group, Idemitsu (the Japanese owner of a Muswellbrook coalmine), commodities trader Trafigura and renewable energy developers RES Australia and Walcha Energy. “We’re not wanting to own all of these opportunities,” Dwyer said. “We’re wanting to enable them to occur by building the backbone infrastructure and then partner with people.” The proposal announcement follows … [read more].

  1. Could ‘engineered’ coral save the planet’s reefs from destruction?

This weekend, conservationists will put the final touches to a giant artificial reef they are assembling at London Zoo. Samples of the planet’s most spectacular corals – vivid green branching coral, yellow scroll, blue ridge and many more species – will be added to the giant tank along with fish that thrive in their presence: blue tang, clownfish, and many others. The scene will then be set for Monday’s opening of the zoo’s new gallery, Tiny Giants, which is dedicated to the minuscule invertebrate creatures that sustain life across the planet. The coral reef tank and its seven-metre-wide window will form the core of the exhibition. The aim of the new gallery goes beyond merely demonstrating the wonder and glory of coral reefs, however. It will also showcase the research that is now being carried out in a bid to halt the destruction of the world’s reefs as global heating warms the oceans and bleaches and destroys their coral. “Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, and we want to show people how wonderful they are,” said Paul Pearce-Kelly, senior curator of invertebrates and fish at the Zoological Society of London. “However, we also … [read more].

  1. China’s climate goal: overhauling its electricity grid

By 2025, China wants half its total generated power to come from renewable energy. One of the most pressing challenges for China to meet its pledge to cap carbon emissions this decade and pivot toward renewables is overhauling its electricity grid, the world’s largest, officials and analysts say. Beijing’s surprise announcement last year that it would hit peak emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060 could presage the biggest reduction in projected global warming of any climate commitment to date, researchers say. But building new solar plants and wind farms is the easy part, analysts say. Upgrading the system that transmits that green power to faraway consumers could be five times more costly and depends on rapid technological progress. “When we talk about the challenges, most people focus on the (electricity) grid,” said Chunping Xie, an expert on China’s policies on climate change and energy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It’s the first step in this long journey.” Investments in China’s grid and other associated costs are expected to exceed 6 trillion yuan ($896bn) over the next five years, Mao Weiming, former chairman of State Grid, said in a speech … [read more].

  1. The Holy Grail Is Here: A Stable, Solid-State, Lithium-Metal Battery

A new paper presents a stable lithium-metal battery design for the first time. Lithium-ion batteries have flaws that lithium-metal batteries could fix. This new battery adds a self-healing technology that will close cracks where dendrites form. Lithium-ion batteries are the backbone of most of today’s electronic devices, including electric vehicles. But for all of their game-changing benefits, the batteries still have an inherent flaw: dendrites. These thin, snaking, tree-like pieces of lithium form sharp points and end up piercing the battery, causing short circuits and other problems. This ultimately shortens the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries and leaves major room for improvement. You think science is badass. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together. Scientists have focused, then, on studying lithium dendrite formation to see how they can make better, longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles. Now, Harvard University researchers say they have the answer: a lithium- metal battery made of a solid-state metal material rather than lithium-ion, eliminating the pesky dendrites and offering more structural stability than a battery consisting of liquid or graphite materials. Think of the new battery like a BLT: “Our multilayer design has the structure of a less-stable electrolyte sandwiched between … [read more].

  1. ‘Progress made’ on Target 11 global biodiversity goals

An update on targets set for establishing conservation zones to protect biodiversity has hailed the “progress” made in the past decade, albeit warning of much work ahead. The report highlighted oceanic regions, particularly international waters, as lagging behind on establishing protected nature areas Ahead of the UN’s next Biodiversity Conference in China in October, conservationists reported “major progress” — although incomplete — in rescuing the world’s shrinking biodiversity over the past decade by establishing conservation areas on land and at sea. The “Protected Planet” study by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and International Union for Conservation (IUCN) based in Switzerland compares “Target 11” goals set at the 2010 Nagoya/Aichi summit hosted by Japan with global trends in 2020. Land targets exceeded, oceanic ones missed but soon to be met That Target 11 urged the world to “protect and integrate” at least 17% of its terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of its coastal and marine areas through effective governance and safeguarding ecological systems. The monitored gain in protected areas established between 2010 and last year was 22 million square kilometers (8.5 million square miles) of land meeting that target — equating to slightly more than Russia’s landmass — and… [read more].

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