What Good Things Need – Top 5 Happy Eco News Stories for October 18, 2021
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Maybe I am an optimist, but as we head into the last quarter of 2021, I actually feel a sense of hope. To be clear, I don’t really self-identify as an optimist. In fact, the reason I started Happy Eco News was to counteract my anxiety about the damage we were inflicting upon the environment. Happy Eco News certainly helps my mood, but as the regular news swirls around me, I can get down just like anyone else. It ain’t easy being green.
But the truth is, everywhere I look right now, I see signs of positive change.
In Canada, First Nations people are finally putting their collective foot down with regard to the use of their lands and waters. In the USA, a green new deal will employ millions of people in quality jobs and invest heavily in green technologies and renewable energy. The UK is rewilding large tracts of lands, complete with wild cats and beavers. The EU is pushing huge sustainability programs with their own European Green Deal to ensure they build back better (cleaner) in a post-covid world. China is ever-present with its downward pressure on the cost of solar and commitment to a clean energy future.
Beyond the commitments of countries, I am also now hearing good things from acquaintances and other businesspeople. They speak of seriously investing in sustainability both on a personal finance level and with their businesses. They are investing in and developing programs that help do the right thing for the planet because they can finally see that to wait any longer means to get left behind. They now are paying real attention and putting real resources into diversity programs that have real teeth. Just like a pebble in a pond, the rings spread outward: education is stepping up to support corporate sustainability. New educational programs are being offered to students and businesses, both in person in alternative learning formats such as online. Some, are made up programs to fill the present and significant demand, others are thoughtfully being put forward by esteemed educational institutions such as Cambridge University and others.
Smart CEOs of corporations of all sizes are starting to do the right thing, while their fossil fuel counterparts are being admonished by smart young people on the world stage. They now helplessly watch their blue-chip status become eroded further and further, their desperation apparent. As I type these words I feel deep emotion to think of these bright young people stepping up and demanding to be heard, calling bullshit when they hear it. Finally, it seems the greenwashing by some dirty players is being outpaced by the real actions of a vast majority of others.
This is the paradigm shift we need as a collective whole to ensure we don’t blow past 1.5C. Finally, we are close to making the big changes that historians will study, opine, and teach classes about. Finally, if we are lucky, we who live today will see the end of the age of carbon and will enter the post-carbon economy stronger and better off.
As of today, we are only 2 weeks from COP26, an event that appears as though it will become known as a pivotal moment in human history. A moment that will bring us all together to collectively beat the biggest threat to humanity in our history. It is a moment that will define us either as willing to change for our children’s future or as selfish fools who blew past the “bridge out” sign at 100 while checking our phones.
I for one hope we put the phone down and pay attention to the signs, and judging by what I see around me, I think we will.
Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News
This week we have an interview with Shana Gibson, a filmmaker best known for her short film “Perseverance- A Pandemic and a Search for Justice” and she tells us about her inspiration for the film and how nature has helped her cope with the pandemic. We also have stories about a giant offshore wind power generator with 117 turbines, the return of the blue whale to Spain after 40 years, renewable energy sources dominating new U.S. electrical generating capacity, the rise of meat and dairy alternatives in the US, and the new French law that will allow people to drive on solar power.
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Shana Lee Gibson is an avid meditator and filmmaker best known for her short film “Perseverance- A Pandemic and a Search for Justice” which touches on anxiety surrounding the pandemic and features visuals of British Columbia’s natural environment.
1.Thank you for sharing your inspirational video with all of us, I’m sure if it touched a lot of people in many different ways. Before we talk about the video itself, tell us about the person behind the camera. What do you want our readers to know about Shana Lee Gibson?
My pleasure! I have a heart for our planet and an innate desire to understand the complexities of existence. Everything I do in my life is directed toward seeking answers to who I am as a mind, body and soul, and what I can contribute to making the world better. In my early 20’s when searching for meaning, I met a stranger at Starbucks who gave me a book, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ by Parmahansa Yogananda. That book lit a fire in me, and I dedicated myself to yoga and devotion. My peace is found in meditation and in nature when filming.
2. It goes without saying that 2020 was challenging for everyone, and although we are not out of the woods yet, your film gives us hope. What was your inspiration for creating this film?
I, like everyone else, was grieving ‘life before the pandemic.’ As a yogi, I was seeking answers to know what attitude would be most helpful to move forward, in particular when so much is outside of our control…[read more].
