Improving our Relationship with Nature & Farming Seaweed – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-08-16

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Last week I took a camping trip to the Thousand Islands in Ontario and was reunited with nature and water. Waking up every day by the river, watching the sun peek through the trees, hearing the birds call out to each other was the escape I needed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It never fails to amaze me how the natural environment can transform your thoughts and take you away from your stresses and how it brings total calmness to your life (even if temporary). I am forever grateful for these moments.

Image by: Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager

This week we have a blog post by Sharon Michelle, MSc Psychology, who tells us about the importance of becoming more connected with nature to protect the environment. We also have stories about wind and solar projects to become cheaper than coal, the positive impacts of farming seaweed, 10 jobs that can help shape a zero-emission future, Lego’s new bricks made out of discarded bottles, and how goats eating plastic led to an environmental awakening.

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Environmental Ignorance is Not Bliss

Guest post by: Sharon Michelle, MSc Psychology

There are tons of diets and ways to lose weight. We all know of people who appear to have won the weight loss battle only to put the weight back on, ending up heavier than they were before (I was one of them). Long term weight loss will only be successful if a person is clear about their reasons for losing weight in the first place, and they don’t put off taking action needed to achieve their goal. Most importantly, they must acknowledge that the changes necessary to achieve the goal are permanent, because if they go back to their old ways it is likely they will end up back in the same position they started in – or worse.

It’s similar when thinking about addressing environmental issues and making the behavioural changes that are truly needed. The modern way of life and divorce from nature is causing huge problems such as climate change amongst others – but I don’t need to tell you this. You are reading this article because Happy Eco news means something to you and you already care about the environment and the future of the planet. I am pretty sure you have made adjustments to combat or address the issues. But is it for the long term? Is it enough?

Recently the world has become suddenly awake to the consequences of our unhealthy behaviours and if feels like it has realised we are all part of a bigger system where it is no longer justified to not take action about the harm we are causing…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. Most new wind and solar projects will be cheaper than coal, report finds

Almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally last year will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the world’s cheapest new coal plants, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). The agency found that the falling cost of new windfarms and solar panels meant 62% of new renewable energy projects could undercut the cost of up to 800 gigawatts (GW) worth of coal plants, or almost enough to supply the UK’s electricity needs 10 times over. Solar power costs fell by 16% last year , according to the report, while the cost of onshore wind dropped 13% and offshore wind by 9%. In less than a decade the cost of large-scale solar power has fallen by more than 85% while onshore wind has fallen almost 56% and offshore wind has declined by almost 48%. Francesco La Camera, Irena’s director general, said the agency’s latest research proved the world was “far beyond the tipping point of coal”. He said: “Today renewable s are the cheapest source of power. Renewables present countries tied to coal with an economically attractive phase-out agenda that ensures they meet growing energy demand, while saving costs, adding jobs, boosting… [read more].

  1. Can Farming Seaweed Put the Brakes on Climate Change?

Seaweed has been removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for at least 500 million years. Recent studies suggest that wild seaweed continues to do humanity a solid by sequestering 173 million metric tons annually. The average square kilometer of seaweed can sequester more than a thousand metric tons. Start-ups like Maine-based Running Tide hope to help this process along by farming seaweed for the express purpose of sinking it and locking down its carbon. Shopify has already agreed to be the first purchaser of the resulting carbon offsets. How It’s Supposed to Work Kelp spores are grown in a lab and then sprayed onto spools of string. These are cultivated for several weeks, until the kelp spores have grown fuzzy like Chia Pets. The string is then wound around ropes and dropped into the ocean for six to eight months, until the kelp plants reach maturity. If the kelp were being harvested, boats would then come out and collect the ropes. But to sequester the carbon captured by the kelp, the plants need to be sunk at least 1,000 meters deep, where they will decay and not return to the surface… [read more].

  1. 10 jobs that will help shape a zero-emissions future

Students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology restore wetlands as part of a three-day field course. BCIT offers an Ecological Restoration Degree Program. This story is part of the series Getting to Zero: Decarbonizing Cascadia , which explores the path to low-carbon energy for British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This project is produced in partnership with InvestigateWest and other media outlets and is supported in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. If any bioregion is well-suited to streak towards a net-zero carbon emissions economy, it would seem to be Cascadia. British Columbia, Washington and Oregon set some of North America’s first mandates to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over a decade ago. Abundant hydropower provides an edge, and most voters in all three places say they want to transition away from fossil fuels. Getting to zero of course would require heavy political lifting. Progress so far has come in fits and starts. But if the climate crisis is to be averted, greenhouse-gas emissions must be dramatically reduced. And Dr. Jennie Moore, who directs British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Institute Sustainability, points out that would bring big changes to the world of work. So, The Tyee asked a dozen experts… [read more].

  1. Lego develops recycled bricks made from discarded bottles

Toy brand Lego has created its first prototype bricks using recycled PET plastic from discarded bottles. Created as part of the Danish company‘s drive to make all of its products from sustainable materials by 2030, the brick prototypes were created from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), a common thermoplastic used for products such as bottles and clothing. Above: Lego has developed prototype bricks made from recycled plastic bottles. Top: a one-litre plastic bottle provides enough material for around 10 bricks The prototype, which has been developed over the past three years, was made from used plastic bottles acquired from suppliers in the United States. A one-litre plastic bottle supplies enough raw material for around 10 2×4 Lego bricks. Lego has tested hundreds of different plastic variations Lego trialled over 250 formulations of the recycled plastic to create a brick that complies with the company’s quality, safety and play requirements. Its “clutch power” – the ability to snap onto other pieces of Lego – means that it is compatible with Lego’s standard bricks. The recycled plastic bricks are now undergoing testing Lego now plans to rigorously test and develop the prototype brick before assessing whether to move the rPET into… [read more].

  1. She Owes Her Big Environmental Prize To Goats Eating Plastic Bags

For Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, her great awakening to plastic pollution started with goats. She was working for a local environmental nongovernmental organization in her native Malawi with a program that gave goats to rural farmers. The farmers would use the goats’ dung to produce low-cost, high-quality organic fertilizer. The problem? The thin plastic bags covering the Malawian countryside. “We have this very common street food. It’s called chiwaya , and it’s just really potato fried on the side of the road, and it’s served in these little blue plastics,” Majiga-Kamoto says. “So because it’s salty, once the goats get a taste of the salt, they just eat the plastic because they can’t really tell that it’s inedible. And they die because it blocks the ingestion system — there’s no way to survive.” The goats were supposed to reproduce for the program, with the goat kids going on to new farmers. But because of plastic deaths, the whole goat chain started falling apart. “It was a lot of expectation from the farmers waiting to benefit. So you had this farmer who had this one goat, and then they lost it. And that means that in that chain of farmers, that’s obviously… [read more].

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