What is Cli-Fi? –  Top 5 Happy Eco News Stories for October 25, 2021

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This week we have two blog posts! The first one is by Will Gibson, the author of Paradigm Time Two Tales of the Future. He speaks to us about his journey and inspiration for writing a book about the future of climate change. The second post is by Alysa McCall from Polar Bear International who talks about the activities planned for Polar Bear Week, including a live (and virtual) concert happening October 27. We also have stories about the regrowth of Iceland’s forests that were destroyed by the Vikings, the importance of reforestation to slow down climate change, the largest wind turbine that will be built by Chinese renewable energy infrastructure company MingYang Smart Energy, tidal turbines as the future of green energy, and a Canadian non-profit’s innovative ocean cleanup project.

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Writing Cli-Fi Without Knowing It 

Guest blog by: Will Gibson, author of Paradigm Time Two Tales of the Future 

The year was 2007 and I suddenly found myself with time to write again. I had started a novel years earlier, before the raising of a family had taken precedence, and now I just might be able to finish it. It was about coming of age in the 60s and 70s, and what that had meant on a social and cultural level. I wanted to share the unique experiences of that time with others.

But now something else had grabbed my attention that seemed much more important to address. And that was climate change. I read as much as I could to become knowledgeable on the subject. And the more I found out, the more convinced I was about the urgency for action. As a parent, I felt the duty to be proactive in passing on a livable world to the next generations.

I thought about writing essays to include in a book (I’m not an essayist). I thought about doing the research on climate change and writing non-fiction (I’m not a scientist). But I had to write something about this thing called climate change. Having written a short story and won some flash-fiction contests, I found out I was a storyteller. The idea for a novel was born…[read more].

Hanging with Hundreds of Polar Bears

Guest post by: Alysa McCallPolar Bears International Director of Conservation Outreach and Staff Scientist

Hundreds of polar bears are gathering around Hudson Bay right now. I’m thrilled to be back in Churchill, Canada — known as the polar bear capital of the world — for this year’s migration. Polar bears are usually solitary, so this gathering is a spectacular sight to behold.

As we begin this year’s bear season in Churchill, the weather has been unseasonably warm, with a hint of fall color remaining on the tundra. We already have the Tundra Buggies® roaming on their trails and the explore.org live cams rolling alongside the polar bears as they wait for the bay to freeze. They always gather here each fall as it starts getting chilly, knowing that once sea ice forms, they can stop fasting and head out on the ice to resume hunting their seal prey.

The live cams have been spotting some sweet moms and cubs snuggling and taking naps on windy days, and there have even been some glimpses of a mom nursing her cub. We’ve been seeing more and more polar bears, including a nice view of a female bear swimming off Gordon Point. We don’t often get to see the bears swimming in the fall, so this was a delight to observe. She spent quite some time with the buggies before moving on to settle in some nearby willows. Bear sightings and activity will increase even more as temperatures drop and the bears head to the coast, anticipating the freeze-up on Hudson Bay…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. How Iceland Is Regrowing Forests Destroyed by the Vikings

How do you find your way out of a forest in Iceland? Stand up. That’s an old Icelandic joke about the country’s meager woodlands, and like most jokes, it contains a kernel of truth. Iceland is a famously beautiful place, yet forests only cover about 2 percent of its land area, and they tend to be relatively small. This hasn’t always been the case, however. When the first Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a millennium ago, they found an uninhabited landscape with plentiful birch forests and other woodlands — spanning anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the island. According to one early saga, “At that time, Iceland was covered with woods, between the mountains and the shore.” Why Did the Forests Disappear? So what happened? The Vikings began chopping down and burning Iceland’s forests for timber, and to clear space for farmland and grazing pastures. “They removed the pillar out of the ecosystem,” Gudmundur Halldorsson, research coordinator for the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, recently told The New York Times . They also brought sheep, whose appetites for saplings made it difficult for Iceland’s forests to …[read more].

