Beluga and Polar Bears & Encouraging a Circular Economy – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-08-02

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Image by: Artem Podrez from Pexels

This week we have two guest blog posts! Our first is by Kieran McIver, the Beluga Boat Captain and Churchill Operations Manager at Polar Bears International who tells us about the Beluga Cam and Beluga Bits citizen science project and sightings of polar bears coming off the ice in Churchill, Manitoba. Our second blog post is by Evelin Földvári the Marketing and Operations Manager at  This is Circular. She tells us about how this company’ uses the “old milkman model” to deliver beauty, personal care and natural cleaning products in reusable aluminum bottles and promote a circular economy!

We also have stories about how Tansania has reached net-zero and 100% renewables, the launch of UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration program to restore ecosystems, how Climeworks is mining carbon from the sky, an online library that showcases materials which can capture atmospheric carbon, and South Korea’s plan to plant 3 billion trees by 2050.

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Belugas and Polar Bears

Guest post by: Kieran McIver, Beluga Boat Captain and Churchill Operations Manager at Polar Bears International

Churchill, Manitoba, is known worldwide for its polar bears, but for a brief window every summer, the beluga whales take over—an astonishing scene as they flood into the Churchill River estuary and surround the shorelines of Hudson Bay, their numbers reaching into the thousands. For the whales, the Churchill estuary serves as a feeding ground, a space to rear their calves as they live out the first few months of their lives, an ideal place for their annual molt, and a sanctuary offering protection in the shallow waters from potential predators. I feel fortunate that, for two months every summer, my world revolves around the river and the whales, and the Beluga Boat becomes my second home.

Beluga Cam

What makes the Beluga Boat so unique is our ability to share the whales with thousands of people around the world via live Beluga Cams in partnership with explore.org. Rigged with above-water and underwater cameras, complete with hydrophones, we have the ability to stream live footage of the whales in their natural habitat… [read more].

This is Circular: The Story of a Small Start-up with Big Ambitions

Guest post by: Evelin Földvári, Marketing and Operations Manager at  This is Circular

“I want to contribute and do something meaningful” – thought Caroline Villamizar Duque, our founder at This is Circular, a year before the concept of her start-up was even born. Caroline is a British entrepreneur who led a successful career in the events industry for over 20 years. She ran a business that conceived and organised creative events for individuals and world leading brands. Her high level of energy, passion for people and fun made her able to grow her events agency into an award-winning global company. Caroline always loved the traveling aspect of her job; to visit beautiful places, meet with new people every day and bring them joy by organising dramatic, large-scale parties fulfilling their every desire. However, after 20 years of fun in the events industry she felt like she was missing something. She wanted to make a positive impact not just on people’s lives, but on the environment too. She decided it was time to sell her share in the company and to figure out how she could contribute to the field of sustainability. After selling her company at the beginning of 2019 and traveling for a few months in her vintage camper van, Caroline realised something. Everywhere she went, in every country there was one thing she consistently noticed– the waste from single-use plastic packaging…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. Tasmania’s already reached net-zero and 100% renewables. So what’s next?

Tasmania is both at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and gets 100% of its energy from renewable sources. The island off Australia reached net zero in 2015, because its vast forests and landscapes store more carbon than the state emits. In November 2020 it also became fully powered by renewable electricity, thanks to the island state’s wind and hydro-electricity projects. Having reached these feats, Rupert Posner and Simon Graham from ClimateWorks Australia explore what’s next for the island’s green journey. Getting to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy might seem the end game for climate action. But what if, like Tasmania, you’ve already ticked both those goals off your list? Net-zero means emissions are still being generated, but they’re offset by the same amount elsewhere. Tasmania reached net-zero in 2015, because its vast forests and other natural landscapes absorb and store more carbon each year than the state emits. And in November last year, Tasmania became fully powered by renewable electricity , thanks to the island state’s wind and hydro-electricity projects. The big question for Tasmania now is: what comes next? Rather than considering the job done, it should seize opportunities including more renewable energy, net-zero industrial exports… [read more].

  1. UN launches program to reverse “triple environmental emergency”

Last Friday, the United Nations launched the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration , a program that aims to restore ecosystems by preventing, halting and reversing degradation. The virtual event brought together divergent voices, including heads of governments, religious leaders, artists and activists from around the world. The program is geared toward helping the world recover from what the UN Secretary-General António Guterres termed as a “triple environmental emergency.” While addressing the attendees of the virtual launch, the Secretary-General said that humanity is currently facing a “triple environmental emergency” of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and escalating pollution. “We are reaching the point of no return for the planet,” Guterres said. “We are ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies, and in doing so, we risk depriving ourselves of the food, water and resources we need to survive.” The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will run through 2030 under the co-leadership of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Through the program, the two organizations will lead the world to re-imagine, recreate and restore ecosystems. Recent research by UN agency partners has revealed that in order to counter climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises, the… [read more].

  1. “We’re mining the sky because there’s too much carbon in it” says Climeworks

Carbon is the most valuable resource on earth, according to Climeworks, which has developed machines that suck it from the air so it can be turned into useful materials. “We capture CO2 from the atmosphere,” said Christoph Beuttler, head of climate policy at the Swiss company. “We’re mining the sky because there’s too much carbon in it. And it’s a sustainable resource.” Climeworks has developed direct air capture (DAC) devices that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Making plastic and oil from CO2

In 2017, it opened the world’s first commercial direct air capture plant in Switzerland, selling the captured CO2 for use in fertilizers, fizzy drinks and synthetic fuels. The company is currently building its fifteenth plant in Iceland, which will open this summer. If scaled up sufficiently, its technology could play a large part in reducing atmospheric carbon and thereby preventing climate change, the company believes. At the same time, it could produce large amounts of valuable carbon that could be used to make everything from fuels to plastics… [read more].

  1. “One tonne of olivine sand can take in up to one tonne of CO2”

Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen has launched Aireal, an online library showcasing materials that can capture atmospheric carbon. The fledgling library contains images and descriptions of materials developed by companies and institutes around the world. Materials featured include olivine, an abundant mineral that can absorb its own mass of carbon dioxide when crushed and scattered on the ground. The library also features materials ranging from paper to fibre and food that neutralise atmospheric carbon dioxide by absorbing the carbon and releasing the oxygen.”Aireal is a growing material library showing materials that capture CO2 in their production process,” said van Dongen, describing the project as a” library of possibilities”.” The materials were developed in the spirit of the circular economy, where waste does not exist and carbon dioxide is seen as a resource for the creation of the products that we will use tomorrow,” she said… [read more].

  1. South Korea to plant 3 billion trees by 2050

The South Korea Forest Service has announced its plans to plant 3 billion trees within the next three decades. In the program, the Korean government plans to invest 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion) to restore forests. This is part of the country’s larger plan to attain net-zero emissions by 2050. The program will contribute to the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees Initiative, which targets to grow one trillion trees globally by 2030. Even so, South Korea’s program is likely to continue after the trillion-tree target has been achieved. According to the South Korea Forest Service, the initiative will involve cutting trees that are older than 30 years and replacing them with new ones. They say that older trees have less capacity for sequestering carbon and should be replaced with new ones. Once the project is completed, the trees will have the capacity of capturing 34 million tons of carbon emissions. In 2018, the forests in South Korea were capable of capturing 46 million tons of carbon, an equivalent of 6.3% of the country’s total emissions. The service says that if the older trees are not replaced, their capacity to sequester carbon will reduce, and they are… [read more].

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