The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5
Norwegian company Wind Catching Systems is developing an offshore wind power generator that could produce renewable energy for 80,000 homes at prices comparable to traditional fossil fuels. Named the Windcatcher , the structure would contain more than a hundred rotors stacked vertically within a 300-metre-high framework. The floating Windcatcher (top image) is about as tall as the Eiffel Tower (above) According to the company, one Windcatcher could produce as much energy as five of the strongest floating turbines in existence while halving the price of the energy generated in the process. Wind Catching Systems aims to deploy the first structure within the next three years. “Our goal is to enable offshore wind operators and developers to produce electricity at a cost that competes with other energy sources, without subsidies,” Wind Catching Systems CEO Ole Heggheim told Dezeen. “We can produce electricity for a cost per kilowatt that is similar to what the other floating technologies are planning to achieve in 10 years.” Smaller rotors can increase yield Unlike turbines that are placed on fixed foundations in shallow water, floating turbines can harness energy from higher wind speeds that occur above the deep, open sea. These structures account for around…[read more].
Blue whales have started returning to the coast of Spain 40 years after they vacated. The world’s largest mammals have been spotted on the coast of Galicia in northwest Spain several times since 2017. First, marine biologist Bruno Díaz spotted a blue whale in 2017, the first sighting of a blue whale in Galicia since the 1980s. In 2018, a different whale was spotted, followed by another in 2019. In 2020, two whales were spotted and identified by marine biologists as the ones from previous years. Just a week ago, a different blue whale was spotted off the Islas Cíes. Díaz says that blue whales vacated the coast of Spain due to human actions. “I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz said. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.” Spain enjoyed one of the most robust whaling industries for over a century before the ban. Unfortunately, by the time the ban arrived in 1986, blue whales in Spain were virtually extinct. The return of the blue… [read more].
According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) dominated new U.S. electrical generating capacity additions and increased their contribution to the nation’s electrical production in the first half of 2021. Key Findings from FERC : FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through June 30, 2021) reveals that renewable energy sources accounted for 91.6% – or 10,940 megawatts (MW) – of the 11,940 MW of new capacity added during the first six months of the year. Wind led the capacity additions with 5,617 MW, followed closely by solar (5,279 MW). Further, wind and solar were the only sources of new capacity additions in June 2021. Renewables now provide more than a quarter (25.1%) of total U.S. available installed generating capacity. A year ago, their share was only 23.0%. Wind is now more than a tenth (10.4%) of the nation’s generating capacity while utility-scale solar is nearly five percent (4.9%) … and that does not include distributed … [read more].
People in the United States are consuming more meat and dairy alternatives. Statista recently reported that sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are soaring. Purchases of milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk increased 20% in 2020 compared to the previous year with total sales of $2.5 billion. Sales of meat alternatives rose 45% in 2020 compared to 2019 with total sales at $1.4 billion. Other alternatives are on the rise as well, from plant-based ice cream to plant-based cheese. Image source: Statistica There are a number of reasons why people might reduce the amount of meat and dairy in their diets. These include health benefits, cutting carbon emissions, allergies, and animal welfare issues. Good for the Planet Raising cattle, sheep, pork, and poultry for consumption uses a great deal of land, requires enormous amounts of water, and produces literal tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Most sources indicate that raising cattle consumes the most water and produces the most emissions. Cows and goats are our primary milk producers and so milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products raise similar environmental issues. Oat and almond milk are reported to produce fewer greenhouse gas… [read more].
It’s one of the most amazing things to consider, yet we often gloss over it: Countless years ago, humans learned how to make fire. Ever since then, we’ve been burning stuff for energy (for heat initially, and more recently for electricity and to propel vehicles forward). At long last, we are in an era where we can stop burning stuff. We can now create electricity by capturing sunlight and wind, and we can power our cars and trucks with that same electricity. I believe it was Desmond Wheatley — founder, president, and CEO of Beam Global (formerly Envision Solar) — who first tipped me off to looking at this tremendous, unprecedented transition in this way. Beam Global produces various types of solar-powered EV charging stations. What’s all of this got to do with France, and France’s new climate law in particular? Well, France has just announced in this climate bill that 30% of the surface of new commercial and industrial buildings will have to be solarized starting on January 1, 2023 — a year and a half from now. Those solar panels will power a lot of electric vehicles, but they won’t be the only ones in a wave… [read more].
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