  1. Massive Reforestation Might Be the Moonshot We Need to Slow Down Climate Change

Trees, among their many other superpowers, help absorb some of the excess carbon dioxide humans have been adding to Earth’s atmosphere lately. That’s a valuable service, considering we still release about 2.57 million pounds of CO2 every second, on average, and the heat-trapping gas can linger in the sky for centuries. We know Earth needs more trees. And although we are doing far too little about climate change in general, we are planting trees — so many, in fact, that global tree cover has reportedly increased by about 7% in the last 35 years. That’s just a drop in the bucket, though, since Earth’s total number of trees has fallen by 46% since the dawn of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. Today, we’re mostly adding slower-growing trees at higher latitudes, which are less effective carbon absorbers, while rapidly losing trees across the tropics . In 2017 alone, for example, Earth lost about 39 million acres (15.8 million hectares) of tropical tree cover, which is like losing 40 football fields of trees every minute for a year. Dead trees stand in a recently… [read more].

  1. The Future of Green Energy Is Comically Large Wind Turbines

Chinese renewable energy infrastructure company MingYang Smart Energy just announced it is building an 800-foot-tall offshore wind turbine, the largest in the world. The colossal MySE 16.0-242 is a behemoth, with 387-foot blades that traverse nearly half a million square feet (around the size of 10 football fields). Most interesting about this big-ass turbine, however, is that, alone, it can create more power than many smaller wind turbines combined. Scientists and companies increasingly believe that a key to creating more efficient wind turbines is to simply make the turbines themselves positively gigantic. The Department of Energy released a report Monday finding that turbines like MingYang’s are likely the future of wind energy, and that over the next decade turbines are going to get larger. “Back in 2010, no turbines in the United States employed rotors that were 115 meters (380 feet) in diameter or larger,” the DOE wrote. “In 2020, 91 percent of newly installed turbines featured such rotors. The average rotor diameter in 2020 was about 125 meters (410 feet)—longer than a football field.” Image: Department of Energy Eric Lantz, group research manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), also says large turbines are the future … [read more].

  1. The Future of ‘Green’ Might Be the Deep Blue Sea

The sea and the waves are very powerful forces of nature. If only there was a way we could harness its untapped energy for our own needs. Well, it turns out, we actually can, thanks to the amazing engineering behind tidal turbines. Intrigued? Let’s dive in. How do tidal turbines work? Tidal turbines are underwater, or partially underwater, electrical generators that work much like wind turbines except underwater. While in principle the same, the higher density of water, and differing pressure and temperature conditions at depth in a water column does mean that tidal turbines tend to smaller and more rugged in design. While this might sound very cutting edge, using tidal power to do work is actually nothing new. Tidal mills, for example, were a very common practice in many parts of the world since the middle ages. Mankind has been harnessing tidal power for many centuries. Source: One of the main benefits of tidal turbines is the fact that their energy source, the tide, is a consistent and reliable source of kinetic energy. This makes the technology a very attractive proposition as it doesn’t require backups from more  … [read more].

  1. Ocean plastic-trapping ‘artificial coastline’ to depart from Victoria

A non-profit organization’s project will launch from Victoria’s coast in about two weeks as it departs to one of the most densely concentrated collections of garbage on the seas. The Ocean Cleanup project announced on July 13 that it’ll pioneer its latest iteration of plastic-collecting technology, the System 002, when it leaves Victoria and heads to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The concept is to drag a tensioned, 800-metre long “artificial coastline” – nicknamed Jenny – through areas of the ocean where plastics pool together in massive amounts. Two vessels will pull the System 002 at each tip of the U-shaped flexible barrier as it tries to corral the floating plastics and collect them in a “retention zone.” The ships use computer models to navigate towards areas where the highest concentration of plastics – which Ocean Cleanup calls “natural hotspots” – can be collected. The ships only move at about 0.75 metres per second, but will try maximizing the cleanup’s efficiency by navigating through the mapped hotspots, such as the Great Pacific Garbage… [read more].

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